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Pen and paper January 5, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Ramblings.

That’s it. I’m making this thing my writing machine. To be more precise, personal writing. Only. No work here. The EeePC’s so portable it’s painless to bring anywhere, even if I already have another fuller laptop in my bag, which is these days the office-issued Lenovo Thinkpad.

The T43 is relatively light – well, make that not too heavy. Compared to the EeePC it’s a boulder though. Add to that weight a brick – the power adapter. But adding the EeePC to the bag the Thinkpad is in is actually a negligible burden. Hey, what’s another kilo among friends?

The EeePC is so light I can literally bring it anywhere, without feeling like I’ve a ball and chain. So when the inspiration (or boredom) strikes, I can write my stuff. I can drag this little thing anywhere, even to the throne when I’m doing the business.

I’ve long neglected my fiction, to my endless regret. I keep meaning to finish enough stories for a collection, or get that novel done finally. But life always gets in the way.

In 1985, at a short story writing workshop at the University of The Philippines Creative Writing Center, the late fictionist and American Book Awardee Bienvenido N. Santos wrote some words of encouragement to me in his dedication on my workshop folder – “Your book is coming out soon. I can feel it.” 23 years later the book is still languishing in some drawer in my Dad’s house, set aside to write stuff like radio ad copy for sanitary napkins or magazine articles about cheap, entry-level cellphones through the years. I keep telling myself I’ll get around to it someday. But I never do.

With the EeePC I feel I have something to lug around that would help me get some work done in that respect – short stories, scripts, poetry (yes, poetry), personal essays, a novel – all the things that won’t make me money, but at least make me feel fulfilled. The EeePC’s the instrument that would be there when I need it, if I need it. My creative hardware, my writer’s weapon, available and ready anytime.

Which is, of course, crap. If I really wanted to write, I can get by with a table napkin and a pencil stub; a laptop is a crutch, an excuse not to get work done if it isn’t there. It makes for an interesting, if merit-less and asinine, argument.

But hey, at my age, I’ll take anything.



1. miko - January 7, 2008

First of all, thanks for starting this blog. It’s a unique peek into why a mac user would have an eeepc–very interesting.

Secondly, are you planning on using any unique software for your personal writing?

Great blog, write some more!

2. Chet - January 7, 2008

Greetings from Malaysia.

I’ve seen the default white version on display at one of the shops here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but will wait for the black version before I commit to a unit.

For writing, I’ve used AlphaSmart products since 1998. The latest model is the AlphaSmart Neo. I love the full-sized keyboard and rated 700-hour battery, plust the fact that it’s distraction-free, focused on letting me do just one thing – write.

3. Ian - January 10, 2008

First of all let me add my thanks for writing this really interesting blog, which I´m finding fascinating.

I have a query about your experience with the eee so far – given that your first entry was pretty focused on the size of the keyboard, I was wondering what might have changed so that your new entry is enthusing about it as a writing tool. Was the keyboard not too small after all, did you manage to adjust to it, or do you only use it for brief periods when doing your own personal writing? I´m always curous to know how large or small a keyboard really has to be…

4. reverseengineer - January 11, 2008

Thanks for your comments, Ian. Much appreciated.

Regarding the keyboard, nothing’s changed; it’s still frustratingly miniscule – and my fingers still fat little sausages – it’s just that I’m gamely trying to use it, despite everything. It’s gotten a little easier. Stress on little. But in this case, convenience, portability and lightness trump keyboard comfort.

I still hit the Caps Lock key too often, or miss the Shift Key altogether and cause disaster. Also, for some reason I cannot fathom, occasionally the cursor leaps to some random portion of the document, and I often suddenly find myself typing a portion of the sentence I’m writing in the middle of another one several paragraphs up. You don’t notice much of the errors because I’m an obsessive editor, constantly correcting after the fact before I abandon the post. But if you see the first drafts, it’s horrid. Missing letters, punctuation, inappropriate capping, misspellings galore.

I use it for a couple of hours a day for my writing and blogging. All the posts for pEeePCee are done on the EeePC, which I’ve nicknamed ‘The Roach’, and this is sorta like a condition for this blog. If I can’t write it on The Roach, I won’t blog for it at all.

But I’m slowly getting the hang of this dainty and delicate hunt-and-peck method. The operative word is ‘determination’. I’ll get it eventually.

5. Art - January 12, 2008

I’m getting used to the keyboard myself. I’m not liking it, but I’m getting used to it.

I spotted a candidate for a cheap, light, and easy-to-carry USB keyboard (at CD-R King, where you can get most anything cheeep). It’s so hard to find a worthy keyboard for the eeep because if the keyboard is too bulky or heavy, it defeats the entire purpose of the eeep in the first place. And if it is too compact, then you might as well stick it out with the eeep’s onboard keyboard. Sigh.

Re the “cursor leaps to some randoim portion” issue. Might it be your palms inadvertently brushing against the trackpad?

Incidentally, due to the very tight form factor of the eeep, I’ve given up on using a mouse on it. It’s just way faster to nudge my fingers over to the trackpad than it is to veer away and fumble with the mouse.

6. reverseengineer - January 12, 2008

I’ve actually written a whole post about the keyboard, just haven’t posted it yet.

Thought about that palm-touching-the-trackpad thing that might be the reason the cursor moves, but I’ve been deliberately watching out for that and it doesn’t seem to be the cause.

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