Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writing Vampire

Pack, get up at the crack of dawn, travel, work on something else entirely, return, wash clothes. Repeat that a couple of times and it does wonders for your writing schedule, as in "makes any concentration impossible." Not for everyone--there are stalwarts among you all--but I am so far from being in the writing zone that I'll have to schedule another trip just to get there.

I had lunch with a friend today, a writer. When the talk turned to writing, I couldn't stop asking her about it. So you write every morning? How many hours do you put in? You have a writing group? How is it going?

As she talked, I realized that I was drinking in this story of the writing process. It was gratifying to hear from someone who was doing successfully what I was failing to do this week, and it was also just guilt-inducing enough to make me want to try again, with renewed effort.

Gratifying and guilt-inducing. Filling up some need I had to hear about writing going well.

Yes, blog friends, I have become a writing vampire.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

"Twitter can do it all"

A conversation I've been having with increasing frequency lately goes like this (redacted for content essence):

Enthusiast: "Twitter can do it all. Links to scholarship, trends in the field--it's all there. You should try Twitter."

Me: "I'm on Twitter, and I follow a fair number of people. It has some useful resources."

Enthusiast: "You really should try Twitter. It's great for keeping up with scholarship."

Me, with a little more heat: "I'M ON TWITTER. It has some useful resources, but it doesn't have everything."

Enthusiast: "Twitter has everything. It's wonderful because people tweet great insights into literature. You really should try it."

Me, giving up: "Thank you for the tech tip on this marvelous resource. Gee, I had never heard of it before."

Enthusiast: "Twitter can do it all! You should try Twitter!"

I'll spare you the rest. Let's just say the communication loop is not reaching from my mouth to Enthusiast's ear. I've talked before about how annoying it is when people assume that because you have a nuanced view of what a particular technology can and can't do, you just don't get it, so let me stop there.

Here is what I've heard in these conversations and more formal settings. Twitter is the following:
  1. a great branding and self-promotion mechanism for scholars and grad students
  2. a means of keeping up with the scholarship so you don't have to read those pesky journal articles
  3. a source of great insights by great thinkers in the field before the insights are published
  4. a way to get the gist of various speeches and sessions at conferences
  5. a way to find links to resources that you'd otherwise never see.
I find #5 the most useful and sometimes #4, but "great insights"? My reaction to a lot of tweets is "well, sure," or "of course" or "that's interesting. I'll check out the link." Maybe I'm not following enough people, but I've never seen a tweet that made me feel as though Moses had come down from the mountain top with tiny, 144-character tablets.

Edited to add: in the comments, Dr. Koshary hilariously captured this "join my church" attitude:

"My Twitter is a mighty Twitter. Twitter is so great, you really should come to know Twitter. If loving Twitter is wrong, then I don't want to be right! Twitter can do anything, but Twitter lets us accidentally send sexually explicit messages meant for significant others to our parents because Twitter loves us enough to let us make our own mistakes."

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane

Some are jetting off to exotic climes like Blargistan or the Berks conference. Dame Eleanor, What Now, ADM, Dr. Koshary, and others are doing the summer writing challenge that Notorious and ADM are hosting. Still others are contemplating workspaces, like Profgrrrl, or devising monthly challenges, like nicoleandmaggie, or thinking about summer writing, like Dr. Crazy, or being (rightly) concerned about the editing they're receiving, like Horace.

As for me, I'm doing some of the above, including enough travel to disrupt the writing process, not that it takes much to disrupt the writing process. I was away, and now I'm back, and shortly I'll be leaving again. It's all stuff I signed up to do, so I shouldn't complain, but when has that ever stopped me from complaining?

Those long quiet days of trying out arguments on the cats as I sat at the desk may be over for a while, but I'll bet--or hope--that there's a burst of writing when I get back.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

How to Put a PowerPoint onto an iPad

Say you already have some PowerPoint presentations that you use for classes (I mostly have pictures for the class to analyze), and you want to try using them on the iPad. Here's the problem: even if you have Keynote on your iPad, if you don't have Keynote on your main computer because it's not a Mac, Apple won't let you transfer the files via iTunes.

Here is a workaround that's probably known to thousands of people, but since I just figured it out, you get to read about it here.

1. Using Dropbox, go to the presentation. (You can also email it to yourself and open it on the iPad.) Once it's downloaded, click on the little box with an arrow in the upper right-hand corner ("Open in"). Choose Keynote.

2. It will download into Keynote, with a few warnings that the font might look different.

3. Tap on the presentation to open it. That's all there is to it.

4. You can edit the presentation in Keynote (add presenter notes, change the text, etc.), but apparently you can't save it back to Dropbox. To get the new edition on your main computer, click on the little wrench and go to Share and Print. You can save it as a keynote file, as a .pdf, or as a PowerPoint file and email it to yourself.

5. Now here is the awesome part: say you want to leave your iPad up at the podium and walk around while you show the PowerPoint. If you have an iPhone,you can use your iPhone as a remote control for the slides if you download and install Keynote Remote. Both devices have to be on the same wireless network, which shouldn't be a problem in a classroom.

If you have a separate Bluetooth Apple remote, it doesn't appear to work with the iPad (or at least I couldn't get it to work).

I learned about this in the comments on one of Pogue's posts at the NYTimes. Pogue also talks about something called "presenter view," which I had never heard of before: although the audience sees just the slide, you can see your notes and a preview of the next slide. You get to "presenter view" by going to Slide Show, Set Up Show in PowerPoint.