Travel and Thoughts about Computers


Writing while traveling is a challenge; writing by hand requires bringing notebooks and other materials.  Typing instead requires me to bring a computer of sorts, which of course means my laptop.

However, this has lead me on a random side tangent.  What are the main differences between the two computers?  Here they are:

  • Laptop is smaller, more compact, less to it. It’s actually portable, and can be stowed in my carry-on for airplane travel. A desktop is large and requires a separate monitor, speaker system, keyboard, and/or mouse. (I use a separate USB operated mouse for my laptop because I hate the touchpad version.) Also, I can connect more systems to a desktop – such as a recording microphone and other musical equipment, which is harder to do with a laptop due to the limited amount of USB ports. (I also can install more USB ports into the desktop, something I can’t with a laptop.)
  •  Laptop does not have Windows Operating System — it uses Ubuntu, a Linux OS. A Windows OS can be installed on it, but as of right now, the original for this laptop requires a CD, which, as you’ll soon see, is impossible to access with my laptop.
  • Because Laptop does not have Windows OS, it cannot install Scivener, the writing program I was using for my NaNoWriMo project.  To alleviate that concern, I compiled what I had into a word document through Scivener’s compiler program. As of right now, I haven’t found a suitable equivalent in the Linux database of applications (a lovely assortment of free open-source programs.)
  •  Laptop uses Libre Office currently, and when I open my NaNoWriMo project in it, it converts the file mostly intact. The words are all there but the formatting is erratic.  Even if I downloaded Open Office, unsure that would result in a file that converts the formatting correctly or not. But the word count is still the same as it was in Scivener, so it seems like nothing was lost word wise.
  • Laptop’s CD Rom drive doesn’t work. Can’t even open it. The cover likes to fall off it as well.

Similarities:

  •  I have Steam on both. Though, what games I can install through Steam is more limited on my laptop due to it having a smaller harddrive and the fact that only a handful of games are supported on Linux.
  • Both have writing programs on it. Though I do wish there was a Linux version for Scivener.
  • Both have to be plugged in at all times to work. My laptop has a problem with charging the battery, some sort of connection is broken, and I can’t troubleshoot where. It simply has to be plugged into a power source to work. Otherwise, it’s a useless hunk of metal and electronics.
  • Both have Internet access. Very important for research you know… and well, distractions.
  • Both have a motherboard and similar inner parts; though the laptop’s video card, processor, memory, and so forth are crammed into a much smaller place, making extraction of any of those a near impossible task. The desktop is more spacious in its inside, allowing for easier access of the inner parts.

It’s easier to take my laptop and my thumbdrives, where I back-up everything important, than it is my desktop. No questions about that.  Also, if i wished to go write in a tea shop, the laptop is easier to use there.

However, the reason why I use my desktop more at home is simply this: my desktop has a lot more power, functionality, versatility, and space than my poor little laptop. I much prefer my desktop because it’s easier to maintain; I can easily switch out parts that fail, and trouble shoot for which part could be failing a bit easier.  It’s near impossible for me to switch out anything that breaks on a laptop.  Because of this, I’ve been able to slowly have my desktop upgraded over time, piece by piece.  For a laptop, you really have no choice other than buying the newest version. As mine is around six or seven years old, it’s definitely not new and is held together by sheer force of will. This is also why I backup everything in multiple places. As reliable as my desktop can be, when a part fails, I have a scary few days of trouble shooting, making sure the harddrive wasn’t affected, and then replacing that part.  Best to just have multiple copies of all my projects and images and videos.  Nonetheless, when I’m not travelling, my laptop sees little to no use because the desktop is a much superior computer in nearly all the possible categories.  I can access more programs, install more programs and games, and utilize and store a lot more media.

Since I’ll be in Seattle, WA for the next week, my laptop is joining me for the adventure.  It also means a decision as to how much I should write by hand in the meantime, since I will have limited access to areas where I can plug in my laptop in order to use it. I have decided on only one notebook and my journal, and I hope that I will have more opportunities to plug in my laptop at the friend’s place, in which I am staying.

Pros of writing by hand:

  • Can write anywhere as long as I have a pen or pencil and paper.
  • Allows me to construct the bare minimum for the scene in question.
  • Allows me to put pictures, random objects, and other odd items into the piece through the use of tape and/or glue. A mixed media project so to speak, if I decided to try such a thing.

Cons of writing by hand:

  • Hand gets tired.
  • Cannot insert random three dimensional object unless its crafted digitally as an image.
  • Hard to count how many words I actually wrote, unless I count each line as I go, which if I do so, often tends to derail my train of thought and causing havoc while writing the scene.
  • Hard to edit or add anything to the scene.  However, as a bonus to typing, when I type up something I wrote by hand, I can expand and edit as I go, allowing for more flexibility in the editing and revision process.

In conclusion, I’d rather use bits of both when I travel.  Writing by hand is helpful when I don’t have access to outlets for my laptop.  Then, once I have access, I can type up what I wrote and revise as I go, often adding a bit to one part and cutting a bit to another.  This also allows me to use the program within the computer to calculate the number of words, rather than me counting or estimating by hand.

As a writer, I probably take far too much time to consider the logistics of writing while traveling.  I’d rather be prepared then to be stuck in a place with nothing with which to write.  Also, this list has reminded me of how awesome my desktop is, and how shabby and sad my laptop is.  Poor little laptop, at least you’ll get used this trip!

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