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Thoughty Thursday: Un-Plugged!

by | May 12, 2011 | Appearance (Theater, Signing, Talks) | 16 comments

Myster E. Watching TV 019

The past two days I’ve been in purgatory–I won’t call it hell, because it’s the ABSENCE of something vital to my writing life. And I’ve learned (horrors!) that I’m an addict. . .

. . .of the Internet.

In the olden days (lawsie, sound like my Grandma used to!) words were typed and the smell of well-inked ribbon perfumed the room. Any piece of writer-icity fortunate enough to claim a home traveled via the U.S. Postal System–which meant a May 1st deadline required mail drop off at least a week in advance. Once Email emerged–and I’ll admit I arrived late at that party–writers not only saved on postage $, we gained something much more valuable. Extra time. Have a column due on May 1st? as long as you hit “send” before midnight on April 30, you’re golden.

And I’ve been burned several times by downloading emails infected with viruses or having a computer go belly up. So the past year or so all my email stays “online” in a virtual database I can access from any computer, anywhere. Even my email address book remains online, for ease of contact. Makes life simple.

Until the Internet goes ka-flooey. (That’s a technical writerly term, which loosely translated means !@#$%^&*O!@#$%^&!!)

Besides the inability to read or answer email and send articles, I couldn’t post blogs here, over at my RedRoom site, or update my spankin’ new puppies.About.com site, spread the furry news via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Particularly annoying, I could get Email via my Blackberry but couldn’t do more than answer a word or two without thumbs being sabotagued by the auto-correct feature. Arg!

So are you (gasp!) addicted to the Internet? How do you handle outages? I ended up working with my co-author on another project that didn’t require online access. And I suppose tomorrow I’ll do more of the same since the forecasts call for more crappiocca weather.

I’ve always thought technology offered countless benefits. What about you? Do we depend on the “un-wired” world too much? What do you do when your working life goes ka-flooey? Play hookey?

I would love to play hookey sometime. But my boss is a real bitch.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

16 Comments

  1. Christine Church

    Congrats on getting the “puppies” job on About… I was going to apply for that position and school work and other obligations kept forcing me to put it off. Glad to see you got it. =]

    • amyshojai

      Thanks Christine, you would have been terrific! Stay tuned, there may be other opportunities. Seems new postings happen every day. *s*

  2. animalartist

    Enjoy the vacation! I willingly go unplugged for a while every day when I work on artwork or run around with my camera, or just go sit on my swing on the back porch to think deeply. I am both wired and wireless, and the only digital device that goes with me anywhere is my camera. Love those sketchpads and notebooks…hope your system is back up soon.

    • amyshojai

      Hi Bernadette! I go “wireless” from time to time, too, but that’s when I’ve finished my deadlines and suchlike. The system is back up or I wouldn’t be posting. *s* We’ll see how long that lasts, though. Sky looks ify…

  3. Terrell Mims

    I go nuts. I am addicted unless I am playing a new Final Fantasy game, in which I substitute one drug for another.

    • amyshojai

      So you’re saying I’m normal? Well…I mean, as normal as I can be–Wait, OOOOOH, SHINY! (ahem) Sorry about that.

      • Terrell Mims

        Very normal…as far as normal goes.

  4. Natasha Hanova

    Unplugging is a good thing every now and then. When it happens to me, I try to think of it as a sign to slow down. And after hours of trying to get re-connected, I usually give into that believe.

  5. Pat Browning

    Amy,
    I live on the Internet so a power outage drives me bananas, mainly because I can’t check e-mail every 5 minutes. But for writing, I just haul out one of my 2 AlphaSmart machines (left over from the days when I thought if one was good, two were better) and pray that I have batteries on hand in case those in the machine died.

    Then, if it’s a week day I haul AlphaSmart down to the library and plug it into a USB slot, and transfer the writing to my e-mail box. I can read e-mail from any computer, so I am really thankful for the library’s computers. They have 4 or 5 for use by patrons and also have a printer. They are usually busy, too, so the library tries to impose a 30-minute limit on each one.

    I used to have a Blackberry for e-mail but gave it away. Maybe I should get another one. If worse comes to worst I can always write with a pen and notebook but it’s pretty hard to do e-mail like that.
    Pat Browning

    • amyshojai

      Hi Pat, I have several friends have AlphaSmart machines, they’re awesome. Hadn’t thought of the library–duh. I wrote my first two books thanks to the terrific librarians and inter-library loans. Librarians are awesome. Yes, I’m spoiled. Not sure I could write via pen/pencil and paper anymore. Hard to read my own hand writing, LOL!

      • Pat Browning

        My old highschool shorthand comes in handy for writing with pad and pencil, but mostly that writing comes out in the form of notes.

