It is the end of another week and that can only mean it is time to share my week at Mobile Tech Manor with you. It is by far my favorite time of week, no doubt that it always occurs on Friday plays a role. This week found me working with a slate in my hands quite often, and it felt good to get back to pen and ink. Digital pen and ink, of course. The week past also proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I simply cannot remain faithful to any web browser. Come on in to the Manor and let’s jaw.
The Writing Tablet
The recent appearance of the Lenovo x200 Tablet PC has resulted in a resumption of processes that has rejuvenated my writing. I have long claimed that preparing for long writing projects by working with pen and ink on a Tablet PC stimulates the creative process. This week has proven that to me again. There is nothing like sitting comfortably with the slate in my hands, pen in hand, and jotting down my ideas for the article in free-form.
This process makes the ideas flow as fast as they come to mind, and the pen is the catalyst. I don’t think about the method, I simply concentrate on the ideas I need to think about. It is liberating, quite frankly, and has to be experienced to understand.
When I use a keyboard to do this prep work for writing projects, no matter how hard I try to ignore the tool, it still intrudes on the process. I can create an outline with a keyboard as quickly as anyone, but I can’t help looking at what I’m doing while I’m trying to generate ideas. Or maybe I’ll have a typo while keying something and I’ll have to correct it. That is a total stoppage of the thought process. Writus interruptus. I don’t have these interruptions with the pen and ink.
I always switch back to the keyboard when it’s time to get the full writing done, that is the best way for me. I am a fast typist and can let the thoughts flow from my mind through my fingers without even thinking about it. This is aided by the thought process I go through when I ink the outline. I have it fresh in my mind and the article just flows onto the screen. If it sounds mystical, it’s because it seems that way when it happens.
The x200 is the best Tablet PC I have used, and I’ve used a boatload of them. It is as thin and light as a tablet should be, yet it’s powerful enough to plow through everything I need to do. The screen is the perfect resolution for the size, and the keyboard is awesome. Some folks can’t handle the lack of a trackpad, but I’m finding the trackstick to work very well. Throw in the touch controls while in slate mode, and it’s simply awesome. I don’t have any room in the budget right now, but if I did I would have already planned on ordering one of these for my very own. I will be lost when this one goes back to Lenovo.
I have a problem. I have not been faithful to my browser. No matter how hard I try to stay with just one web browser, I find myself wandering after a while. It’s not that the browser doesn’t meet all my needs, it’s more like I’m afraid I will miss something that another can provide. It’s pretty sad, I suppose, but it’s my nature.
I have used Firefox for years, and still love using it. It has evolved over time and gotten better and better. The speed is as good as I could want, and the ability to add capability through extensions is great. So why do I stray? Because the competition is getting better too, and I am afraid I’ll miss out if I don’t try them all.
One of the strengths of Firefox is the multi-platform nature of the beast. I switch between Windows and OS X regularly, and Firefox not only works on both but is absolutely the same. It looks the same and works the same on both of those OSes, so I don’t even notice when I’ve switched platforms. None of the other browsers have that sameness across the platforms, except maybe Google Chrome.
I like using Chrome, especially on Windows. It is so darn fast, and the interface is as clean as can be. It works pretty much the same across platforms too, but it’s a little bare bones for my liking. I use it for short spurts but not for extended periods.
On the Mac side this week I have returned pretty much to Safari. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Safari lately, and it had been updated a fair bit since the last time I used it. I was immediately hit with how fast it was, while Firefox has been very fast for me I found Safari was even faster. That enticed me to try using it again for extended sessions, and before long I was in trouble and made it my default browser on the Mac. That’s the ultimate commitment one can make to a browser, and I did it. I’m so bad.
One of the tools that kept Firefox on my screen so much was the Xmarks add-on. Xmarks keeps my bookmarks and passwords safely stored in the cloud, so my Firefox environment on all computers remains in sync. It’s automatic and works flawlessly, and like me is platform independent. This is an area in which Chrome fails, and keeps me from using it more. That may change down the road as Xmarks has a Chrome version in private beta.
Xmarks has a Safari version, but my recent upgrade to Snow Leopard on the Mac broke it. That was a big impediment to my use of Safari. This week I found that Xmarks for Safari had an update that addressed the Snow Leopard incompatibility, and once I updated I found it worked again. This led me to try Safari for extended periods, and doing that for a couple of days was all I needed to make the switch full-time. Yes, Safari is now my default browser on the Mac.
I still use Firefox on Windows because I’ve never liked the Windows version of Safari much. Not even the Firefox use on Windows is a given, though, as Opera 10 is over there staring at me from the sidelines. I’m using Opera more and more on Windows and it’s growing on me. It runs really well on the Mac, too, so if I’m not careful I can see another browser switch in my future. How fickle can I be? Opera has inbuilt syncing that makes it totally platform independent like Firefox, too.
e-Books of the Week
This week has been a strange one for e-books. I found myself reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, something I didn’t think I would do. I’ve read several of Brown’s earlier works, and quite frankly I didn’t like them much. I can’t understand how The Da Vinci Code became such a mammoth best-seller. I didn’t like it when I read it, and as I’ve watched the acclaim for it grow over the years I just can’t see it. I had no intention of reading The Lost Symbol, but admit I fell victim to the hype about his latest novel, so I picked it up. I liked it better than his earlier work, but not that much. His stories always seem so far-fetched to me.
The e-book I am reading now is a pleasant surprise. I have been following Jeff Kirvin since his old “Writing on Your Palm” web site. He is a true mobile gadget freak, someone with whom I can readily identify. He’s always billed himself as a frustrated writer, and I’ve followed his adventures for years. Imagine my surprise this week, as I was traipsing around the eReader site looking for something different to read, to discover that Jeff had published a novel a few years back. The Unification Chronicles: Between Heaven and Hell is a unique story dealing with modern day demons and angels, and the constant battle between them with humans thrown in the mix. I am only halfway through it and loving every page. Jeff is a talented novelist, and it was a great pleasure to find this story. Thank you for writing this, Jeff. Just today Jeff tweeted that he was thinking of releasing this novel as a podcast. I hope he does.
That’s the way my week went down, and I feel good having shared it with you. Next week looks to be full of gadgety goodness, and it will be a pleasure sharing it with you next week. Until then, keep it mobile.