Prelude to Writing

Getting Ready to Write

Okay, so I’ve been talking about writing for quite awhile now. I used to write all the time, but for the past 10 years or so, I just don’t seem to drum up the necessary discipline to actually sit down and do it.

One of my problems is that I’m easily distracted. Lately, I’ve been testing out a few different “distraction-free” writing tools on both my Mac and the iPad. I prefer to write on the iPad, because it tends to be less distracting. The modular UI keeps me from seeing Facebook notifications in the background, or know that new mail has just arrived, (gotta kill the sound to avoid that one, though.)

The Apple Wireless keyboard was a smart purchase. My daughter claims that with the keyboard, my iPad is just like a laptop. I disagree. Mainly because I know she’s right, but in part because I still have the option of using the iPad sans keyboard. If you’re planning on doing any amount of typing at all on the iPad, buy the keyboard. The iPad’s on-screen keyboard is nice, but it can’t compete with an actual, physical keyboard.

Today, I discovered an iPad app called Clean Writer. If you’ve ever used Focus Writer on the Mac, Clean Writer is similar. I love typing with green text on a black background, and Clean Writer has this option. One big beautiful black screen with green letters and no distractions. It has DropBox integration, so if you’re the type that likes to pen something quickly on the road, then polish it up when you return to your desktop computer, it’s a cinch in Clean Writer. It’s a bare-bones app. There are very few options—little more than text/background color and size exist in the settings menu. A file menu contains some ugly buttons for saving, creating new documents, and moving to or from Dropbox. I would like to see an option to email the text somewhere, but I can always cut and paste to a new email if I really have to. This would be a good place to plug Posterous.com… Since I can post a blog entry via email, I can compose in Clean Writer, and send it off as a Posterous email with a simple copy and paste.

So now I have no excuses, right? Youbetcha. But here I sit, trying to think of words worthy of exacerbating my impending carpal tunnel.

Writing

I know I’ve said it before but I am going to start writing again. Even if it’s a few paragraphs a day…

Well shit. I’m sitting at a McMenamins, drinking a beer while I write, and the WiFi keeps dropping. I was going to look up a few references, but I can’t seem to hold the connection on either the iPad or the iPhone long enough to perform a simple Google search. I really should remember that this particular location has the worst WiFi of all the McMenamins. I’m not sure if they have the router tucked away in the microwave or if that router is from the last decade, but it’s about as consistent as Bill was when asked about Monica and the cigars.

Writing this, I have noticed something about Clean Writer. The scrolling is problematic. When I scroll down, it doesn’t stay. I have to start typing before it will display the end of my text. This is a problem because I need to know where the cursor is before I start typing. As Pooh would say, “Oh bother.” Or as Salad Fingers would say, “Bubbletrumps.”

Tangent

Let’s talk about Salad Fingers. A girl I dated a few years back introduced me to the Flash animation series, and I was hooked after the first episode. It’s dark, twisted, and eerie. When you’re done watching an episode, you feel a little dirty, and the fact that you laughed at all makes you seriously question your moral turpitude. But it’s like a car accident. You just can’t turn away.

Salad Fingers likes spoons. Rusty spoons, to be precise. He apparently likes children, as well. But not in the happy-skip-through-the-field-of-daisies way. He coaxes one into an oven in one particular episode. Mr. Fingers also appears to be the only character that can talk. Dialogue for the rest of the characters consists of a gaping mouth and a strange modulated scream. Eerie. If you watch the entire series (there are 8 or 9 episodes,) you’ll walk away with several priceless phrases, and a tiny little black hole in your soul.

Salad Fingers is in the realm of Charlie the Unicorn… You don’t know why you watch them, but you can’t stop till you’ve seen them all. I found Baywatch to have a similar effect on me.

Watch Salad Fingers here

Back on Track

Google+

I’ve had a couple of weeks to play with Google+, and I have to admit, I like it. It’s clean interface is so Google, and the overall experience is a positive one. I made the mistake of putting Google+ and Facebook side-by-side at first. They are not the same. Google+ strikes me as a mashup of Facebook and Twitter. I can put all my Twitter contacts in one circle, and continue to post as I would in Twitter—sharing only with this circle. I can put all my Facebook contacts in another circle, and proceed to share my usual Facebook posts with them. I can break these two groups up even further and share information specifically to certain groups. My family/work contacts don’t necessarily need to know about any debaucherous weekends I may or may not have, and my friends don’t really need to hear about the family discussions that fly back and forth. This granular control over what gets shared with whom is one of my favorite things about Google+. I think they have some work to do as far as the UI is concerned, (selecting which circle to share with just doesn’t seem polished to me.) I’d like to see an “exclude” option. So instead of selecting 6 of my 7 circles to share a post with, I’d like to be able to select the one group I don’t want viewing that post.

Hangouts have serious potential. My limited testing with them has produced mixed results: Garbled audio, dropped connections, etc. The usual for something with beta status. But once Google has them working better, they will be seriously cool. I think they take a better approach to multi-person video chat. Instead of having multiple full-sized windows showing everyone in the chat, there is one large video window, and several small video thumbnails along the bottom of the window. The user can select which video to highlight in the “big” video window. Genius.

