It's a funny old business this adventure and the preparation. Here I am on 17.41 from Fenchurch St on a Thursday evening roughing out a post on a Samsung tablet that we bought to make the journey to and from work, more productive. That means not having to take a laptop but still being able to write. Bear with me, this one jumps about a bit.
Technology what a thing it is? I wrote the first paragraph on the train mentioned above and then found myself without enough elbow room to type (using the on screen keyboard in portrait mode… Oh no he’s talking techno bollocks). As I was tired anyway I just put the idea to bed and tried to nap knowing that I would pick it up again on Friday. And here I am indeed on Saturday morning doing exactly that… (and on Friday evening but it was late and I just did some more bullet points). In other news on Friday; there was a whole new level to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7 “Ice Cream Sandwich 4” to give it it’s full name… I shit you not (the Ice Cream sandwich bit is the name of the Android operating system version, there's a word for the nerds that think that sort of thing up... but Amanda said I can't use it on the blog) http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/mobile-devices/tablets/tablets/GT-P3100TSABTU-spec ). Indeed on Friday, the Bluetooth keyboard and book style case turned up, and that makes things very user friendly.
PS: Samsung your website runs slow… really slow.
PPS: Samsung all donations for touting your products gratefully received.
Back to Friday morning; I say morning… what I mean is lunch time, I actually managed to sleep for the best part of twelve and three quarter hours (proof if nothing else that I have been overdoing things). Instead of continuing with writing this post I paired the tablet with the Bluetooth keyboard that came all the way from Hong Kong in four days... Smoke that HSS. I then tinkered with a few settings to ensure the Bluetooth was secured just to the keyboard and not open to the world and his wife, and moved on to matters of decorating in the dining room.
Here’s how things work in real life. I currently commute, I work in the city of London and when I’m busy there is no room for me to do anything for myself, the job can be extremely wearing and that leaves very little energy in the evenings left for anything other than cooking (and lately damp works) a little exercise or gardening (dependent on the time of year) and sometimes (though not often) a little writing time. However there is the commute; which equates to approximately an hour and twenty minutes a day of “me” time. However as anyone who commutes knows, trains get full fairly quickly and using a laptop, while ideal is not always practical… for several reason, nosy bastards looking over your shoulder (mental seeing as what is being typed is public on the blog), not enough elbow room (see above), start up and shut down time of laptops (regardless of type, unless you are careless and I see careless users everyday guess what I do for a living), anyway boot ups and safe sleep modes take time (potentially a quarter of the entire journey time.
This is why after trying using a good old fashioned note pad, a Dictaphone and my own oft overloaded memory, that I finally succumbed to buying a tablet, and the smallest tablet I could find that has some gumption… one must say that one feels a bit of a hypocrite, having slated the iPad set at work for being suckered into buying the gadgets that frequently don’t get used, and rapidly find themselves on ebay or unused in drawers… I do hope to do better by my gadget.
So here’s how virtual things work; I use the tablet to rough out the blog posts, a colleague at work uses his Blackberry to do exactly the same thing for his blog http://planetmondo.blogspot.co.uk/ and it is from talking to him that finally pushed me to dipping my toe in the tablet water. I rough out ideas on the tablet… (I think on balance and while typing and analyzing the timeline, that I tried all my other options first, knowing that I was eventually going to have to bite the bullet and spend some proper money buying the right kit for the job, which is annoying because I like to use the maxims “buy right, buy once” and “measure twice cut once” which is a similar turn of phrase with a similar meaning…. I think I was being overly cautious… No I’m being generous to myself, I was procrastinating, and in the final reckoning with Dictaphone and speech recognition software, I’ve probably spent more than I’ve saved)… that was mega tangent. Anyway I then synch the tablet to the laptop at home take the rough copy and bullet points I’ve made, that cover such things as tangents, realizations, and just bits I didn’t have time to give a bit of flesh to, and do the full edit in MS Word proper (I use Polaris Office on the tablet, I think it’s pretty good). I then post here on the blog rather than trying to spend a whole evening writing after a day at work, which is frankly impossible.
So here I am on Saturday morning, it’s7.30am, my rough work and bullet points from Thursday and Friday mean that I have managed to flesh out this post in about an hour. So that for me is proof that I was right buying the tablet.
The only things that I really considered when buying one were: onboard memory and external memory expansion. I was quite lucky, someone at work was selling an un-opened 32gb Micro SD card… I’m going to have nerd moment: I work in IT, that Micro SD card is 32 Gigabytes; for those that would like to know, that’s 32 billion bytes (American). A Byte is a collection of “bits” usually 8 (I won’t get into parity it will just confuse things). Bytes are formed from binary Bits and in turn, form the ASCII codes that represent all the characters on the keyboard (visible or otherwise… the space bar creates a character you can’t see) that you and I use either to type or browse this thing we call the internet, create documents, send email etc. So that’s potentially 32 billion characters on a piece of plastic and silicon wafer smaller in size than my thumb nail. We have an old server at work that has hard drives the size of bricks that only hold 3.4Gb of data, and years ago when I worked at Reuters they had hard drives the size of filing cabinet drawers that only held a megabyte. It’s mind boggling. And I’m writing about it on what would be Alan Turings 100th Birthday… mental.
What has any of this got to do with travel, the tablet, the laptop etc? Everything and nothing… because of the gadgets we can communicate what we are doing to our families via a blog, Facebook, Twitter etc. The tablet allows me to write in a way that means I’m not hankering after time to write and being cross with myself for being too tired to write under normal circumstances. And with access to a Wifi Hotspot or by upgrading my mobile phone contract to 3G (which I will do closer to the time) Amanda and I can both use the tablet to Video call via the Skype mobile app from anywhere to anyone that we usually chat to… we can also use iplayer and all those similar techno telly widgets to be pretty much anywhere and never out of touch. We can even run our navigation through the tablet (though we do have a Tom Tom).
The only minor irritation right now is learning the subtleties and nuance of the Bluetooth keyboard and softening it up a bit, so my spelling doesn’t look quite so dyslexic… not that it matters as I have spell check.
Technology: What a thing it is.