bookmark_borderKeyboard Revisited

So I’ve had this keyboard for a while now, the Kinesis Freestyle (I wrote about it a while back). I’ve almost gotten used to it and can now give a decent review of it.

For one, the keys being separated is weird. It truly feels as if each hand is doing its own thing. I mean, they’re doing the same thing if they’d been on a single keyboard piece but for some reason, it feels really weird. It took longer to get used to than I thought. I have slowly been putting them further apart, trying to find that placement as well, but the further I go, the more I have to relocate my hands on the keys. Weird.

Instead of resting on the keyboard like usual, my hands kinda float over them. I really really hate the placement of the backspace and delete key. I’ve slowly gotten used to the backspace location but I have to stop and look to find the delete key. The home and end buttons are odd too but I don’t use them that much. I do miss having a keypad. I’d just started to enjoy it now that I am using a desktop and now it is more like using a laptop again. Sigh. I am a touch typist and have realized, with this keyboard, that I am having to relocate my hands to the proper place. I have gotten into the habit of twitching my index fingers to make sure they are on the F and J keys (the ones with the bumps) whenever I stop to think or first start typing. It is almost like learning to touch type all over again. I am constantly hitting the / key when I want the . one. Which is probably why I know the backspace key location so well!

I’ve also been surprised at the horizontal angle my hands feel the most comfortable with. The left is not much different than before, straight on. A little turn (top toward the right) but not by much. The right one, though, wow, what a tilt. The top is really angled toward the left. That shoulder is my loosest and tends to splay outward so that is probably why. But it is strange to see it revealed this way. The right one is also more forward and the left is closer to my body.

I’ve tried the different ‘tenting’ angles. I don’t like the full one so far but I’ve not used it that much. I switch between the lowest and the mid one. (can’t recall the actual degrees). The left hand likes the midrange tilt. The highest one makes the hand hot faster. And that’s the other thing. My left hand gets very warm the more I type. No clue why. I need to ask my PT friend if she knows. The right one may eventually like the highest tilt but, like I said, I’ve not used it much. I am finally starting to type more lately and will do another review later.

In some ways, the keyboard seems solidly made. But in other ways, it feels cheap. Could just be the keys themselves and how they react to pressure.

I keep the mouse between the two pieces. It fits nicely, even when the pieces are fairly close together.

Overall, I like the keyboard. I like that my hand placement can be nearly anywhere, depending on how I am feeling and how I am using it. Ergonomic? Yes, definitely. Worth the money? Yes, definitely again. Recommend it to others? Only if you touch type. If you use the ‘hunt and peck’ method, you will hate hate hate this keyboard. But then, if you hunt/peck, you don’t need it.

bookmark_borderNew Toy – Keyboard At Last

Several years ago (2005) I wrote an article on alternative keyboards. In that article, I briefly talk about a lot of different keyboards and the various options available. I also say that I will get the Kinesis Evolution with the desk mount option. Sadly, that particular keyboard was discontinued a short time later. However, Kinesis has several other very ergodynamic keyboards now.

First there’s the tried and true Contoured. Very similar to the Maltron ($825), the Countoured ($399) keyboards are very popular. But without being able to try one, I wasn’t willing to spend that amount of money.

I revisited the Kinesis website and was pleased to see that their Freestyle and Maxim were still being produced. I wandered over to The Human Solution website and did some more research. I was stuck between the Freestyle (true split keyboard) vs the Maxim/Goldtouch (split but attached to a base). I found an article about just that sort of decision and, based on that and in discussions with Elena, I decided to buy the Freestyle with the V3 riser thingy and the 20″ extension.

And it came today!

I have the riser thing on and I’m not quite sure if I like it. I didn’t go with the other kit, the VIP, because I knew that plastic on my wrists was going to kill me this summer. I have it on the 2nd setting (10 deg). My right shoulder is pitching a fit lately so I’m not sure which is to blame for the uncomfortable-ness. It will take a while to get used to it. I am a touch typist which helps I’m sure! Hunt/peck method with the keyboard split apart would be a major pain in the ass.

I just switched to the highest incline (15 degrees) and while my left arm is still quite comfortable, my right is not. I am fairly certain it is the shoulder and not the keyboard.

Anyway, there’s a few different things (besides the fact it is in 2 pcs on purpose?) about this keyboard.

It has some built-in macros. For example, it has cut, paste, and copy buttons on the left side. But I’ve used the right click and the Ctrl C/V/X for so long, I doubt I will easily switch to a button format.

It doesn’t have a keypad. It has a function key to access a keypad like setup (just like most laptops). Twice now I have hit that Fn key instead of the Ctrl key. Kinesis sells a “low force” keypad. But the price ($54) is outrageous compared to the $19.99 one I can pick up at BestBuy.

