Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Tech Upgrade

Goodnees, it’s been too long since I’ve posted.

I just got a docking station for my iPad. I had been wanting one of these for some time as I desired using something other than the wireless keyboard from my Mac Mini (one of them, rather). It’s working out nicely, allowing me to write this blog post with a decent enough screen view, and Pages works better this way as well. Only two drawbacks to it.

1) I have to remove the iPad from the sleeve in order to use the docking station.

2) Without being hooked up to external power, it can drain the iPad’s battery quick. One hour eats about 10% of battery life, if my occasional observations are correct.

But what the dock hasn’t done is repurpose my iPad. I’m still using it more for media consumption than anything else, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. It remains my “go-to” device for checking and responding to email, Twitter and sometimes Facebook. It’s also become a good place to blog from, as the lack of multitasking actually helps me in that regard.

My previous email/blogging attempts from my “public” Mini (more on this later) looked like this:

* Start typing up an email/blog post

* Oh look, something neat happened on Twitter.

* I wonder what’s going on here on the web.

* I better get back to that thing I was working on.

* Oh look, somthing neat happened on Twitter…

… and repeat that pattern for about three to four hours to get one email done. Here, I sit down, get shit done and move on. I can focus on the task at hand.

The same holds true for my writing system, a Mac Mini located in the secondary bedroom and not connected to the wireless router. No internet means no distractions and that means I can crank out the words while my butt is in that chair. The “public” Mac Mini in my office is live on the network, and it’s where I go to play around on the net.

There will be some repurposing of technology. The iPad is also going to spend time in the game room, which is a cooler place in the summer and the lack of waste heat is a real boon. Also, with the dock it takes up less table space than the monitor that my netbook would connect to. I’ve been moving back to lower tech for running my D&D games — after using the netbook and a spreadsheet for a few years, I’m finding pencil, paper, post-its, index cards and a magnetic white board make for more efficient tools. Go figure. I can’t do stat cards here like I could on the netbook, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a way. Hell, there’s an app for everything these days.

So I think today I’m going to move the monitor in the game room upstairs to the writing room and swap the monitor there with the one in the office. That’ll give me a larger monitor for my “play” system and two monitors for my writing station — something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and for a reason, but I’ll save that for next time.

As much as I like the idea of the netbook, I find that it’s not what I really need. The 10-inch screen and the keyboard are just too small for me to work effectively, and hooking it up to a monitor kind of defeats the purpose of working with smaller tech. On top of that, the battery wore out faster than I would have liked, and now I’m lucky to get an hour out of it. Plus, I’d like have a laptop that doesn’t need a lap-desk in order to … well … fit on my lap.

I’m debating between one of the Mac Air laptops, or a PC laptop. The latter would be less expensive, but I’d need to buy a copy of MS Office. Yeah, I know, Open Office is free, but I’m still job hunting, which means my resume needs to be in .doc format. Same with story submissions, unless the market says otherwise. While I write in Open Office, I have to do some document manipulation when converting to MS Office because the conversion process screws with my headers and my formating. When I bought Office for Mac it came with three licenses, and I’ve only used two, so while the Air would be more expensive, I wouldn’t need to buy any more software.

It’s something I’m going to have to think about, even though I do have the means right now to implement either solution. For now, it’s time to set up the writing desk to where I really want it.