Thursday, February 04, 2010

Why I Hate Sky But Quite Like David

Grr, Sky! Grr, Cornwall! (The sky I am referring to is the corporation owned by devil-incarnate Rupert Murdoch*, by the way, and not the most excellent canopy, the brave overhanging firmament, the majestical roof fretted with… Not the actual sky, I mean.)

Despite the year being 2010 (2010! Where’s my hovercar? Where’s my robot butler?), thanks to the Cornish infrastructure, my broadband connection is capped at 1.5MB per second. Mr Internet tells me it’s capable of 2.5MB (woo!), but is for some reason limited to 1.5. (Perhaps this snail-like connectivity is because the Cornish generally distrust anything fast - SUCH AS DRIVING ABOVE 15MPH, for instance. Seriously, a 17 year-old in a Mini told me to slow down the other day because I was doing 30 in a residential area. This English county - just provoking the locals there - is as strange as it is beautiful. But then after thirteeen years of living in London, I still haven’t got used to people being friendly and generally chilled out, and I still retain some of that city-dweller’s tendency of thinking that everyone else is just in my way.)

Why is my internet connection in any way interesting, you ask? It’s not, but it is frustrating when you try to download the iPad (iPhone) SDK, which is 2Gb in size (and downloading is the only way you can get it, as far as I can see). And it’s even more frustrating when Sky Broadband suddenly reduce their 80Gb monthly usage to 10Gb without telling you and then keep cutting off your internet connection when the download gets to 1.9Gb. Thanks, Sky. The conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but think there is something intentional in this - after three attempts at downloading I was already at half of my monthly usage allowance, and it’s only the start of the month - and if I go over again the prices go up. Of course.

Maybe I wouldn’t mind if Sky had ever provided a half-decent service, but have you actually tried using a Sky+ box? It’s as though they kidnapped Sir Clive Sinclair from the past, fresh from inventing the ZX81, stopped off in the early nineties to pick up parts, and then locked him in a room to knock the thing together without bothering to tell him about any technological advance since Teletext. I swear it’s John Titor all over again. I don’t know why I’m surprised by this - after all, the Sky box was designed by Amstrad. Using Amstrad technology as the basis for the country’s most popular (um, only) satellite television box is a little like giving the troops on the front hum-vees built on the chassis of Robin Reliants. Oh look, it’s raining - the signal’s down. (Pity I live in Cornwall, then.) Oh look - it’s just turned itself off again. Oh look - it’s frozen on Peter Andre’s face for the past hour. But living in Cornwall you either use Sky or put up with four channels of drivel rather than a hundred (note to Richard Branson: hurry up and install cable down here you b*****d!). And I need those extra channels if only to pretend I’m not loving Glee or really looking forward to the new series of Supernatural, and so that I can bitch in an informed way about how rubbish Caprica is and how Ron Moore should be made to wear a hair-shirt and personally apologise to everyone on the planet for his crimes against Good Endings That Don’t Make Me Want To Thrust Pencils Into My Eyes. Oh wait, some readers don’t like me mentioning that, best move on…

But anyway. Thanks to David, who since joining Literature & Latte has consistently won Employee of the Month every single month,** for saving the day by downloading a copy of the SDK and getting it to me on DVD the very next day. (Even the British postal system is better than you, BSkyB!)

Which is really just a roundabout way of saying that I now at least have the iPhone SDK (the one capable of iPad development), so I can take a look and make a more informed judgement on future possibilities for Scrivener when I get some time. This doesn’t change anything in the short-term, of course - Scrivener for the Mac remains my number one priority, Scrivener 2.0 will take up all my development time for the next few months, and I have no intention of doing anything that will have a long-term negative impact on the Scrivener I use and love myself. But it can’t hurt to take a peek, can it?

* I’m pretty sure Omen 3 was a Murdoch biopic sent back through time from the future.

** Can you guess how many employees we have?

4 Comments:

Blogger dixonge said...

Strangely enough, I am going through a list of uses for my MacBook to see what I can use an iPad for and what would have to be transitioned to the Mac Mini, were I to dispose of said MacBook. I got to writing and thought "Scrivener would be *awesome* on an iPad!!!"

Glad to see you looking into it. I'd totally buy that app...

9:50 pm  
Blogger Charlie Stross said...

Here's a feature request, if you have time: as an ipad-owner-to-be, what I'd like (at a minimum) is an app that can load a .scriv file bundle, let me edit the scrivenings therein, and then save the file with scrivenings intact (either in the local ipad filestore or somewhere where it can be synched with my mac).

Outlining, card index, and other views would all be nice: but they're less important than being able to read a manuscript in progress and type additions/corrections to it while on the go! (And presumably a lot easier to manage -- surely there's a standard RTF editor in the iPad SDK examples?)

6:59 pm  
Blogger kayembi said...

Actually no - there's still no rich text editor in the iPad SDK as there is on OS X and no way to read RTF "out of the box" (I think you can read it into a web view for preview only, but you're not allowed to use web views for editing rich text). Like the current iPhone, the iPad isn't built for rich text editing at all at the moment, as I understand it. (Obviously Apple have worked their own magic to create Pages.) I'd have to write own rich text engine from scratch if I understand things correctly. I therefore imagine that most text editors on the iPad will be plain text for a while, until someone is able to write a rich text engine that they are willing to share, or until Apple provide one, if they ever do. Also, I don't think the iPhone SDK could read a file package such as Scrivener's at all (not least because of the RTF requirements). I'll keep an eye on the iPad but it's unlikely I'll be developing for it any time soon, unfortunately, mainly because Scrivener 2.0 for the Mac already has lots left to do, and the iPad is an entirely new platform. I don't relish spending the few hours I get away from developing Scrivener for the Mac on a different version for a different platform (and it would be madness anyway until it is confirmed that the iPad has actually taken off). But as I say, I don't think there's any way currently the iPad could read RTF files from a Scrivener package anyway, sadly. One day, when we're rich and can afford more developers... (I know you don't like the platform dependence of Scrivener, but I don't yet have the resources to make it otherwise.)
All the best,
Keith

7:24 pm  
Blogger Niki said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:30 pm  

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