Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What the scenery looks like

New Hampshire Fall, looking up from a hammock

By this time next week, I'll have pushed my novel set in New Hampshire up to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This picture gives a small taste of what the place feels like at its most scenic. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

iPad for Writers: Second First Impressions

So, I've had the iPad long enough to develop a more meaningful impression of how useful it is to me as a writer.

What do I use the iPad for?
  • reading fiction
  • writing fiction
  • writing my journal
  • casual gaming
  • occasional listening to a computer-read recording of whatever fiction I happen to be working on
The Kindle reader on the iPad is nice, and I used it frequently until I got the actual Kindle hardware. As a physical reader, the iPad comes in second to the Kindle for me. This is true because it isn't as easily hand-holdable as the Kindle. It is both wider and much heavier (though not heavy).

I'll have more to say about the Kindle soon.

Editing on the iPad is clumsy. Even with the keyboard, there are many times you need to stop and touch the screen. Cut and paste is clumsy enough that I avoid it whenever possible, instead waiting 'til I've gotten any writing onto my Macbook.

Like I said in my first iPad impressions post, I bought Apple's word processor, called Pages but don't use it much. Instead, I mostly use Evernote for simple text entry. Even when I'm working on the book, I simply use the iPad for data entry, then transfer the work to Scrivener on the Mac or Word on the PC.

Evernote is incredibly handy for its ability to automatically sync among multiple machines, including Android phones and iPhones. It's also free.

I was, however, wrong about Pages' inability to easily scroll through a long document. There's an oddly implemented feature that allows you, as you get near the right gutter, to drag your way quickly around a book-length document.

For heavy text entry, I bought a wireless keyboard and a neoprene case to contain both it and the iPad. The case is a generic zippered thing and very useful.

When I've got no heavy typing in mind, I don't bother to take the keyboard out. But for serious writing, I have to resort to the keyboard.

At approximately $80 US, the keyboard was a good purchase. It's tiny and surprisingly pleasant to use.

One very annoying bug is the fact that it has no 'off' switch and has many times brought my iPad to life in the case when one of its keys gets accidentally pressed. There are three ways to avoid this possibility, all of which stink. You can turn the Blu Tooth off on the iPad, rendering it deaf to the keyboard. You can turn the iPad, itself, entirely off, ruining one of the great benefits of having an iPad . . . its instant-on capability.  Third, and worst, you can remove the batteries from the keyboard.

In the end, the iPad is a very flawed but still useful device for me. It's multi-purpose abilities and terrific battery life make it handy in ways no other computer can claim yet.

Now, if they'll just port a decent version of Scrivener to the thing.