Tag Archives: technology

Take Two Tablets & Call Me …

Happy New Year everyone. Thea Devine here today and this is a rant.

I’ve never felt a particular urgency to own a tablet. I mean, I’ve kind of wanted one but not to the extent that I’d talked about it a lot. I figured sometime in the future — you know, as a reward for finishing a book or something –I’d get one.

This Christmas was the day. A tablet was one of John’s presents to me. I was speechless. But not for long. I was so intimidated it took me two days to get up the nerve to open the darned box — the deep box that said it held all the answers.

The tablet lay in its own bed. When you remove that, you find the plug and transformer and a small square of paper that tells you to “press start.”

That’s it. It assumes you know where “start” is. Okay, it’s not that hard to figure out, but still — the rest is silence. I am not intuitive girl. If it’s not immediately obvious, I freak out (figuring I’ve destroyed something critical). I hate passwords and the device required at least four and then I couldn’t figure out which to use where, which got me totally tied up until I was told Siri wasn’t working and I needed to get on the internet.

I stopped right there. This was no fun. This was generational. I knew everybody else in the world had already easily figured out everything about the device — it’s a best-selling item, for Pete’s sake. My two year old grandson probably would have had the thing going in no time. He already knows how to scroll. Half the battle right there.

Well, they just have to label these devices — for millenials who know everything and for technologically inept pre baby boomers — including reams of paper explaining things.

I did ask John to promise not to divorce me if I wanted to return the tablet and exchange it for a different device. He said he wouldn’t, but I’ve caught him looking at me speculatively now and again.

I exchanged the tablet for a laptop whose screen detaches to become a tablet (made sense to me). I don’t entirely get it yet, but it is at least a little less opaque. It’s those colorful tiles on the home screen. And the swiping thing. I really like that.

And it came with a diagram with all the connectors highlighted and instructions on how . That’s all I needed. A little hand-holding. Some understanding and guidance. And a couple of aspirin tablets on the side.

Have you ever been frustrated with a device? Or are they an open book to you?

Thea Devine is the author of twenty-seven erotic historical and contemporary romances and a dozen novellas. She’s currently working on an erotic contemporary romance.

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My New Love Affair . . . With Evernote

Howdly Doodly, Scriberinos. Suze here. Today, because you’re all close friends and I know I can trust you, I want to tell you a Secret. Don’t spread this around, but I’ve been having an affair. A cyberaffair. I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!

Kiss me, you fool!

My new amour is . . . a computer program called Evernote. (Click here to meet my honey). Maybe that sounds like the premise for a science fiction novel, but I assure you it’s very real.

I know some of you are rolling your eyes out there. Suze, you say, Evernote’s been around for a while, as has the Microsoft version, Onenote.  I’ll grant you that. But I didn’t know about it, so it didn’t exist for me, okay?

So what’s Evernote?  It’s a free, very user-friendly program that enables you to organize any project in a coherent, completely portable way.  (There is a paid, upgraded version of Evernote, but for now the free version is working fine for me).  I believe Onenote works basically the same way, but it costs money.  For each project you create a new Notebook, give it a name, and then create Notes within the Notebook.  Here’s an example of how I am using this to organize a future writing project:

I have an idea for a paranormal spoof on a classic novel.  I know I’m not going to get to this project for a few months, but now I have a place to store ideas as they come to me or as I find interesting articles on the web that I think might be useful.  I created a Notebook with the working title of the novel.  Within that Notebook I made a Note where I simply brainstormed ideas.  I made another Note with the Sparknotes (www.sparknotes.com) for the classic novel I plan to spoof.  ‘Cuz, I might not have time to reread the whole book, you understand. I made another Note with the entire text of the classic novel, which is in the public domain and therefore fair game, obtained from Project Gutenberg (www.projectgutenberg.com).  See how this works?  Everything, all in one place. No sticky notes.  No incomprehensible scribblings on the back of a junk mail envelope or the back of my hand.  No headslaps because I’ve forgotten a fabulous idea.  When this novel makes its way to the front of my To-Be-Written queue, I will be ready.

Evernote can work for basically any project.  Are you redecorating your living room?  You can make a Notebook and put all your ideas and a to-buy list in that.  Need a place to organize your recipes?  That could work too.  There’s a cool web clipper that allows you to cut and paste web pages into your Notebooks — no more printing stuff off and sticking it into a to-be-filed pile (or in my case, a never-to-be-filed pile!)

And guess what?  Evernote is accessible from any computer with an internet connection, anywhere. It can synch up with your smart phone, so you can use your phone to take pictures to add to your Notebooks.  I think you can even make audio notes to yourself.  The best part (other than it’s free)?  No backup required, because the information is stored, not on your computer, but out in Cyberia somewhere.  So unless we don’t make it past 12/21/12 in which case you won’t care anyway, you will never lose your hard work.

