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Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS 522

Posted by Soulskill
from the change-is-scary dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Ryan Reed reports that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing his epic fantasy novels, they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop (or possibly carving his words onto massive stones like the Ten Commandments). But the truth is that Martin works on an outdated DOS machine using '80s word processor WordStar 4.0, as he revealed during an interview on Conan. 'I actually like it,' says Martin. 'It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.' 'I actually have two computers,' Martin continued. 'I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet.'"
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Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS

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  • by Qbertino (265505) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @04:49PM (#47003191)

    'It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.'

    Amen, brother, Amen!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @04:52PM (#47003211)

    Why do people still pay money for software performing most basic tasks like Word 365? Nowadays, they have millions of alternatives.

  • The Good Old Days! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cogeek (2425448) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @04:54PM (#47003245)
    I still remember WordPerfect 5.1 running on DOS, once you had all the shortcut keys memorized, was lightning fast and did just what it was supposed to. I get so pissed off clicking on the little blue lightning bolt every 5 seconds to undo something Microsoft thought it was helping me "fix."
  • Not "obsolete" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @04:56PM (#47003285) Journal

    What does "obsolete" mean? If his writing instrument does what he needs it to do and he's happy using it, then more power to him. Who's to tell him he can't use it, or an IBM Selectric, or even a quill pen and vellum? Nothing is obsolete if it still works for your needs.

  • by AaronLS (1804210) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @04:59PM (#47003325)

    Hallelujah! Trying to select text and it grabs the whole word, or worse, some programs grab the whole word plus a space. Why do I want trailing spaces with everything I paste?

    As a developer thinking about how I can "help" the user, I always favor the perspective that the user knows what they want.

    Some developers make the "they can disable this feature" excuse. The frustrating thing is every time you get a new desktop/phone/upgrade/update you find yourself disabling the same options again and again. Only a small handful of products remember these kinds of settings across devices/installs.

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:00PM (#47003329) Homepage

    I still miss Reveal Codes.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:05PM (#47003415) Homepage Journal

    This is because, as a developer, you're a user who understands and knows what you want. Microsoft is writing software for the kind of people who'd type google into the google search bar to get to google.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:08PM (#47003439)
    640k is enough if the processor loads in only part. I remember scrolling in documents of that age in DOS. It was painful. It'd have to read the parts of the document you tried to scroll to. There's no reason you need 640k of RAM to read a 2M file. You just can't have all of it in RAM at the same time. That's how it used to be. The idea of ramdriving every program by loading 100% of every program you are running and 100% of every file used by every one of those programs is silly, but it's the new norm. You don't read what you want, you read it all, even if you don't need it.

    Shit like that is one of the many reasons someone might like the "old" way. It was faster/better. He's writing, not doing a global search and replace (which would be painful on something like that),

    I have no idea of that's how wordstar did it, but I used some that did, I just don't remember which, as most didn't survive the transition to Windows, so they are gone. No need to indicate experience with Write when nobody has heard of it and will assume I made an error.
  • I hope he has 50 kaypros or whatever stored in nitrogen somewhere... that can't go on forever.

    I don't see why not. DOS runs fine on modern machines. At some point he may have to switch to emulation, but IA32 emulators should be around for a very very long time.

  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:27PM (#47003651)

    "WordStar is notably lacking in support for extended characters of any sort."

    Like Slashdot 25 years later?

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:37PM (#47003743)

    George Martin said it, but I feel like screaming this about a dozen times a day. Don't change my words, my punctuation, or my URL. Don't suggest sites I might want to visit, items I might find interesting, or settings more befitting someone my age. Don't give me the ability to change all things *trivial* (e.g. appearance) but nothing that matters. If you're going to help, help me fix real *problems* and not just appearances. ("Ohhh, Microsoft helped me fix my network problem!" - said No one, ever).

    In short, BUZZ OFF (And get off my lawn).

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:41PM (#47003787) Homepage Journal

    Compatibility: we want our documents to look same if we hand them to somebody else. It's not easy to match MS-Word's layout engine bug-for-bug in another product.

  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:54PM (#47003943)

    This is because, as a developer, you're a user who understands and knows what you want. Microsoft is writing software for the kind of people who'd type google into the google search bar to get to google.

    I've done that, intentionally. Do you know why? Because between Microsoft deciding that anything that isn't at least a second level domain is a search request intended for bing and Time Warner deciding that anything that isn't immediately properly resolveable should be DNS redirected to their own god-awful search-like landing page, that can be the most reliable way to get to where I actually want to go.