The Delete key (a writer’s most used key, second only to the Backspace) is oddly located. It is way up on the top row, well out of easy reach. That’s going to take some getting used to. On the left, with the copy and paste bound keys, is another Delete key. The Escape key is way up there as well but everyone is used to that.

I’ll use it for a few days then let y’all know what I think. And let me know if you want more or different photos of it.

(click image for larger version)

bookmark_borderHow To Be A Writer

During NaNoWriMo, I followed a comic strip written/drawn by the cool and groovy Debbie Ohi. In addition to the comics, she’s also a writer. Or perhaps she is a writer who also draws comics. Pick one.

Anyway, she signed off on the NaNo comic and said that her other one, Will Write For Chocolate, will restart soon. I went to check it out since it has been a looooong time since I last read it. WWFC is part comic strip, part advice column. I found the archive listing and am going through them in order. Yeah, procrastination from editing/rewrites has already begun.

Freelance writers typically write magazine articles and since the pay for them is low, to survive as one you need to write a lot of articles. Writing a novel is a long process but magazine articles are short, to the point, and you move on to the next one immediately. As I am going through the archives, I came across a post about avoiding distractions. The first suggestion is from someone who says she has a business plan. And that stopped me in my tracks. At first glance, it is a great idea.

A business plan, for those who don’t know, is a formal document (or set of documents) that lay out how you are going to do your business. It contains long and short range goals, financial plans, possible alternatives, methods to follow, etc. It can be either hugely complicated or it can be simplistic. Typically, a business plan is required any time a business wants to acquire funding such as a grant or business loan. When I was a potter, I had one. I had to come up with one for the business class I was taking as part of the Production Craft program at Haywood Community College. (Excellent program, by the way. Clay, wood, metal (jewelry), and cloth) We had to write it then present it to a funding source. I never made it that far due to various stuff*. The business plan I had to figure out a budget, supplies, prices for wares, where I hoped to be in 5 – 10 yrs, etc. It was the hardest thing I had to do (and that includes the drawing classes!).

Should I do one for my writing? Probably. If I were truly needing the income, I don’t see how I could earn without one. A business plan for a writer would have to be much more than “will write two novels a year”. It would have to include marketing plans (what, where, cost), projected income/outgo (outside editor, software, royalties, shipping), goals (write free articles to get name out vs do freelance while writing Big Novel), and so much more.

But since I write novels and the occasional article, I don’t think I will do a formal business plan. The variables of my physical and mental health would make it nearly impossible to come up with one that wouldn’t require constant adjusting or to have one so vague it would feel it was a joke.

If you, however, are a serious writer with a family (human or canine) to support, you may want to do some research into writing one. You may find out some harsh realities or you may find out your goals are quite reachable.

Write Your Own Reality
Building a Writer’s Business Plan
Plan Your Writing Success With a Business Plan

* With only a few months left to go in the Production Crafts program and during the time I was buying equipment and setting up a studio at home, I was in an accident. I was rear ended on my way to class one morning. My body was already not right but my teacher and I had come up with ways that I could still be productive while not hurting myself further. For example, I worked the wheel standing up. Anyway, the accident screwed up my neck, shoulder, and back really bad. The many doctors I saw never officially documented (although I thought they were since they were saying it aloud to me) that I could not do pottery nor work until I healed. By the time I realized this, it was too late. I lost many months of classes, lost my job, lost my truck. The other insurance company got away with only paying for my medical bills and the truck (a beat up ’72 Toyota). My future as a potter was gone because some idiot wasn’t watching where he was going.

bookmark_borderApps for Writers – Reviews

Today I finally got a new router and finally got the laptop to working through it. I said some words, banged my head several times, plugged, unplugged, replugged, reset, called my brother twice, said some more words…you get the idea.

So now the laptop is attached to the net via wireless. Cool. Once I was certain I had that down and everything was working, I then went to work on getting the iPod Touch to also be on the wireless network. This wasn’t as painful but there’s a lot of info out there (better than I could find for the router) on how to do it. As soon as it was connected, I got to work on figuring out how Quickword and DocsToGo can be synced with the laptop.

Quickword was so easy. I opted to “mount as a drive”. At the bottom of the opening page is a URL ( You then go to the Network section of your computer and make the Touch a part of the network using that URL. It is easy and I did it the first time. Once that was set up, it is a simple matter of dragging and dropping documents in and out of its network folder. The other way, and is even more simple, is to enter in that URL into your web browser. Quickword can only read .doc (and I think .txt) so I had to open and save a document from .odt (openoffice format) to .doc. Then drag the folder into the other and boom, there it was on the Touch. However, and you knew there had to be, the Quickword app has to be open before it will transfer.

