Ulysses switches to paid subscriptions… Faeries wither and die all over the internet

I rarely cover tech stories, but Ulysses is used by so many writers (myself included) I thought it was worth chatting about what is becoming an increasingly popular revenue model for software developers.

You can find the announcement and pricing on the Soulmen website, but the short version is that you can no longer buy Ulysses as a one-off payment; you now pay every month/year if you want to keep on using it.

Realising this won't sit well with their use base, software companies often write a tome of a blog article explaining why this is necessary and why it is good for their customers. You can pretty much skip over whatever they write because it always boils down to two points: Continue reading “Ulysses switches to paid subscriptions… Faeries wither and die all over the internet”

Another Netflix gem: Knights of Sidonia

Another evening of random Manga trawling (I really should read a book or something) turned up this little beauty. It’s been running on Netflix for a few years so, as usual, I’m a little late to the party, but it’s got a four-and-a-half stars so it has to be worth a look.


Travelling through space some six hundred years in the future, Sidonia – a massive chunk of rock with an equally massive engine attached –  is all that’s left of planet Earth. It’s home to half a million people, the descendents of the survivors of an attack that destroyed our Solar System.  While searching space for a new home, the population live in fear and readiness for an attack from the Guana – the race of gigantic, near-indestructible, space-faring aliens that destroyed the Earth six centuries earlier.

That’s the upshot; three episodes in and I’m hooked. It’s very similar to Attack On Titan: we have a single hero (always male) who has to carry the responsibility for saving a civilisation on his narrow shoulders. He’s aided by a supporting cast (mostly female, mostly wet and simpering) and a some ingenious tech in the form of giant space fighters/samurai robots which are deployed against an immortal enemy.

Now I think about it, this is exactly the same as Attack On Titan, except the survivors of the decimation are in space, not on Earth.

Okay, so the story is nothing new, but that doesn’t stop it from being told brilliantly with excellent animation. Aside from the story, what I like about Knights of Sidonia is the attention to detail. Someone has thought about the problems that a large community isolated on huge flying boulder would likely encounter: how many people would die if something went wrong with the gravity; what genetic would need to be taken to prevent half a million people from starving to death. And I can’t remember ever seeing the word ‘catheter’ mentioned in a cartoon before.

The enemy is mysterious and frightening, and the pilots of the flying samurai know it, which leads to some real edge-of-your-seat battle scenes.

It’s great, so if you fancy a late evening Manga binge then give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.




Scrivener for iOS: Scribbling on the road

Or in a field if you like…

Okay, first a disclaimer: I’ve been a Scrivener user since day one (that must be going on about ten years now), and I’m also one of those people who didn’t believe you could write a whole book on a tablet, much less a mobile phone. So, skeptical me promised the developer  I’d give it a damn good try…

This is where I was when I finished Novel Number 4, the last two chapters written on my mobile phone.

If you’re going to walk and write, keep one eye out for the river bank

So it’s fair to say I’m something of a convert.

Scrivener for iOS should probably be called the Messiah Release: millions waited for it, and as time soldiered on it seemed less likely that it would ever arrive. But Literature and Latte battled on making missteps and hitting setbacks until their developer – who said he wasn’t go to write it himself – decided to write it himself. A surprisingly short year or so later, the beta arrived, and straight off the bat, I can tell you it was well worth the wait.

I got my notification, and taking great care to ignore all the warnings and instructions, I downloaded it and cracked on. Getting my work in progress on to iOS was pretty easy: Scrivener uses Dropbox to store its files (it can’t use iCloud – more on that later), so it’s simply a case of copying your stuff to a Dropbox folder and then syncing across to iOS. Unsurprisingly, things didn’t look quite right; everything was there: the manuscript, my research notes, character bios, photographs, story plans – but the fonts weren’t right. I got straight on to the developer who pointed out the spot in the manual where it explains how to sync fonts into Scrivener. Two minutes later, I had a project that looked eerily like the one I have running on MacOSX.

Continue reading “Scrivener for iOS: Scribbling on the road”