Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stealing a Page From the Bransford Playbook

The holiday season is upon me in full force, friends and fans, so today is an open thread. I'll be back tomorrow, but in the meantime: have at it!


  1. I am considering buying a laptop. Any specific features/programs I would want since I'm a (aspiring) novelist?


  2. Christi - I would really look at getting a Mac, and this is coming from a PC laptop owner. Not that my laptop is bad, but the threat of getting a bug with a PC is much higher. I've gotten one before, and if you get it, your hard drive is toast. Macs don't have these problems. If I were buying a new one, that's what I'd be looking at.

  3. I agree--go with the Mac. Also, consider the weight of the machine. If you'll be carting it to coffee shops you may want something light.

  4. Totally agree about the weight :). Also, make sure the laptop's not going to get too hot and toast your thighs as you write for hours. Maybe look into one of those laptop cooling pads? I'm thinking about getting one soon.

  5. From someone who owned Apples/Macs for 20 years, the Mac fanboy craze drives me nuts. If you plan on working visually or aurally, a Mac is a great choice. The included software makes beginning audio/video editing and movie creation user friendly. If you want a word processor, buy a PC. Buying a Mac is a waste of your money. What you spend on a Mac could buy you two PCs and both of the latter would run Word faster.

    As for what software you want, Word is an industry standard. Technically the standard is based on font and spacing, but if someone asks you to submit your manuscript as an attachment, you don't want to be that guy that sends in a WordPerfect file.

    As for me, I write on a 10"-inch Asus PC (that cost me $250). It has no optical drive, so I write using OpenOffice. When the manuscript is finished, I save it as a .doc file (which OO accommodates) and then clean up using actual Word software).

    With all the money you saved buying a PC (even after you foot the bill for Word), buy a thumb drive. Use it to back up your files so that if something should happen to your computer, you still have a recent version that can be moved to a new machine.

    As for viruses destroying your machine and you losing everything, oh noes! Don't look at porn on your writing machine. Don't open emails from people you don't recognize with subject lines that don't clearly describe the purpose of the email. Don't open attachments unless they are from a trusted source and look to be sent in good faith. Follow those simple steps and your laptop will reach the end of its service life long before a virus destroys it.

  6. Regarding the virus threat, online backup is good. I also work on an Asus and am happy with it but have nothing good to say about the company. Long story, power adapter issue.

    But I agree with the Mac people. We have used both Mac and PC for 15 years and for overall reliability, turn on the computer and run your program in 15 seconds, don't lose your work to some weird computer hiccup, etc, Mac is absolutely the best. I've had Dell, Toshiba, HP, and now Asus but nothing beats a Mac. They do cost more but you won't need a new one for a looooong time. Plus, Mac has a suite that reads and saves files for Office that costs half the price. I look at the price difference as an initial investment.

  7. In my case switching to a Mac was worth the extra money. I replaced my PCs far more than my mac and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be virus free - but it's all in what you prefer- My husband is even a convert- the new MacBook Pro is awesome.
    I have no problem using office for mac and my agent and editor never have a problem with my attachments and they are all mac as well...

  8. Shameless own-blog promotion again, then:
    a writer-editor's take on dealing with rejections.

    I hate self-promotion. But I only do it when I have good content. I think that makes it marginally less objectionable...

  9. You guys have some great advice!

    As a lifelong PC user, I've never really considered a MAC. However, all your comments make me think it might be time to upgrade.

    I really appreciate all the tips, especially the "back up your work" options. I currently work on a 10 year old computer and feel it is ready to give up any day now (just please let it be after I've finished my rewrites...)

    And...in the spirit of Anna's "shameless own blog promotion" please, if you have a minute, take the time to browse around my blog.

    Thanks again,

  10. iMac is to laptops what the iPod is to MP3 players and the iPhone is to cell phones: KING!

    I can tell you from personal experience that the iMac is a gazillion times faster, impermeable to viruses/attacks, and WAY lower maintenance than all of the PCs in my past put together!

    So, will you settle for a generic PC the way some settle for a non-iPod MP3 player (and live to regret it), or will you take our advice? I'm curious to find out! :)

  11. I've always had a PC and never had a problem with viruses. My husband is a computer whiz and makes sure I have a good anti-virus program. I've used a friend's Mac and didn't much care for the way things were laid out, but that's probably just a matter of unfamiliarity.

    According to my artist friends, Macs are best for graphic design.

    I have a regular laptop for writing at home and a little netbook for carrying around. I love both.

  12. I find Macs too narcissistic to purchase. What, the control key isn't good enough for you? It's gotta be the Apple key? Psh.

    Also, PCs respect your intelligence, by giving you two click buttons on the mouse.

    Power to the PC--sure, it will get cranky and slow and virusy, but hey...it is...good. (Is anyone convinced?)

  13. Since switching to a Mac last year (after being a PC forever) I have become an macolyte. No more swearing. No more shut downs. No more error messages. No more tempation to throw it the computer across the room. I use MS Word for Mac for writing, Pages from Mac when I want to be creative (dropping in pictures to make cards, etc.)

    Overall, the computer has become a happy time. Most of my time is spent writing, and, yes, the switch is worth it. I've used a Dell, IBM, Lenovo, Gateway, and nothing compares to being WINDOWS FREE!

  14. What about titchy-witchy (thinking of no one in particular lol) publishers - is it better to have any kind of publishing credit on your resume?

  15. If buying a Mac, Scrivner is the software to use.

    I'm currently on a Toshiba laptop, and using yWriter which is a great FREE writing program. It was written by a sci-fi author/programmer for his own use. It's bugs and malware free, uses low resources, and has tons of great tools.
    -export to txt, rtf, html (synopsis)
    -built in text to voice for editing
    -daily word count target and tracking & more


    good luck

  16. Hey ChristiCorbet, I got my first Mac laptop this summer. I LOVE it! One reason why I would highly recommend it, is because you can have it unplugged for like seven hours! That means, I could take my lappy poolside while my kids were swimming in the summer, take it on a trip, take it to a conference. It's awesome. Totally.

    Good luck!

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  18. Christi & Rebecca,

    I switched from PC (Windows Vista on a Dell = AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!) earlier this year and I consider it to be one of the best decisions I've made in my entire life. I bought a MacBook Pro and I absolutely love the livin' crappola out of it! 'Nuff said.

    For hot thighs, check this out: http://www.xpad4laptop.com

    It's the simplest and best lap-pad out there, guaranteed.

  19. When my book sells (come on already!)I am definately going to consider a Mac due to all the postive comments here.

    Honestly I hadn't even thought about it, but with all the opinions here I think it will be the way to go.

    Thanks again for all the great advice!