Friday, January 27, 2017

Speaking to the DFW Writers Bloc on Saturday

Thanks to Tex Thompson for inviting me to speak to the DFW Writers Bloc on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at 2:00 PM. Topic? Tech for Writers: Tips, Tools, and Tricks. All attendees will receive a free digital copy of Passwords the Easy Way.

Click for the invite page.

Yes, this ebook for free. Along with all the other tips, tools, and tricks I know (or can explain in 90 minutes) that your heart desires.

Since I'll be coming directly from rehearsal for the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra, I will have my violin. If things get slow I might whip it out (the violin, of course) and shake my tip jar. One never knows.

Come be edutained. Let's have some fun and chat and enjoy the company of other crazy people who have the odd urge to write.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thanks, Amazon for Recommending Passwords the Easy Way

My friend Sandy Steen got an email yesterday from Amazon recommending Passwords the Easy Way. Here's part of that email:

 Passwords the Easy Way

When she called to tell me, I was excited, of course. But I figured it was one of the emails like I get, listing a dozen or so suggestions based on what I have viewed on their website recently. But no, as you can see, the only book recommended was my Technology For Writers.

Don't know why they did this, or what the process is that selects such an honor, but I certainly appreciate the attention from them. Since there are no obvious email addresses or phone numbers to say, "Thanks, Amazon," I'm putting this here. And Twitter, of course. Oh, and I guess Facebook - one never knows when Mark Zuckerberg might need help with his passwords.

So, once again, let me say, "Thanks, Amazon. Thanks to you and your mysterious algorithms for recommending my book."

Does an algorithm appreciate courtesy? Can't hurt.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Passwords the Easy Way now available

As I have mentioned before, I'm doing a book titled Technology for Writers: Tips, Tools, and Tricks to Produce and Promote Your Words. This gathers all the information I've been giving when speaking to writer's groups.

Trying to do this differently, I'm releasing one chapter of this book at a time. So the book cover you see above is really Chapter One. It's available now as an ebook on Amazon. Feel free to pick and choose which chapters you need, and skip those don't apply to your writing situation.

The format is a bit unusual as well. Different from most How-To books, the information you need is right up front. When you're In a Hurry, you want info fast. That's why the top of every section that requires you to take an action of some kind is labeled In a Hurry. Not subtle, but I do hope it's helpful.

Everything you must know to complete the goal of each section is at the front of that section. As you keep reading, the action steps give way to explanations, considerations, and how we mangled our technology into such a mess. Feel free to stop reading when you get what you need. If you need help sleeping, keep reading. Some of the explanations can get pretty boring. When your eyes glaze over, it's time to hit the pillow. Who needs a sleeping pill when you have technical verbiage?

But as I say, avoiding the mind-numbing verbiage is simple: read what you need, then stop. And let me know if you got what you need. If you didn't, I will update this chapter to make sure you do get the information that will leverage technology to help you produce and promote your words.

Monday, June 13, 2016

More Screen = Easier Writing

More Scree = Easier Writing
Last time I talked about the next monitor standard: up from 1920x1080 pixels to 2560x1440 pixels. But some readers noted that even the least expensive monitors in this size range cost $300, and that's a bunch o'bucks. True.

But for those writing on laptops, an external screen can make your writing easier for only a bag o'nickels (or close). I just saw an HP monitor on closeout for $39.99. Sorry, it was a one-day deal that's now gone (I should get to my marginal emails more quickly, I guess). It was only 1280x1024, but that's pretty good for text work. Add that to your laptop, and even if your laptop screen has that same resolution (it probably doesn't), you can get more text onscreen at one time.

Over at NewEgg, an online vendor I've used with success, is a list of scratch and dent monitors starting under $27. Yes, $26.40 (as I write this). Great price for an external monitor that can give you the screen real estate you need to write more and better and faster.

Bonus: if you have Window 10 on your laptop, using both screens at one time is pretty easy. Many people display their word processor on the big, external screen, leaving their email or notes on the laptop screen. Or maybe they put their notes beside their work in progress, because a big monitor has room for at least two full pages side by side. Instant boost in productivity (says workplace experts who may or may not be paid by the monitor industry).

Not on sale, but at a regular price of $59.99 (and $11 shipping) over at TigerDirect is another HP monitor with resolution of 1366x768. That's the resolution of most average-priced laptops, but it's 19 inches rather than 14 or 15.6. I've had good luck buying from TigerDirect.

The standard resolution for monitors now is 1920x1080. The ViewSonic monitor I put as the picture above is on sale as I write this for $79.99 and $7 shipping for a total of $87 plus a penny back. If TigerDirect has a physical storefront in your state they will add sales tax, but they'll warn you when you check out.