Trust me when I say I’m no tech goddess.  Up until a year or so ago I could use a computer for basic word processing and web surfing.  I had only a very basic cell phone, and could barely use a digital camera.  I made a conscious decision to get more up to speed with technology, and my skills have grown exponentially since then.  Oh, it still scares me a little.  That scene from Poltergeist where the kid gets sucked into the portal and ends up in the television always lurks in the back of my mind.  And I do still carry a small spiralbound notebook and a pen around with me for those nostalgic, lazy moments.  Just as ebooks will never completely replace physical books for me, Evernote can’t serve all my needs.  But it’s doing a pretty good job, just the same.

What about you?  How do you feel about technology?  What can’t you live without?  How do you use it in your personal and professional lives?  Has it made your existence better … or worse? (How many questions can I pose in one blog?)  Have a fabulous Thursday, everyone!

Twitter-pated

Happy Friday! Casey Wyatt here.

I admit I was reluctant to take the plunge and join Twitter. My thought was –  Ugh, another thing I have to do on top of Facebook and the blogs.

And it is another thing to keep track of … except I like Twitter it.

Maybe too much. It appeals to my inpatient nature and is a great opportunity to spend time avoiding writing. I get instant feedback and someone, somewhere is always tweeting about something interesting. So what is Twitter? It’s a social media tool that allows you to speak to your “followers” or “tweeps” in 140 characters or less. People have to choose to follow you. And you choose to follow them. You can only read comments from those people or organizations you follow. And they in turn will only read your comments if they follow you. (Twitter allows you to directly message people if you know their user name). Our friend and marketing guru Jennifer Fusco likens Twitter to a cocktail party. I think that is a great analogy.  Except my problem is I like the party a little too much. So what’s a writer to do? Limit yourself – I re-tweet (a function that allows you to share tweets you like with your followers). And I publicize for the Scribes (@Secretsof7Scrib) and for Casey (@CaseyWyatt1). I try to read the “feeds” only a few times a day, rather than all day long. Connect – Many applications “talk” to each other. I allow Twitter, Facebook and WordPress access to each other. When I tweet or re-tweet, it appears on my Facebook wall and on my blog page. When this blog posts, it will appear in Twitter and on my Facebook wall. Kinda of neat, huh? Be Meaningful – Ask yourself before you tweet- does anyone care what you ate for lunch? My yardstick for a RT (re-tweet) is – would I like to share this with my followers? Is this an interesting tweet (example, it leads to cool blog post or a contest)? Be mindful of other’s time. Tweet with a purpose. And remember to be professional. Follow – Follow others and they will follow you back (for the most part). And don’t stick to just other writers. I’ve branched out and started following review sites, artists, even the Dalai Lama (he has very sage advice). And speaking of advice – embrace some form of social media. It’s not going away anytime soon. Pick something you like and can manage. Remember, writing should always come first. We can’t sell a blank page! p.s. follow me, I follow back! What is your favorite social media? Least favorite? And have you had to go on a social media diet?

My, My, My . . . Dell-ilah

Hello, Scribe Friends, Suze here.  Last week we had a great discussion about e-readers.  Let’s take it a step further and talk about computers, shall we?

Like virtually every writer out there, I do my writing on a computer.

Meet Dell-ilah, Suze’s Laptop

Now I know there are still a few people who write longhand.  In fact, I just read somewhere that writing longhand provides a brain/hand connection that enhances creativity and intelligence.  (I can’t find that article right now, but when I do I’ll post it). Stephen King wrote Dreamcatcher, nearly 900 pages long, with a fountain pen.  Whatever Mr. King is doing seems to be working, and I’m not arguing.  And of course, most of the great literature of the world was written without electronics.  Somehow, I just can’t picture Jane Austen, little frilly cap on head, pecking away at a keyboard by candlelight.  Kind of takes away the romance, don’tcha think?

Me, I’ve been typing for so long, it’s a real effort for me just to fill out an occasional check, though I do make most of my to-do lists by hand in a spiral bound notebook.

My little laptop, Dell-ilah, and I have been friends for a long time. She’s very low tech as far as computers go — her CD drive is external, her Wi-Fi antenna is external (can’t use both of those things at the same time unless I buy a splitter of some kind, which I haven’t bothered with), and she can’t play a DVD at all.  Which, if you think about it, is all kind of a good thing when you’re writing.  Because you’re just supposed to be writing, right?  Not watching marathon episodes of True Blood and drooling over Alexander Skarsgard.

But I know Dell-ilah cannot live forever.  Her case has a crack.  Her hinges and some of her keys are loose.  Her processor brain is still pretty sharp, though.  (Even so, I back up my work on a flash drive after every writing session, and periodically I e-mail my WIP to myself.)  She and I have discussed it, and she’s given me the Do Not Resuscitate order.  When her time comes, I will need to let her go.  Right now, I’m researching with what I will replace her.

Dell-ilah is a PC.  I’ve always worked on PCs, but I’m open to exploring the Mac option if somebody can convince me that it really is worth the price differential.  Should I get another laptop?  A sweet little netbook?  What about a tablet with a wireless keyboard?  That might be fun.  Oooh, how about an iPad?

What kind of computer do you use, and what do you love/hate about it? This inquiring mind would love to know!