Featured

talk talk talk Blog Looking Snazzy and Modern

Posted on

Screenshot of political blog talk talk talktalk talk talk — my original blog — has been looking sad and dated for way too long. I put updating it in my endless ToDo list. Publishing Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me moved it from being written in some task app into my head, needling me regularly until finally Christmas arrived with NO appointments, NO TTC to sap the living energy from me. I got it done. Took longer than expected. With brain injury, doesn’t it always? I used one of Blogger’s new themes, then customized it, sticking with a dark theme because I liked it, and it helps to differentiate my political blog from this one. And I fiddled around with one of my Toronto waterfront photos for my header image — even mulling over a quacking duck shot — until I decided I liked the sardonic look of the gulls. They’re just soooo Toronto and political looking.

Yes, folks, talk talk talk is looking pretty good now. The gulls are even impressed. Sort of. The only problem is that with losing so many years of regularly working on my websites to focus on my brain injury recovery, I lost my familiarity with HTML. I only ever copied and pasted code I needed that I found on the web, anyway, but trying to figure out how to change the full post page to a white background with black text defeated me. The HTML code looked like complete gibberish. Worse, I couldn’t find what helpful techies in their helpful posts said to find in order to add or replace code. I felt like my computer-understanding brain had turned into Swiss cheese. Blogger’s themes are more visually accessible than they used to be, so I’m going to have to rely on that . . . for now. It’s not that easy trying to make one’s blog or website accessible, but as I improve, I’m hoping to be able to do that here as well as over on talk talk talk.

The nice thing about refreshing a blog’s look is that it makes you want to blog again. It’s been sporadic on talk talk talk and barely weekly here because I had to make the hard decision five, uh, six (gulp) years ago to putting my energy once again towards treating my injured neurons and recovering brain function. I hadn’t truly heard the years ticking by until I logged into my CafePress site to update its widget on talk talk talk and saw my last login date: November 2011. That was a depressing stunner. I have some choices to make.

Brain Biofeedback

Biofeedback, Technology, Blogging, and Fatigue

Posted on

I'm getting an iPhone. Hopefully, this year; they’re a tad in demand. I made this decision after weeks of building problems and one particularly frustrating set of days. One big problem I have is that I can write on my iPod Touch within the white noise of the subway but cannot post my draft to my blog until I get home because of the lack of free secure WiFi along my routes. Not usually a problem, but these days I’m exhausted by the time I open my front door, and as a result, my blogging has fallen off. With the iPhone, I wouldn’t have to keep updating this post that I draft en route but never post once home, for three weeks now. Not good.

Two weeks in a row, I wrote and then updated:

It really is nice being able to see letters, images, and colours on my iPod sharper after gamma brainwave biofeedback. I just wish the effect would last, and brain fatigue wouldn't turn things blurry.

I was fatigued after last week’s and this week’s session [“last week” and “this week” are now three and two weeks ago], but the training effect on my vision and perception held for awhile. I was aware of my surroundings in the way of how I used to be aware in the periphery while reading or listening to music and I didn't go sailing past my stop while drafting this post on my iPod; it was the second week in a row that I felt able to type while walking (tsk). Didn't do it though!

I was fatigued more than usual afterwards last week because I read for 15 minutes! Holy cow. I usually read for five.

In the usual way of things, I begin my biofeedback session with reading while my Wernicke’s area is being stimulated for 7 minutes, and I end with 5 minutes of reading while I'm connected to the computer via electrodes on the PZ area of my skull, on my thumb for heart, my finger for temperature, and belt for breathing.

