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Posts from the ‘Writing’ Category

18
Oct

Kestrel — A Choosable Path Novel for Young Adults

Just over a year ago, I wrote about the interactive fiction fantasy book app I was working on. After much work by many people, we released it just a few weeks ago. It’s free, for iPad-only (so far). Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Kestrel is a choosable path story or novel for young adults where you make choices in behalf of the main character, altering how the story unfolds.

You get to decide where Kestrel goes, who she trusts, and how she reacts to the events around her. Depending on your choices, she can end up on either side of the conflict or weave a path along the middle.

Growing up on a farm where she can see the city lights at night, Kestrel dreams of a better future. One without cows. But in a world where two forces of magic are about to collide, Kestrel is about to be caught up in something that will change her world forever. And she may be the deciding factor.

The app currently has just one chapter. Each new chapter will be published as it becomes available. You will be able to buy each new chapter, or the whole book (and all future chapters) for a great discount until the book is complete.

Version 1.2 was just released today. It fixes a few more problems, including one occasional crash bug.

▸ Fixed another issue where the app could crash when tapping the next button at the top of the app.
▸ Increased the font size a bit when the device is in portrait orientation.
▸ Added a request for ratings, but hopefully in a way that isn’t annoying. If you’re annoyed, let me know. :)

11
Sep

My Best Stuff

You may have noticed the new My Best Stuff section on the side. The articles there either continue to be the most viewed or have generated the best reaction from people who know me. I didn’t think much about it when I was calling it Popular or Recently Popular. Calling it “my best” makes me nervous.

It made me realize that those articles probably do represent my best writings, or at least my most successful. And I wonder if they’re actually any good. No real way to find out, except by forging ahead anyway.

So please don’t hesitate to let me know if I’m wrong about what to include in the list or if you have any comments or suggestions. You can follow me on Twitter here or email me .

I’ll update the list on occasion as I discover which articles resonate with people the best.

26
Oct

Original Inspiration for the iPhone Maps Application

I am 100% sure that this Dilbert comic from 1990 was Steve Jobs’ original inspiration for creating the iPhone with its famous Maps application:

Dilbert from May 10, 1990

You knew that Dilbert was over 21 years old, right? (I didn’t. :)

12
Feb

Writing for Someone Else

About two months ago, Mozy released the first non-beta version of MozyPro for Mac. The day before, I was asked if I would be interested in writing a blog entry for Mozy talking about the release.

I didn’t have much time, but I wanted to try writing for the marketing and PR team because I’d never done it before. I hoped I could learn something in the process of writing for someone else.

They were looking for several specific things:

  1. Shows Mozy’s personal side
  2. Lets those outside Mozy peer into our world
  3. Is fun to read
  4. Shows some personality
  5. Is interesting, but focused on the product
  6. Describes what went into creating the release
  7. Is about four paragraphs

In addition, I wanted to write something that sounded like an actual person wrote it.

I sent my first draft to our awesome PR guy for review. He had some great comments and coached me quite a bit on the type of things they were looking for: more personality, more of the effort we put into the release, more technology details, and some context about who I was and what I do for Mozy. (Hi, Devin. I know you read these. :-))

Here is my second draft:

We’re excited to (finally) make MozyPro for Mac generally available. I’ve been managing the client engineering team, part of which has been working hard on MozyPro for Mac. Now with the public release, we’ve achieved one of our long-standing goals — much to the relief of the many people who’ve called in over the years requesting Mac versions of our software.

There were late nights, many discussions, and even some arguing about how we could make the best software as quickly as we could, while staying true to the Apple spirit of excellence. The Mac client backs up resource forks, symlinks, aliases, packages and application bundles. We kept the application design similar to our Windows software while integrating as much Mac goodness as we thought we could get away with. We worked hard to make MozyPro for Mac a useful back up service for businesses that have computers or servers running OS X.

We aren’t finished yet though. We still have work to do. We’re planning support for backing up permissions, ownership, ACLs, Finder flags, file creator and type, Spotlight comments, creation dates and extended attributes. We also have other great things planned a bit further down the road.

As Mozy has grown over the years, it has been great to be a part of such a dynamic company. There have been many successes along with some learning experiences. Mozy’s Team Awesome works hard to build the best backup solution for Windows and Mac computers. The constant struggle helps us to be better people and to make a better product.

