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Update: What A Month – Or Two

Here I go again, apologizing for the absence of posts lately. I’ll use the tried and true excuse – I was busy – because that is true. But a number of things converged to contribute. For one thing, I am posting to a group blog with other Pandamoon Publishing authors. The link is accessible from the website at http://www.pandamoonpublishing.com . Most of what I will post there is concerning the publishing and editing process. Here I plan to continue discussing other things, mostly the progress on writing books and such, but other things of interest.

Surface-Pro-3

As you may recall, back in April I purchased a new computer, a Surface Pro 3. Although I love the computer I had some issues with it after installing a preview version of Windows 10. And a wrestling match with Microsoft began. The end result of that was a replacement of the tablet.

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Once more I am playing with Windows 10, albeit a more refined version. The actual release is scheduled for July 29, so the builds are pretty close to finished product. I can tell you that the build I am currently using, (10130) is almost ready for prime time. There are a couple of annoying things about it, an error I receive at shutdown for one) but, otherwise, it is remarkably stable.

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I replaced a MacBook Pro as mu primary computer. I had intended to continue using the MBP for writing but it has an issue with its battery swelling up so I have not used it much over the past two months. I had occasion to boot it up the other day to look for a file and I have to tell you that my Surface Pro 3 is so much faster. I know a lot of that has to do with the access times for the Hard Drive. The Surface has flash memory as a hard drive. The MBP has a 5400 RPM disc drive. You’re talking about factors of 100 to 1000 times in speed for pulling stuff from the drive. Boot up on the Surface Pro 3 is less than ten seconds. The MBP takes over a minute. Also, there is so many background operations running on the MBP that it takes forever – it seems – for it to be ready to use once it has booted up. I could disable everything and it would run faster, I suppose. But what’s the point now that I don’t use it. I’m considering removing the battery and using it again, though. I just haven’t gotten around to that. It is a future project. But, for now, the Surface Pro 3 is my primary computer.

I’ve been working more hours for the past several months, so I don’t have as much free time. I have been reading, catching up on some of the manuscripts I have promised to read and comment on for other authors. I have a new favorite author, by the way. Laura Ellen Scott has a book coming out later this year titled The Juliet. You will be reading that one, I promise.  Later this month Jeff Messick’s long-awaited Knights Of The Shield is being released. That’s a supernatural cop thriller. It ranks high on my recommended reads list. Rose Montague has a new book coming out as well. I still have to read that one, but I will because there is a namesake character in it – all part of the global scheme of making Elgon a common name. Yeah, it will take a while before it appears on the label of a Coke bottle.

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I have been rediscovering music from the 70’s. So expect a couple of upcoming blogs posts about that. Otherwise, over the next several months while I am working on edits for BT and the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles, I will be writing a sequel for Becoming Thuperman and one for Fried Windows as well. So expect progress reports on those.

#BecomingThuperman, #TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #MacBookPro #SurfacePro3, #Update

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Computer Quest

For the past few months I have been in quest of a new computer – well, maybe a slightly used one but newer than what I’m using. The past couple of computers I’ve used have been hand-me-downs. Nothing wrong with that. They more than served their purposes. I’m using one of them now, so obviously I don’t absolutely, positively need a computer at this moment, but I am planning ahead a little.

I’ve saved some shekels this year. It’s been a challenge between working more hours and trying to continue my other roles. I’ve had to force the issue many times to write blog posts let alone make headway on sequels to Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman – imagine that writing a sequel for a book that hasn’t been released yet. That’s my life lately. Still, I need the money so I’ve been putting in as many hours as work will allow me. I’ve saved enough that sometime before my birthday I’ll probably buy a new computer – a laptop.

In the past I was not much of a fan of laptops. As a computer tech I can tell you they are hard to work on and each manufacturer has some proprietary stuff involved, so you need to be factory certified to work on them. For a long time the question for me was “why bother?” Traditionally laptops were inherently slower than desktop computers. Desktops were easier to upgrade and much easier to repair. But over the past half dozen years the performance gap between desktops and laptops has narrowed sufficiently that for most people a laptop can be a desktop substitute, especially if the portability of the device matters.

There is something to be said about being able to pick up everything and go somewhere else with it. That is the main reason I’m looking for a laptop. And since I have been using a Mac for the past 8 years I started my search there. But I have not excluded PC’s. Lately I’ve been leaning toward a Windows based machine. Here’s why.

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A couple of years ago my son talked me into switching to a Windows Phone. Although I found the transition between an iPhone and the Nokia problematic at times I liked the phones features. I’m hardly a power user when it comes to smartphones, so I would never think of suggesting that my experiences with Windows Phone OS are universally applicable. The largest frustration has been application support for specific things. For example, my publisher has started using Slack and for that there is no Windows Phone application. I’ve been using the Windows Phone 10 preview for the past few days and, though it is buggy and certainly not quite ready for primetime, I like the direction Microsoft is taking the operating system. If they can enlist developer support for the devices the phone OS is potentially better than either Android or iOS. And the intangible lingering in the background is that since businesses predominantly use Windows having a phone that works int he same universe as the computers at work and likely as not at home – as well as tying into Xbox One – would be a significant benefit for having such a phone.

Because of what I have been seeing with Windows development combined with some of the directions I see Apple going has led me to broaden my search for laptops. The premium price charged for a Mac is hard to justify on my budget. There is one piece of software that I use that performs better on a Mac but the Windows version does everything I would need. And the integration with my Windows Phone would be much simpler. (There is a application to connect and synch my phone to my Mac but I have not been totally happy with it.)

