You can’t afford a computer?

For the longest time I’ve wanted a laptop to travel with so I could write while on the go. Work, breaks, hotels at cons, anything so I didn’t have to stop writing because we were away from home. But laptops seemed pricy, and easy to steal, break, or generally mess up. Plus the laptop we did have was pretty heavy, though I liked the larger screen.

What isn’t heavy, ultra expensive, and doesn’t take up much room? A tablet.

I found a kindle fire for as low as $30 right now for Christmas discounts. Add a folding blue tooth keyboard for $30 and you have a basic computer for $60. There are word processors available on the store, it’s wifi capable, and you’ll even find lots of free games on amazon.

The set up I have was a little more. My keyboard came with a case that folds into a stand. There are also several kindle fires available, some have ads, some don’t, and storage size is different (but remember they take memory cards). You can choose which is best for you. And you may want to purchase or subscribe to a writing program that backs everything up online for easy transfer of files. There is a way to load Google play onto a kindle, that way you can get drop box, but it does take a little work.

If you get an iPad or Android tablet you can possibly avoid the side loading process. Buyer beware though, there are copycat tablets out there that run Android but don’t have Google play, and the one I purchased couldn’t load many websites because it was missing drivers. Then I couldn’t update anything because it wasn’t Google ready.

The word processor I’m using isn’t as great as scrivener, but it gets the job done. In fact I’ve found it’s easier to turn off my internal editor because it isn’t constantly underlining my miss spelled words. Maybe someone will make a scrivener style app for kindle someday. (Hint to any developers out there. I’d pay for it!)

Here is my set up.

The keyboard is smaller so I wouldn’t recommend it for long writing sessions, but it’s perfect for short sessions, or writing down scenes when you are away from home. If you want a better set up there are full size blue tooth keyboards that you can get. They will also work with the kindle.

My set up when it’s ready to go. Light, compact, and flips open. Only thing I’m missing is screen protector.


Constant contact


Tomorrow I am going to Cirque du Soleil. I’m excited! It’s going to be so amazing, I can’t wait!

So today, while thinking about it, I randomly thought “I’m going to have to mute my phone for that”. Not “I’ll need to turn it off,” or “I won’t need my phone.” no, there is the expectation in my own mind that I will have my phone and my children will be able to reach me is that need to. I would feel guilty for having fun and enjoying a movie, or a show and finding out after that something horrible happened at home.

There is a cord between my phone and I, and is only gotten stronger as new tech comes out. And I don’t begrudge this. From my phone I can read the news, check social media, read a book, write a blog post, take pics, even work on my novel anywhere in the world. I can communicate with people from all over, give directions to people who are lost, and answer random questions.

I think my life is fuller because of this little pocket computer.

So much has changed in just ten years. What’s it going to be like in 2025? I’ll be 47 then, and still reading to go with the new tech, I hope.

Computers make our lives easy, right?

Computers have given us the ability to automate so many things. They allow us to type, edit, and retype at the touch of a few buttons. We can edit entire novels in days instead of painstakingly copying them letter by letter for months or years at a time.

So when your computer decides it doesn’t want to work anymore…. ARG!

My computer has been having issues for a while. The USB plug has been acting up, deciding not to work now and then for no reason that I can tell. Usually I can trouble shoot through it, repair, clean the dust out, and get the thing limping along again for a while.

What’s worse is I am not sure what is failing. Is it a software or a hardware issue? Do i have a virus that is eating away at some components? Do I just need to reformat and boot again? Or do I need to start replacing parts. USB’s are attached to the mother board so that would be a lot of parts.

I’ve known for a while that my computer needed to be upgraded, at least, and that it probably needed a good cleaning. I even bought a new terabyte hard drive so I could save all my data. I just hadn’t gotten around to installing it. So… I have a blank terabyte drive, and a half full 300 gig drive, neither of which I can easily access at the moment. I mean they turn on, but my mouse is USB, so moving files around without a mouse is difficult at best since I don’t know all the short cuts.

On the plus side, I have a drop pox with all my writing on it. I can access that through my lap top (and old lap top that has a little touch screen mouse, and shouldn’t be used for games, so it’s less distracting when I write.) but all my family photos, video, and art work is still trapped on the old drive till I get it out.

At least I know that the hard drive isn’t corrupted. The data is still there, just hard to get to.

Lessons… Back up your files, and not just one a computer. Burn them on a disk, drop them in your email, use DROPBOX! Seriously, Dropbox is invaluable. In fact, if you don’t yet have a Dropbox, go here and set one up. they give you free space. It’s not a lot, but it is enough to save the most important data in case something happens.

