Blog Archives

Forgetting How to Use a Book

A very interesting post from journalist David Bauer. He has been reading books all his life, but after only two years of reading on an ipad, he is no longer comfortable reading a book the old-fashioned way.

confused by booksI find it increasingly uncomfortable to move my eyes from the top of a page to the bottom as I read along. I prefer to keep my focus at roughly the same spot and to move the text rather my eyes.

Read his entire blog here: The Day I Forgot How to Use a Book

Twas the Night We Were Blogging

computerfix‘Twas the night we were blogging, when all through the house

Not an idea was stirring that would inspire a mouse;

Our manuscripts were flung by the chimney without care,

In hopes that inspiration soon would be there;

We wished we were nestled all snug in our beds,

While visions of blog stats danced in our heads;

And my wife in frustration and I in despair,

Were beginning to think we had nothing to share.

When out of the blue I got a great notion,

I sprang from my chair in a whirl of commotion.

Away to the computer I flew like a flash,

And opened the program but the thing promptly crashed.

I pounded the keyboard, right-clicked the mouse

Then uttered a yell that was heard through the house.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a Microsoft message that wasn’t too clear.

It’s an outdated driver, so slow and so sick,

I knew in a moment this wouldn’t be quick.

More rapid than eagles our curses they came,

We stamped, and we shouted, and called it some names;

“Now, Damn it! now, Darn it! now, How do we fix this!

Oh, Blast it! How stupid! oh, How do we nix this?

This is taking too long! We’re climbing the wall!

Just go away! go away! go away all!”

As frustration did grow and our tempers did fly,

We met with the obstacle, and said “Do or die!”

So back to the keyboard my fingers they flew,

With determination, and disk repair, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I saw on the screen

Another message from the hateful machine.

As I threw up my hands and was starting to frown

Error messages appeared with a bound.

They made no sense to me and no sense to my wife,

And had but one purpose; to cause us much strife;

A bundle of codes, which took us aback,

And made us believe we were on the wrong track.

Our eyes — how they twitched! our faces weren’t merry!

Our cheeks were like roses, our noses like cherries!

My wife’s little mouth was drawn tight as a bow,

And the look on her face as cold as the snow;

I turned to the screen and gritted my teeth,

The steam from my ears circled my head like a wreath;

I felt a sharp pain deep in my belly,

And was beginning to shake like a bowl full of jelly.

I grabbed a manual from off of the shelf,

And mumbled and murmured and read to myself;

My wife caught my eye and then shook her head,

Which let me know I had plenty to dread;

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,

And fixed all the problems; then turned with a jerk,

And giving the finger to the stupid machine,

I started it up and it worked like a dream!

My wife sprang to the keyboard and began typing away,

Creating a blog to post the next day.

But I heard her exclaim, as we finished that night,

“Blogging can be quite fun, but sometimes it bites.”

(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

The Paradox of Time-Saving Devices

Cell phones. Tablets. Laptops. The list is ever-growing and ever-changing. All these devices are designed to makes our lives easier. To streamline our work. To give us more time. The trouble is they don’t.

Remember the books and articles that predicted computers that would be so efficient, they would liberate us from the shackles of an eight-hour work day? Give us a completely paperless society? They would enable us to accomplish more in less time, leaving us free to pursue leisure activities like never before. Computers were going to set us free.

So what happened? The computers materialized as predicted. They enabled us to accomplish our tasks faster. They streamlined our work. So where is the abundant free time?

  1. Instead of using our “extra’ time to pursue enjoyable activities and hobbies, we use it to get even more work done. The theory is if we can do a job in half the time, then we can accomplish twice as much as before.
  2. Doing our work more efficiently means, to most corporations, that fewer employees are required to do the same amount of work. So we all now do our own jobs and the jobs of the employees who have been downsized/rightsized/out-the-door-sized.
  3. The devices themselves are an insidious time drain, alluring in their designs, attractive in their promises of time-saving and entertainment. We are enchanted and then mesmerized. They hold a thrall over us that we cannot break. We compulsively check them. We pour more information into them. We get caught up in the web (slight pun intended) of communication and information. We don’t own them. They own us.
  4. The upkeep and maintenance of the devices is no small chore, either. Add it to the list of another damn thing to do.

