Archive for the ‘AlphaSmart’ Category

If It’s Thursday Then…

June 21, 2007

I must be headed to the Phoenix airport for another conference. I’ll be going out to the She Speaks Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina this coming weekend.

Several of my friends are road warriors and travel almost weekly or several times a month. It’s not my normal travel schedule to have three weekends in a row in three different areas of the United States. In each place, I’ve had some good meetings and opportunities.

I’m excited about the potential in Charlotte and we’ll see what happens. I’ve been learning how to be very productive during the long airplane trips. I’ll have my AlphaSmart in my laptop bag. I continue to get some weird comments but it’s been a lifesaver for getting work done on the airplane–yes even in the coach section when the person in front of you puts their seat in recline. Because the AlphaSmart has a much smaller screen, it doesn’t have the difficulties of a laptop in that same situation.

My entries here will be scarce for a few days. If you ever wonder, just check my schedule and it may give you the answer.

Two Week Wonder

May 5, 2007

We had a great trip over to Las Vegas to hear Celine Dion and back. I appreciated each of the terrific comments about our anniversary.

On the trip over and back, I was reading through the May 7th The New Yorker. Typically when I travel, I’ve only been reading from takeoff until the plane reaches 10,000 feet so I’ve limited my reading time. On a regular basis, The New Yorker will include in-depth profiles of various authors. This week’s issue includes an article about novelist Paul Coelho. As of this morning, only the abstract is online. According to the article, Coelho has over 100 million books in print. Several months ago, my wife read The Alchemist for her local book group. Here’s the remarkable passage in the article about this book and is also in the abstract: “Life and letters about Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. Paulo Coelho wrote The Alchemist in two weeks, in 1987. The book has been translated into fifty-six languages and has sold over twenty million copies.” Now that’s what I call pretty good work for two weeks if you can get it. It’s why I call this post the the two week wonder.

You may be asking, “What I do after they ring the little bell on a plane that they’ve reached 10,000 feet and the plane continues to climb?” I reach into the back seat pocket and pull out my AlphaSmart. They don’t allow laptops in that pocket but no one has ever objected to my AlphaSmart keyboard. I get more weird looks from the people around me but I switch on the machine and begin pounding the keys. I admit that I’m a hard typist. It’s a trait leftover from learning on a manual typewriter. I’ve managed to get a great deal of writing done in a short amount of time on these flights. For example, the flight from Las Vegas to Phoenix is only about 45 minutes. It’s been a great tool–even if it is a strange-looking thing.

Drinking the Koolaid

February 23, 2007

I’ve been challenged to get another entry written this week. It’s been wild with activity—good activity.

Yesterday I traveled to a lunch meeting but it consumed the entire work day. I had more than a little concern about how this commitment was going to throw off some of my writing production. I’ve signed up for some steep deadlines recently and need to be producing each day to meet those deadlines. It’s one of those necessities in the writing life.

While my non-technical wife thinks I have a bunch of gadgets, I’m a relatively gadget-free person. I don’t have a blackberry or an ipod or some the other more common gadgets. Several years ago, other writers were telling me about their great accomplishments on their AlphaSmart. I went to ebay and purchased one. I tried it a few times but never invested enough energy to learn how to transfer the material to my computer or any of the simple features in it. That barrier changed this week.

For my day trip, I pulled down my AlphaSmart and tucked it into my travel bag. During each flight when they sounded that bell to allow electronic gadgets, I reached under my seat and pulled out my AlphaSmart and began to pound the keyboard. The keyboard feels better than my laptop and it’s a funky-looking thing with only four lines of type–but oh, can you crank on it!

This morning, I transferred the material to my desktop computer in a matter of seconds. It’s a matter of taking off my printer cable and plugging it into the hole on the AlphaSmart. Then I open a document in Microsoft Word and hit the send button. Each file pulls right into my desktop. I created several different ones and combined them into a single double-spaced document which was nine pages. My initial draft isn’t perfect yet this entire project is much further along than if I had not written anything–which is normally the case for me.

It looks like something out of the stone ages but who cares? I went over to ebay and typed in a search for “AlphaSmart” and you can purchase these machines for very little money. My AlphaSmart has done little for me tucked on a shelf in my closet. It’s like many other things that only pay if you use them. I’m a convert and have drunk the koolaid on this one.

In less than a week, I head to Los Angeles for Mega Book Marketing University. Instead of a bunch of books, I’m going to slip my AlphaSmart into my laptop bag and use it on the flights. I’ll have my laptop along on the LA trip. Now I can see why my writer friends have been raving about this gadget.