Author McCrankyPants strikes again over newfangled tech things

Hello, peeps! I thought I’d burden you today with author insecurity #72: tech inadequacy.

I was chatting with a colleague the other day who asked me if I used a social media management tool and I about flew right off the handle.


I already feel freaking inadequate when it comes to every new &^A&*#^%A(*&#@^*A&@()% iGadget that comes down the pike. And every time I turn around, there’s something else. AUTHORS! USE THIS! DOWNLOAD THIS TOOL! CONSOLIDATE! DIVERSIFY! ARE YOU ON INSTAGRAM? PINTEREST? IT’S THE LATEST THING! HURRY! DO YOU WANT TO SELL BOOKS OR NOT? GET THIS, FOOL!


Oh, NOES! Andi didn't jump on every tech toy bandwagon out there! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS, PEOPLE!
Oh, NOES! Andi didn’t jump on every tech toy bandwagon out there! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS, PEOPLE!

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Tech crap

Hi, peeps. Hope this week has treated you well.

I’m on a tech jag, lately.

I’m going to be updating my desktop in the next couple of months or so. I’m currently on Mac laptops and a PC desktop that is still running — wait for it — XP. Which I personally think was the last good platform Microsoft put out. I bought this desktop in 2005, I think it was, and here it is 2013 and it’s still going.

Want to hear me rant n’ rave more about tech stuff? Sure you do. Keep reading…

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Splitting tech-ache

Hi, kids–

I’m pretty good at maintaining my tech products. I take very good care of the tech in my life, which is why I still have a MacBook (purchased in 2005, just recently upgraded to Snow Leopard OS) that’s working fine, thank you. I also have a PC desktop, purchased in 2004. That was working okay until this past year when it became apparent that I would HAVE to get a different system because Microsoft decided to stop doing upgrades for the OS on that. Which, I’ll have you know, is XP. Otherwise, the security systems I implemented 4 years ago have been working well, but some of the internal stuff on it isn’t working very well. I know it’s time to upgrade that pup and in all likelihood, it’ll be a Mac, though I like the XP platform.

More griping? Read on…

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Tools of the Trade

Hey, kids–

The alternate title to this blog is, “Business screws over workers to make a profit and I use their products but I have no idea how to get the juggernaut’s attention or what to do about it.”

Thanks to Broadside Blog for pointing out this article in the New York Times Business section.

The article is titled “Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay,” by David Segal.

I’m a writer. I use Apple products to accomplish many of my goals as a writer. I’m blogging right now on a MacBook that I’ve had since about 2005 and just upgraded to the Snow Leopard OS. That’s right. I was using Tiger up until this year. I’ve been really pleased with my MacBook, written several manuscripts on it, and had few problems that weren’t easily fixed with a call to Mac tech help or a visit to an Apple store, and always with good, friendly service.

So I was a little bummed, but not entirely surprised, to read the article. But again, Apple is a corporation, and one of its purposes might be to make consumers happy, but ultimately, it wants to make money. And in terms of capitalism, generally, somebody gets screwed in that process or doesn’t get as big a piece of the pie.

Read on for more…

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Characters and historical context

Hey, kids!

I heard a story on NPR on Saturday (yeah, I’m a geek. I listen to NPR on the weekends!) about the approaching “cashless society.” This dude tried an experiment, where he didn’t use cash for two months. He has a smart phone with the apps that allow you to purchase things with the codes, and he liked the ease of not carrying cash around, but some things, he noted, needed cash. For example, tipping. He ended up having to stiff people, and that really bothered him. And he also noted that some people still prefer the anonymity of cash when making purchases, and he acknowledged that with cash, there are no hidden fees. It is what it is.

The story got me thinking. I still carry cash for tips and small purchases, and “just in case.” I never travel without cash, and I never leave the house without at least a few bucks and some change. Call me weird. It’s how I grew up, and it’s a habit I’ve refused to break.

So what does this have to do with writing characters? Well, click on and find out!

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Hi, kids!