I'd asked previously that, since I've begun my metaphysics course, if I could continue reading for a little while after my session was over so as to be under the immediate influence of training sans any deleterious effects of taking the TTC (my trainer alternates clients in different rooms so that while one is getting ready to leave, she can set the next one up, so no worries about holding up the next client). That was to start last week, but since she began to set the next client up as soon as she began the reading screen for me and that turned into 15 minutes, it sort of incorporated my extra reading into my reading biofeedback screen (this week it was as we’d intended; still needed a nap). That turned out better for me because I was receiving auditory feedback during the whole of my philosophy reading. The auditory feedback is like a white noise. As long as the gamma sailboat is chugging along and the busy brain and 16-19Hz sailboats are stalled on their virtual seas, the noise buzzes. That means whenever I heard it, I was producing gamma brainwaves while not falling into rumination or producing beta spindles. I heard it a lot. This was good. Also, my trainer crowed as soon as she saw my results. My muscle tension was low. Well, I said I was sitting still and upright, the biofeedback training position, reading a computer screen, wouldn't it be low like during the three-minute training screens? No! You were reading, she said, as if that explained it. Well, it was hard stuff. I did have to take a break by reading easy stuff, then I was able to return to reading the intro to the philosopher Quine. Still, I was physically still! Maybe, that’s the point: when reading, our bodies unconsciously work out what we’re reading. I don't know. I meant to ask for clarification this week but was consumed by my dying cell phone and iPod Touch (cell battery lasted years longer than the iPod but both decided to tank at same time).

My heart rate was 10 beats per minute lower than the previous week and ten beats lower again this week and so five minutes of writing got it down to the teens as in 118. And this week, five minutes got it down to 109. Relief! I hope this time the effect is permanent and keeps dropping my heart rate to normal territory!!

I did read a few minutes longer last week after she unhooked me from the computer to finish up something. I gulped down some water, demolished my snack bar, and was ready for coffee and food both last week and this. I'm not sure why but I'm much hungrier after my gamma sessions than I have been in a long time. Oh yeah, new location, new brain area being woken up. Well, duh.

Marketing

Announcement: Now Affiliated with Iguana Books

Posted on

I’m pleased to announce that I’m now affiliated with Iguana Books and that they will be working with me on my next two novels. Writing is not so solitary!

Greg Ioannou has been my editor since the day I walked into his Colborne Communications office with my in-progress manuscript for Lifeliner. This was in 1999, just before my brain injury. I went to him seeking a structural editor and, perhaps, a copy editor. I’d worked as a copy editor and didn’t think I’d need much help in that area; however, structuring a book was new to me. We hit it off, and he set me a writing schedule. I dug into it enthusiastically. And then two cars hit my stopped car. But a most amazing thing happened: through all the years of recovery, Greg waited patiently. When I was able to return to writing Lifeliner in 2006, he happily met with me and worked with my new abilities (or limited at that time). He has provided sage advice and guidance for my novels ever since. You cannot pay for guidance and support like that.

This past Fall, when I made my annual trek to his office for novel advice, he stunned me by offering to publish my next novels, but not in the traditional way, in a new way, focussing mostly on ebooks. He offered fair and attractive terms. My work would be edited professionally by an editing house I knew and trusted. I would no longer have to work on the publishing aspect alone. My answer was a slam dunk: yes.

I submitted Aban’s Accension to him for editing, and until it’s released, he has listed me on his website as an affiliate author along with my already published books and a blog to boot. More blogs! This brings me up to three blogs — four if you count Google+ posts — and four websites I have to keep an eye on. There shall be some duplication, my energy being a tad limited.

In addition to my books and blog, you will also find on my Iguana Books page an exclusive excerpt of one of my short stories, free for you to read.

In the coming months, Iguana Books will be offering pre-sales for Aban’s Accension. And once I’ve completed Time and Space, I will be submitting it to them for editing. Keep an eye on this space or my Iguana blog for upcoming publication announcements.

Brain Power

iPad Thoughts

Posted on

The iPad is a nifty device. Seemingly a toy before you buy, with its bright screen and magazine size, it quickly replaces one’s computer for regular chores like e-mailing, keeping up with Twitter, managing one’s schedule, surfing, reading. It’s more portable and lasts longer on battery power than a laptop. And unlike a computer, it doesn’t emit great gobs of heat, perfect for using during a heat wave.

First Use

The first thing I wanted to do with my new toy was to see my eBook Lifeliner without purchasing it through iBookstore. To do so, since I didn’t know how to create the Books folder in iTunes, I first downloaded a free book (Aesop’s Fables, my favourite as a kid) through the iBooks app on my iPad, then I synced it so that “Books” showed up under Library in iTunes on my computer. There was one odd thing: when I clicked on Sync Books in iTunes on the computer, it popped up a message warning me it would delete all music, TV shows, and movies off my iPad. Since I had none, I didn’t care. But why would they be deleted? On subsequent syncs, that message didn’t pop up.

