A Tale Of Two Computers – Part 1


PC: courtesy Achim Hepp via Flickr Creative Commons

Although the photo above is not mine, this is pretty much the current hardware on my writing desk. The place where the magic happens is shared, not always amicably, by a MacBook Pro and a Sony Vaio.

My desk is small, about 4 ft wide and 3 ft deep. You would be right to call it miniscule even. So, you can guess that real estate up there is quite valuable. And there’s more to fit on it other than the two laptops. You know the usual stuff–phones and tablets, a cup to hold my rainbow colored markers, my pile of notebooks, space for the two mice and knickknacks to boost the sometimes-elusive creativity. There are time when you’d find a stack of stuffed toys right in the middle of it all.

Invariably, the desk is accident prone. Things get knocked down, wires get entangled, and sometimes heartbreak ensues. Yet, I hold on to the two computers. Here’s why.

The MacBook is where I do everything–photoshop work, blogging, keeping accounts–everything except writing my books. That’s because the Mac is what it is–utterly and satisfyingly reliable. I don’t get showered by “application not responding” messages, there’s no sudden restarting of the machine when I’m in the middle of an exceptionally productive creative run (and when I have forgotten to hit that Save button), there’s no fan running at full speed because the processor is overheated because I’m overworking that one open application. Working on the Mac is pure bliss. It’s also ergonomically better (softer keyboard etc.), the display is out-of-this-world awesome and it’s a beauty to behold.

Even with all that awesomeness that is the Mac, I hold on to a clunky, quite outdated and past its prime Windows machine. Why? Because, that’s what I use to write. The writing still continues on this four-year-old Vaio, mostly because it has MS Word which continues to be my editing software of choice.

Many will question the wisdom of that right about now. They might tell me of the mighty word-processors that I can find on a Mac (Pages), or to install MS Word on Mac, or even use Scrivener. They’d almost be correct. Why almost? You see, I’ve used Pages and the MS Word for Mac, and it’s been a while (was about three years ago), but I found these applications difficult to work with.

They work plenty well on their own, but as soon as you try to convert one file type to another or move files between different word-processing applications, the formatting errors pop up from nowhere. Fixing formatting errors is the worst thing I have ever done, nothing else can be as painful. I’m sure a lot of folks will have no trouble with them, but way back when I was new to indie pubbing, I struggled for days with Pages and then with MS Word. Then I said, never again.

And in came the Vaio.

Now, I have figured out a good working process. Other than the desk real estate issue , of course. I have been planning to use Scrivener for a while, and perhaps sometime soon I will give that a try. For now though, I have the process of formatting for everything–doc, docx, pdf, mobi, epub, you name it–down to a fine art.

Thus, we coexist.

So far so good, right? Well, wrong you are. There’s more trouble at miniscule desk land.

This post was intended to highlight the latest stumble I had trying to use both machines, but I got carried away into writing a lot about the past struggles. As a result, I’ve run out of time. Onto plan B–I will revisit the issue and mark this post ‘part 1′ for convenience’ sake.

So long for now!

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in interesting stuffs, on writing

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