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Archive for June, 2011

Shore Leave 33: my schedule

The author guests for next week’s Shore Leave convention in Hunt Valley, MD (near Baltimore) have now been issued their schedules for the con, so I can announce what panels and events I’ll be attending.  This is tentative, of course.

Friday, July 8:

10PM-midnight: Meet the Pros (corridor outside Hunt & Valley ballrooms): The annual mass autograph event by the authors in attendance.

Saturday, July 9:

4 PM: Christopher L. Bennett Q&A (Salon A): An hourlong panel devoted entirely to me, because I’ve got a lot to talk about this year.  Star Trek Magazine editor Paul Simpson (a first-time Shore Leave guest) will join me as moderator/interviewer, since this is the first one of these I’ve done and I could use the helping hand.   Topics will likely include discussion of DTI: Watching the Clock and other former works, plus new information about my upcoming Trek projects Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within and Forgotten History, and of course my original novel Only Superhuman, coming next year from Tor Books.

Sunday, July 10:

11 AM: Writing Superhero Novels (Salon E): Another opportunity to talk about Only Superhuman, alongside Greg Cox (my editor for OS, and the author of multiple Marvel & DC superhero novels), Keith R.A. DeCandido,  Michael Jan Friedman, Alan Kistler, David Mack, and Kelly Meding.  Between us, we’ll no doubt cover both original superhero prose fiction and adaptations of comics heroes.

12 noon: Time Travel in Trek (Salon F):  I’ll be joining Greg Cox, A. C. Crispin, Alan Kistler, and Paul Simpson.  Naturally I expect to be discussing Watching the Clock and Forgotten History.

2 PM: From Tie-In to Original (Salon F): One more chance to tout Only Superhuman, and to compare stories with other authors who’ve made the transition from tie-in fiction to original fiction: David Mack, Aaron Rosenberg, and Dayton Ward.

I’ve decided to drive to Shore Leave this year — cheaper than flying, more comfortable than taking the bus — so I took my car in for a checkup today.  They found the drive belt was falling apart and put in a new one.  And I noticed the difference, I think.  The car seemed to accelerate substantially more easily.  It felt like it wanted to go faster.  I’m hoping that’ll improve my fuel efficiency.  I assume a new drive belt (with “grooves,” I’m told, that had worn away on the old one) would have better traction on the shafts or gears or whatever, so there’d be less wasted energy.  They also did some kind of cleaning or purging of the fuel induction system which they said would help the mileage a bit.  We’ll see when I hit the road next week.

My new computer

I’m posting this from the new computer I bought yesterday.  The neighborhood computer store didn’t have a suitable desktop, so I decided to get (or let myself get talked into getting) a new laptop instead.  It’s definitely a better laptop than I had before, though there are things I’m still getting used to, and in some ways it’s better than my former desktop, though in some ways not.  It’s between the two in processor speed, unfortunately closer to the laptop, and it loads webpages fairly slowly compared to the old desktop.  But it has 2 GB of RAM, which is 4 times the desktop and nearly 9 times my other laptop.  I’ve come to realize that lack of RAM is the main reason the old laptop is so horribly slow, especially when multiple programs are open or the browser’s been running a while or is open to a graphics-intensive page.  It also has about a 75-80GB hard drive, which is like a quarter of the capacity I had on my old desktop, but that’s fine because it’s still twice what I have on the old laptop and several times more than I’m ever likely to need.  My old desktop’s hard drive (actually one I got from my father when he got rid of his old desktop) was insanely huge.  Or rather, is.  It’s still in there and salvageable, although I doubt I’ll have cause to keep it unless I do buy a new desktop PC later, one with a slot for it.

It has lots of fancy new-fangled features too, like a fingerprint scanner and one of those little mini-joystick nub thingies in the middle of the keyboard (which I keep bumping into when my finger goes for the B key).  It even has Bluetooth capability, which means it should be able to talk to my cell phone, although I don’t know what I could do with that (maybe transfer photos and such between them without needing to unplug the microSD chip and put it in an adapter?).  It has an SD card slot,  and something called a smart-card reader, which apparently is for magnetic cards the size of a credit card, but I don’t know what specific types of cards it would read or what function they would serve.  There’s also a built-in mini-microphone, but I haven’t discovered a use for it yet.

So far loading the software has been fairly effortless, since by now I’ve done it enough times to remember what to do.  And the folks at the computer store preloaded a lot of the stuff for me, even loading the browser and antivirus I prefer.  And because the CD/DVD drive is scarily fast, judging by the sound as well as the performance.

