SOUNDS

I Almost Named Her Jacqueline

It is with a heavy heart I announce Black Betty is no more. My trusty laptop of the last four years suddenly and unexpectedly retired to the great network in the sky last Saturday morning, serendipitously after I had just finished backing up all my files. Some ninety minutes later, I drove to the nearest retailer of name-brand electronics to purchase her successor…



This new gal is running Windows 11, which I’m personally finding to be the most frustrating version of Windows since the widely-panned Windows 8. Those folks in Redmond have tossed a lot of the best features and interface elements of Windows 10 for no apparent reason (like that visually striking full-screen start menu — whose idea was it to get rid of that?), but that’s not even the half of it. This new system is very cloud-oriented. They pretty much expect you to do all your work on the cloud, which is not the way I’m accustomed to working. I have close to half a terabyte’s worth of archival data, and syncing the whole enchilada would be a bandwidth-intensive and tedious process. Time-consuming to boot. I can easily see the whole job lasting several days. Days I’d rather be spending doing something else. So for practical reasons, I can only sync the files I’m currently working on, leaving everything else in the archives. If there’s something from the archives I want, I must necessarily get up off my arse to fetch my removable drive and plug it into the USB port. While I appreciate that she automatically archives everything on the cloud the second I hit save, that whole having to getting up off my arse bit is a definite minus.

Upon booting her up for the first time, I launched Microsoft Edge to do the only thing I ever use Microsoft Edge for — downloading my browser of choice. I thought it was real cute that the system gave me so much attitude for doing that. Like I committed the ultimate mortal sin. I’m sorry, cupcake, but Opera has been my go-to browser for years and I’m not going to stop using it just because some corporate shill whose tie is on way too tight says I should.


It has long been a custom of mine to give all my devices proper names. There’s a method to that madness. When I hook these things up to a local ethernet, the names make them easier to identify. If I see several laptops on a network, I’ll know right off the bat which one is mine. She’ll be the one called something like BLACK-BETTY as opposed to one with some forgettable factory-issued identifier like ACER-284-H3823-GH01.

I did briefly consider giving my new laptop a name that fully captures the essence of her personality. Decided to nix that idea in the end, though. Mostly out of laziness. Couldn’t come up with an appropriate name along those lines by the time I got around to establishing a Bluetooth connection with my phone. She needed to be called something for networking purposes, so I hastily christened her with a moniker that’s been floating around in my head for a few years that I haven’t used yet. Thenceforth, she has been known as SWEET-LORRAINE. After the Uriah Heep tune.


FEELS

NaNoWriMo 2021: A Recap

The stated goal of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is to compose a novel of fifty thousand words or more in the thirty days that comprise the month of November. I only managed about a tenth of that word count, and it’s more like a lone chapter than a complete novel. If I was unemployed and it wasn’t winter, this would be a lot easier. The majority of my writing is done in the morning, and ’tis the season when I necessarily must give up about twenty minutes of precious writing time to scrape off that small glacier on the windshield that formed the night before. Considerably more words were committed to the sheet on those days when I didn’t have to worry about putting on pants or leaving the house, but I only get two such days a week.

On precisely one of those thirty mornings, Black Betty’s keyboard mysteriously stopped working. Found myself having to spend a good chunk of what should’ve been a semi-productive writing session reinstalling the driver (a process which requires at least one reboot), logging in using her hitherto-never-used onscreen keyboard. Managed to fix the problem in the end, but somewhere along the way I learned I’d never want to write a whole novel using that onscreen keyboard. At least not on a device that has no touchscreen. Even with one of those newfangled touchpads that recognizes all the usual tablet gestures, you’re still pretty much forced to hunt and peck.

This is what the hunt-and-peck method looks like to me.

So I didn’t get anywhere near the prescribed fifty thousand words. No big whoop. They don’t hand out prizes for this thing; it’s not like I would have won a billion dollars had I surpassed the threshold. I certainly don’t consider this NaNoWriMo experience a failure, for what I did produce that month is something I can continue to plod away at for months to come. It’s the beginnings of something like a parallel story to my previous work in progress, set in the same universe. With several characters and plot devices tweaked. A different narrative point of view as well. Which I’ll elaborate on later.