Something that has been on my mind a bit lately is that the other day I decided that I needed to clear out some of the old computers I don't use. I gave away a bunch of old desktops as well as a few laptops that were in various states of repair, and I have to admit it made me happier than I thought it would.
One of the computers I decided to get rid of was my Packard Bell 486, which was my first computer, and I will admit I didn't really feel any sentimental attachment to it anymore. It has made me rethink something, and that is that I use old computers for an excuse to work on my book. I am not saying this is wrong, but I am saying that getting rid of the older stuff opened a door for me in my opinion.
People often ask me what I use these for, and I can answer that for the most part, I use them as a digital notepad. I will either write my book, type up some cook books I find, or just generally use them to post on this blog. Once again, I am not saying it is a bad thing, because I didn't get rid of all of them. To be truthful, I don't like collecting desktops, and the laptops really didn't work well for me. Of the working ones I have away, one was a Toshiba I was given that had the keyboard placed too far up on the unit, so typing was uncomfortable.
The keyboard is a major point for me when you consider that I said they are mainly used as a digital notepad. I have always said that if it has a text editor and a way to get the text off and onto a modern PC, I could make use of it, and that is still true. I have been thinking more and more though of focusing myself on things like laptops though as I can store them with far less needed space than a desktop I may never use.
It is also worth noting here that desktops never change. If they have a USB port, or a PS/2 port for the keyboard, they aren't anything special as I will just hook up a keyboard to them and use that. Now, I wouldn't say this is totally true as I wouldn't mind a complete retro setup of say a classic Mac, or an IBM PC with a Model M keyboard, but for the most part I want to stay away from desktops.
One of the things I prefer to collect, from a writing standpoint, are various handhelds such as old smartphones. I did a lot of writing on my Pre 3 for example. The reason being, they tend to get better battery life, and can be put in my pocket and turned on instantly to where I left of in case I get an idea on the go. Of course it does depend on what I am using. I wouldn't do much writing on something like my HTC Evo 4G because even though it has a huge battery, it lacks a keyboard. It is the same reason I wouldn't do much on the Shield without an Bluetooth keyboard.
One of the things I would love to do however is go out into the middle of no where. I mean no cell phone service, or power, and just camp out in a tent. Perhaps into the woods of Alaska or Canada, with nothing but one of the PDA's I collect. The ideal model would be something much like the Alphasmart Dana, which is pretty much made for writing. Well, technically, they are made for schools. The Dana was the model that ran Palm OS, so I could use some different programs for writing, and with it having 2 SD slots, I could hold a lot of files and transfer them to a laptop with no issues.
The real reason I would choose something like this is that they can use a NiMH battery pack, or run off standard AA batteries. This means I wouldn't need to worry about keeping it charged and I could just work on the book or something. My problem is sometimes I can get too distracted by things like Youtube or Facebook, or talking to a friend and I don't get anything done. The camping part would be nice because I could get away from it all for a few days and focus my thoughts more effectively on the story I am trying to write.
One of the things I do that is different from the way most people do this whole novel thing is that I don't really plan ahead. I have the basic story idea, and I just write what comes to mind whenever I decide to work on it. I also feel that writing can't be rushed if you want it to turn out well so sometimes I get an idea and have no way to really do anything with it because I am working. I have to say that is one of my biggest flaws as well, but normally I try to remember them at the least.
I may have said it before, but George R R Martin, the autor of a Season of Ice and Fire, the book series that Game of Thrones is based on, said that he still uses a DOS PC for writing because he likes the software better. I will take it one step further and say I agree, but he missed the point I have to make. I like it for the fact that its not distracting. I can focus more with an older PC or PDA or whatever.
I don't just mean with the Internet, but also games and stuff. When I was in school, I carried a PDA, starting with a Clie SJ33, and extending to various other models of Clie and Palm and even Pocket PC models like my Axim and iPAQ but my favorite was something from 1999. I love my NEC MobilePro 780 and I still use it from time to time as well.
The thing that it had one thing that none of my other PDAs, or even my various Android tablets or old phones do, which still amazes me nothing has touched on it yet. It could do multiple files at once. That means I could do 2 word documents and switch between them without closing either of them. I said I don't do any outlines or brainstorming, but it could be very helpful at times when you want to go back and check on something from 5 chapters back to see what you said. Imagine how much of a pain it would be if you needed close the chapter you were working on to go back to check the name of someone from a previous chapter.
The Pre 3 may be the only one that can do this now that I think of it since I can open a new document in the program I use in a new card, but this was with the built in software. It was also easier to switch between programs. Imagine having to do a report and going back and forth between Word and Excel. Perhaps I have just been spoiled by the old Windows CE, but multitasking was easier back then in my opinion.
One thing for sure though, I am going to try and post more on this blog, so sometimes modern technology is more useful since I have a Blogger application on my Nexus 7, but sometimes I think about the steps we have made aren't always forward. You can see what happens in my mind all day when I am working on cutting as many lawns as I can in a day.
We have gone from mechanical keyboards to rubber dome keyboards, and while they can make a thinner laptop, they don't always feel quite as nice as the old buckling spring keyboards. Or the fact that we can make these really thin laptops, but I often wonder why. If the screen is 13", such as the Macbook Air, it really isn't any more portable than the 13" Macbook Pro now is it?
Think about why we are able to make these thinner laptops. We have cooler running processors that use less power, so they don't need a massive cooling system anymore, and we can have thinner batteries but why not use this is a different advantage? If we can cram a Core i7 into a Surface Pro 3, which is pretty thin, why not add a lot larger battery? What I want to do is make a true endurance laptop.
I am not talking about getting a few hour battery life, or even 10 hours. I want to see a laptop that can run for over 24 hours STRAIGHT. I want to see a laptop I can charge every other day or so when I need to use it off the grid for a while. I guess this is something I may never see anytime soon but I have hope… I still remember the rumors of fuel cells promising this, with instant refueling to boot! That was back when I was still in school, probably about 10 years ago now. They even had prototype MP3 players…