The main drawback so far is that the battery is defective and it only works plugged in.  But the guy at the shop is ordering a replacement battery for me.   Also the screen is a little dimmer and smaller — one of those “widescreen” ones, same width but an inch shorter in height.  Higher resolution, smaller images, almost too small.  My eyes are still adjusting.  On the plus side, it has 3 USB ports (the other laptop has 2) and they’re on the sides instead of in the back right next to the power cord, their very inconvenient placement on the old laptop.  And it’s much lighter, under 5 pounds.  When I took it back to the store in my backpack this morning to tell them about the battery, I had to keep checking to remind myself it was still in there, because I could hardly feel its weight.

Oh, and they’re both HP models, so the differences are due to 6 years of progress rather than different companies.

Ooh, I’ve just discovered another drawback to the smaller size… less wrist support.  Or maybe my seat was too low, but raising it puts the screen too low for comfort.

For the moment, I’m thinking I’ll stick with using my old laptop as my work computer, for my writing, and use this as my “desktop” for Internet and mail and graphics-intensive things.  I might even plug my keyboard and monitor into it and just use it in place of a “tower,” as suggested by commenters in my previous thread about my computer woes.  That might be more comfortable to work with.

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Ohh… swell.

This Sunday’s New York Times online has an article about DVR/cable boxes and how they’ve become the largest power drain in the American home because they’re always on and are rarely designed with energy efficiency in mind… and the article is illustrated with a photo of the exact same make and model of cable box I now have!  I did just notice that my electric bill seemed to be 10-15% higher lately, and I’d wondered if that was part of the reason.  I mean, I had a cable box before, but it didn’t have a DVR so it wasn’t as active when I wasn’t watching it.

And I’m usually so careful about trying to save electricity.  But here I just had to take the box they gave me.  And I’m afraid I’m not noble enough to forego digital cable and a DVR.  It’s not like that’s a solution many Americans would find acceptable.  What we need is to put pressure on the cable companies to design more energy-efficient boxes.  (And TV sets too, since I gather today’s huge plasma flatscreens and such are also horribly energy-inefficient.  I’ll certainly try to find an efficient one when the time comes for me to buy a new TV.)

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Aang, interrupted

Well, darn it.  When I got my DVR a little while back, I decided it gave me a chance to catch up on the reruns of Avatar: The Last Airbender airing on Nicktoons at various times of various days.  They seemed to run through them pretty quickly, so I figured I’d wait until I’d collected all 61 episodes, or nearly all with the end in sight, and then watch them straight through in as short a time as feasible.  Annoyingly, they didn’t show them in order, so I had all the third season before getting most of the second.  And then when I had only two episodes left in season 2, they skipped them and started over again, and I had to wait a few more weeks to get them.

But finally last week I got them all, so I started watching them.  And it went fine for a while.  But then the recordings started cutting off before the episodes ended, because the airings ran a bit over.  Now, normally my preference with recordings is to set them for extra time before and after just in case of such discrepancies, but since a lot of these episodes were aired back-to-back, I figured that would overlap them and create a conflict.  Now, when it was just the last few moments of an episode, I could live with it — since if it was a really important scene, it would probably be in the next episode’s recap anyway.  But then I started coming upon episodes that were running three minutes late or even five minutes.  That was just unacceptable, so I gave up, about a third of the way through season 2.

So I tried to figure out what to do next.  Buy the DVDs?  I intend to eventually, but I’ve got my Shore Leave trip coming up and I want to save my money for now.   But I realized something.  I remembered that the cable box/DVR actually has two tuners and is able to record two things at once, so long as you don’t try to watch a third show on the box at the same time.  I figure there’s no reason both tuners can’t be on the same channel (at least, I hope there isn’t), so it should be possible to overlap two consecutive recordings.  So I decided to erase my existing recordings of A:TLA seasons 2 & 3 and start collecting them again, this time setting the DVR to run five extra minutes.  But it looks like Nicktoons is still showing them in a bizarre order and it’ll probably be at least three weeks before I get them all (though maybe if I’d started a few days earlier I could’ve gotten them).  But I guess waiting a few weeks is better than waiting several months between blocks of episodes, like I did when it originally aired.  I won’t meet my goal of watching the whole thing in one big clump, at least not until I eventually get the DVDs.  But I guess that’s what you get when you try something new: unexpected results.  It was an experiment and I learned something.

