My baggage, let me show it you

Until I started taking pictures I was a grab the wallet and go woman: no purse, no supplies, no nothing extraneous. But when I got into photography I knew that I had to carry the camera everywhere; otherwise I’d be seeing things I wanted to shoot when I didn’t have it along. I’d also be leaving it at the library or wherever I went because if I didn’t always have it, I wouldn’t be able to remember if I’d left the house with it on any given occasion.

And so my soup to nuts big bag o’ stuff, Titanic, was born.


Now I am trying to streamline. I have gotten myself a wafer thin bluetooth keyboard to go with the iPad I’ve finally ordered. The desired end result, after months of scrimping my pennies, is that these gadget will all but eliminate carrying the laptop around, and also allow me to move the camera and other must-have stuff into a lighter backpack.

(Oh, there were other rationales, too. We want to use it for comfort viewing when we travel. We got so media-deprived in Greece that we tried to watch Tango and Cash.)

Titanic the monster bag is gloriously big and ridiculous, and there’s no doubt benefit to my bones and muscles to be ambling around with twelve pounds on my back all the time, but the laptop makes it seventeen and that’s sheerly ridiculous.

Though the tablet hasn’t arrived yet, the keyboard also works with the iPod. So I have been tip-tapping at the cafe this rainy morning, trying it out and thinking about apps.

I do almost all of my first-draft writing longhand or on an app called Simplenote, which lets you put together simple text files and sync them, when the Wifi is flowing, to the Internets. I found Simplenote in a “top apps of 2010” article and though I’ve played with other versions of the same thing, it’s been the best so far for my needs. Ninety percent of what I do is text, after all.

Still, Simplenote won’t play nicely (or at all) with Word documents, which would make the prospect of revising 500-page novels while off-line–something I do a lot–rather challenging. I went ahead with the pad purchase on the theory that something that can handle Word files while offline, and sync to the cloud (preferably Dropbox) will eventually emerge from the nethers of the app store. Just yesterday I saw there’s something called “Office2” … I can’t tell from the salesbumf if it syncs, though.

This ornate activity and insistence on syncing comes of my being someone who refuses to pay an exorbitant monthly fee for mobile Internet access wherever I go. Even so, it does seem to me that a meta-app, something that opened up and auto-synced all one’s various cloud-based computer stuff when the Wifi was flowing, would be a good addition to the app store. It’s also one they don’t, as far as I can tell, already have.

And maybe I’ve just missed it, but I have spent a ludicrous amount of time surfing the App store. It’s just my kind of shopping: I can do it on my butt, from my house, none of the toys come wrapped in plastic and half the stuff I’m interested in is free. What’s also true, is that in an odd way, there’s not much there. Oh, there are twenty or fifty or a thousand “To-Do list” apps, but I’m guessing the average human needs one. Or two, if they want a dedicated grocery list that beeps when you’re near the store with the good price on kitty litter. I limit my game-playing to things that require at least a little brain–puzzles, essentially–and though I’ve loaded up a blogging portal for all my various online real estate, I still tend to compose things in Simplenote and then clean up the HTML on the computer when I get home.

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About Alyx Dellamonica

After twenty-two years in Vancouver, B.C., I've recently moved to Toronto Ontario, where I make my living writing science fiction and fantasy; I also review books and teach writing online at UCLA. I'm a legally married lesbian, a coffee snob, and I wake up at an appallingly early hour.

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