Saturday, 5 July 2014

Electronic life

I was sitting here yesterday trying to organise my thoughts, as you do. I’ve cracked through decorating the downstairs almost completely, I have a cupboard to purchase and assemble for the washing machine, and a dishwasher to fit where the washing machine is now (when we’ve bought the dishwasher that is). Then I just need to give the small utility room a lick of paint to finish, and then it’s upstairs full-time to decorate. In between times I’ve been clearing the front lawn of its gravel layer, membrane and the Ground Elder Aegopodium podagraria that has invaded the area in the six years we haven’t lived here. It is truly back breaking work; hundreds of rhizomes, thousands of rooting strands and all must go, or we’ll have to use Glyphosate, and I’m not a lover of chemical weeding.

Besides all this physical labour I’ve been organising my thoughts for the book projects I’ve set myself to do (there’s nothing like giving yourself a headache is there). I have the bones of two novels I’ve been titting around with since 2011 (one sits at around 70000 words, but being anally retentive in the extreme I need to do some geographical research because I don’t like to be inaccurate), No 2 is easier in that respect, it’s all made up stuff ... within reason. I would also like to re-jig the blog to book form (this requires a lot of re-reading and then groaning at what a plonka I feel whenever I read my own scribblings). It then requires re-formatting with hindsight.

Anyway what’s all that got to do with the title? Everything and nothing I shall elaborate:

I was sitting at the desk area in the kitchen yesterday looking at my basic setup. Laptop, Kindle, Tablet, Phone, Electronic cigarette (yes it’s included) and a paper notebook. I looked and thought that looks excessive, then I thought about my days on trade floors fixing irate traders lives as the one underdesk PC was down was potentially costing them millions in lost revenues. In the old days you could find half a dozen PC’s under one desk, dual video cables, KVM switches and a rats nest of cables, with the ever present risk of downing an entire area with one badly handled eight way power gang (things are easier on trade floors now, with the advent of virtual environments, mirrored server blades and less under desk PC sprawl).

But: how do I use all these electronic gadgets and why given that a while back I was trying to reduce my electronic sprawl do I need all the gadgets?

The answer is specific functions or environments created within each device. This beast that I type on (having completely dismantled it and re-seated all its cables and internals to cure a screen flicker) is the work horse of typing. In an ideal that’s all I want it to do in terms of getting me from A to B. In an ideal world I don’t want it interacting with the WWW for twaddle in the main profile, because despite good security and virus software `out there, there be sharks’. In addition to its typing duties, it’s also the nexus through which all other devices physically connect and exchange information (I say information, not data because data is something that needs to be sorted into information and what comes from the various other devices is properly sorted out information, I don’t do data very few of us do). So everything that comes in via the tablet, cameras phones etc gets channelled to the backup terabyte drive, DVD RW’s, and choice cuts go to USB Data fobs. Multiple backups may seem like paranoia, but imagine losing your home to a fire or flood or virus (the number of folks I’ve had to look at and shake my head at over the years tells me you can’t be too careful).

So these devices have found specific roles (Laptop,  Kindle, Tablet, Phone and a paper notebook) and it was only after I backtracked that I realised what I’d done and how reliant we are on these gadgets and how I’ve created an office that sits in a space eighteen by twenty four inches.

I put the Oxford dictionary and thesaurus on the Kindle, when I type and I’m not sure of a word or its specific meaning I go to the Kindle, and of course I can find synonyms that increase accuracy of definition and variety of word use. I like but I don’t like slow load speeds, pop ups, cookie warnings and all that crap that slows performance. Kindle Paperwhite also has direct connect to Wikipedia over wireless, this means I can read and research in book form rather than using the laptop thus diverting its resources, or constantly ALT-TABing between windows (anyone reading the blog will see I go to Wikipedia a lot).

Kindle Tiny URL

I use the tablet for surfing, and full colour research and video (because it has High Definition) again this reduces latency, resource use and bandwidth, temp files and data clutter that Norton has to screen and clear. And as firewalls go clearly it’s physically separate from the laptop unless I connect it manually. The other great use of the Tablet is exploring roads and the world in general using Google Earth or Maps, Street View etc.

The phone does what the phone does, communications: Twitter and SMS mostly. It’s also a calculator, diary and Dictaphone (the tablet can do these things but isn’t nearly as portable).

Finally the electronic cigarette means I no longer have to wander off and smoke (which I hated). I can now sit back read and review and or think without necessarily leaving he desk, while simultaneously not killing myself slowly or stinking up the house (having to walk away from your work space, clear your head or review while not being able to refer directly to what you’re doing is not always ideal).

So that’s that electronic life. I have all the tools, I just need now to stop worrying about not being at work and earning money and relying on Amanda to provide the bread and butter while I tit around being creative. And of all the obstacles to progress this is the biggy, I’ve spent two hours writing this thousand or so words, and not a penny earned.

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