Hanging by a thread

A while ago, I made a post called “Murphy’s Law of glassware” observing how there seemed to be a pattern with the sets of drinking glasses I bought, in which most of them tended to break fairly quickly while one straggler seemed to last forever.  I came across a similar statistically anomalous behavior with a microfiber dish-cleaning cloth I bought a few years ago.  It had a tag stitched to the side, the usual kind of tag with the brand name and laundry instructions, and before too long, the stitching began to unravel from the stresses of use.  After a while, the tag was dangling by a single thread.  Every time I put it in the laundry, I expected it to come out tagless, but that one single thread stayed intact for month after month.  Even as the center of the cloth became increasingly frayed and holed from daily use (well, near-daily), that single slender thread lasted and lasted and lasted.

I was curious to see how long it would survive (although not enough to actually keep track of the elapsed time), so I took care to avoid grabbing or pulling on the tag or doing anything to hasten that last thread’s demise beyond what normal wear and tear would inflict.  When I would wring out the cloth after use, I’d wrap it so that the tag was inside rather than dangling where I might inadvertently pull it loose.

This past few days, though, the thread holding the tag seemed flimsier than ever.  And just now, I happened to notice that the tag seemed to be clinging to the middle of the cloth rather than attached to the edge.  I lifted it gingerly and it came free.  Yes, sometime last night, no doubt while I was wringing out the cloth, the final thread came loose, and the only reason the tag stayed there was because it had been pushed hard against the cloth and was being held there by the microfibers (I guess).  Or maybe it’s just that the tag was so determined, so Terminator-like in its relentless perseverance, that it refused to let go even at the bitter end.

Anyway, now that the epic saga of that one final thread  has come to its inevitable end, maybe I don’t have much reason to keep the increasingly torn-up cloth at all anymore.  Except that I can’t find another one like it in the stores or online.  They seem to have stopped making that variety.  A shame — it works pretty well.  It holds onto the detergent a lot longer than any other dishcloth or scrubber I’ve used, so I don’t have to use as much detergent.

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Thoughts on MAX HEADROOM

I recently rented the DVD set of the 1987 Max Headroom TV series from Netflix.  This is a show I watched in its first run, and I remembered being rather fond of it, finding it innovative and enjoyable and regretting that it was cancelled after only 13 episodes (out of 14 that were made).  And it’s certainly been acclaimed in the years since for its innovation.  It was a cyberpunk show just a few years after the term “cyberpunk” was coined — just about the only case I know of where a television show was right on the cusp of a new science-fictional development rather than lagging a decade or two behind prose SF.  It was prophetic in predicting broadcasting trends like a proliferation of hundreds of channels, the 24-hour news cycle, the existence of a global computer/entertainment network dominating people’s lives, and the manipulation of the news by corporations.  And it was daring for being a network television show whose whole raison d’etre was to satirize and critique television networks.  Not to mention that it essentially launched the career of genre stalwart Matt Frewer, who played the heroic journalist Edison Carter and his computer-generated alter ego, Max Headroom.

(For those who aren’t in the know, in real life, Max Headroom was created as a novel kind of host for a British music-video show.  The idea was to use something completely computer-generated rather than the usual human hosts, a literal “talking head.”  They didn’t have the CGI technology to pull that off for real, so they put Matt Frewer in prosthetic makeup simulating the slick, angular look of ’80s computer graphics and used editing tricks to make him jerk and stu-stu-stutter so he’d appear artificial.  In order to explain this host character, they developed a pilot film set in a Blade Runner/Brazil-inspired future in which investigative journalist Edison Carter was injured in pursuit of a story and had his mind scanned and copied into a computer in order to find out what he knew, creating Max, a duplicate of Edison’s mind that was a little bit off and had a far more eccentric personality, as a result of having the entirety of the world’s TV content pouring through his mind, or some such thing.  Basically he was a distillation of all TV, a pastiche of slick TV pitchmen, simultaneously a child of and a critic of pop culture.  ABC executives saw the pilot and bought it as a US series, remaking the pilot and recasting everyone except leads Frewer and Amanda Pays and supporting player William Morgan Sheppard.  Although Max was far more successful as a music video/talk-show host and Coca-Cola pitchman.)

