Archive | September, 2016

Banned Books Week: September 25-Oct 1

25 Sep

Google it, or check out this sight.

Normally I am way behind on things, but I’m in the middle of a sick day. I know posted that I was going down to ‘normal’ working hours, which was followed by quite a bit of OT. It is starting to take a toll on my body, so I’m going to keep updating to keep myself accountable.

I have not yet decided what I’ll be reading, as I look at the reasons why things are banned or challenged, and sometimes it makes my head spin. I totally understand not wanting a book personally, but the more I stare at social media, the more I realize that beyond the narcissism that perpetually plagues us, there’s always the warring ideologies and the danger of ideas in general. I’m a big believer that one can entertain an idea without ascribing to it, but I also read a lot and try to get a good variety going.

If you’re following what I read on goodreads, you will probably see more Margaret Atwood than normal in the next few months; it’s nothing to do with going on a binge so much as studying her voice.

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Fun with Technology

2 Sep

I have a laptop again – and there’s a bit of a learning curve, so here’s hoping that it’s a relatively smooth one. This is basically a survival 101 for when technology fails and you have important things to get out there. Obviously there isn’t any time for lengthy editing or what have you. For the sake of this – it’s obviously great if you have trusted friends or family members who can loan you equipment for the time you need, and that’s probably your best choice. However, there may come a time when you don’t know people well enough to ask them a huge favour (and by the way – another huge shout out and thank you to my coworker Joanna, who let me use her computer and internet to do important emails) plus, I always feel bad if I need to do a lot of printing on anyone else’s printer. It’s a writer thing.

I work quite often involving long shifts – there’s a certain amount of flexibility (I’m able to write at work when the pager isn’t going off) but it also means that I’m designated to respond, and can’t necessarily go to places if I’m stuck in an area without one for any length of time. Sometimes, you have to get creative – obviously if you are in a small town with zero tech support, it’s going to be harder, and you’ll have to rely on other people or a lucky break that takes you to an area with what you need. Most people are pretty much free agents once their shift is done, but if you are a shift worker and especially if you are doing on call with a pager on your hip, plan your days out strategically. Since I’ve handled situations like this before, I didn’t feel the need to run to the nearest Best Buy and buy ANYTHING to get me through the next days, I was able to research my options and pull a few extra shifts to pay for the laptop I wanted and ordered in.

Protecting Your Work – Back It Up

I’m bad for this – I’ve had older works backed up, but then again, when I ordered this new computer I didn’t notice it didn’t come with a CD drive until my dad pointed it out, and we’d had it out of the packaging for almost an hour. I have some back-ups on old flash drives, so for me, it isn’t bad for some of my older projects but for some of my newer works, let’s just say that I have a spare… hard copy. When R.J. Hore and I swap, we usually print out hard copies (occasionally we send each other word documents if we’re in a pinch) but I sort of abuse my hard copy prints, once the editing happens, I usually use the other side for sketches, notes or whatever. So assuming I even still have copies in my craft desk, even if I was going to rewrite, word for word on the hard copy – yeah, I’d be an unhappy camper. One book I can handle – I’m imagining doing 4, meanwhile neglecting my new writing.

In short, my old laptop is still functional, so I’m going to be backing everything onto it. But what is great in the meantime? Flash drives are great. Unless…

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My Fail-Safes have… Failed?

The issue plaguing me was my keyboard stopped working. I am not super technical, but I knew enough to trouble-shoot the likely issues. The first thing you want to do is utilize the on screen keyboard, which only works if you have a touchpad or an external mouse. If you can’t access the computer at all, you need to start accessing the computer from an external source – and usually if you can turn your computer on, you can plug in a cable or use the internet to go into the system memory and start retrieving. I highly recommend getting someone technically inclined for all of this, but it’s honestly not as scary as it sounds. If you don’t have an IT guy, it will cost you – but I look at how many hours it takes me to produce a book, and I think it’s piece of mind and money well spent. When I tried reinstalling the software and checking function, I took it both to a tech store and got a quote to fix it, and let my dad trouble shoot. I remember helping my dad build desktop towers when I was a kid, and while he’s not qualified to pull apart a laptop, he’s better than average in the hardware/software department. When he says the hardware is pooched, I trust him.

So I transferred everything to a flashdrive. If I was smart, I would have transferred it onto two flashdrives. Because the picture above happened.
I was doing the “This is a sign I should stop writing” and for two minutes before I put on my big girl panties and started to research. I knew that I needed to get the files off the flashdrive, and that it wasn’t completely pooched… yet. I also knew I didn’t have anything to put the info onto… or did I? I changed over from Iphone to an LG G4 last year. Let’s just say it was a good call, because I knew I could edit documents on it no problem.

This is only an option on certain phones, so figure out what yours can do before you rush out and try this. If I had the time, I would have driven to the tech shop and got them to upload it and I was borderlining on driving to Winnipeg to get a new laptop. Don’t try this if it involves breaking ANYTHING without someone who knows what they’re doing. I finagled the flashdrive and went to Wal-Mart, and tried to get a device that would let me upload it onto my phone. Wal-Mart didn’t have the part I needed, so I got sent to “The Source” to get a specific converter.

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I uploaded everything to my phone, and I’m currently moving everything to the new computer.

But I need stuff… soon.

Okay – let’s pretend you have a conference to go to or you just got back from one and someone wants to see your work. You’re without technology to send stuff to blue pencil sessions or you need prose printed. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this part – but many hotels I’ve been to have ‘offices’ where you can do minor editing and printing, if you’re staying. I for one would rather have as much stuff taken care of prior to arriving for the conference.

My main advice is that once you have the files accessible via something like a flashdrive or email, you need to utilize either a printer or a computer, depending on what you need. If the library has a 1-hour daily limit for you to use their computer, prioritize what you need done before you sit down on the computer, so if you do max out on time, you can get the important files taken care of first. If you’re going to a blue pencil session, they may ask to see your work ahead of time and emailing them a sample. Usually, you can go to an office like Staples or use a public library to do editing or printing. I have been living at my current place for two years, and it cost me a free membership to use their computers for a few weeks, the only thing it cost me was when I wanted pages printed.

In Closing

Sometimes sucky things happen, but it’s not the end of the world. Gone are the days when I thought I just had to work hard and things would turn out alright – and sometimes, you will run into technical difficulties that you can’t forsee and you won’t be able to finish your product on time. The important thing is to keep calm, and think about how you’re going to solve the issue rather than saying ‘it always happens to me!’.

If you’re not sure how the phone document will reformat your book, don’t send it to a potential publisher – they don’t want a garbled mess, it looks unprofessional. At the very worst, cite some technical difficulties but follow up when you have the time to send them the projects you discussed earlier. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – I don’t consider myself unskilled with computers, but I know plenty of people just on Facebook who have been there, done that, and your problems probably aren’t unique enough that you can’t ask someone how they dealt with damaged hardware or corrupt files. And hey – each project you save is one less you’ll have to contemplate whether or not you want to rewrite it.