        It’s really funny, but my highschool was so far out in the Oklahoma boonies that we only had 13 in my graduating class. Our courses were so limited that we all took the same things — the guys took sewing, the gals took agriculture. I actually learned how to judge a pig, and promptly forgot it. We all took shorthand and typing, two of the most useful things anyone can learn. I’ve used them all my life. Who knew?

        Pat Browning

        • amyshojai

          I took typing in high school, too. My graduation present from my folks was an ELECTRIC type writer, woo-woo! Wrote my first four books on it (none ever published, but great practice). Should have taken shorthand. These days I can type much more quickly than take chicken-scratch notes. And typing lets me actually read it later (my hand writing sucks!)

  6. Winona Cross

    Addicted! That’s good word and I think I’m afflicted. Oh, my! I still write long hand for almost everything but for first drafts only. I do find myself “having” to check my e-mail, facebook, and blog for comments.

    Computers going belly-up. Yep, it’s happened to me as well.

    Sigh . . . I have to go check things out at the e-mail place, the facebook place, and the blog place.

    Winona

  7. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Oh dear. Um, I’m going to say something that’s probably going to upset a lot of people (and as you can tell I’m once again behind on my email…)

    Professional writers don’t use Microsoft Windows.

    Before you complain about Macs being too expensive, you need to go back and do a real comparison. First off, Mac OSX is relatively equivalent to Windows 7 Ultimate. Second, Apple’s IWork Suite is roughly equivalent to Microsoft Office, but costs $200.00 less. And you don’t need to buy an anti-virus subscription. And you don’t need to worry about your yearly Geek Squad tune up, Mac’s done need them.

    Mac Software is generally a lot less expensive than Windows Software is, and you can buy it anywhere you have a working internet connection – yes Mac OSX has an App Store, immediate delivery, and there’s a lot of free applications which are really good quality too.

    Last but not least, two professional writers I know (who I won’t name) both lost a over weeks worth of work last year to Windows problems. Just think. A week down the drain. How much time did that cost them in lost productivity? Mac OSX comes with built in back up software. Buy an inexpensive USB drive, and it will remind you of when you need to do backups even.

    One of those writers has sworn that as soon as she finishes getting her house fixed she’s buying a Mac. This is the last time that she’s putting up with loosing time to Microsoft’s folly (her words, not mine).

    Your other option is Linux. My laptop is a Mac. My desktop and servers run Linux. Linux is more stable than Mac OSX, the only reason I don’t run it on the laptop is that I use the laptop for recording (Apple’s Garageband is really nice for that).

    The only issue with Linux is that most computer shops are incompetent at installing it. I can do it, but hey, I write professionally about computer stuff. Heck, the staff at my local computer shop runs and hides when they see me coming through the door 🙂

    If you lived near Toronto I’d offer to show you what Linux looks like, but you are a bit of a drive.

    Wayne

    • amyshojai

      Well then, guess I’m not a ‘real’ professional writer, Wayne, LOL! My husband built our first computer back in the days when floppies were huge, and booting up sounded like the machine would explode. We’ve always had PCs. I’ve got three right now. An old desktop, a new one, and a laptop. In my 20+ years of writing full time I’ve had the latop go down once and it had nothing to do with a virus.

      Honestly, I’ve nothing against Mac or Linux or anything else. I just don’t have time to learn anything new, when I have 7-15 deadlines each week. But thanks for all the detailed info.

      • Wayne Borean

        Macs are PCs. So are my Linux boxes. Being a Personal Computer has nothing to do with what operating system the thing has, heck it could be running CP/M or OS2, and it would still be a PC.

        The problem is that Windows is not all that reliable, and it doesn’t have the basic diagnostic tools that other operating systems come with. An old friend (we meet when we were six – she’s now a grandmother) called me last week. Her daughter’s computer wouldn’t boot up. I went over with a couple of Linux discs to see what was wrong. Popped the Ubuntu Linux disc in the optical drive, booted the computer from it instead of using Windows Vista on the hard drive, and when Ubuntu came up it immediately told us that the hard drive was in the process of failing. Windows Vista didn’t give her any warnings. It just proceeded to die.

        We used Ubuntu to back up all of the data off the hard drive before it finished failing, and with the information that I gave her, she went to Best Buy the next day knowing exactly what they needed to replace.

        Microsoft is supposedly the biggest and best software company on the planet. Why couldn’t they included diagnostic software like this in Windows? Well, they could. But they don’t.

        Which is why I strongly suggest that if you rely on your computer to make a living, that you use something other than Windows. You’ve got to make the economics of the situation work for you.

        Wayne

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