On seeing the show again after nearly a quarter-century, though, I find it hasn’t aged well.  It wasn’t as impressive as I remembered.  The writing is often sloppy.  In the pilot, teen genius Bryce Lynch (Chris Young), Max’s creator, spends much of the episode trying to kill Edison on orders from his sleazy boss, which is what leads to Max’s creation in the first place.  And yet when Edison meets him later in the episode, this kid who was sociopathically chuckling during his attempted murder of Edison mere minutes before suddenly says “I’m glad you didn’t die,” and for the rest of the series, Bryce is Edison’s ally and tech support.  Sure, he was occasionally portrayed as amoral — a blatant example of the fictional stereotype of the genius who’s a walking computer with no human feeling — but the total lack of any consequences or even acknowledgment of his attempted homicide is very awkward.

A lot about the show is very broad — the satire, the cartoony portrayal of Max — and in hindsight it feels fairly crude.   The portrayal of the logistics of Edison’s job was awkward — it’s hard to believe that he could just cut into any other programming with a “live and direct” story, or that he’d so often go on the air without yet having a full picture of what he was reporting on (although, admittedly, that doesn’t stop a lot of modern telejournalists).  And sometimes the writing is stilted in ways that you can tell are the result of network executives having no faith in the intelligence of the viewer.  For instance, in one episode, the police enter a suspect’s home and discover that she had an off switch on her television.  The cops react in shock to the fact, and one of them says “She’ll get twenty years for that.”  Any conscious viewer would understand at this point that in the world of Max Headroom, it’s illegal to have an off switch on your TV.  And yet we then cut to another angle and hear the off-camera cop’s voiceover adding, “Off switches are illegal!”  As if the other cops he was talking to didn’t already know that.  Granted, that’s an instance of the show being held back by its network, but there’s enough about the show’s own writing that doesn’t work as well as it could.

In particular, for a show called Max Headroom, it isn’t generally about Max Headroom.  It would’ve been more accurate to call it Edison Carter.  Sure, there are episodes where they manage to make good use of Max as a character or a concept — either someone wants to obtain Max’s unique technology for some reason, or Max is the only one who can get into a bad guy’s system, or Max is needed as a distraction.  There’s one particularly good episode, “Neurostim,” in which Edison’s relationship with Max has become strained but Max is the only one who can save him from an addictive VR product, so they have to have a meeting of minds and hash out their conflict (although it kind of fizzles out at the end).  But there are too many other episodes where Max contributes nothing to the story beyond popping into a scene and making wisecracks or pithy observations about the story’s events.  Sometimes his comments serve to address the theme of the episode, but sometimes they serve no purpose but to give Max some screen time in a story that has nothing to do with him.

Also, I have to say, I think Matt Frewer doesn’t work as well as a heroic lead as he does as a quirky character actor.  He was cast as Max first, of course, and played Edison because of that.  But he’s just a bit too gawky in appearance and voice to be entirely convincing as a hard-hitting, ultra-manly, fearless investigative reporter.  Or rather, it’s not that he wasn’t reasonably good in the role, it’s just that it didn’t feel like the right role for him, that it didn’t let him do what he does best (although he had Max for that).  As for his leading lady Amanda Pays, she was very lovely and had that wonderful throaty British contralto… but as I discovered when I bought the DVD set of The Flash, she’s kind of one-note as an actress, never really varying her delivery or showing much emotional range.  So as lovely as the timbre of her voice is, I tend to get tired of listening to her if I watch too many episodes in a row.

Still, in the show’s defense, I guess a lot of the reason it doesn’t age well is because it broke new ground that subsequent shows have built on and expanded on.  These days, we’ve grown used to TV shows mocking their own networks — The Simpsons has spent a generation poking fun at the FOX network — but at the time, it was daring and subversive.  And if the future it predicted seems quaint in some ways now, it’s only because so much of what it predicted has become our everyday reality, just in a different form.

And a lot of its writing problems can be chalked up to growing pains as the writers tried to figure out this new world and how to tell stories in it.  The writing did get stronger and more consistent as the show went on, and they overall managed to find more ways to integrate Max into the stories, although he could’ve been left completely out of the final two episodes without altering them materially.

It’s interesting to note, by the way, how many of this show’s cast members went on to appear on various Star Trek series, or were already veterans of the original series — regulars or near-regulars such as Frewer, George Coe, W. Morgan Sheppard, and Concetta Tomei, recurring players like Sherman Howard (billed as Howard Sherman), Rosalind Chao, and Andreas Katsulas, and guests like Joseph Ruskin, John Winston, Robert O’Reilly, Lycia Naff, John Fleck, James Greene, Gregory Itzin, and Jenette Goldstein.  (And Lee Wilkof, one of the semiregular Network 23 board members, did a role in a Trek audio book once.) Once or twice, we got as many as five past or future Trek players in one Max episode.  Just thought I’d mention it…

Categories: Reviews

Money in the bank

I have now received and deposited my signing advance check for Only Superhuman, as well as getting back my copy of the signed contract.  It makes it feel that much more real.  I created this concept and character nearly 23 years ago, I’ve been writing about them on and off for 18 years, and as of today I’ve finally gotten paid for it.  It’s not about the money, of course (though that’s nice to have) — it’s about the affirmation that this is really happening, that the deal is definitively done and the book will be published.