Once I verified I had the ePub version of Lifeliner on my computer, I clicked File/Add File to Library in iTunes. I found the ePub file and clicked on it. iTunes brought it into the Books folder. I clicked on the iPad under Devices, clicked the Books tab, and then the Sync button at the bottom. And there it was on my bookshelf, next to Aesop’s Fables! It looks OK, and I was pleased to see that the ending image shows up properly in full colour and sized appropriately (the only eReader in which it does). The clickable links and Table of Contents also work! Yay!! There are two ways to use the ToC: press on the links while reading the book or press on the ToC icon at the top of the page — the icon actually renders the ToC beautifully.

Reading

Many have said it’s easy to read books on the iPad. But like trying to use your brain after you’ve injured it, you really only can tell what’s easier, physically, to read when your eyes are tired and/or hurting. Hands down, the easiest to read is paper, non-glossy paper like in paperbacks or newspapers, closely followed by glossy magazine-style paper. The second-easiest is eInk. Both paper and eInk send no light waves your way. No light waves means no photons bombarding your eyes while you’re trying to use them in close up work. That’s my theory anyway. The hardest on your eyes, physically, is the iPad and your computer screen (and some screens are really awful). And unlike some claims, it isn’t easy reading the iPad in the sunlight. There’s a huge amount of reflection; you have to hold it at a certain angle, which can become tiring, to minimize the reflection; and you have to turn up the brightness to full, not a which is rather draining on the battery. eInk, on the other hand, is a treat to read in the sunlight. However, in terms of clarity, the text on the iPad is beautiful and comes in several fonts of your choice. You can also choose sepia-toned paper for less contrasty reading.

The only problem with eInk right now is the contrast. It needs to become as readable as paper in low light, and it needs to have higher contrast, like paper. Even so, if it’s a competition between my iPad and Sony Reader in most good light situations, I’ll choose the Reader for straight text. I’ll choose the iPad for multimedia type publications like magazines and newspapers and multimedia books — whenever ones I like hit the market. I’ll also choose the iPad for night-time reading but not bedtime reading as I can see how the bright screen can interfere with falling asleep. The Sony Reader doesn’t. In fact, the Sony allows me to read more challenging books than Agatha Christies, by showing me unembellished pages of text and as little text as I want to see, which minimizes visual distraction, a problem for those with brain injuries. And so I find I fall asleep faster from the brain use. The Stanza app is like the Reader in showing just text. The iBooks app is neat in how it looks like a book but is more distracting visually. For those with brain injuries, I’d recommend either an eInk eReader like the Sony or the Stanza app.

Editing

I wrote very differently before my brain injury than I do now. Before, I hand wrote the first draft, edited it with a pen ( with lots of great big Xs driven through paragraphs), and then typed it in to the computer. I always printed off a draft and edited it with a red pen, green for final proof-reading. But the 2000 car crash weakened my dominant arm (again, for the second time. Sigh, really hate stupid drivers, always screwing up my arm because of the seatbelt grabbing me), and it caused big changes in my brain, including how I write. Now I type everything in: original and edits. I never print and mark up by hand with a pen. Oh sure, I tried. It didn’t work.

When I got my Reader and learnt I could annotate a PDF file using the stylus — a tech version of marking up with pen — I thought wow, I can go back to the way I was. It was pretty easy to write notes on the Reader. And handling the stylus was familiar because of all the years I had a Palm. But, you know, it just isn’t me, the me I am now.

I came to that realisation when I checked out iAnnotate for the iPad, which I thought might be easier than the Reader. It has colour, allows for highlighting, underlining, typing in notes. But to me it sounded more and more like way too much work. So much faster and easier to pull up my file on my computer and type away. I will experiment with using a word processor substitute on the iPad for when I want to write away from my computer. The iPad’s superior battery power means being able to use it for as long as I can in a cafe without worrying about it dying and my work disappearing (yes, I do have AutoSave on everything).

I’m not sure if an app on the iPad can help me with my problem with forgetting what I’ve written. I have to outline because of that and update it as I write to ensure I know where I am in the book, both when writing it and editing later.

