Sand in the Gears

Technology. Bah! Humbug. It’s down a few notches on my list of the Wonders of our Age. Sometimes I wonder how things would be without so much of it intruding into our dreams and waking hours. But then, I’ve just been dealing too much lately with computer keyboards and not enough with family and friends. Maybe that is about to come to an end. I’ll be with folks for the bulk of today, much of tomorrow, and away from blogger issues, upgrade decisions and the fine print of digital paperwork. I bet I’ll wake up in a more technophilic state of mind tomorrow.

Blogger is unreliable. Several times in the past two weeks, it won’t let me post (like yesterday for instance.) Then after I give up and am away, mysteriously, it posts. Something about an sFTP socket error.

Failing Memory
I probably should upgrade and add another gig of RAM to bring my 3.5 year old desktop up to 2 GB. On such an old machine, does that make sense? And with four 256Mb chips in the four slots, I’d have to replace them all with 512MB chips to get to two gig–more than $200 upgrade. I’ve lived this long with barely enough memory to run Photoshop, Word, Excel and InDesign at the same time–sluggishly. Maybe I should just make do.

Did I say that?
The speech-to-text software (Naturally Speaking) is a mixed blessing. I can’t use it in the mornings when I do a good bit of my writing because Ann is either here talking or here asleep. It has done some strange things on my desktop–like hanging the system during use, deleting entire email messages suddenly, as if I said “the dog ate my lunch” which means “delete this document immediately!” On the laptop, it is helping with the physical therapy paperwork, now that I’ve finally trained it to recognize that I’m saying PARASPINALS and not PAIR OF SPINE EELS. And so on.

Thanks to Fragments friend, reader-editor Bob, for helping me find my way forward into what happens next with the life of Slow Road Home. I’m dipping into the last of the offset-printed books (about 160 left from the first shipment of 1145) and need to move on. Here’s what I’ve decided to do, with advice of those who have a better idea of how these things work than I do: Have the book digitally printed. Call it a second edition rather than merely a revision (it has a full TOC and I made maybe 100 small changes and a dozen corrections). Give it a new ISBN number (I purchased a bundle of 10 and only used the one for SRH 1st ed so far). Get a Library of Congress catalog number for the book (a PCN that is the self–published book version of the LCC#). This process will pass the book back through Books in Print and help it “start over” with the potential of distribution through Ingrams to those places that wouldn’t bother ordering it from my back room here on Goose Creek. So all that is in place, just awaiting a few final details.

Christmas Giftpack from Goose Creek
Thanks to all who have availed themselves of the one-book plus notecard set offer for $25. I packed one up last night, and stopped for a minute to really appreciate how amazing that really was. Last year this month, I told people (and myself) I was finally going to complete the book. I honestly didn’t know if I would or could do it. Then it was done. Then hundreds of them came up our drive on a truck. Then I wondered if I’d still have 900 in the Annex come Christmas. The notecards came only a week ago–at Ann’s insistence, and now I’ve done another thing I said I was going to do “some day” but never really believed myself. And what a wonderful role you readers, friends, editors, writers, bloggers and general characters, online and local, have played in all of this. And that is the most wonderful part–to be able to share these times from this place with you, in words and pixels.

And coming full circle, it certainly wouldn’t have happened this way without the marvelous technologies that we rely on. When they work, they are the most amazing tools. Now, let’s see if the software will hark up a hairball when I try to post this at 6:45 on Saturday morning…

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. i,too, have had numerous difficulties with blogger- it not uploading pictures, rearranging my lay-out when it posts, etc. and none of your pictures are showing up on your site this morning- don’t know if everyone’s having the same issue.

  2. Morning Fred, Blogger has been teaching me zen…I have learned to accept that it will publish what it wants when it wants. Ommmm….It is kinda nice.

    Just keep trying. I have started using LiveWriter from MS just because it saves everything before and after I (try to) publish.

    Hang in there, Google will eventually throw some more money at Blogger and they will get it fixed…I hope!

  3. Yeah, Blogger cooperated with you. I couldn’t upload photos last night, but I have faith that when I need to, I will be able to.

  4. BlahBlahBlogger indeed. I’ve never seen anything quite so unreliable. Socket errors, timed out errors, server down errors. Google should be ashamed of its Blogger service. Bah, humbug.