Technology woes and a new title

Everything has broken.

Well, okay, not quite everything. My Kindle is old and slow with a cracked case, but I can still read things on it so long as I give it time to find them first. My phone is working, yay! My netbook has the screen hanging off by one hinge. After the other hinge broke, the keyboard stopped working and then the wireless adapter stopped working. It had been waiting for a trip to the Tip Of Doom. Until yesterday when my main work laptop died. Utterly, completely died. No lights, no sound, no action.

You may imagine how traumatic it was to get home after Bible study and realise I had no way of watching the Great British Bake Off on iPlayer. Having confirmed that the big laptop wasn’t coming back to life, I tried the netbook again. I am typing on it now. It’s slow and very fragile, but it is now more or less operational. But I can’t do any work on it.

So today I bought a new laptop. It is shiny. And it has Windows 8.1 which is not nearly as horrible as I had feared. You can use a normal desktop and not go near the tiles bit at all. I have mostly managed to install all the software I need, though I have lost the serial key for BibleWorks which is a bit worrying. I have emailed support, but I’m not hopeful. I’ve had fun trying to remember all the passwords I normally don’t need to know. I locked myself out of this site for a while and had to change things in myphpadmin which was a bit scary.

ANYWAY. Before things all died yesterday, I had been working on the formatting of my new short story and was hoping to have pressed publish today. That is not going to happen. The story is safe but the cover has been lost. I had uploaded the cover here but not the latest version with a new title! So I need to redo that. And then check that I haven’t lost any revisions. And redo the formatting. I hope to press publish tomorrow.

Oh, the new title. It made me laugh so much when I thought of it, and twitter and facebook were uncharacteristically unanimous in support of it. So, ‘Grass is Always Greener’ will now be known as ‘Not My Field.’

I hate change: technology edition

Earlier this week, my Kindle died. The screen is broken and unreadable. I can’t live without my Kindle. I love it because it has all the books I am reading and want to read and don’t have room for on my shelves. And it lets me buy books in bed.

So, I started looking at options to replace the dead one. It’s a Kindle Keyboard that I’ve had for about 15 months after my previous one died at about 9 months and was replaced because it was within warranty. Kindles do not have a good reputation for longevity. On the other hand, when it’s working, it does exactly what I want it to do and I love it. The problem is that Amazon no longer sell the Kindle Keyboard. My options are: Kindle 6″ (no keyboard, much reduced storage, £69); Kindle Paperwhite (ditto, but with a different kind of screen which I’m not sure I like the look of, £109); Kindle Fire (not e-ink, a tablet rather than an e-reader, which is not what I want); get the screen replaced (£59); get a second hand Kindle Keyboard on ebay (about £40). I went for the latter and actually I’m going to buy a second hand one from a twitter/knitting friend. I hope it lasts for a while.

My netbook is also on the way out. It’s got a missing ‘o’ (I can type it, but there’s no key), and more importantly, limited memory, which is not really working any more. Firefox crashes regularly, it’s slow and unreliable. I’d hoped I might be able to add extra memory, but it’s not obvious how to do it (I have done this on other laptops but when I found the tutorial for how to do it on this one, it looked way scarier.) I might be able to pay someone to do that. I’ve looked around and yet again, what I want is basically discontinued. Manufacturers are not putting out new, up to date, netbooks. So my options are: a cheap netbook with the same spec as my current one for around £180; a tablet (DO NOT WANT, choose your own price); or an ultrabook (CAN’T AFFORD). The problem with the netbooks that are out there is that they are essentially 2-year-old models. They will have the same problems as my current netbook, i.e. lack of memory. I can’t see that it’s worth spending any money on one, unless I can find one with more memory, a more up to date operating system, and so on. Ultrabooks are lovely, I’m sure, but I don’t want to be spending £500 or more for something that isn’t my main computer. I use my netbook when I’m travelling and when I’m in bed/watching TV etc. I mostly use it for writing and internet. I would like to be able to watch TV without it crashing. I would like to be able to use some other software occasionally when I’m not at home with access to my main laptop. I don’t need it to be glossy or sleek; I do need it to be solid and sturdy. I don’t want a tablet. I need to be able to write. A lot.

So I don’t know what to do. I suppose I could consolidate my main laptop (which I basically use as a slightly more portable desktop) with my netbook and get something inbetween. With a big screen for a second monitor at my desk. I hate second monitors. I could get a tablet and a USB keyboard. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I could save up and get an ultrabook.

I just don’t understand why technology keeps getting less functional and more expensive. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around?

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How do you read?

Ten years ago, maybe even five, this wasn’t even a question. Books were books and you read them. Now people read via ereaders, tablets, phones and all sorts of other techy ways. And paper, of course.

My medium of choice is my kindle. I really, really love it. It’s light, small, easy on the eyes, and doesn’t have the inbuilt distraction of the internet. If you desperately need the internet, it does include an experimental browser, but it’s hard work. It’s like reading a paper book but much more convenient.

My second choice option is my phone. Mostly I only use this if I’m waiting somewhere and didn’t bring my kindle. I can access all my kindle books and read them on it. The screen is small and bright. It’s easy to use for short periods of time but not as a primary reading device.

Third choice is paper books. I am shocked by this. I thought I would be a die-hard paper book fan, and indeed there are a fair number of paper books in my house. Almost all my new purchases are digital, though, and I actually find reading on the kindle easier. I only need one hand and turning pages is less intrusive if I’m knitting or something.

What I don’t have and don’t want is a tablet. I have a laptop for work and a netbook that I like to use for travel or in bed, and so on. It’s small enough to fit in my handbag, but has a proper keyboard and all the normal software that I use. I often use it, rather than the big laptop, for writing on, because it doesn’t require me to be sitting at a desk.

Sadly, it seems likely that both the ereader and the netbook are going to become victims of the tablet’s success. And in theory, I can see why. It would fulfil many of the functions that my kindle and netbook have. But I can’t see myself enjoying using one as much as I enjoy them. The kindle is designed for only one thing – reading books – and it is brilliantly designed for that. The netbook is multi-functional and more useful to me than a tablet. I don’t want the compromise option that does everything a little bit worse.

What about you? How do you prefer to read?