I'm one of those people who has trouble writing at length on my main machine, because of all the distractions it offers. Email and messaging and social networking: they all combine to form the "ludic loop" that Mark recently blogged about.
I've tried various things over the years to help keep me focused, from simple full-screen word processors such as WriteRoom and FocusWriter to gadgets like the Alphasmart and Freewrite. But apps are a tab away from fun, and glorified typewriters tend to expose their limitations in odd and frustrating ways.
After a lot of experimentation, I've arrived at a best-of-both-worlds option: proper apps running on a tiny old iMac from when Apple switched to Intel chips. It's modern enough to run good software, play music and hook up to useful services like Dropbox, but so old (and tiny) that there's not much else you can do on it except work. And it's immobile, too, so it creates a space just for that one task, which I think helps.
Even web browsing is just right: the older OS X 10.6-compatible version of Firefox it runs will access research resources well enough, but the media load on dangerously interesting sites (including Twitter and Facebook) renders them almost unusable.
There are dangers to this approach. If I were cunning I'm sure I could rebuild the ludic loop on this, by hitting the mobile versions of websites and exploring what other apps work on Snow Leopard. But its age (and adorable low-res 17" display) are so far dissuading me from trying. I'm writing more.
People keep asking about this keyboard! It's the Planck ($100 on Massdrop). I made the wrist wrest myself out of a plank, to go with those old KLH Model 19 speakers. I'm not entirely convinced the Planck is for me, but fans swear by them. I'll probably switch to something just as compact but a little more traditional, such as the MiniVan.
Grether Labs's Science Fiction Plot Generator can sure pick 'em: "You are friends with a talking fireplace, and you are working to solve this ancient puzzle before the creatures consume you"; "You are a cyan-eyed cartographer who is finding the awful truth beneath this false utopia, and who is struggling with the terribly thick underbrush […]
In January on Twitter, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now, shared 13 tips for writing: Reverse-engineer what you read. If it feels like good writing, what makes it good? If it’s awful, why? Prose is a window onto the world. Let your readers see what you are seeing by using visual, concrete language. […]
Charlie Stross (previously) has spent most of his career writing two very long-running series: The Laundry Files, a Cthulhu-tinged series of spy procedurals, like HP Lovecraft writing James Bond, except Bond is a sysadmin; and The Merchant Princes, a tricksy medieval high-fantasy story that's actually an alternate worlds story that's actually a primer on economics, […]
Who said LEGO® had to be ground bound? With The Force Flyers DIY Building Block Fly ‘n Drive Drone, you can turn LEGO® and other building-block creations into fully-functional flying machines. It’s available now in the Boing Boing Store for $39.99. This kit comes with everything you need for remote-controlled long distance flight, including a […]
When businesses need big cloud projects done right, they need experts in DevOps. For the uninitiated, that’s shorthand for the framework that allows development and operations teams to work together toward the same goal – not as independent departments with their own agendas. There’s an arsenal of software that has cropped up to help in […]
Are you super organized? You’re going to love the Genius Pack G4 and its seemingly limitless, well-placed compartments. Not that organized? You’re still going to love this piece of luggage because it’s so well thought out that it practically does the packing for you. We’ve all tried to stuff a piece of carry-on so full […]