Apr 30 2010

iPad Get! So How Is It, Really? (review)

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Gneech and his iPad! Let's hope they'll be happy together...

I thought about doing a spoof video of myself geekgasming as I opened the box a la Stephen Fry, I really did. But in the end, I was thwarted by the fact that Mrs. Gneech wasn’t here to operate the video camera, and that I was too bouncy to wait.

So, how is it really? Is it like a laptop? Or just an iPod? What’s the verdict?

Granted, I haven’t exactly been running the thing through its paces, but I did buy the limited 30 days of 3G access and took the thing with me on some errands, I played the first few minutes of “Sam and Max: The Penal Zone,” and now I’ve got it on the keyboard and I’m posting to my blog. So it’s not a bad little test. I haven’t tried the funkadelic “Periodic Table App” or keyboard toy — I’m looking for a gadget I will actually use, particularly when I’m at conventions. Really, that’s what I wanted it for, to replace my Old and Busted laptop with some New Hotness.

Overall, I like it. While it is heavier than it looks, it’s not so heavy as to be unmanageable. The interface takes a little getting used to, (although people with an iPod/iPhone/iWhatever already will have a much easier time) and the apps need a little more baking. On the other hand, sliding, swiping, and touching the screen quickly become second nature and it won’t be long before you’ll wonder how you managed so long struggling with a mouse.

Regarding the apps, most of the ones ready out of the gate are just iPhone apps with either a big black margin, or blown up to double size and fuzzy as all get out, so they will take some time to catch up. Stanza particularly suffers here, because if you double the size of the app, and then shrink the font down in order to get more words on the screen, they’re still fuzzy from being blown up. Guh. That would quickly give me a headache. The iBook and Kindle apps are much nicer in this regard. iPad native apps that make better use of the larger screen real estate are much better, and by this time next year there will be a lot of awesomeness in that department. (I haven’t tried out the native word processor yet; I’m not sure if I want to go that route or just write to the cloud with Google docs or something. I have yet to see how much writing on the road I’ll actually want to do.)

I will say, the shiny shiny screen can be a turnoff, especially once it’s covered in thumbprints. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is just a tad annoying.

Still, the iPad is exactly what I expected it to be — the first generation of a new and all together different type of computer. This is going to be the “pushbutton easy” machine that will start showing up everywhere — in the doctor’s office to call up patient records, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office in place of a magazine or portable game, in the kitchen looking up recipes, lying in bed and watching that episode of Doctor Who you missed last week, sitting on the tray in front of you on the plane and showing a movie you actually want to see. It’s the internet from your comfy chair. It’s your e-mail while you’re riding the bus. It’s gonna be big.

That said, I don’t necessarily recommend running out and buying one now, unless you particularly want one right now. For me, the iPad came at just about the perfect time, as I was looking to replace my laptop anyway and had the money allocated to spend. Certainly, the apps could use some time to cook, and no doubt next year’s model will have a camera and better multitasking (i.e., any at all).

But if you find yourself gazing longingly at one and you’ve got the money to spend, I say go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

-The Gneech

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Apr 30 2010

One Month In … Whattya Think?

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Tempus fugit and all that, but it’s been a month since I posted And We Have Website!, the first post of actual content made to the New! Improved! gneech.com [1].

Whattya think so far? What have you liked or disliked the most? What would you like to see more of? Right now I’m still in fairly experimental mode, trying to work out how much interesting (or at least potentially interesting) content I can post here without it distracting from getting my “professional” writing done. My goal has been to post at least two “substantive” things a week (whether an opinion piece, a fictionlet, a book review, or something similar), peppered with a few more random tidbits every day or every other day. So far it seems to be a good schedule, but I’d be curious to hear if my readers think it’s too much, too little, or if they’d like to see the mix changed.

(Note: I make no promises to accommodate readers’ wishes … I’m pretty notorious for asking everybody’s advice then just doing whatever it is I think is right anyway. But I like to know where I stand before I go jumping off the cliff.)