Currently I do most of my writing at a desk. So I haven’t needed a laptop. What I am using is technically a laptop but its screen doesn’t work so it is plugged into a monitor. keyboard and mouse. It works fine in that configuration, but it is not portable. I have an older Mac that is showing its age. It is slow and I haven’t even booted it up in the past month. The fact that it still works and still runs the latest version of Mac OS is kind of a tribute to how well the mac world functions. The laptop is 8 years old. The battery is shot. So, when in use, it is plugged into a wall all the time.

Sometimes it is nice having a different device to connect to the internet while I’m in the middle of writing something. In the past I have used a iPad for that. Sometimes I used my Windows Phone. But there are times when it would be damned convenient to have another computer – especially if I wanted to export a document and take it with me to work on it somewhere else – like during my breaks at work. Also, I expect to be traveling a bit int eh near future doing book signings and I will be staying overnight away from home. The iPad I have would be a paid in the arse to deal with traveling documents, some of which are not made for MS Office. That is why I need a laptop.

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So, after searching what’s out there I have narrowed things down to a Macbook Pro 13.3″ with a 256GB SSD, a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro 14″ with a 256GB SSD and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with 256GB SSD. Brand new, the Lenovo is the least expensive but it also looks less rugged than either the Mac or the Surface Pro. I prefer the feel of the Mac’s keyboard, though the Lenovo’s is a close second. The Keyboard for the Surface – which is extra – is its weakest feature though I played with one and it’s usable. And if I find it annoying I could use a bluetooth keyboard. For portability the Surface winds hands down, with the Lenovo a close second. The Mac has a newer generation of the Intel I-5 processor and it is running slightly faster memory. For what I do with a computer I doubt I’d notice a difference. After all, we are talking about nanoseconds.

I haven’t made a decision yet and I may end up delaying it further – who knows. It’s not like I need to make a choice immediately. But at the moment I’m leaning toward the Surface Pro.

#Microsoft #Apple #MacOS #Windows10 #WindowsPhone #Lenovo #Yoga2 #SurfacePro3 #MacBookPro

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Yesterday And Today

There are a lot of things going on in my life but only a few of them are about making money. The majority of my time I spend writing or revising things I wrote years ago but never published. No immediate income in any of that. I work part time as a publicist and also at a retail store to help pay bills. When I am home I use a computer for nearly everything I do. Whether it is writing or publicity related to my writing or the other authors who I work with, the speed of my computer – or lack thereof – influences the amount of time I spend sitting at a desk starting at a screen.

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My computer is a 2007 vintage MacBook Pro. Yes, it still works and I have periodically upgraded it to keep the most current operating system on it, though each upgrade had degraded the overall performance of the computer a bit. I think the upgrade to Mountain Lion a couple of years ago was the first time the computer appeared to struggle. When I did that upgrade I needed to upgrade MS Office as well. Office 2011 for Mac is considerably slower than the 2004 version I had been using but MS had stopped supporting it and MAC OS would no longer support the install. Anyway, the combination of the two program upgrades severely slowed my computer’s performance in doing what I do every day.

The computer has a Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2GB of RAM and a 120GB Hard Drive. All those design features have become limiting for what I do. There have been times that I sit waiting for the words of two sentences to finish typing on the open Word Document. Despite typing every day I do not type fast (maybe 50 or 60 wpm, tops). Also, whenever I launch MS Word it takes over a minute to load and once loaded it is iffy whether I can run any other program (multitasking) without slowing down the typing and editing. Whenever I upload something to the Internet the computer age, speed and local lag delays things. I’m using a 105+ Mbps Internet Connection (sometimes it reaches 130Mbps) so that is not the bottleneck. I did an unscientific study for the past couple of weeks keeping track of how much time it took for me to do certain things with my computer. The determination was that I needed a beefier computer. The trouble is I have a gross absence of funds in my bank account so getting something new or even newer was out of the question. Some of the slowness could be remedied with upgrading the memory to 4 or 6 GB but that would cost around $100 that I just don’t have a don’t feel like investing into a computer that is going on 8 years old.

Sometime ago my son spilled a drink on his 2011 vintage MacBook Pro. It messed up the interconnect not he logic board between the graphics accelerator and the laptop screen. In other words it became unusable as a laptop. However it would still drive a monitor.

Macbook-Pro-2010

Around that time my son decided he needed something more portable and he migrated to a MS Surface Pro. So his laptop sat around collecting dust. Yesterday I spent a few hours resurrecting it. Although the repair to it would cost well over $600 it works find with a monitor and it is considerably faster than my laptop. It has a Intel I-7 core at 2.2GHZ with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It’s driving a 24 inch Samsung monitor. So, for the present I am migrating my stuff from my old laptop to the new configuration with my son’s old laptop. I figure this runs as well as a new Mac Mini, perhaps better in some ways.

Anyway, until I get MS office up and running not he new machine, I won’t be editing or revising anything. My license on the other machine has to be deactivated before I can install it on the new machine and the download takes some time…etc. So my immediate plans for the day are to take Rocco, my son’s American bulldog,  for a walk down to the dog park so he can play with his friends. And then I will work on migrating the document files I need from my laptop of the external storage device I’ve been using to supplement the small hard drive on the old laptop. I figure it will take most of the rest of the day. I work tomorrow at my outside job so it will be Monday before I return to revising book one of The Wolfcat Chronicles.

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#computers #MacbookPro #Upgrading