Plus it let me make use of my new drawers and folders to help me keep stuff organized.  I got to add a new thing to my “Original fiction contracts” folder!  Yay!

Smoothie roughness

For a while now, I’ve been wondering why the smoothies I make at home are so much less thick and cold than the ones I get at restaurants/stores that provide them.  Recently I watched how a storebought one was made and realized that they put a ton of ice in the blender, rather than just the five or six cubes I tend to use.  I figured that had to be it, and I was eager to try it.  But it kept getting delayed by the absence of one or more ingredients — either I’d forgotten to make ice cubes or I ran out of bananas or yogurt.  Finally, this morning, I had all the ingredients in place, so I decided to make a smoothie for breakfast, with bananas, strawberries, orange juice, honey, vanilla yogurt, and Cheerios in it.  And I started by putting ten ice cubes in the blender this time.

And it proved very hard to blend them.  At first they were just not reaching the blades, then I eventually ended up with a bunch of slush at the base that blocked the ice cubes from reaching them, and then when I dislodged the slush, the remaining cubes just wouldn’t break up sufficiently.  So I ended up taking the remaining ice cubes out and just making do with what I had.  It was a little thicker than usual, but not much.

I wonder what I was doing wrong.  Maybe the ice cubes were too big.  Maybe I added too much water, or too little.  Maybe it’s just a lousy cheap blender.

Oh, well.  It was still a fairly good smoothie.

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Progress at last

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working on a second spec novel, once I decided that Only Superhuman might not be the best project to pitch to agents, but that I got stuck on it a while back.  I talked about my struggles with it back in December ’09 and mentioned last October that I’d done a major rethink of it and planned to pretty much redo the entire back half of the novel, even abandoning several chapters I’d already written.   The problem was that I hadn’t had a strong enough idea of what the story should be and I’d thrown in too many ideas I had sitting around in my (figurative) idea drawer.  That made the story too cluttered and made me skip over some of the character development in order to keep the length from getting out of hand.  In particular, I had trouble getting a handle on the lead character, making him interesting enough.  Some of the character relationships weren’t working out, and there were characters who didn’t really seem to be going anywhere.  Heck, I didn’t even like the working title I’d come up with, but I couldn’t think of a better one.

Once I figured out I could streamline it, tighten its focus, I realized I could finally make it work better. But actually putting together the new outline was daunting, since what I had was such a mess.  The manuscript had diverged considerably from my original rough outline, and the various iterations of rethinks I’d done left things rather scattered.  And I had other projects that took higher priorities.

But in the past week or so, I’ve applied myself to it again and have had a couple of insights that have really helped.  I’ve come up with a good title at last, one that not only sounds good but serendipitously has literary resonances that suggest a way to add a unifying thematic focus to the novel.  And I finally found a way to get more of a handle on the lead character and make him more engaging, I hope.  I actually changed my mind about how to address another issue, and once I’d just about committed to that decision, I realized it gave me the answer to the character problem as well.  So another helpful bit of serendipity there.

So with all these insights coming together, I finally felt ready to proceed with the new outline, even though there are a few problems I haven’t solved yet.  Up to now, it’s largely been a matter of adapting what I already have — either revising the original outline or simply summarizing the portions of manuscript that had already diverged too far for the original outline to be of any use.  But along the way I’ve worked in some new or revised elements to set up the new plot threads.  Anyway, I’ve now reached the point where I can no longer recap the existing manuscript with modifications, because from here on, the story has to proceed rather differently than it did before.  The overall plot arc is still basically the same, but from here until the end of the extant manuscript, the specifics are very different.  Characters and whole alien species have been replaced by others.  Entire settings become unnecessary.  Some of the main characters play different roles.  And although I now feel the main plot has fallen into place, there are several character arcs I haven’t yet worked out.  So it’s largely uncharted territory now.