Hope everybody had a fab weekend. I am writing this on an iPad, with a wireless keyboard. Because of that, I’m not quite rockin’ yet with inserting images and stuff like that. It’s also weird using the ol’ fingertip on the screen as a mouse. I’m working on it, though! I also have a bunch of tech craziness going on, and because a lot of you are writers (or maybe you’re just techies), read on for more of my travels and travails with gadgetry.

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Do writers need an iPad?

Dude, like, I don’t know.

Many writers have them, and Chuck Wendig points out in this great blog how he views his — a tool. A penmonkey for the penmonkey, but he notes that it’s not going to replace his desktop as his primary writing tool.

I’m currently in the midst of a major tech upgrade. My desktop is going on 8 years, and that’s practically a geologic eon in PC terms. I’ve already decided to upgrade to a Mac desktop, because I still do the brunt of my writing on my desktop and my trusty MacBook. The latter is also in need of an upgrade. It’s about 7 years old and I’m still using Leopard OS, which makes it far less compatible with things like Firefox (which I prefer to Safari on the Mac, but that’s just me). I’ll be putting more memory on my laptop and upgrading the OS because it’s still a great tool and it still keeps on trucking.

And I recently succumbed to an iPad. I got it for a couple of reasons. My laptop is heavy, and when I travel, I can’t stand checking email on a phone-sized device. I also blog when I travel, and it’s a lot easier to do that on an iPad than on a phone. I do not consider an iPad a primary writing tool, though I see Wendig’s point in its usefulness as a supplement. It is kind of a cool research tool, and it is a fun entertainment device. In terms of stuffing it with apps, I’m just not really into that. I have a few — Pandora, Netflix, Kindle, and iPad books. I’ve installed Dropbox and also a fun little DJ app because that’s one of my OTHER hobbies. I do like being able to check email and blogs while traveling, and because it’s not nearly as heavy as my trusty laptop, it’s easy to travel with, even when I opt to bring the wireless keyboard. Typing on an iPad screen is a freaking joke for me. It’s a hunt-and-peck kind of situation, and I am a full-blown typist, which is why I opted for a wireless keyboard.

I have a feeling that in the near future, your tablets will have the capability to project a keyboard onto a tabletop, and I’m pretty stoked about that innovation. Here’s hoping it’s soon. In the meantime, I’m using the actual keyboard. Oh, wait. My bad. That projected keyboard is already hitting the market. Here. That technology, however, is going to get better.

So, do writers need an iPad? No. Nobody really NEEDS an iPad. The question is how it will supplement what you currently do, and whether it can make some of what you do easier or less time-consuming. Those are personal assessments, and I certainly didn’t run out and buy an iPad just because OMG new technology must have must have! It’s been a couple years since they’ve been on the market, and I’ve been assessing them during that time. Because I travel a lot, an iPad will help me keep in touch via email and give me the capability to blog without having to take my laptop along. It also takes pretty good pictures, but it’s an awkward device on which to do that. Sort of like holding up a baking tray to snap a photo. It’s a good device to communicate in real-time with people, given its screen/camera capabilities, but I don’t generally do a lot of that.

Will I write novels on it? I doubt it. I may be able to hammer out a short story, but there’s the issue of compatibility with my other machines and Word, which is my primary tool. I’ve tried others, but sadly, Word is still providing decent compatibility between Mac and PC, and that’s useful because so many people are on PC. I know some writers email files to themselves via their iPads and then open them and format them on their laptops/desktops, but isn’t the point of the iPad to make your life easier? Hopefully Apple (or somebody) will develop a better writing app for the iPad that will interface more smoothly with laptops/desktops.

Ultimately, what you use with regard to tech is a function of how you operate. I don’t honestly think writers NEED iPads as primary writing tools. I don’t view mine as that. As a supplement, sure. As an entertainment device, sure. Some professions (like medical and law enforcement, e.g.) find tablets really useful in terms of cutting time and using data. But in terms of what I do, no, an iPad does not cut my time with regard to writing or editing. It does provide some useful tools — as a writer, I use email and social networking quite a bit, so when I travel, the iPad will be handy for that. Otherwise, my laptop and desktop remain my primary writing tools.

Not to suggest that won’t change in the future. But for the moment, that’s how it is. Oh, and for the record, I do not own a smartphone. 😀

Anyway, happy reading, happy writing, happy tablet-ing!