Category Archives: Tech

Time To Unplug

First things first. I actually have a good reason for my absence this time. As a result of my appendectomy last October, I developed a rather large hernia at the site of my main incision. As a result, I had to have it repaired and have been recuperating. I still have another month before I’m considered fully healed, however, I can finally think straight enough to catch you guys up with what’s been going on.

Now for the meat of my post.

Lately, I’ve had a real problem with writer’s block. I haven’t been completely blocked, I can start a story as well as I ever could. The problem is, once I get about fifteen minutes into the story, I just hit a wall. I can’t think of what to do next. So instead, I sit there staring at the screen.

Tonight, I decided to really analyze what happens. It seems, I can work for about fifteen minutes straight before I get distracted. That’s right, I apparently have developed an attention span only slightly better than your average goldfish. I begin thinking about food, or Facebook, or the fact that I haven’t posted to Twitter in a while, or made a post here for that matter. In short, social media and the like have ruined me as far as attention span goes.

Or maybe it’s just that my subject matter isn’t interesting enough to keep my attention.

No, I’m blaming Facebook. After all, the reason I started making up stories in the first place is to keep away boredom. In this digital age, there’s no time for the mind to be bored.

I’ve decided that there’s only one remedy. I have to quit social media all together… Yeah right. Like that’s ever going to happen. Seriously though, I have to severely limit my access to it. I’ve been working out a schedule to devote more time to writing. I’ve also decided to severely limit my internet time. I’m thinking maybe a half hour when I wake up so I can see what happened while I was sleeping, then maybe another half hour when I get to work. Finally, the last hour of my work shift (that isn’t spent doing actual work) I can spend on blogging, updating my professional Facebook page (ahem https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60), and posting to Twitter (ahem again @JustinMKelly1), or perhaps even updating my website (http://justinmkelly.com/) which, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t touched in years.

Wish me luck. If all goes well, I hope to start finishing a couple shorts a week in addition to making progress on my novel. Some of the shorts will be submitted to magazines while others will be put into small e-books and made available for purchase on Amazon.

unplugged

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Technology Tangle

As I sit here, I realize I am surrounded by technology. I have my iPhone, my tablet, my laptop of course, and my iPod. All of them are performing various jobs to make my life as a writer easier but I have to wonder; Are they really?

When I was a kid and I began making up stories it was because I was bored. It was my way of entertaining myself. I don’t do this nearly as often as I should as someone who hopes to tell stories for a living someday. Why? Because with all this technology at my fingertips at all times, who has time to be bored anymore?

I am no Luddite. Far from it. I love technology and am constantly amazed at how far we’ve come as a people just in my lifetime. Any time I hear someone that we don’t have flying cars I am quick to remind them that what we do have is much more amazing. We have instant access to the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips at all times. In this day and age, there is no excuse to not know something you want to know.

Still, I have to wonder if this constant flow of information has stunted us creatively. Maybe it’s time to unplug for a while.

resume-writing-technology

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And Now For A Little Tech Talk

Don’t worry, this post has nothing to do with Ke$ha. I said tech TALK.

Yesterday I decided to do something smart with my tax return before I blow it all on things best left to the imagination. I decided that the time had come to buy a desktop computer specifically for my writing. I use a laptop as my daily computer and my tablet when I’m at work but I have a nice desk that is the perfect writing station save for the fact that it didn’t have a dedicated computer. It had a monitor, keyboard, etc. so I could hook up my laptop whenever I wanted. Unfortunately, I’m a lazy person so I rarely ever wanted. Thus, my desk mostly just collected dust and clutter.

image

My desk in a rare state of unclutteredness.

So, as I left work yesterday morning I was on a quest. After stopping by several places and not seeing much, I finally found it. I wish I could say I bought the biggest, most powerful beast available and the male in me screamed this was exactly what I must do.

Reality, on the other hand, dictates that at this point in my career I need to save money whenever possible, at least until my writing starts paying for itself. If I was truly being honest with myself about why I wanted this computer then I didn’t need some monster. What I really needed was the cheapest computer that would do what I needed it to. The one I found fit the bill perfectly.

I bought the HP p2 1322. It has 4 gb of ram and a 500 gb hdd. Truthfully, I was hoping for something with just a bit more power but at $250 OTD I just couldn’t resist the price and it should be plenty for basic word processing and research.

I rushed home with it and couldn’t wait to start playing with it. The computer I mean. Pervs.

The first thing I did was remove the side cover so I could take a peek inside. The case is almost empty. Motherboard, HD, DVD drive , and plenty of air. It almost looks as if someone gutted a laptop and put it into a tower.

No matter. Time to set it up. One problem. I had to go back out and buy an internet cable long enough to reach.

Finally I got everything set up and turned it on, just itching to start playing with windows 8.

I was decidedly underwhelmed.

While I’m not completely against the idea of apps on a computer, I think they are unnecessary and in this case, need a lot more development. Apps are great on a phone, but why bother with them at all when you can run full programs? I quickly shut the apps window or “start” menu as they call it and went to the desktop.

“Ahhh,” I thought “Finally something familiar. Wait, where’s my start button?”

I guess I’m old fashioned, but I prefer to have a menu to access all my programs rather than cluttering my desktop with icons for everything I use. More importantly, why would you leave something like that out after getting people familiar with it for the last twenty years? Luckily, after a little help from google, I discovered several third party add-ons that let you add something resembling the old start menu. It was easy to do but I just don’t understand why I had to.

Also, every time you download a program it adds an icon (or twenty, depending on the program) to the new “start menu” which then has to be unpinned from the menu. Again, not a huge deal, just a PITA.

In short, while it’s usable, windows 8 is completely counterintuitive for someone who has been trained to do things a certain way for the past twenty years or so.

Oh, a couple more gripes regarding the apps. Why no intuitive way to close an app when you’re in it? You have to bring up the popup menu and select the start menu. Was it too hard to code in a little red X?

Also, why would you force me to merge my Skype with MSN messenger to be able to use it? There’s a good reason I stopped using messenger in the first place. I was tired of constantly getting invitations from fake women who want to let me see them naked and probably give me a virus in return. (Reminds me of that trip to… uh, never mind). Anyway, that’s the end of this old man ranting about new tech. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but I definitely don’t consider it an upgrade.

On a side note, I was considering doing Tech Talk Thursdays (or maybe Tuesdays) but the fact of the matter is that while I love tech and would love to do regular reviews, I just don’t have all that much of it, nor do I have the money to buy it and what I do have is outdated. However, if any of my readers work for tech companies, I would be happy to review any free samples they want to send me. ;~}

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