Saturday, January 22, 2005

Continuing to wrestle with ancient technology

My project to transfer files off my old Macintosh is far from complete. When I started this last Saturday, it looked like most of the files I wanted to keep would come over cleanly without too much trouble.

Then I discovered I was a little too clever in my software choices 10 years ago. For reasons I can't remember, I started using a word processor called WriteNow 3.0 in the very early 90's. I didn't chuck my copy of MS Word 4.0...I just used both. I have no idea why; I just know that the WriteNow files don't come into the Windows version of Word very cleanly. So I've had to add a few more steps to my overall process - open the WriteNow docs, save as RTF, then continue with the transfer.

Also, while still in college I bought a copy of a program called StorySpace. This allowed you to create "hypertext" documents - you know, docs that branch off to other areas with links. Like the web, but I believe this predated the web by a few years. It uses this concept of "writing spaces" which can contain any amount of text and can be linked to other spaces. I mostly used it as a sort of high-tech journal and for brainstorming. I would write these rambling journal entries, then create links off to new writing spaces to elaborate on particular ideas.

Anyway, a quick google showed that StorySpace is still around and has both Mac and Windows versions. It was never really intended for the uses I found for it; it was intended for writing actual literature in hypertext form, which is a kind of cool idea. Just for fun I downloaded the demo Windows version and found myself in a flashback to Windows 3.1 or so...the interface looks sooooo old and strange! As far as I can tell, it hasn't been updated in several years. Surprisingly (or maybe not), it opened up my old files just fine. I briefly considered buying/upgrading to the Windows version, but at $295 for fairly old technology, I don't think it's worth it. Perhaps the newer Mac version is a bit more up-to-date.

The coolest thing about StorySpace was the ability to drag the writing spaces around the screen and just draw links between them, then view the overall path in different ways.

Fortunately it does include an export option for dumping all the text out into plain text files...I will lose all my clever linking, but at least the text can be saved.

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