The plus side is that we do communicate like never before. News spreads quickly. Response time is lightning fast. Organization and mobilization can happen like never before. (Remember SOPA?)

Unfortunately, we have to communicate quickly. No more complete sentences. No more fully spelled words. Who has the time to either write them or read them?

A Day in the Life…

I logged onto the computer to check the weather…

then I thought that I should check my email.

So I signed into my personal account…

and then decided I’d better check my business email, too.

While reading my business emails, I clicked on a link to a blog I follow…

and while reading the blog, I clicked another link…

which led to another…

and then another…

Which made me think of my Facebook page…

So I logged in.

And read my news feed…

And a few friends’ pages…

and a few business pages…

and caught up with my groups…

and my family…

and my friend requests…

and my messages…

(The messages that  I don’t receive via email)

Which made me think of Twitter…

So I logged in.

And scrolled through the tweets…

and scrolled…

and scrolled…

and scrolled…

and then checked my mentions…

and interactions…

and messages…

(The messages I don’t receive via email or Facebook)

Which made me think of my blog…

So I logged in.

And read the comments…

and checked the stats…

and tried out a few more widgets…

Which made me think of RebelMouse…

So I logged in.

And admired my front page…

and checked my drafts…

and played with the design…

and looked at the Goodies page…

Which made me think of Pinterest…

So I logged in.

And scrolled through the pins of people I follow…

and scrolled…

and scrolled…

and scrolled..

And I liked a few things…

and  repinned a few things…

and oohed and aah-ed over a few things…

including a photo of the sun setting over the ocean.

Which reminded me that I needed to check the weather…

 

 

 

The Future: If You Blink, You’ll Miss It

We were recently asked if it was difficult to write science fiction in a world where the future quickly and persistently becomes the present.

You betcha!

How lovely it must have been to be a sci-fi writer one hundred years ago. The inventions and devices you imagined and described were unlikely to show up not only in the near future but in your lifetime. Your futuristic world would remain just that, an imaginative journey into a far-off place.

Not so today. When we wrote the first draft of Time’s Edge twenty-five years ago, the future we imagined included wireless mobile computers, touch screens, voice-activated devices, quantum physics… Well, you get the picture. Flash forward twenty years. We haul out the manuscript, begin to polish it for publication, and notice a big problem. The future we described had pretty much become the present.

We rewrote the story and have since added two sequels, but we wonder how long it will be before the devices and ways of life we described become part of our present lives. And then we wonder what it will be like for the science fiction writers of tomorrow. Technology is evolving so quickly, the future will be happening as they are writing it!

FUTURE WRITER: Let’s see. Orion steps into his personal protection pod (PPP) which will shield him from the harmful rays of the sun that shine through the depleted ozone layer, filter the smog-laden air, protect him from the chemicals that saturate the ground…

NEWS FLASH: Get your very own Personal Protection Pod. Don’t put yourself at risk of our deadly environment again! PPP’s will shield the sun’s deadly rays, filter your air, protect you from toxic chemicals…

FUTURE WRITER: Sigh. I wish I lived in the 21st century. Life was so much simpler then. Let’s see. Maybe Orion could just wear a special suit. Wait a minute. An ultra-thin fabric, transparent yet tough, which provides all the protection he needs from the environment. It will be practically invisible, so no one will know he is wearing it… I’ll call it WonderFabric…

NEWS FLASH: WonderFabric, now available from fine eOutlets everywhere. Transparent yet tough, invisible to others…

FUTURE WRITER: I’m switching to historical fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

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