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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 But the truth is that Martin works on an outdated DOS machine using '80s word processor WordStar 4.0, as he revealed during an interview on Conan.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 geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @04:58PM (#47003309) Homepage Journal

    Man rages against machine because he can't figure out how to set options.

  • by bhcompy (1877290) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:10PM (#47003463)
    Douglas Adams typed on an Apple IIe. Many authors bring typewriters or other dummy typing devices with them somewhere so they can remove external influences and distractions during their writing time
  • by sir-gold (949031) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:12PM (#47003489)

    Wordstar probably has it's own swap file. Most of the heavy-duty DOS word processors did.

    640k stopped being a real limitation with DOS 5.0 and the EMS/XMS standards. As long as the words and interface elements currently on the screen fit into 640k, you are fine. Also, if you are in a text-only mode (with a flashing square for a mouse cursor), there are memory hacks that can give you up to 720k of conventional ram, at the expense of losing all graphics ability.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:32PM (#47003697) Homepage Journal

    tip: When responding to a post reread it and ask yourself "What would this be if the guy was smiling while he wrote it?"
    Seriously dude. CTFD

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:40PM (#47003771)

    So when a user who doesn't know what they want copies a temporary password from an email and pastes it in to a login form is supposed to know to remove the trailing space the Microsoft software so helpfully included?
    Or when you've gone to the pain of selecting only the word and not the trailing space, then select part of another word to paste over, it helpfully inserts a space that you must then delete.

    I'm so glad I don't know what I want.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @06:24PM (#47004227)

    There are more than two surviving Starks... as of the end of the latest book we have:

    1. Sansa is with littlefinger
    2. Aria is training to be a religious assassin of sorts
    3. Bran is technically alive, but is more tree than man now.
    4. Rickon is out there somewhere with Osha, I guess
    5. John Snow, while not really a Stark... well I'm not sure if he's alive or not. He was stabbed... a lot.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @07:08PM (#47004627) Homepage Journal

    the Lannisters, the Starks, the Targaryens, the Tyrells, the Greyjoys all plain English names

    It is a common fantasy translation convention for the viewpoint character's culture to have plain English names. For example, the other well-known RR fantasy author based halflings' names on English naming patterns: Proudfoot, Baggins, Gamgee (from Gammidge, from earlier Gamwich), Brandybuck, etc. (No, Elijah Wood isn't related to Zak Bagans.)

    honestly it's a refreshing break from the high fantasy [Unicode fail]

    Tolkien's elves spoke a language analogus to Romance, and Romance languages have diacritics.

  • by steveha (103154) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @09:13PM (#47005421) Homepage

    Dos can access a lot more than 640k - the limit on real mode access is 1mb.

    True! So, if DOS can access 1 MB, where does the 640K limit come from? Long story short, it's because IBM's BIOS sucked.

    Okay, longer story:

    Everyone was supposed to use the BIOS for basic operations including writing text to the screen. But the BIOS was poorly designed; the only way it had to write to the screen was to write one character at a time per call into the BIOS. And calling into the BIOS was kind of slow (remember we are talking about computers three orders of magnitude slower than current computers... 4.7 MHz processor).

    Since the BIOS was too slow, people didn't use it. Instead, they figured out the address of the screen buffer in the graphics card, and just wrote the desired text directly into the buffer. So much faster!

    But this meant that all the most popular software for DOS was not using the BIOS, and had a particular hardware dependency hard-coded. And the standard address for the frame buffer just happened to be 640K. (Well, there were two addresses, depending on whether the user had a mono or color card, but 640K was the lower of the two.) The address was chosen back in the days when RAM was really expensive, and computers might only have 64K or even less. So, nobody saw a problem coming... and besides, everyone was going to be using the BIOS, right? So you should be able to move the graphics card, change the BIOS, and all the software still would work. Whoops.

    With the benefit of hindsight, what should have happened was: a DOS program uses the BIOS to query the address of the frame buffer, so the graphics card can move around anywhere in memory. And the BIOS should have had a "write whole string" function from the beginning. (Much later versions of the BIOS had a "write whole string" function but I don't think any popular software ever used it, as it was not available in the giant installed base of old DOS computers.)

  • by EuclideanSilence (1968630) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @11:16PM (#47006055)

    This should be a clue to everyone how important ease of use is. I know that skilled computer users love following 5 pages of directions linked between 8 different websites written by 4 different people to accomplish 1 simple task (looking at you Linux), but for most people, that's a pain in the ass.

    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. "I've tried to explain how things should be done" -- first rule of UI design, "don't make me think".

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Thursday May 15, 2014 @01:38AM (#47006565) Homepage

    What the hell is "It'd"?

    First Known Use of IT'D 1859 [merriam-webster.com]. It's been a part of the language for over 150 years, and is perfectly standard -- if informal -- usage in both American and British English.

  • Re: No. Simply No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by CGordy (1472075) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @07:57AM (#47007677)

    Not that I am in love with Microsoft, but Excel has added quite a few "minor" functions since 2000 that dramatically increase usability.

    For example, Excel 2007 introduced filtering and sorting by colors. And formats. Coupled with the existing conditional formatting, it significantly improved the ability of the software to sort based on any criteria, without using extra columns.

    Going back a bit further, a key feature introduced in Excel 2003 was the ability to import xml datasets, and to set up templates quite easily which automatically imported data from xml files into preset columns. This can be done using macros, sure, but it's a lot easier to use the built in functionality.

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