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A techie holiday wish

Hey folks, I could really use your thoughts on this one…

As Sharon noted below, we’ve been doing a lot of work on our computer systems here at DGLM–brand new server, new webmail system, even a new postal meter. And with that, I’ve been trying to figure out what computer configuration makes the most sense for me when I need to do work at home–because I am waaaay out of date.

Right now, I’ve got an ancient Macbook (one of those white ones with the chipped casing not-so-affectionately known as a “crackbook”) that I use for writing, editing, and the internet. The webmail system is fairly good for email, but it’s still a lot clunkier than even my iphone (a 3GS, but can’t do much about that until the contract runs out next summer). And for reading MSS, I use a 2nd generation Kindle, which I’d love to replace as well.

For MS reading, I’m thinking an ipad is the way to go. And from Michael Bourret, I gather that email will be a lot more functional on an ipad than webmail. Certainly the ipad will be better for web surfing than what I have now. But when it comes to writing and editing, it’s hard to imagine using an ipad, even with an external keyboard–so maybe a new laptop makes more sense? I’ve never had problems reading on a laptop, and I guess I could suck it up with the kindle when I’m on the subway. But I’m also a total cheapskate when it comes to tech, so I’d really rather not invest in a laptop unless it’s a vastly superior solution.

Well, since I’m sure you writers out there have similar computing needs, what’s your set-up? Do you use multiple devices? If so, what? Any PC users out there? Ever since my old Dell got overtaken by viruses, I’ve steered clear of PCs, but Mike Hoogland’s been singing the praises of the new Microsoft tablet/computer combo–anyone else tried one of those?

5 Responses to A techie holiday wish

  1. Anonymous says:

    An iPad is all you really need for email and writing but editing is a different story.

    I must confess all our computers/devices are apple products – no snobbery, just practicality for applications we use.

    That being said, using the pages app on my iPad and a Zagg keyboard, I wrote most of my novel. Though I don’t have the latest version and was never able to use track changes in pages to edit. After writing, I’d email myself a copy and open it in Word on my desktop. That’s where all my editing gets done.

    I think I like writing first drafts on my iPad and then editing on my desktop. Two different brains (creative, mechanical) two different devices/apps, etc…

    If frugality wins, by the PC version of the iPad. I’ve heard good things about it and I guess you could download Word?

    As far as email, on an iPad, you can easily merge all of your email into one inbox, getting rid of the need to go to your webmail.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Joelle says:

    I’m so low tech that Michael Bourret is laughing at me weighing in here, but since you asked about PC and I’m using one, I thought I’d share. I bought a new Dell laptop last spring. I went ahead and got Office 2013 and just so you know, it sucks. You have to do about ten steps (only a slight exaggeration) to do what you did before when opening and saving documents. There are a few things that I’ve gotten used to which might be a bit nicer, but the sucky changes by far outweigh the good ones. So all I can say is if you do use Word/Office, don’t upgrade to 2013 unless you have to. The bad part is it’s not even glitches that can be fixed, but the whole damn design.

    The reading view in Word is pretty good. Track changes is a new hell, though. Or maybe I was just used to the old one and don’t like change.

    As for my PC, it’s fine, but I was not in my right mind (I was ill) when I bought it, so I spent way too much when all I do is email and write in Word. One new thing that is quite nice, if you like to put together your own videos, is the new Microsoft Movie Maker. It’s loads easier to use.

    These are all first world problems though, so I’m not actually grumbling!

  3. Rob says:

    As a user of an android phone, an iPad and a PC, I think of myself as tech-agnostic. I really have no major complaints about any of the hardware/software that I use (well, except for our company server that likes to crash every few weeks – that’s always fun).

    The PC is actually a Sony Vaio laptop. I like this line because they are relatively lightweight, but still have more than enough power and memory to meet all of my computing needs. I definitely could not function without a laptop – I spend far too much time on the road.

    The iPad is mostly an entertainment device for me (games, videos and reading), although I do use it sometimes for email. I have to say, however, that I much prefer email on my laptop (using Outlook) as it is easier to edit and offers quicker access to the functionality that I need.

    The phone is mostly used for texting, calls (yes, I am that old) and reading email. Very occasionally I will write email using the phone, but only when I am desperate. There’s actually nothing wrong with the email function on the phone, I just prefer the bigger keyboard and superior editing functionality of Outlook (yes, I am that old – again).

    Of the three devices, the only one I would consider for writing is the laptop. There are so many reasons for this – larger screen, bigger keyboard, easier editing, quicker switching from one application to another, quicker backup to multiple storage options, etc.

    Good luck!

  4. Karen says:

    My equipment is similar to Rob’s (even down to the Sony Vaio laptop) and I use it in pretty much the same way.

    I tried using an iPad to write on. It didn’t work for two reasons. First, I like Word, and the Word provided on the iPad is, to me, little better than use a simple text editor. (You can use Office 365 now, but it’s still pretty ordinary.) Second, you need somewhere flat to put your keyboard. I do a lot of typing on the train to and from work. No matter what sort of case you get, iPad plus keyboard on lap simply does not work. As for the keyboard on the iPad itself, only for emergencies, never for real work.

    My iPad is the mini. It’s small, lightweight, and perfect for iBooks without taking too much to space. I use it for emergency emails and for the occasional web browsing.

    Like Rob, I use email on the laptop. It’s so much faster, and more accurate, to type replies, plus I usually have the laptop open anyway.

    I use my phone(currently an Android, thinking about switching to iPhone) for calls and text messages, but that’s about all. My old service provider used to have a text messaging service for the PC and I loved that functionality.

    A number of things colour my use. I’m a fast typist, so I like a keyboard I can touch type on. When I answer the phone half the time I also need to look at websites (I work in web design) and the laptop is best for that. It’s really awkward trying to talk on the phone and view a website at the same time, not to mention, half the time you can’t see what the problem is. Also, I like Word for writing.

  5. D. C. DaCosta says:

    Laptop, wireless Internet (for research), and a thumb-drive for backup.

    And I always carry:
    – a small notebook and pen in case I see/hear something in public that would make a great story
    – a pocket tape recorder, so I can dictate when I’m driving and get a hot idea.

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