    I usually have set my DNS to OpenDNS, but if I've rebuilt the machine or traveled and stayed somewhere that mysteriously breaks my manually-specified DNS server, I may have reverted the notebook to use whatever is automatically set by DHCP.

    I usually uncheck software's constant attempts to make [insert name here] my new default search agent, or to activate some added search suggestion do-hickey, but I'm not perfectly vigilant.

    Nevermind that this browser will automatically assume "www." and that browser will automatically assume ".com" and maybe, but not consisntently, if you type "google" you'll actually get to the Google front page.

    The kind of people who type google into the google search bar to get google are the kind of people who are not so technologically savvy that they can consistently prevent the ever-loving war to redirect any user typing something into what should be a URL entry field to some random "search engine" because user traffic = middleman $$$.

    THE UNIFIED SEARCH AND ADDRESS BAR IS TEH DEVIL.

    The Bing toolbar, Google toolbar, or what have you can be ugly clutter, but it can't be subtly screwed with by the other devils.

    And that is why you get people typing google into the google search bar to get to google.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @06:07PM (#47004069)

    All you need to do is intercept a shipment of a VGA cable

    RAGEMASTER: (see image above, right) A concealed $30 device that taps the video signal from a target's computer's VGA signal output so the NSA can see what is on a targeted desktop monitor. It is powered by a remote radar and responds by modulating the VGA red signal (which is also sent out most DVI ports) into the RF signal it re-radiates; this method of transmission is codenamed VAGRANT. RAGEMASTER is usually installed/concealed in the ferrite choke of the target cable

  • Re:Shut up..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @06:27PM (#47004265)

    Catelyn is alive too. Well, let's say her body is moving. Whose in control we really don't know for sure.

  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @06:42PM (#47004427) Journal

    Just because you have money doesn't mean you need to throw it away on someone who does little more than primary school level maths.

    The math is the easy part. But understanding the tax code: now that's a bitch.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @08:17PM (#47005095)

    Some authors just keep using what they started with and refuse to progress over a sense of self-superiority. Nothing he is complaining about can't be disabled in Word. Plus he would have features that would greatly aid his writing. He's purposely creating risk unless he prints out his work on paper daily of losing what he wrote. He causes publishers headaches as they have to take his files convert them to something useable. He makes them millions so they allow his 'quirks' but he's probably one of a very very few authors with that kind of pull.

  • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @08:26PM (#47005141) Homepage Journal

    "Reveal Codes" is why it took me zero seconds to learn HTML. It took longer to wrap my head around "save it here, with this name, something.htm (Windows 3.1 FTW), then go to your browser and 'file -> open' that file to see it" than figuring out how tags work. I was like "oh, it's just like reveal codes" and then I just had to learn the tags themselves. Marked-up plain text is one of the greatest things in computerdom.

  • by sillybilly (668960) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @09:05PM (#47005379)
    I've been collecting a lot of oldschool software on Ebay bracing for impact for when the Internet must be completely abandoned, because you will have your hands fully tied by DRM, and the whole thing is gonna suck major ass. Then you can create your idillic little own isolated network and run things the way they used to be, in the good old days. We still got a few more days left of the good old days.
  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Thursday May 15, 2014 @01:38AM (#47006561) Journal

    I email myself all the time.

    I keep backups of most of my data, of course, but email is the most easily-searched, most easily-accessed, and most redundant system I have...and it takes zero additional thought on my part for it to behave in this way.

    Additional redundancy is also simple: If something is Really Important to me, I can send it to myself at multiple independent email servers with ridiculous ease.

    I've been doing it this way since I discovered IMAP something close to 20 years ago.

    The fact that someone is using a tool in a way that you didn't intend should not be taken to indicate that such behavior is wrong, and if IMAP were totally unsuited it wouldn't handle multiple concurrent clients of different types, much less folders, much less generally-sane handling of attachments, much less [...].

    (Granted, this is for stuff that is not secret to me -- just important to me. I don't have many secrets, and any that I do have certainly aren't anywhere near the Internet or any other network.)

  • by HappyDrgn (142428) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @02:08AM (#47006657) Homepage

    "Name 1 way to back up her emails and pictures on a remote server that requires fewer mouse clicks than forwarding them herself with email."

    Dropbox - drag, drop, done. Single click.

  • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @07:31AM (#47007597)

    Shut the fuck up and go read a basic grammar text

    Which will show that you're a pretentious fuckwit?

    They is the standard gender-neutral personal pronoun (as opposed to "it" the gender-neutral non-personal pronoun). People who insist on writing "he or she," "he/she," or any other stilted monstrosity are the linguistic equivalent of Kanye West--baselessly arrogant and pretentious.

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