Being an iOS user, I haven’t had the opportunities to try Huddles yet. They appear to be something akin to Blackberry’s BBM group messaging. The iOS app has been submitted to Apple, so I’ll have to test it and report back once it’s approved. I’ve heard from my Android friends (friends using Android? “Android friends” sounds cooler,) that the Android app is better than the desktop web interface. This is one area where I feel Facebook is lacking. The iOS app has never worked perfectly for me. Photos won’t load, comments don’t show up, notifications don’t go away, etc. There is still no iPad app, (though there are rumors that one is coming soon.) For me, and for countless others, I imagine, a flawless mobile app is a necessity. We are always on the go, and need to be able to share/consume information regardless of the platform.

The photo sharing is still a bit of a mystery to me. I had a few photos on Picasa web albums already, so I added some more. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to share just one photo to my stream. I can share an album, but if I have a photo I want to post, and a story to go along with it, I can’t seem to make that happen. Don’t know if it’s a glitch, or if Google planned it that way, but it’s annoying. It’s entirely possible that I’m missing something, but when I asked my followers, they didn’t think it could be done.

Overall, I think Google has something here. The geeks of the world are tripping over themselves to be a part of the Google+ community. It’s no longer about just adding/following people you know. Information, entertainment, content is available throughout the Google+ community. You can consume all you want, and still be as private or as public as you want to be about your own content. I think Facebook and Twitter need to pay attention. If—and it’s a big if, (Facebook and Twitter are obviously behemoths in the social networking world,)—Google+ takes off, it could very well become the primary source for consuming and sharing content on the internet.

I’ve said this before, too: Google will inherit the Earth. They may be one step closer to global domination. Pinky and the Brain need to be sleeping with one eye open.

Integration

I heart Posterous. Anyone that knows me knows that I preach a few things. Apple, Evernote, and Posterous. And beer. And Sokol Blosser wine.

(The McMenamins Copper Moon is starting to kick in, so bear with me here.)

I love Posterous because I can post something once, and have it automagically sent to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress (though I don’t partake in WordPress anymore,) Blogger, and several other platforms I don’t use. Hell, I don’t even have to load up a web-based editor (thought I could if I wanted to,) in order to create a new blog entry. I can just email it in. How simple is that? I can spam the world with the mundane happenings in my life.

If you haven’t given Posterous (pronouced Pah-ster-us, much to my dismay,) yet, just send a quick email to post@posterous.com and they’ll take care of the rest. The subject line will be the title of your first post, and the body of the email will be, oddly enough, the body of the blog post. Any photos, videos, audio files and/or documents will be handled intelligently and added to the post. YouTube links will be replaced with the embedded video. It’s perfect, because as a blogger, you can quit thinking about how it works and concentrate on what you’re posting.

That said, services like Posterous need to add Google+ support. I don’t believe there is an API for Google+ yet, but when it is released, I would expect it to be adopted ASAP by services like Posterous.

Wrap it up, dude

I think I can safely say that I’ve sufficiently tested Clean Writer at this point. So much so that I had to scroll up to the top of this document just to remind myself of the name of the app. Also, my grammar OCD seems to have been sideswiped by the Copper Moon. I’ve noticed a few sentences ending in prepositions, and I didn’t stop to correct them. Seriously, that’s a big step for me.

Grammar (not quite wrapped up yet) AKA: Beer isn’t finished yet.

I have had a profile on OK Cupid for a year or so now. I don’t check it often, and I have only met one person there that I ended up dating for more than a day. It has, however, taught me a lot about myself. I am a grammar nazi. Not outwardly, mind you. I don’t correct peoples’ grammar when they’re speaking. But when I get an email from an otherwise pleasant person on OK Cupid, and I notice a grammatical error, I delete the email. No response. Nothing. That’s not entirely true. If they’re uncommonly hot, I’ll respond. But I know I won’t maintain interest for too long. Getting you’re, your, its, it’s, there, their, they’re, etc. correct are requirements for dating me (unless you’re uncommonly hot.) It’s not like I’m God’s gift to women, I just have a wee bit of relationship ADD. And I know that at some point I’ll grow tired of talking to someone who doesn’t have basic grammar skills. They don’t have to have a college degree, but they do have to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation.

This is turning into a free-for-all. I paid my tab though, so don’t expect anything too crazy.

The Real Wrapup

According to… Crap… Forgot the name of the app again, and don’t want to scroll to find it. According to the app in which I’m currently writing, (catch that? No ending with a preposition this time,) I’m at 11,816 characters, 2244 words, and 71 lines.

Common sense tells me not to post this. But the Copper Moon says, “Do it, kid. You know you want to.”

As always, the Copper Moon wins.

Sadly, the WiFi is still not letting me do anything, so this post will have to wait until I get home. If there are links that aren’t working, come back tomorrow. It’s entirely possible that I posted prematurely. It happens to guys sometimes. Sheesh.

Finally

Found some stable WiFi. Posts away…

Sidenote

When I “select all” in Clean Writer (or whatever the app is called,) there is an option to copy to email. Perfection.