As for the physical act of typing on the iPad, I took to it like a duck to water. Even so, I find the screen hard on my fingers. That’s why I bought the wireless keyboard, a light easy-to-use accessory. The iPad seamlessly recognizes it, and automatically doesn’t load up the onscreen keyboard once the wireless one is connected. It does take some getting used to touching the screen instead of using a mouse to navigate, but that’s just a habit to form. And if you get the Apple case, you can stand the iPad up on its end so it speak so that it’s like a computer screen, which means less neck strain as you don’t have to look down but more straight ahead while typing.

Blogging

I have two blogs I update weekly. I use blogging software on my computer for the most part and must admit Windows Live Writer is superior (trying not to gag on admitting Microsoft can do something well). I considered blogging on my iPod Touch, but the screen is just too small. I used the WordPress app on my iPad for my first iPad post. But it was really, really, really basic. I couldn’t even italicize. The best it’s good for is to type up a draft, which I’d finish on the computer.

But then I was reading reviews on iPad blogging software and one savvy person pointed out that you could blog in the blogging client itself because Safari on the iPad shows websites nicely. Aside from it being free, it has the added advantage of looking the same whether I’m on my iPad or computer when drafting and polishing off a post. But there’s a problem — you can’t scroll inside a frame, which can make for some difficult moments when editing a longer-than-the-frame size post. Too much work. It’s also easy to inadvertently delete an entire post by grazing the iPad screen. In fact, it’s taking me awhile to get used to keeping my hand off the screen and only touching it with my finger, as the iPad is so sensitive to touch. So after further experimenting, I am pretty much back to writing a post on my laptop, but that might change if I find a good blogging app.

Weather

For weather junkies like Canadians, the weather apps are one of the neatest features of the iPad. Checking the weather from my laptop is OK. But after I got my iPod Touch and downloaded the Yahoo! weather app, I found that much easier and faster. Though a bit off the mark, it was clear and concise; it showed immediately the info I was most interested in.

After checking out reviews and screenshots of weather apps, I settled on AccuWeather for the iPad. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to change it to metric — click that thingy icon on the lower right side to pop up icons for different options; flick the icons to the left until you get to settings; switch to metric.

AccuWeather has a busier look than my iPod Touch app. It’s hard to see at first what day I’m looking at. After the most recent update, it shows the current temp automatically in portrait mode and through a button in landscape mode. The neat thing about it is that it has all sorts of extra info like wind speed and direction. And if you press on that thingy icon on the lower right, then flick to lifestyle, you’ll find all sorts of useful goodies — once your eyes (or maybe it’s the brain) sorts out the details in the immense list of things like dog walking, migraine risk, jogging forecast, mosquito risk, arthritis risk, asthma risk, hair frizz risk (hey, don’t laugh, it’s necessary to know this) and so on and so on.

For a quick check of the weather, I still use my iPod. For a more detailed check, including risks, I use my iPad.

Newspapers and Magazines

I don’t subscribe to the Saturday edition of The Toronto Star because, for whatever reason, the delivery person will not assemble it.  I got fed up trying to find the main paper and other favourite sections in the pile that was left on my doorstep. (As a Star carrier when a teen, I would’ve gotten heck if I hadn’t assembled the paper. Clearly, standards for adult carriers are way lower.) I would occasionally read The Saturday Star (or Sunday) on my iPod Touch on Safari, using The Star’s mobile website. Like any mobile website, the text was clear, easy to read, but the number of articles was limited. I missed reading Rosie’s column. So to find I can read the full website on the iPad — nice! I can read my favourite columnists and see photos clearly. I just gotta be careful not to get breakfast crumbs on my iPad.

One of the much-ballyhooed features of the iPad was interactive magazines. Well, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of them. (Oprah has announced O Magazine will launch an interactive version later.) And the interactivity of the four featured in Zinio — a magazine app — was nice but minimal. There’s a Text button that lets you read just the text, distraction free. Again, a good feature for those of us who have trouble reading magazines because of the distracting ads and photos and bad fonts and layout (hear me, Maclean’s?). One magazine had a slide show button that popped up photos in full screen, but it was a bit slow. Blue-surrounded text are links to other pages for more information, also a nice feature. And that was it for interactivity.

I would’ve liked to have seen small text on large photos appear in a pop-up box over the photo with a press of the finger to make it readable while still being able to see the photo. Videos of fashion photo shoots would’ve been nice. Videos of news, like The Toronto Star sometimes has on its website, would’ve been nice. Animated illustrations would’ve been nice.