Since many of us writers tend to be, um, experienced, bigger displays can be easier on the eyes. And for me, the more I see of the pages I'm writing, the better I write. Adding to, or doubling or more, your display space will make your writing laptop seem supercharged. And you can find out if this helps your output for less money today than ever before.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Why You Need a Bigger Monitor

Why You Need a Bigger Monitor
Look at all the room on this monitor

I just wrote a review of a new Acer monitor for ChannelPro-SMB Magazine (here are some of my articles and reviews for them). The start of the review explains why people, especially writers, need a new, larger monitor.

Let me quote myself:

We're making the call: the next corporate monitor standard will upgrade the current 1920x1080 resolution to 2560x1440. There are two reasons for this: most corporate white collar workers use browsers and Word documents more than spreadsheets, and the 1080 height of the current standard cuts a standard document off at the bottom. But a 2560x1440 monitor like the Acer H277HU 27 inch monitor allows room for more than a full document page, a double-helping of browser information without scrolling down, and enough pixels to render everything sharper and clearer than on the monitor you've been staring at for the last several years.

Why is 2560x1440 the next best standard monitor size? After all, this is only a 2x monitor and many vendors are shipping 4x monitors. As a guide, 1x is the original 1280x720 that replaced the old 640x480 and 800x600 because a cinema-like wide screen look (16:9 ratio) became the norm. HD (High Definition) was deemed to be 1280x720, and that times two is 2560x1440. 1920x1080 is FHD or Full High Definition. 2560x1440 is WQHD or Wide Quad HD. You might also see this resolution as just QHD since the "high resolution" part assumes it's also wide screen. 4K UHD (Ultra HD) runs the pixel count up to 3840x2160.

Blah, blah, some monitor details, then:

But with the 2560x1440 monitors, there's little or no graphic adjustment required. Replacing a 1920x1080 monitor with one that's 2560x1440 is just about plug and play. The only thing users will know is the picture is far better and more detailed than before, and they have room for much more of their documents and spreadsheets onscreen without fiddling with a single display setting.

Back to new text just for this blog:

Honestly, the Acer monitor I reviewed is an excellent monitor at a lower price than many of its competitors. Off-brand monitors are available for an even lower price, around $300-$350 (this Acer model sells for around $475). That's more than an old 1920x1080 monitor like you're probably using now, but your eyes and your productivity boost will be worth the extra coins.

Most importantly, your kitten videos will look more adorable than ever on a bigger monitor, I promise.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Speaking to the Writer's Block

Speaking to the Writer's Block

Saturday, March 21, at 11:00AM I will speak to The Writer's Block group of writers at the Lucky Dog book store in Oak Cliff. For their meeting, I will narrow my "Technology for Writers" presentation down to focus on blogging only. Well, I will include a few extra data security details that every non-tech savvy writer needs to hear about like passwords and backups, along with some other tools writers can use to spread the word about their words besides blogs. But the focus is blogging.

One question that always comes up is when authors should start blogging. Some make the case that blogging should start the minute you want to be a writer so you can get your name out into the world, and blogging regularly will help you develop as a writer. Others say not to blog until a book is on the market. A few still say blogging and marketing your book is the job of the publisher and authors should focus on writing. But since almost every author on the New York Times Bestseller List continues to blog and do other marketing, those few holdouts are getting sadder and lonelier. Think they should blog about that?

Personally, I believe in blogging to support your book (or upcoming book) when you have something of value to offer. If you're doing a non-fiction book, your blog can be full of information and help establish you as an expert in that area. Your blog may start years before your book, and many non-fiction books are compilations of blog postings. For fiction, you want to start a few months before your book release to help generate a positive buzz about your title and your name. But that situation is more fluid, and I hesitate to get readers excited only to frustrate them since the book isn't available. We are so conditioned to get books with a click or two that waiting has become difficult. There's no simple answer to that question that I've found. If you have one, please comment below.

If you're near Oak Cliff, come by Saturday and say hello. And buy a used book or two while you're there.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Speaking to the Writers' Guild of Texas

Photo: Rainer Bantau
The nice folks at the Writers' Guild of Texas asked me to speak to their group on January 26, 2015. I had a good time, and I hope they had a good time as well. Many said they did, but they also seem polite so I don't want to assume too much.

Just like most writers, the member of the WGT were surprised at how many technology details it can take to keep your words safe and backed up. As I told them, I'm always amazed that non-technical people can beat their computers into submission enough to get any work done. I've been fighting technology for decades now, and I still get aggravated.

Since today's major news story concerned hackers stealing over a $Billion$ from banks around the world, now would be a good time to review your password system. If you don't have a system, and think your high school mascot remains a wonderful password able to guard your digital valuables, perhaps you should send me a note. In response, I'll send some common-sense passwords tricks.

Thanks again, WGT, and everyone keep your fingers crossed the hackers don't try and steal your $Billions$ any time soon.