Thursday, 2 September 2010

Technology stuff

Before the inimitable Gary Davison and I mix things up again on our two blogs - we'll be rabbiting on about films this time - thought it was time to post the bit about technology that I wrote for Gary's site a few weeks back.

I'm sitting on the couch, looking at the trees in the back garden, laptop on my knee, dictating these words straight onto the screen using a headset and Dragon Naturally Speaking.  Both my PC and this here laptop have changed the way I write, and every now and then I try out a different approach in the way I use them, but it all adds up to the fact that they’ve made the writing process infinitely more enjoyable and innovative – given me greater scope to play with words.  Everything associated with this bundle of technology – the Internet, networking, blogging, researching – have opened opportunities for me as a writer that I otherwise wouldn't have had ... and cheers to that.  (Not completely sure about the voice recognition program yet; it's great for first drafts but can be a bit of a bastard at times and doesn't help the refining process.)
The second bundle of technology I’d be gutted to lose has to be my iPod Touch and the Sony Dream Machine I dock it with.  After watching Vanilla Sky a number of years back, I hankered after a more sophisticated alarm to wake me in the morning than the old digital thing that sounded like a truck reversing over my head – the exact scene it managed to ram into my dreams practically every day.  My Dream Machine wakes me with whatever music I'm in the mood for (and the iPod’s then ready to let me check emails and see what’s happening in blogdom before I crawl out of bed).  Although I usually leave the music on shuffle, it uncannily knows that I want mellow at 6:40 in the morning and I’ll drift awake to Nina Simone, Cat Power, Billie Holiday, Piers Faccini – something bluesy and soothing – although occasionally it’ll throw a wet flannel at me by thundering out Led Zeppelin or Daft Punk instead.  Now, if it could also make that first crucial cup of tea of the day it'd be even better.  I’m nothing without that first brew.
As for my third most-cherished piece of technology, you’ll probably think me a real hick, but after twenty years we finally traded in our old wood heater for a ritzy-titsy gas fire (glowing embers, realistic logs, the lot) the other week.  So good is it that a friend recently spent two hours sitting by it and then asked why we’d still got a wood heater.  It might sound like nothing to crow about, but it’s winter right now in this hemisphere and it’s been a cold one at that, and I was getting heartily sick of clambering up trees with a chainsaw, stacking several square metres of timber, of spending weekends slamming down a log splitter, to say nothing of getting a fire going after work each day, so it’s bliss to walk into the room, flick on a switch and be able to sit down next to it with a decent glass of shiraz five minutes later.  There’s technology for ya.

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