For now, I’ll stick to the Maclean’s mobile app on my iPod Touch and occasionally check out featured interactive magazines until the publishers get their act together.

Social Media

I absolutely can’t stand the Facebook website. They’ve changed it so often, I find it confusing and have given up on trying to keep up. I almost exclusively use the Facebook app for the iPod Touch. It’s concise, clear, if finicky sometimes. But I can’t keep up with my groups through it (or at least I don’t know how if you can), which is why my group participation has fallen right off. For FB status updates, I use TweetDeck on my computer. The iPod Touch app and TweetDeck for the desktop will remain my way of interacting with FB because, believe it or not, there is no FB app for the iPad. And resizing the iPod Touch app on the iPad is a bit clunky.

Echofon on the iPod Touch is a super little free app (except for the odd crash) for Twitter. I use it to check Twitter, my total addiction, when my computer’s not on, or even when it is, the chief reason being that I can scroll through lots of tweets quickly when I want to catch up. Both Twitter’s website and TweetDeck are inefficient on that score. For status updates on FB and Twitter at the same time, TweetDeck for the desktop is the way to go. TweetDeck has an app for the iPad. I like its cute little notepaper look when you enter a status update — but it only updates Twitter and is more limited in options than the desktop version. However, after experiencing several problems with TweetDeck not updating tweets or dropping tweets, I started using the Twitterrific app for the iPad. It’s opening bird tweets when it brings tweets up to date can be a bit annoying — you must be able to turn it off — but it doesn’t have the problems as TweetDeck, shows the tweets in larger size, and is easier to read any of your lists or see your mentions or direct messages by simply pressing the appropriate link.

I’m still a newbie with LinkedIn, and I use its own website on my computer exclusively. Because Safari on the iPad has so much more real estate than on the iPod Touch, I may log in through the iPad as well.

Other

One of the big things Steve Jobs was excited about was watching videos on the iPad. Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, it was not so hot. Videos that keep stopping or stall altogether does not make for a good viewing experience. Other people have noted that the 4:3 ratio is a bit old school, but if the iPad showed 16:9 in full screen sans upper and lower black bars, the size of it would be a bit awkward. That part doesn’t bother me, it’s being unable to watch a video seamlessly that does. Since the recent update, video playback is better, but still not perfect.

One good video app is by the NFB. The NFB (National Film Board of Canada) library is extensive, and its app for the iPad is much better than for the iPod Touch because of the bigger real estate. However, for me, the Watch Later feature doesn’t work. But I enjoy watching a short film when I need a break.

Multimedia books is the other big promise of the iPad. That has yet to be delivered, but with the recent update of iBooks to allow for reading eBooks with audio and video and with Penguin now releasing multimedia books as apps, that will soon come to fruition, and for writers like me, it opens up exciting possibilities. Next: being able to play your favourite books as video games.

WiFi was spotty until Apple finally, at last got around to fixing it with its recent update. It’s more reliable now — so far. As for WiFi vs 3G, I don’t need 3G. In Canada, cell companies charge a fortune for data usage or even just yakking. And with the proliferation of WiFi in cafes around Toronto and with it now being free in Starbucks, really who needs 3G, except on the bus or subway? And on there, I’d rather listen to the music on my iPod  Touch.

Because Apple is being a controlling pain, Pocket Informant for the iPad has not yet been released. They rejected it once for one line of code — one line! — and now they’re taking longer to OK the fix. Over a week now. Sigh. However, I’m hoping that this app will help me better manage my schedule. Organizing, initiation, creating schedules are all challenges for those with brain injury and usually require human help. And so a good app that can replace human help for the most part would be a godsend. Although human help is the preferred way, for many of us, it’s not going to happen. That’s where technology comes in. And that was one of my hopes for the iPad. We shall see.

Internet and Computers

Will Apple Finally Get Serious About Fixing Connectivity Issues on iPad and iPhone?

Posted on

I still like my Apple iPad but am rather peeved with Apple.

I’ve had my iPad for just over a week now. I got it for two main reasons: to see if it could help me in my writing life and if it could improve my functionality, get around my brain injury limitations. I haven’t yet decided on the improve-my-organization aspect of the iPad, but I already know its bugginess is a serious headache.