As for me… I’m off to work on my novel some more with the little lap top. So glad I have that otherwise I’d be scrambling to get the PC fixed right now.

Necessary End – A Short Story

A few days ago I listened to a podcast and they were talking about an experiment in which a computer was left to evolve on its own, learning to be as efficient as possible. This computer, supposedly, learned to calculate the routes through each chip depending on atoms, and electrical states of each path. It made itself faster, but in so doing it also made itself un-repairable. The computer would only work with that particular chipset, since it was calibrated for that chipset. Once replaced it had to relearn everything again.

I tried to find any reference to the article, but I couldn’t manage to find it.

This story was inspired by that little conversation. A simple, short story. So short that I’m giving it away for free.

If you like it, and would like to read more of my short stories, you can get the full collection of them here.


~~Necessary End~~

“We can’t save her.”

The words were so final. They fell on my ears like lead shot piercing my heart. I wanted to fight against it, rebel, scream!

“What do you mean you can’t save her?” I yelled. “She’s wires and components. A machine! Of course you can save her, just take out the broken bits and replace them with new ones!”

Was I hysterical? Did it matter anymore? They had to save her! Didn’t they?

“I wish it were that simple,” he said, lowering his gaze. “She’s a machine, yes, and we can replace many of her parts, but others aren’t as easy to replace, or even repair. It would be like replacing part of your brain with someone else’s. She would function, but she wouldn’t be herself anymore.”

“Then… she’s dying?”

I could tell he wasn’t use to dealing with flesh and blood people. His oil stained smock, and soft hands stained with black and blue marks set him apart. He, like me, cared more about his machines then the people who employed him to keep them running.

So why couldn’t he fix her?

He laid a hand on my shoulder, and I had to work not to shake him off. “I’m sorry. You’ll have some time to say good bye, but her memory is going into a cascading failure. The system won’t last until morning.”

“Can you save any of her?”

“Memories, images, pictures. But not the core structure. Not her. It would be an incomplete copy, incompatible with anything else.”

I slumped in on myself. Some part of me screamed no, but I knew I had to except it. I’d heard of the cascading failures before. The droids were so complex, so individualized, that no two were alike. You could change a joint, an arm, a processer… but the core, the brain, wasn’t replaceable. It just wouldn’t communicate with any other system. The memories could be transferred, data, images, sound, and text, but it wouldn’t be her.

“Go,” he said, patting me awkwardly. “Spend her last moments with her. I think she’d like that.”

I walked into the next room and saw a table with a tin sheet covering a lump. Kathryn.

She looked so vulnerable under that flimsy covering. Wires and metal bits were sticking out from under the cloth, some of them plugged into gadgets on the wall. I didn’t understand any of the read outs, but I understood the meaning.

Kathryn turned as I approached, and gave me a smile. Her large green eyes blinked, the pink hair I’d given her was laying on the table beside the bed. I gently picked it up, and helped her put it back on. She picked it out, she should have it now.

The covering was flat against Kathryn’s chest, and I lifted it up just enough to see underneath… Her chest cover had been removed. Her insides bare for the world to see. Wires, servos, micro computers, all of it flashing and whirring along as it should be.

I lowered the cloth again, patting it down in place, before sitting down beside her, careful of all the cords.

“I’m so sorry, Kathryn. I should have been paying attention. You shouldn’t have jumped out in front of that car just to save me.”

“You’re safe, miss. That is all that matters. You were always my highest priority.”

She lifted my hand to her cheek, a tear sliding down the pseudo flesh surface.

“They can’t save you,” I said, finally admitting it to myself, too. “They said your memory banks were too damaged.”

“I know. I knew before we arrived, but I held out hope… for you.”

“For me? But why?”

“I didn’t want to cause you any more pain, miss.”

“Oh, Kathryn, I love you. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”

Kathryn patted my head, her fingers stiff and unwieldy. She was already losing some of her mobility as her processor shut down functionality.

“You’ll go on, miss, as you always have. You’ll meet new people, and experience new things. You’ll love, and live, and laugh. And sometimes you’ll remember me and cry a few tears. But mostly I hope memories of me make you happy.”

“He said he’d save your memories for me.”

“Yes, I’m glad. There are many pictures and videos I am sure you’ll enjoy remembering.”

“I’d give them all up, every one of them, to keep you alive.”

Kathryn’s face twitched in a smile, then flattened. The monitor beside her began a long, loud beep that never ended.

I laid my head on her stiff shoulder and cried. My oldest, and dearest companion, and she was gone. They always told us computers were replaceable. They weren’t like humans who eventually wore away and died. Computers, and the androids built with them, could live forever if you just kept replacing parts, right?

But some parts can’t be replaced.