Tuesday, November 27, 2012



Downton ChristmasI will confess that I was somewhat nervous when I started. Normally, I have had a computer guru close by when I have done this stuff, but over the last couple of years I have put much effort into learning the basics. Yes, I know a writer should always prioritize writing, but I am so computer dependent these days that I have come to the conclusion that one should be able to do everything from doing a completely fresh install, to designing and uploading a web site. Can I do all this at present? No, but I plan to be able to by the time I am 70—and I will be 69 next May.

This, the first day, went surprisingly well. Windows 8 looks quite different at first glance but under the hood it operates similarly to Windows 7, albeit clearly there has been a lot of work done to speed it up and improve connectivity. But the most important thing is not to be frightened of it. I would recommend anyone to upgrade—though a better idea would be to get a Mac.

I then started downloading my key programs. The fact that most operate in the Cloud, although some also synchronize with your local hard drive, made that whole process much easier and faster than when I had upgraded to Windows 7 back in early 2010.

  • Google Chrome (plus extensions)
  • Gmail
  • Hotmail (which MS seem to be renaming Outlook)
  • MS Office 365
  • Evernote
  • Whizfolders
  • Directory Opus File Manager
  • Picassa
  • Skype
  • Windows Live Writer

You may well ask how I get to 50 programs. Well, I am including security programs and utilities, together with a mass of special purpose programs such as in the graphics area. For instance, if I save an article to Evernote—which I do a great deal—I will normally strip out all the ads and irrelevant material with a marvelous little program called Readability (which I thoroughly recommend). In addition, one tends to forget programs that work away without required much user participation. These include indexing utilities, Carbonite for backing up into the Cloud, and so on.

Everything would have gone smoothly except for my quaint habit of forgetting my passwords. Yes, I do have a password manager—the excellent Last Pass—but it can fooled under some circumstances. Be that as it may, I got there in the end, and completed a very long day feeling quite exhausted, and ready for Downton Abbey (about as good an example of a fine TV production as one is ever likely to see).

The aspect that most impressed me was the sheer speed and power of the new machine. Will I, at last, be able to work the way I have planned—which is based upon having all my main programs open at once (plus way too many tabs open in Chrome)? It is looking entirely possible.

So why do I harbor unkind thoughts about whoever decided what keyboard to use? Well, they moved the Delete key from top right on my previous HP machine to a position four keys over. Unfortunately, my muscle memory has been far too well trained so my finger automatically goes to the old location—and hits Page Down. And I use the Delete key more than I probably want to admit.

Writing, as the professionals will tell you, is hugely about re-writing.


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