Now, I’m not sure where this will go next.  Now that I’ve sold Only Superhuman, my situation is different.  I don’t know whether I’ll need to pitch this to agents.  Maybe I’ll just show it to my editor.  Either way, I’ll be glad if I can finally get this outline sorted out and have a blueprint for finishing this novel, even if I don’t know when I might actually get around to finishing it.

TITAN alien image update on my site

A while back, I did a drawing of the Star Trek: Titan character Dr. Se’al Cethente Qas (a being of the asexual Syrath species) based on a sketch done for me by Titan‘s then-editor Marco Palmieri.  I wanted to post it on my annotations page for my Titan novel Over a Torrent Sea (in which Cethente plays a small but significant role), but I lacked a working scanner at the time, so I posted a crude, blurry digital photo which was the best I could manage at the time, with the promise to post a better image once I got a new scanner.  I’m afraid I dropped the ball on that one, since I got a new printer/scanner nine months ago.  I guess the problem was that I let my apartment get so cluttered that the folder containing my various sketches kind of got lost in the mess, if not physically than conceptually — out of sight, out of mind.  But now my apartment’s (mostly) nice and neat again, and I decided to try getting back to a long-neglected sketch (of a major character from my original novel Only Superhuman), and there was the Cethente drawing in the folder.  So I decided not to put it off any longer — although I had a bit of trouble here and there, because the stupid scanner automatically crops the image too tightly and cut off the heading and because… well, that doesn’t matter.  The point is, the image is now up on my site at the bottom of the Over a Torrent Sea annotations page.  And here it is:

Dr. Se'al Cethente Qas

Goodbye, computer

Well, my small-form-factor Foxconn desktop computer has finally given up the ghost, or is about to.  For a couple of months now I’ve been having trouble getting it to turn on, which I figured was probably just due to a dirty contact on the power switch or something, since it worked fine once it finally came on, and I could leave it powered up or on standby for days at a time with no trouble.  But a couple of days ago, it froze up at the startup screen a couple of times.  So I took it in to the repair shop for them to take a look at (and had to wait a while since there was a “Back in 10 minutes” sign on the door, although it was 15 minutes before anyone showed up).  At the end of the day, they told me that it was a complete loss.  Something like half a dozen capacitors on the motherboard had exploded — yes, exploded — and there was no way to replace them without risking further damage to the motherboard, and there was no replacement for the motherboard available.  The tech advised me to get it to turn on if I could, then not turn it off again, period.  He said to back up everything I could and let it die a natural death.

So now I’m back on my laptop, which has always been sluggish when required to handle the load of running a browser (due to having very little RAM, I guess), and which seems even more sluggish than usual now.  So I need to think about buying a new computer.  I feel it’s important to have two so I can have a backup for emergencies like this one.  But the question is, what kind of computer do I buy — a desktop or another laptop?  My current laptop is flawed in the way I described, and I’ve been tempted to replace it anyway.   Plus it’s six years old, two years older than the Foxconn, so I’m not sure how reliable it is.  And it seems a lot of people use laptops/notebooks as their sole or primary computers these days.  So maybe I should get a new laptop and just keep the current one around as a backup.

But on the other hand, I’ve got this whole workspace set up for a desktop computer.  I’ve got a monitor and a keyboard, I’ve got a desk with a rollout keyboard tray, and I’ve got this nice couple of wire racks under the desk that hold the small-form-factor computer (about the size of a thick laptop, in fact) and my power strips and things.  I’d like to get a new desktop computer so this whole setup wouldn’t go to waste.  Besides, I like doing my writing on my laptop and my other computing on the desktop, because it helps me avoid getting distracted when I’m writing, and it lets me treat my laptop as a business expense.  What’s more, it’s less than two months since I paid for a new antivirus program for my laptop (which is for business so I couldn’t use a free one).  I assume I could transfer the subscription to a new computer, but still.

What I’d like to do eventually is replace both computers — get a new desktop and a new laptop, maybe a few months or a year apart, depending on need.  The question is, which one would it make more sense to get first?  My preference would be to get a new desktop for now and replace the laptop later when it finally gives out, but is that really the most practical decision, or is it just resistance to novelty?  One way or another, I need a laptop so I can work (and connect to the Web/email/etc.) when I travel, so maybe it’s better to have two laptops than one desktop and one 6-year-old laptop whose lifespan is uncertain.  But if I do that, get another laptop, do I donate the monitor and keyboard I have, or do I hold onto them in case I decide to get a new desktop a while later?

*sigh* I hate making decisions.  Why can’t they all be easy?

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