Sunday, February 07, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Dawn again. Forgot my reading glasses when I rode down here to Tosi's, so I've cranked up the font to 18. I can kind of read what I'm typing, if I lean back. Good for my posture: keeps me from hunching forward.

Working on my little netbook, which means I have to pause whenever I come to an apostrophe, because it's down on the space key row, and I haven't been able to train my fingers to find it there: I have to stop and look and take my hand out of position to type it. I also haven't quite identified what I do that occasionally jumps the cursor way down or way up, Being used to the Thinkpad nubbin-mice, I find this touch pad stuff both unwieldy and skittish: I feel like a small child trying to control a crayon. Damn cursor wanders all over the place, as I try to get it back. In some Heinlein novel the protagonist protests that he can't draw, and his father says, “Nonsense. The pencil goes where you push it.” Both voices are in my head as I try to master writing on this little thing.

Because the advantages are enormous. It's dirt cheap ($225 total), about the size and weight of a hardback book, and its batteries last for hours. And it's Linux, which means I've escaped from the Dark Side and dwell now in the blessed realms of open source. You can hear Lennon crooning, “imagine no possessions...” as you type away on your freeware word processing and spreadsheet apps. (Actually, most of these apps have perfectly good Windows versions – I was partial to Abiword and Gnumeric, on Windows. Now I'm using Open Office, just because it came preloaded on this machine, and it works fine too. But so much open source code was developed on Linux and/or UNIX, and everything tends to run better on its native operating system.)

((Further parenthetical: I'll never forget my boss's look of horror when I proposed that we might save some money by abandoning MS Office and going to freeware. Microsoft has done an amazingly good job of convincing people that its behemoth apps are the only respectable tools for office work. They're fine tools, but they're enormous and expensive and the free ones work just as well, have generally better support, and can usually produce perfectly compatible .doc and .xls files, if you need them. But Microsoft software is what IBM hardware used to be: so dominant and standard that it's no-risk for a purchaser. No matter how badly it may work, no one ever gets fired for having purchased MS Office.))

Technical problems at home. Qwest upgraded our DSL for free – cool! -- except that now our elderly router is nonplussed, and drops connections periodically, which can mean rebooting it every couple minutes, especially if Alan and I are both online at the same time. Maddening. So I've been tending more and more to go to Tom's – Tom is Tosi's brother, & runs another cafe of roughly the same ilk – which has free wireless. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that none of my online interactions have the ease and readiness they did a couple months ago. I'm emailing, blogging, and blog-reading less. And I've been so busy with work that I haven't had time to address any of these things.

Soon, though, I'll be back to sauntering about the cyberhood, dawdling and chatting.

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