My New Writing Life

About a year ago, I retired from the games writing business. A combination of a declining print market, fairly horrid pay, and massive burnout lead me to decide it was time to hang up the jersey.

One of my goals when I did that was to spend more time writing my fiction. However, after not getting much done with that I learned I work much better with some sort of deadline — or at least a content manager bugging me for articles.

I am pleased to announce I am now one of the contributing writers at The Apple Blog. For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity; I get to write about the technology I use every day and get paid for it.

Year-end software wrap up

In keeping with Alex Payne’s “Software I Paid For” post, I’m doing my own. While his focuses on software he no longer uses, I’m going to try and remember the apps I bought over the year, and if I regret the purchase.


Office 2008. Scrivener is still my heavy-lifting writing program, but Word 2008 gets a lot of use for academic writing. The built-in citation manager alone was worth the price. However, I paid $70 for it via academic pricing, so it was worth at least that. No regrets.

Spore. I bought it, and couldn’t get through the cell stage without wanting to poke myself in the eye. Deep regret.

Wrath of the Lich King. Fantastic job by Blizzard. Only regret is time lost to it.

Parallels Desktop Upgrade (3.0). At least, I think I got this in 2008. I don’t use my Mac for the day job anymore. I bought it due to their promise of better 3D support, which it failed to deliver. Moderate regret.

CrossOver Games. I bought this before they had their one-day free promo. It lets me run LOTRO and D&D Online on my Macbook, and does a good job at it. No regrets.

Delicious Library 2. I’m trying to get more organized with my media library. Delicious Library lets me throw an XLS file of my books on my iPhone, which is handy when I go into a used bookstore and can’t remember if I have that book or not. No regrets.

Pixelmator. I think I got this last year as part of Macheist. It’s pretty much been the Photoshop replacement I was hoping it would be. It gets less use now that I’m not fudging with graphics for WoW Insider/Massively. No regrets.

iPhone Apps

Bejeweled 2. Fantastic game that’s great for those moments where I’m parked on the couch waiting for my wife to get ready. Quick loading and mindless play. No regrets.

Chess Classics. I don’t play this as much as I’d like, but I have no regrets.

Cro-Mag Rally. Only played one race. Deep regret.

FileMagnet. Handy for  the infrequent times I need to get a file onto the phone. No regrets.

MLB At Bat. I’m not a big baseball fan, but this is the app I use to show off what the iPhone can do. Plus, it’s handy for those times I actually give a shit what the score of the Sox game is. No regrets.

Spore Origins. I’ve played it more than he OS X version. It’s not bad, and kinda fun. Moderate Regret.

Scrabble. My wife loves scrabble and this is great for when we’re waiting on food or for a movie to start. No regrets.

Texas Hold’em. Like Spore, I don’t play it much, but it’s pretty good. No regrets.

Twitterific Premium. I’m using Twinkle more now, and I don’t like how it doesn’t start at the top of the list. Deep regret.

X-Plane 9. Another one I don’t play much and the controls are a little hard to get used to, but I don’t have any regrets.

I have more regrets about my iPhone purchases than I do desktop purchases, but I think that’s due to the ease of impulse buying. On the desktop, I’m more likely to do serious research and try the demo before I feed in my credit card. Being able to grab a $1-5 app on the iTunes store is sometimes hard to resist. I’ve gotten better at resisting this siren’s call, though.

Time tests loading Word 2008 vs. Word 2007 via an emulator

Today at the day job, I was working on getting Word 2007 to connect to SharePoint on my Mac via Parallels, and it got me to wondering what the load time differences were between Word 2008 12.1.4, Word 2007 via Crossover, and Word 2007 via Parallels.

I ran three tests (four if one of the three tests generated a number out-of-whack from the other two): Three from a fresh startup of the OS, and three from just quitting the app and re-launching it. In the case of Parallels, I quit Word from within the VM and then quit Parallels. I did not do a fresh boot of Windows XP for the tests; I left the VM in a suspended state.

I’ve got the numbers at the end of this post, but from a cold boot time. Word 2007 from within Parallels won, with Word 2007 within Crossover coming in second and Word 2008 natively within OS X coming in third. Warm starts Word 2008 won, with Word 2007 in Parallels coming in second, and Word 2007 in Crossover coming in third.

I’ll admit: there are a lot of apples to hand grenades comparisons happening here. About the only valid point is two separate Microsoft Word Processor have drastically different start times between a native app and one running in a two different emulators. You also can run into some issues if the emulator doesn’t want to start up properly – not to mention in Parallels’ case running an entire OS on top of OS X.

I’m not really sure what to make of these numbers. If you told me Word 2007 running in two different emulators would actually start faster than Word 2008, I would have laughed my ass off. However, in none of the cold start time tests I performed did Word 2008’s fastest load time beat the fastest cold start time tests of an emulated Word 2007. If you rarely reboot your Mac, subsequent loads of Word 2008 are faster, but not dramatically so.

One other difference is looks. I’ve attached screen captures of the three versions below, but I found Word 2007 in Parallels to read clearer because it uses Clear Type. Word 2007 in CrossOver looked the worse since it was bolder than the other two. Word 2007 also interacts with SharePoint and Blogs better; this entire post was written and posted in Word 2007. I’m also enjoying the ribbon interface a little better in Word 2007.

That said, I think it’s unlikely I’ll be doing a lot of work in Word 2007 – mainly because it’s not a native OS X and running Windows XP on top of OS X is too resource intensive. I did find it amazing that it loads faster than Word 2008.


Time Tests

Word 2008:

Cold Start 1: 1:03.11

Cold Start 2: 34.7

Cold Start 3: 1:09.4

Cold Start 4: 1:22.3

Warm Start 1 7.3

Warm Start 2: 6.9

Warm Start 3: 8.4


Word 2007: Parallels

Cold Start 1: 32.7

Cold Start 2: 46.5

Cold Start 3: 43.5

Cold Start 4″ 1:29.8

Warm Start 1: 10.7

Warm Start 2 : 1:36.4

Warm Start 3: 11.6

Warm Start 4; 10.3


Word 2007: Codeweavers

Cold Start 1: 40.8

Cold Start 2: 41.0

Cold Start 3: 38.5

Warm Start 1: 12.8

Warm Start 2 :13.8

Warm Start 3: 11.8