Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tools of the Trade

None gaming post today.  I have been clearing out a bunch of old computers and software to either get rid of or sell on eBay.

Often times when we write about writing in general and blogging in particular we talk a lot about where ideas come from, how to get more readers or even how much writing everyday is important.  This is all true, and important, but that is not the type of tools I mean today.

Hardware

Look down.  There. See it, it's your keyboard.  What is your relationship with your keyboard?

I blog every day.  I write in addition to that and there is that day job too.  I spend a lot of time with my fingers on my keyboard.  My favorite keyboard is the one I have at home, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. It is the silver one and long, long out of stock.  I wrote Ghosts of Albion on it and it is by far the most comfortable keyboard I have ever used.  I never expected to find a replacement for my old beatup Gateway 2000 124 key programmable keyboard, but this one is fantastic.


Here is my main computer, Frankencomputer (I built it from spare parts).  It's not much more than a web-machine and word processor which is what I want when I am writing.  It run Ubuntu Linux and I use Google Drive for all my work. The keyboard is actually worth more to me than the rest of the computer.  If I am going to sit and pound away on a keyboard then it needs to be comfortable to me.

This is my second 6000 keyboard in truth.  I bought this one off of eBay for an ungodly price and still consider it money well spent.  It has the right curve for my hands and can elevate to the right height so I don't get fatigue while typing. Plus it is the same keyboard Weird Al has in his song "White & Nerdy".  A song that is not about me at all. Really. Honest.

Software

I was reading the other week that George R. R. Martin, when he is not plotting to kill every character you love, sits in front of his old DOS machine and types his books into WordStar 4.0.  Piers Anthony once mentioned that back in the day he paid a programmer to reverse engineer his favorite word processor from CP/M to MS-DOS. Laurel K. Hamilton did her first writing on a manual typewriter and still thinks of things in terms of page counts and not word counts.  I am sure there are many more examples, but the point is clear. We get used to something for our writing and we like to stick with it.   Myself, I am an Microsoft Word fan.  I have been using it for years, since version 1.1 and Office 4.3.  I have gotten very comfortable with it and have lost count of the number of hours I have spent in it.

So then am I switching over to Google Drive?
Well while I still use Word one of the things it promised and never really delivered on was real time collaboration.   With the Google Drive word processor I can work with others and see their edits real time. We can chat and discuss what it is we are doing and why.  Plus I have lost count of the number of docs I have lost carting them from one computer to another, either on floppy disk or flash drive. And then when I manage to get it to another computer (say from work to home) I have to deal with whether or not the computer can read the file format and version control.  The only thing worse than loosing a document is to spend hours adding to a draft that is already 3 revisions old.

So how about you?
What are your writing needs? Special keyboard? Software? Maybe it is your best comfy chair.

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