Scrivener 3.0 for Windows: A puzzling non-release

For awhile Scrivener was my favorite writing application. It does pretty much everything you could want in a writing program and has excellent organizational tools that really help in planning and plotting out novels (or other projects).

A major new update to version 3 was released for the Mac in November 2017, with an equivalent Windows update arriving in 2018, then by end of Q2 2019, then for absolute sure by August 30, 2019. All dates were missed, with contrite apologies from Literature and Latte.

After the last missed date, they stopped saying when it would release and version 3 for Windows has existed since then as a perpetual beta and now, a perpetual release candidate. Users talk about how stable it is, how perfectly usable it is, but it’s still not officially released. You can’t buy it.

I am not a developer so I can’t speak to the challenges the duo working on the Windows version of Scrivener is facing, but it does seem to me that as we draw ever-closer to three years since version 3 came out for the Mac, that the Windows version ought to have been ready by now. I mean, if you originally project a release in 2018, re-calibrate and say, okay, second quarter 2019, then re-calibrate yet again and say August 30, 2019, then finally go silent on a release date and then still have not released almost a full year after the last offered date, I would submit that you are bad at estimating software release dates, and also very slow at developing software.

I will buy version 3 when it eventually comes out, and I might try it again (I have version 3 already for Mac but I have switched mostly to using Ulysses for my fiction writing), but I must admit, the pace of the Windows version’s development instills me with little confidence in the product or the company. One of the main points of the version 3 release was to bring feature parity (as much as possible) to the Mac and Windows versions. That cannot happen if the Windows version is constantly lagging well behind. I have every expectation that should version 4 come out for Mac, it would be years before the same version released for Windows. I might be wrong. I hope I am wrong!

Anyway, I do hope the Windows version releases at least before the anniversary of the version 3 release for Mac. Looking over the current issues in the forum thread on beta releases, it feels a bit like they are striving for perfection and holding up release indefinitely as a result. They report a single crash bug:

We are aware of one bug (listed below) that can hang Scrivener, and zero bugs that cause data loss, so if you are aware of any other bugs that can hang Scrivener, or cause data loss, please let us know. The only crash bug we know about is:-

Merging cells in table can crash under certain conditions

I can’t speak for all writers, but I have very few tables in my novels, apart from the actual furniture in various scenes. This doesn’t seem like enough to hold up release. I mean, what if they can’t track down the cause of this bug? Just hold off release for another six months? A year? At some point you have to accept that you’ve done all you can and put your work out there–like any good writer would.

Drawing trouble (offline and on)

One of the things I didn’t expect to happen in the past year (other than things like, uh, a global pandemic) was my rekindled interest in drawing. I took drawing and painting classes through junior high and highs school (five years total) and my only regret is that I never really got better–I simply didn’t practice enough, partly because my attention was split among a bunch of things–drawing. writing, acting, an interesting and bizarre turn at doing hurdles, along with all the usual distractions of youth–riding my bike, playing games (video and board), hanging with friends, figuring out my sexuality, stuff like that.

But last October I pledged to do Inktober and, to my own surprise, I completed all 31 prompts, nine of which brought back the Gum Gum People, to the delight of myself as well as others. After Inktober I let the drawing fall aside again, but the urge renewed itself on my vacation and I started digging into online resources.

I’ve settled on a few sites and their respective lessons and one of the key parts of each is that they emphasize and even require that you ground yourself in traditional drawing first–pencil and paper, not tablet and stylus. I like this because it goes against my first impulse, which is to just blunder about on my iPad, and “fixing as I go” without learning the proper lessons because when you go digital, you can skip a lot of proper technique in favor of brute forcing things.

Anyway, I’m starting the lessons now and will occasionally post my thoughts and perhaps a few sketches over the next little while. If this all ends in terrible failure, I will report on that, too.

And end the post with a single, badly-drawn tear.

Random deep questions

  • How many people would want to know when they will die if that information was available to them?
  • If the universe is expanding, it would only occupy so much space. What would you see beyond the edge of the universe?
  • Speaking of, what was up with the ending of The Black Hole, anyway? That was probably the most un-Disney ending of any Disney movie ever.
  • If there is “life after death” (a soul, etc.) why is it so hard for the two sides (living/differently living) to communicate with each other? Why *would* it be so hard? Is it because the living would be all, “Man, life sucks compared to the groovy other-side. I’m killing myself RIGHT NOW”?
  • What if we really are the only “intelligent” life in the universe?
  • What if we aren’t the only intelligent life in the universe but the other intelligent life finds it amusing to watch us screw everything up on our planet?
  • If multiverses exist, what are the other versions of me doing right now? Is at least one of them writing this same list, but maybe in some weird other dimension language? While waiting for his flying car to recharge?
  • What if we’re living a simulation and in a few short months we’ll find out that whole Trump presidency thing was just a test, haha. And all the horrible other things that have happened in 2020, too.

Photo of the Day, July 30, 2020 (Part 2)

I meant to post this yesterday but got distracted by other things–including weird errors on this blog. So here is a flowery field a day late.

This is the “picnic” area at Burnaby Lake, near the Cariboo Dam. I put that in quotes because until this summer this small grass field was mowed regularly and used by people and poopmonsters alike. At some point, perhaps due to budget concerns in these pandemic times, they stopped mowing the grass and in a few short months it turned into a healthy mix of weeds and tall grass. But it looks pretty for now.

July 2020 weight loss report: Down 2.6 pounds

July was like June in reverse. Instead of being up 2.6 pounds, I was down 2.6 pounds. My body fat also dropped by half a percent and actual fat itself by half a pound. I am up three pounds on the year, but that’s down from a peak of nearly six pounds.

I am still fat.