Apple touts its iPad as an e-mail, web surfing machine with amazing video capabilities. When Apple released this game changer, it was way ahead of the competition and already had had years of experience with the iPod Touch and iPhone. So you’d think that the two things Apple touts would work fine.

Well, no.

First Bug

All I wanted to do was watch a TV show. But first, Steve Jobs absolutely refuses to allow Flash on his products. That meant I couldn’t watch what I wanted on television channel websites as they use Flash. Second, whether it’s YouTube or the NFB (National Film Board of Canada) app, no video will play seamlessly that’s more than about 5 minutes long. I have the same problem on my iPod Touch. In fact, it’s so bad on the iPod that I gave up watching any YouTube video and the NFB app altogether. Not worth the hassle.

But after seeing the iPad launch, listening to the hype, I figured the iPad would have no such problems. Wrong!

I gather part of the problem with YouTube is its mobile or touch pad interfaces and that its app is not as good as going to YouTube on Safari. The latter is true. I finally ended up using its desktop interface as a way to force the video to load all the way. Even then, more often than not, it would conk out midway, or worse, a couple minutes from the end – unless the video was shorter than 5 minutes. Meanwhile, a short film will also play uninterrupted in the NFB app (or a video podcast). Short being about 5 minutes. Any longer than that, and it’ll start and stop, start and stop. But at least it will eventually load all the way. Is that because the servers at the NFB end are not up to the task? And how could the servers be a problem with YouTube, when on the computer, I have no such loading and watching problems?

Whatever the reason, the iPad sucks as a video watching machine.

Second Bug

I have the WiFi-only iPad as data rates in Canada are usurious. But no prob I thought even though I already knew my iPod Touch loses the WiFi signal after it’s been asleep or has a weak signal when my laptop pulls in WiFi just fine. The iPod Touch also doesn’t seem to like certain kinds of WiFi though Apple says it works. But the iPad is worse.

The iPad will suddenly, for no reason, stop connecting while you’re in the middle of something on the Internet or sending an e-mail, and will ask you for the WiFi password. Lovely. It’s done it so many times, I have, believe it or not, memorized that long string of characters. A few people recommended resetting network settings. I’ve done that twice. Each time, iPad behaves itself for a day or two.

But I’m getting fed up. Today, right when I was working with my therapist on my calendar online, boom, iPad dropped the connection and absolutely refused to remake it, even with the password. I had to reset the network settings before we could continue. How unprofessional. And what a waste of both our time.

Occasionally, iPad will also have the won’t-connect-after-sleep problem that the iPod Touch has, in which case I have to go into Settings to choose my network.

When I Googled about this issue, I found many articles dating from May 11th, extolling Apple for coming out with a WiFi fix. But with further digging, I realised that was just Apple making a grand announcement to the media to get everyone to shut up about it because my iPad, purchased two months later, has the same OS number as existed back in May. Apple has not released a fix to date. I cannot imagine any other company taking this long to release a critical fix and getting away with it without causing a brouhaha across the Net.

Twitter PC Mag Consumer Reports Print Screen 12-July-2010

But maybe now that Consumer Reports has come out and said don’t buy the iPhone 4 – after waves of articles pointing out that a cell phone that can’t make calls is really, uh, stupid and after weeks of Apple saying we’re going to release a fix – Apple will get serious about its connectivity issues. As for the video problems, I don’t see a fix coming at all.

It really is too bad that there’s no competition for the iPad.

Internet and Computers

I Haz an Apple iPad

Posted on

I caved. I bought an iPad. For months, I resisted the hype, the excitement, the rush across the border with so many other Canadians who didn’t want to wait until it was released here in Canada. My computer-savvy Twitter friends told me about more open or open-source computer Tablets coming, about MeeGo and hp having bought Palm and other big names coming out with competitive products around about October. But as I waited and occasionally read articles or opinion pieces on Apple’s competitors, it became increasingly clear that no one was anywhere near ready to release a truly competitive product. It wasn’t just the stunning display (now eclipsed by Apple with its iPod 4 retina display, like why couldn’t they have given the iPad that?!) or the built-in app store or the long-existing iTunes store that would be hard to catch up to, but it was, for me, the battery life. Windows simply draws too much power to allow for such a long battery life. The Android versions are still in the development phase (like why?). And Palm has fallen so far off the map that even though hp has just closed the deal on acquiring Palm this past week, it’s going to be awhile before it can use Palm’s WebOS for its pending Tablet. These things take time. If rushed, the first iteration of the product will be crap. And that will doom it.