The new company Decho is going to build on our successes in order to make our customers’ information more valuable. More valuable to them. To you.

This is longer than I wanted and longer than it should be. I was trying to add stuff without removing anything. In hindsight, I should have spent more time editing and condensing my thoughts. “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

I also mention things we have “planned” for the future. Since I don’t have full control over the work my team will be doing in the future, it really isn’t appropriate to say things that sound like promises or concrete plans until they are official. And even then our plans are subject to change. “Always in motion is the future.”

One of our extremely talented marketing writers sent me this edited version:

We’re excited to (finally) make MozyPro for Mac generally available. With the public release, we’ve achieved one of our long-standing goals, much to the relief of the many people who’ve called in over the years requesting Mac versions of our software.

There were late nights, many discussions, and even some arguing about how we could quickly make the best software while staying true to the Apple spirit of excellence. We kept the application design similar to our Windows software, integrated Mac goodness, and made MozyPro for Mac a useful backup service for businesses running OS X.

The Mac client backs up resource forks, symlinks, aliases, packages, and application bundles, but we aren’t finished yet. We’re planning support for backing up permissions, ownership, ACLs, Finder flags, file creator and type, Spotlight comments, creation dates, and extended attributes. We also have other great things planned a bit further down the road.

Mozy’s Team Awesome works hard to build the best backup solution for Windows and Mac computers. The constant struggle helps us to be better people and to make a better product. The new company, Decho, will build on Mozy’s previous successes in order to make our customers’ information more valuable. More valuable to them. To you.

At the time, this version seemed sterile to me. I actually used that word and felt bad about it later. (Sorry, K!) Reading it now, it doesn’t seem bad. She was able to shorten it noticeably without losing much of the content, which is actually very hard to do. I also think this reads easier. I ended up responding that I felt her version didn’t sound like me.

About the same time, one of our marketing executives sent me an edited version too. I wasn’t even aware he would be reviewing my article. His version kept nearly all of my original wording, which I really appreciated, and removed my comments about our future plans.

We’re excited to make MozyPro for Mac generally available. I’ve been managing the client engineering team, part of which has been working hard on MozyPro for Mac. Now with the final release, we’ve achieved one of our long-standing goals — much to the relief of the
many people who’ve called in over the years requesting Mac versions of our software.

There were late nights, many discussions, and even some arguing about how we could make the best software as quickly as we could, while staying true to the Apple spirit of excellence. The Mac client backs up resource forks, symlinks, aliases, packages and application bundles. We kept the application design similar to our Windows software while integrating as much Mac goodness as we thought we could get away with. We worked hard to make MozyPro for Mac a useful back up service for businesses that have computers or servers running OS X. We’re already planning what to put into the next release.

As Mozy has grown over the years, it has been great to be a part of such a dynamic company. There have been many successes along with some learning experiences. Mozy’s Team Awesome works hard to build the best backup solution for Mac and Windows computers. The constant struggle helps us to be better people and to make a better product.

Our new company Decho is going to build on these successes in order to make our customers’ information more valuable. More valuable to them. To you.

I approved this version and waited excitedly to see my article in print. It was never published. I believe that part of the reason may have been some technical confusion between the Mozy product blog and the new Decho company blog. However, if you head over to the Decho blog, you can read Charles’s comments about the MozyPro for Mac release.

Despite not being officially published, I am glad I got a chance to write for someone else. I write for myself a lot, and I write for customers quite often. But this was my first attempt at writing for a publisher looking for a specific type of article. I had to balance my style with the wants of my publisher while keeping in mind the eventual reader.

It’s funny, but as I re-read the version I approved for publication, I think now that I still need to change a few things. I guess writing is one of those things that you never really finish.

16
Jul

If You Want To Write

A few weeks ago, I got to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco for work. My plane took off about sunset.

I’d just finished reading Brenda Ueland’s If You Want To Write. I admired the view out the window and then wrote the following:

As the plane rose into the air, I could see the mountains rising up like waves about to crash on the lights of the towns below. They were white-capped still from the remains of winter snows as yet unmelted. The flat plains looked peacefully unsuspecting of the violence poised above them frozen in stone.

Facing the waves, the sun was sinking into a flat line of fog, its orange light spread across the edges of the fog. The scattered islands in the Great Salt Lake below made curious outlines in the fading light.

It’s my first attempt at writing something spontaneously. If You Want To Write is very good, by the way.