Lastly, I’d like to know how you got here. I expect most people reading this are doing so through my LiveJournal, which has been acting as a more personal sort of proto-blog for almost a decade now … but I know that some of you out there have come through Facebook and even a few from Twitter, so give a shout-out and let me know who you are! 🙂

-The Gneech

[1] A little in-joke, there. Back in the ooooold days of the web, my AOL homepage was titled “The Gneech’s New! Improved! World Wide Web Page.” Ah, the ’90s, you seem so, I dunno, “over a decade ago,” now.

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Apr 28 2010

Current Story Progress

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4600 / 10000 words

Got the beginning and the ending written; now comes the hard part (i.e., the middle). The good news is, that with the end done, I know at least some of the things that have to go in!

I’ve found over the years that this tends to be the way I write any more: I come up with an opening that gets me all interested and wanting to know what happens, mull over it a little and figure out how it ends, and then spend the rest of my time stitching the two ends together. Most of the time this is fairly straightforward, but there are some works, such as the Michael Macbeth novel that’s been sitting in a file for something like five years now, where the middle is just a gigantic vague cloud with “INTERESTING STUFF HAPPENS HERE” printed on it in big letters.

Better than the early days, where I just started writing and kept going until I couldn’t think of anything to have happen next; and better still than much of the time I spent writing comics, where all I felt like I had the time to do was come up with the next one or two strips and hope that the end product would make something approaching sense.

Beginning -> End -> Middle, while it can be a difficult method, does at least produce solid results. 🙂

-The Gneech

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Apr 28 2010

Testing, Testing (Revisited)

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I am attempting to crosspost to my Facebook fan page via gneech.com. I apologize for a zero-content post that you may end up seeing in seven or eight different places … such is the nature of configuring social media.

-TG

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Apr 26 2010

Tanya Huff Interview (at Michael Ventrella’s Blog)

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Short but sweet interview with fantasy author Tanya Huff (best known for Blood Trail et al.). Very standard ten questions every interviewer asks an author, but they’re questions worth reading the answers to!

-The Gneech

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Apr 26 2010

Fictionlet

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“Hi,” said Brigid, “I need a haircut. I’d like to get something on the 15th after three o’clock, please.”

“All right,” said the woman’s voice on the other end of the line, “let me just see what we’ve got. Your name?”

“Brigid Franks.”

“And what stylist would you like?”

“I usually go with Anne, but anybody who’s available is fine.”

“Okay, the 15th. And you said you wanted a waxing, right?”

“Waxing? No, heck no. Just a haircut.”

“Okay, Anne has appointments at eleven, two, and four-thirty, but of course that last one is too late for a waxing.”

“I don’t want a waxing, just a haircut. Four-thirty is perfect, sign me up.”

The woman on the other end sighed. “I just told you, that one’s too late.”

“You said it was too late for a waxing.”

“It is,” said the woman, irritation rising in her voice. “How about two o’clock?”

“No, I can’t make it then, I’ll take four-thirty.”

“We don’t do waxings after four.”

“I don’t want a waxing,” said Brigid, “I just want a haircut.”

“You said you wanted a waxing!”

“No, you said I wanted a waxing, and I said that no, I want a haircut! Now sign me up for four-thirty already!”

“So you want to change your appointment from two to four-thirty and skip the waxing,” the voice said, with all indications of being through clenched teeth.

“I don’t see how I can change an appointment I never had, but whatever. Yes. Four-thirty on the 15th.”

“Wait,” said the woman, “I thought you said you wanted Anne.”

“Well, yes, I usually go with—”

“Anne won’t be working on the 15th. How about the 17th, at three-thirty?”

“The—?” snapped Brigid; then she stopped, swallowed, took a deep breath. She looked at her calendar, and said, “Okay, fine. The 17th, at three-thirty, I’ll take it.”

“Okay, you’re all set. Anne has that day off, but Michele will do your waxing for you. Bye.” *click*

Brigid sighed. Given her previous attempts, she was surprised it had gone so well.

-The Gneech

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