But all signs are trending in a positive direction now and I’ve made real progress on curbing ye olde snacking, so I am reasonably confident the weight loss will continue.

I’m not going to aim for anything crazy like dropping below 170 by the end of August, but at least such a goal is no longer implausible.

Stats:

July 1: 177.4 pounds
July 31: 174.8 pounds (down 2.6 pounds)

Year to date: From 171.8 to 174.8 pounds (up 3 pounds)

And the body fat:

July 1: 23.4% (41.5 pounds of fat)
July 31: 
23.1% (40.5 pounds of fat) down 0.5 pounds)

Everybody do the dinosaur

In my quest to draw more, I asked for a subject and was told to draw a dinosaur. As a kid, I drew approximately five million dinosaurs–and this was almost two decades before Jurassic Park.

Here’s an example of one I found in an old sketchbook. Is Godzilla officially considered a dinosaur? I’m not sure. But you know what they say, great artists steal. This is one of four drawings I did detailing my take on the Godzilla story, inspired by watching every Godzilla movie from the 1950s on KSTW’s Science Fiction Theater, noon every Sunday. Those movies were terrible, and wonderful.

I don’t know why I had Godzilla frozen in a glacier, but it seemed like a cool idea (ho ho). I considerately recorded the year he emerged, which means I was 14 when I sketched this particular masterpiece of terror.

My Godzilla still has small arms, but they are like bodybuilder arms, so he obviously worked out before getting trapped in the glacier.

Disco was at its peak in 1978, but I would argue we’ve had stranger years since.

Here in the strange (and undeniably more horrible) world of 2020, I drew this quick sketch of some generic dinosaur in Procreate, using the technical pencil brush. The only fixing I did was to erase some of the extraneous lines. It’s not bad for a quick sketch. But no glaciers. Or background of any kind. Sad dinosaur walking a barren landscape.

Book review: The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech

The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech: Computer, Consoles & Games by Peter Leigh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Retro Tech provides just what it says on the tin. Starting with systems in the early 1970s, it provides a summary of virtually every video game console and personal computer released up until the debut of the original Xbox in October 2001.

Each summary includes a generous number of photos, sometimes including controllers or oddball accessories, or more mundane things like the power supplies. Leigh offers both an historical overview and also his own personal assessment on each device, which at times stands in contrast to how I saw some of the systems, accounting for the differences in reception between the UK and North American (and in particular U.S.) audiences.

Each summary concludes with a look at three games from each system: The Must-See, the Must-Play, and the Must-Avoid. A lot of the Must-Avoids are typically obscure fare (no, E.T. did not make the list for the Atari 2600–though it does get mentioned alongside the “winner”).

Leigh keeps the writing light and at times droll, never being afraid to call out lemons and questionable marketing of years gone by.

I was struck by the sheer number of systems that came out in the 70s and early 80s. It seemed that nearly everyone tried to get a slice of the video game pie before the famous crash of 1983. While there are systems that never sold well here in Canada that I was aware of–like the MSX computers, there are many listed here that I was utterly unfamiliar with, even leaving aside the UK-specific machines that never made it over here.

For anyone who grew up when these machines were coming out (as I did), this is indeed a heady dose of nostalgia. For others, it serves as a brief and well-illustrated history of the early days of video games and personal computers. In fact, my only real knock on the book is that each write-up only amounts to a page or so. I would love to see a more in-depth look at the same topic. As it is, I was able to tear through the book all too quickly.

Still, this was an enjoyable look back and an easy recommendation for those who would enjoy seeing the sometimes wacky products that came out in the quest for the early gamer’s dollars (or pounds).

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Photos of the Day, Late Edition

These were taken over the past few days, but I was too lazy/indolent to post them right away.

Fun fact about the first shot: I used Pixelmator Photo on my iPad to remove an out of focus telephone wire from the sky. Yes, this image is not true to life.

But it looks nice.

These will probably grow into horribly sour crab apples or something. I’m not a fruitologist, so don’t quote me on that.

Delicious* Rowan berries!

* If eaten uncooked, the parasorbic acid will actually cause indigestion or, if you’re especially lucky, kidney damage. Per Wikipedia. (I didn’t sample any.)

Book review: How to Sketch

How to Sketch: A Beginner’s Guide to Sketching Techniques, Including Step By Step Exercises, Tips and Tricks by Liron Yanconsky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book review: How to Sketch

This book does a good job in covering all the basics when it comes to learning how to sketch. Author Liron Yanconsky brings an amiable style to the subject as he introduces everything a new artist will need to know and need to have. Starting with the correct mindset, he covers some core concerns and requirements, such as accepting and embracing imperfection (you’re learning to sketch, after all), and the essential quality of being curious and seeking variety in what you sketch. He moves on to suggested materials, some basic techniques on how to use your eyes and even how to hold a pencil.

From there, he covers more specific aspects of sketching, including:

  • Perspective
  • Light and shadow
  • Tones and Textures

The final part of the book consists of working from included photos to produce full sketches of people, landscapes and more.

I suspect that at least some may become discouraged as they try to replicate the excellent results Yanconsky shows for each exercise. At times the sophistication required to accurately capture the scenes feels a bit like those old “Learn to Draw” ads that went from a few scrawled lines in the first panel to lavishly illustrated drawings in the fourth panel. Yanconsky addresses this in a way, urging the new artist to focus on sections, to build a sketch piece by piece when there is a lot to draw. His enthusiasm for the topic certainly helps.

As someone who can draw but not really draw well, I found the first half of the book, with its straightforward lessons on the aspects of sketching, to be quite helpful. While I may never been a sketching whiz, this book has helped me in ways that my own bumbling around wouldn’t have.

Recommended.

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