I just wasn’t ready to wait until 2011. (I know, I know, the competition says Q4, but…good work takes time.) I see possibilities, and I wanted to have the time to explore them now. Everything takes me so long to do, and I wanted not to feel rushed when exploring these possibilities, which I would’ve if I’d waited till the new year.

I see two areas that the iPad can benefit me. One is to help me compensate for my brain injury. And the other is to explore writing opportunities.

The most obvious advantage of the iPad over the iPod Touch is its bigger screen will allow me to see and comprehend the calendar better. I use Pocket Informant for the iPhone. (An iPad version has just been released to Apple for approval. Hopefully, Apple won’t sit on it too long.) PI is the only scheduling app for the iPod/iPhone, and now the iPad, that shows both tasks and events, that syncs with Google Calendar and with Exchange so that you can see your calendar no matter where you are or if you’ve forgotten your iPod yet need to check your schedule. With the iPad’s bigger screen, it’ll be easier for both me and my therapist to see my calendar and schedule my week together. I have been using my computer at the moment to do this, but it’s a bit awkward. I find the web versions of the calendar programs I use not as friendly — meaning too cluttered — as PI. I can’t wait until PI for the iPad is released.

The first thing I’d like to do as a writer is to see what my book Lifeliner looks like on the iPad. It is finally in the iBookstore. However, I don’t wish to pay for a copy of my own book, and so I have to figure out how to get my copy onto the iPad.

Which brings me to how much easier it was for me to get the iPad going than the iPod Touch. First off, it helps when you’ve gone through similar steps before. And it helps that one’s brain has had a year of healing time. I hardly ever sync my iPod Touch because I found it terribly confusing as to how to get iTunes to see it. Today, no sweat. (Run iTunes; plug it in to the computer; press the on button.) That’s known as the effect of spontaneous healing, and I’ve experienced that kind of change many times. I purchased the wireless keyboard as I found when I tried out the iPad that the surface was a bit hard on my fingers (I’m sensitive!) even though I found the on-screen keyboard a cinch to use. After wondering for awhile why the wireless keyboard wasn’t connecting to the iPad, it dawned on me to see if Bluetooth was enabled on the iPad. It took me a moment to “see” the Settings icon on the iPad but not long to find the Bluetooth option to turn it on. It then took me a moment to realize I needed to press Keyboard not just wait for it to find devices. After that, piece of cake.

I have typed this post using the wireless keyboard on my iPad. I used the Apple case, which is also a stand, to stand up the iPad. But I think I need to have it up higher; being on a table still means bending my neck. The keyboard is cute and sits nicely on my lap.

Well, that’s the beginning of my iPad adventure. I’d just like to end by saying that I reserved one through the Apple store, but I heard BestBuy was getting a new shipment in today. They came in at 10:30. I got there about 11:15. I bought the last 16GB WiFi. There were no 3G ones at all. I think Apple has already creamed the competition. Too bad.

Internet and Computers

Blogging on Canada, The Coalition, and Harper

Posted on

I’ve had one heck of a fun day, blogging and tweeting on the rapid political changes happening in Ottawa. The House of Commons has suddenly become a bloodbath, but instead of the red stuff coming out of the Liberals, it’s coming out of the Tories, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper ironically the lead butcher.

I’ve always been a bit of a political junkie, but ever since a school board trustee betrayed us high school students, I’ve viewed it with a bit of a jaundiced eye. And then I got on the Internet. In the last couple of years, I’ve rediscovered the excitement and fun of politics. I’ve met like-minded people, and I’ve been having micro-discussions on Twitter and even some on my other blog about the latest drama on Canada’s Parliament Hill. Tomorrow, I’ll get a chance to calm down and ponder the details of this coalition of Liberals, NDP, and BQ. But right now I’m just enjoying the show. I invite you to come take a look and join in!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Personal

A Week to Remember

Posted on

It’s been an up and down week these past many days. My brain has been healing rapidly, which is good, but has been throwing me into chaos as it drags me away from my routine in search of rediscovered abilities, not so good. I had to organize myself again to take into account my new activities, but discovered that was not so easy. Apparently, my Palm is obsolete, and I wasted two days trying to work around that. I managed a once-only sync with new calendar systems. But don’t know what I’m going to do in the future. I’ll deal with that later. Now if I had a Blackberry or iPhone, I’d be golden!

