Vellum: a list of wants without the tantrum

I have a strange relationship with Vellum. It’s one of the most expensive apps I own (or rather license), and it’s the app that I probably use the least. And yet it’s one of the few apps I wouldn’t be without, because when I do get round to using it, it saves be a bucketload of time and churns out professional quality results without me pulling out what little hair I have.

So for the uninitiated, Vellum is sort of like a word-processor … though not really. You can load a file (.docx, .rtf) into it, or type your book straight in, and Vellum will churn out beautifully formatted ePubs for a handful of mobile platforms such as Apple Books, Amazon Kindle, along with PDFs that be dropped into CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.

Yes, I know that I can do the same thing in Word and Scrivener, but even Scrivener can’t deliver such a clean, well-dressed output without some fiddling afterwards. Vellum will space out your text to make sure all the pages are balanced without leaving those niggling single lines on a page before skipping off to the next chapter.

I’m not a believer in the one-stop-shop kind of an app, but Vellum is so easy to use and so well thought out, I find myself wondering what would it need so I could use it more.

So here’s is my list of wants for Vellum, based on nothing more than my own sense of entitlement (there’s a lot of it about after all).

Continue reading “Vellum: a list of wants without the tantrum”

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.