And I found out why. That URL? That’s for Quickword only. DocsToGo has a different port it uses so the URL ending is different. So unless Quickword is open, the network won’t see it, just like if a computer on the network was turned off.

DocsToGo wasn’t quite as easy. First, I had to download another software for the desktop. Then I had to add the device. Then I had to enter a code into the device. DocsToGo has a URL, too, although I’m not sure what it is for. The other software is simple enough, although I can’t seem to get the document on the Touch to transfer to the computer. I’m trying again right now and the transfer, if that is what’s happening, is taking a very long time.

The third app I tried, and may have actually liked, is called Notebooks. But it has a major flaw, in my opinion, and that is in editing. Here’s an example. I write this sentence: “Sitting in the waiting room, doing nothing but wait, is a pianful experience.” With DocsToGo and Quickword, I can put the cursor directly in the middle of the misspelled word and correct it. With Notebooks, just like the built in Notes, you can’t select the middle of a word. I can only select the end of the word and hit backspace. Rather annoying. I kind of liked its ability to stack a “book” within “books”. Meaning I could have a “book” named WorldBuild and inside it have books called characters, geography, archery, etc. But that annoying edit bit will drive me nuts far too soon. And I’ve tried software like that before and grew to dislike the dozens or more folders with bits of the novel scattered throughout.

As much as it pains me, I will (probably) be using Quickword. The syncing of documents is the easiest and requires no additional software. Now that I can sync, I will be using it to do actual editing in the form of writing bits as it comes to me then pasting it into a document either on the computer or on the device.

bookmark_borderBack It Up!

Sheesh. I’m gonna chuck the modem.

We have Charter Communications for our cable, internet, and phone. Great price and I like them. We’ve had the internet through them for a long time. They provided a Motorola Surfboard cable modem. I think it is the original one. Anyway, the modem is connected to the two computers via a Linksys wireless router. Lorna’s computer, the Dell laptop, is hardwired. The Toshiba, the one I am using, is wireless. At first I thought it was this Toshiba acting up. Then I checked to see if the Dell could get on line. Like the Toshiba, it does, but it takes fooooorrrrrrever to load a page if it does at all. Some websites load partway then think about loading the rest. Sometimes, I can hit stop/reload and it finishes. Tomorrow (or maybe tonight if I feel like it) I’ll bypass the router and see if that helps any. The reason I am certain it is the modem is that the lights on it keep going off and on. The Surfboard has 4 green lights for connectivity and an orange light showing activity. At times, only the top light and the second is on with either the second one blinking or the third blinking. I did a reboot (simple unplug) which worked for a few hours then I did a reboot and reset. But it keeps doing it and it is very frustrating.

If bypassing the router is no different, then I’ll call their tech support. Sometimes there is a reset or something they do remotely.

Anyway, I’ve been trying for the past several days to post this message about backing up work.

As a writer, my documents can’t be just recreated from data elsewhere. Unlike numbers in a spreadsheet, a lost manuscript will never be the same if re-written because the hard drive crashed. I’ve discussed backing up work before but its been a while. This is your reminder (and mine!). I back up my manuscripts to 3 different places. I have an external hard drive and I have a hidden, password protected directory in one of my websites. And, when I remember to can, I upload files from the external drive to the Dell.

I use Ipswitch’s WS_FTP Pro to upload chunks of files. I use the program’s faster (and lighter) Upload Wizard to upload one or two files, such as images and such. There are other online ways to save files. There’s places that let you upload files to their site and they keep it safe for you. Kinda like a safe deposit box. My webhost, Dreamhost, has a Files Forever option but I’ve not really looked into it yet.

The external hard drive is the old one from the Dell. I wiped it clean, reformatted it, and got an external case. It connects via USB cable and is hot-swappable, which I like. I have a flash drive/memory key but I keep losing the damn thing. Flash drives are getting cheaper with bigger capacity. External hard drives are also getting cheaper with huge honkin’ space on them. Someday I hope to have a networked hard drive system where I can access files from any networked computer in the house. Not sure if I want to do the remote access way, though. For now, when I want to put files on the Dell, I upload them to the ‘net then download to the Dell. Yeah, complicated and why don’t I just plug in the external drive? ‘Cause the poor half-dead Dell won’t recognize it, that’s why. I really ought to shoot it and put it out of my miser.

A lot of people save files on CDs for their backups. I’d do that, too, except I don’t have rewritable ones. I’d just be wasting CDs since I do backups weekly or even daily when I am actually working. Regardless, be sure to mark each CD with the date so you can quickly grab the one you want. I’d suggest putting manuscripts on a CD of their own.

Okay, well, that’s all for now. I’m going to hit ‘publish’ in the hopes it actually gets saved and put on the site. Sigh.