I’ve finally completed my series Going Ubuntu on Squidoo. Upgrading to Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex version may’ve been a pain, but it did get me to finish writing about switching from Windows to Ubuntu!

I continue to add products to CafePress, including one inspired by Judy Taylor, and I had a wonderful moment a few days ago when I realised that I could once again work with a graphics program beyond resizing and adding some copyright text. Yay for brain healing!

I’ve been looking for poppies for many days now, to no avail. I even actively looked today, but still no luck. However, I really don’t need a poppy on my lapel to remember. I immersed myself in Remembrance Day programming on Global last Sunday — tweeting my thoughts like mad — Twitter is so good for sharing those little thoughts you don’t want to do a full blog on — and today a good friend leant me her poppy photo so I could pay tribute to the day on Flickr. Plus the documentary Vimy Ridge: Heaven and Hell, inspired me to write a Remembrance Day piece on my main blog.

So that’s the kind of week it’s been.

Personal

Blogging and Books, Two Different Kinds of Writing Life

Posted on

This election has provided ample blogging material, what with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s peculiar secrecy and need to avoid engaging the Canadian public directly, Elizabeth May being in the debates for the first time, Stephane Dion finding his mojo (as Strombo put it), and Jack Layton being touted as having the best campaign of them all. Well, the latter remains to be seen. He definitely will have if he ties or bests Ed Broadbent’s record for seats won.

Blogging provides instant writing and publishing. No editors are required, just a decent spell checker and some attention to language, nor an agent to represent one to a publisher. No need for a sales guru either with a comprehensive marketing plant. Instead, marketing is done online, the commute confined to an occasional foray to the kitchen for a top-up on the drink of choice. Such a contrast to writing and publishing a book.

The National Post of October 4th had an article on the traditional writing life. It followed Nino Ricci’s path from conception of book to releasing it to the public. Because Ricci had a two-book deal, his agent and his editor received his manuscript simultaneously, otherwise normally agent sees it first then shops it round to publishers. His agent got him a six-figure advance, and once royalties pay that back, he will receive 10 percent for the first 5,000 copies (the article doesn’t mention royalty rate beyond 5,000). But his agent’s work is not done. While the book winds its way through the publishing process, she’s selling it internationally and negotiating film and TV rights. Meanwhile, his editor hones his manuscript with him; even before he started writing, they were talking. And the in-house designer works with him and the publisher’s sales department on coming up with just the right cover. As that is going on, the marketing strategist creates a marketing plan and implements it, even before the book is officially released. Some of the most important marketing is done before the book is printed.

Ricci’s books sell well and garner rewards. It isn’t just because of the effort he puts into creating, writing, and editing it; it’s also because he has this enormous, knowledgeable, experienced team behind him. Self-published authors generally do not. I was fortunate to have an editor behind me, guiding me on the book’s structure, and then the editors at iUniverse looking at the big picture and small details. Still, the most important person in Ricci’s team is the marketing guy. It really doesn’t matter how well a book is written if it’s not marketed aggressively and well. Without that, it doesn’t sell too well. Word of mouth is a self-published author’s best tool. Yet it often doesn’t work, especially when word of mouth translates to lending the book from person to person instead of encouraging the persons to buy it.

Like any self-respecting writer, I would much rather write than market. Marketing requires good health in a way writing does not. Marketing is a learned skill and an art. Effective marketing requires great gobs of optimism, connections, and experience. I have none of that, no team, not much experience, no connections, but I do have web knowledge. Thank goodness we’re living in the age of the internet, which provides opportunities for those sans a marketing team. The trick is which parts of the online life will work best to market my book and my writing. That’s what I’m still learning.

But for one more day, I shall set all that aside and enjoy the election. I see lots of tweeting and a very late night tomorrow as I hope for a surprise ending. Really hate it when the pollsters are right.