Microsoft’s e-reader

A comment I originally posted elsewhere about Microsoft’s Downfall:

Windows is a golden goose chained to Microsoft’s ankle. On the one hand, they’re rolling in money because almost everyone has some crusty old Windows software that they have to run so they need Windows to run it. On the other, they’re tied to millions of lines of old code that they have to maintain in order to keep those people coming back to buy the next version.

On a similar note to the e-reader mentioned here, in 2001 I was sitting a short distance from Bill Gates as he held out a tablet and told us that it was the future of computing. Everyone would be using these things so we’d better make sure our software ran on them.

What it was, of course, was a tablet running Windows. None of us could understand what he’d been smoking to think that people would run out to buy these things that required using Windows with a touch-screen, and they sank to a tiny niche where people did find good uses for them.

Steve Jobs was happy to throw out all the old code in order to build a tablet that was designed to be used with a touch screen, and the iPad was born. Microsoft are now rushing to catch up in the tablet market, but they’re still following the old methods; this time, instead of pushing a desktop UI onto a tablet, they’re pushing a tablet UI onto the desktop.

Worse than that, they can’t even use the ‘we’re cheaper than the competition’ ruse to get into the market this time, because Android has already taken that niche.

The Carbon

The Carbon Cover

A tale of lesbians, monkeys and global warmingcooling…

The Carbon is done, it just needs a bit of tweaking and a cover before it’s released. It’s the first story in my 2070 universe, which is odd because it’s actually set in the 25th century, long after the main events of the novels I’m writing.

I was aiming to join the 52 Shades of Short Stories challenge and write a story a week, but I think I’ll end up with at most one every two weeks. Still, it’s a good motivation to get more finished.

I’m also trying a new look with the cover, more of a traditional book style. We’ll see how that does.

It’s now up on Smashwords. It’s free in the Smashwords sale for the next week, then it will revert to the normal price and I’ll upload it to Amazon.

Elmore Leonard’s Writing Rules

An old article, but a good one. Elmore Leonard, Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle.

Unfortunately it’s a New York Times link, but seems to work despite their paywall.

To summarise:

  1. Never open a book with weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than ”said” to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ”said”
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
  6. Never use the words ”suddenly” or ”all hell broke loose.”
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Like all writing ‘rules’, some of them are made to be broken, but I agree with most and understand why he suggests them as rules because I’ve seen all these problems in short stories I’ve critiqued.


The new version of Tartarus with an improved cover and a slightly different opening is now up for sale. I know, I shouldn’t have changed the text, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to tweak a couple of lines.

British Citizenship Test

The British citizenship test is being rewritten to be more like the Canadian test. Less questions on how to claim welfare and more on British history and traditions.

This is probably why, when I tried the online practice versions of both tests, I scored higher on the Canadian test than British. Having worked most of my life since graduating, I had no idea how to answer the questions about welfare benefits in the British test, whereas I had a reasonable knowledge of Canadian history at the time and could answer most of the questions about the political system because much of it is similar to Britain’s.