Postponing the ultra-book purchase

Brace up for my very real first world problem, the absurdity of which i didn’t comprehend until i was half way through writing this piece.

For the past few months I have been toying with the idea of buying a new laptop. My current laptop, almost four years old; its battery long dead; and it’s mobility a prisoner to its power chord, is not exactly the ideal device to be lugging around. On the other hand and to be brutally honest I do not need my laptop’s computing power when I am on the move. Most of the times I don’t even need it when I am at home.

You see, about two years ago, my wife worked in a land far far away called Hong Kong. Skype and Google talk soon became our primary mode of communication. In this period she developed a distinct intolerance for both my laptop’s dismal video quality and the never ending whining sound of its overwhelmed processor fan which would hijack the audio stream. I, being on the not-receiving end, didn’t care that much.

She argued quite convincingly that we, as in I, absolutely with doubt needed an iPad to prove to her that I did indeed miss her and wanted to show my face to her in HD, not let her forget the sound of my voice. So, I succumbed to her threats and logical arguments and caved in and got myself an iPad 2. Little did I realise the magnitude of my folly. (First world problems alert!)

For starters, I got lazy. I mean it. I could neither get around to typing my mails on the iPad, nor could could I get used to my e-mail service provider’s user interface. As a result, I was only browsing the Internet. Constantly. I got so addicted to the convience of the iPad, that I stopped using my laptop altogether. Earlier, when not talking to my wife, I would be doing something constructive, like reading a book, or perhaps even writing.I am now perpetually saddled with an enormous pile up of unanswered e-mails. I kept postponing all the tasks that needed me to use a keypad, like wishing friends by email, sending condolence messages, or just writing those keeping in touch e-mails. My friends all thought I had morphed into a bigger first class arsehole. I wouldn’t blame them, I had indeed become one in my own eyes.

And then, as any user of Skype on the iPad tell you, for a long time you couldn’t run Skype as a background task when you were using the video chat feature. Which meant hours and hours of me staring like a zombie into the iPad to keep my wife amused when she would be browsing the Internet on her laptop with my beautiful skypeifed face occupying a forgotten tiny corner of her monitor. I got conned.

Thankfully this predicament resolved itself when my wife moved back. The reprieve was however relatively short lived because earlier this year she started working in a city about five hours away by train. Not the most ideal situation for a married couple to be in, but we are trying to make the best of it. We visit each other over the weekends – one weekend it’s her turn, the next weekend it’s my turn.

So I find myself on a long distance train for almost 21 hours in a month. I would rather not stare like a pervert at the passenger sitting across me. The idea of reading a book enroute, I admit, is not such a bad propositon. However, my irrational subconscious gut feeling dictates that writing is the done thing. Never have done it on the train before, so I am quite certain it is merely one of those daft ideas that the gut likes to bully the brain into believing. However convoluted it may sound, under the guise of intending to prove my misbehaving subconscious wrong, I have been seriously contemplating buying a laptop. You know, one of those 1.3+ kilograms light notebooks they call ultra-books.

These little contraptions, cool as they are, are not that easy on the wallet, at least the ones with good reviews or specifications. It would be a costly affair if I did prove my errant gut wrong. I do not like non performing assets. Furthermore, I would then posses four computing devices – two laptops, one tablet and one phone. Big first world problem.

Wouldn’t it be great if the iPad had a reasonable word processing tool? Something more than the basic that preinstalled garbage called “Notes” could offer. So I used our old friend google and “discoverd” Textilus – the tool I’ve used to write this piece. Prima facia it looks like it could be the cure to my first world problem,  if I can get around to typing on the iPad screen. If I do find it usable, then I just saved that hard earned money that I didn’t spend. Maybe I will loosen the purse strings and go buy the premium version, if only to shown my gratitude. Maybe.

Update: April 2014

Author buys a Apple MacBook Air. No comments.

Why Notepad++

Now not many of you readers have had the misfortune of having made my acquaintance. Those of you that have, will unhesitatingly certify my selfish, petty, arrogant and miserly nature. It is with great difficulty that one stumbles past these character flaws to meet that alleged nice guy which my wife insists exists. Another minor character flaw afflicting me is this strong desire to write and a stronger desire for what I have written to be read, preferably by a sample of set of people not entirely comprised by just my poor wife. To quench this double desire, I started a blog a few months ago.

I wrote exactly one post, and then no more. I couldn’t cope with the delirious possibility of being able to publish to potentially the whole world at the click of single button. Heaven forbid someone else has exactly the same ideas as I and posts them more articulately a few milliseconds before me. Perhaps I am suffering from the Facebook-Twitter syndrome. In any case, the antidote to my irrational anxiety is to take the writing offline. I guess I am good at writing at my own sweet pace. The irrational me is convinced that this is the only way, no one else will have the exact same idea at the exact same time as I do. I will leave the psychoanalysis to my Freudian readers.

What is the big deal about writing offline you may ask? There are but a few options – Microsoft Word, Openoffice Writer, or Notepad/Wordpad to name a few.

Between Microsoft office and Openoffice Writer I would rather choose Microsoft Office because it is slick and intuitive and so much more aesthetically pleasing to use. However, as a card-carrying member of misers anonymous it pains me many times over that I must pay $190 or its equivalent to have the pleasure of writing in Microsoft Word. Sorry, not willing to do that.

Notepad is not really a bad alternative, except, I am not really good at spellings. I so desperately dependent on Microsoft Word’s spell-check that I am known to whine about not having spell-check while doodling in my paper notebook during meetings at work. At work I do use a geeky and powerful text editor called notepad++. Entirely free, quite slick, and doesn’t need much resources.

It never crossed my mind that notepad++ could be the medicine to cure my irrationality, until I was editing this xml file the other day and I noticed this red line underneath a word I had just typed in. The spell-check! And it does not cost me a penny! Yay! Now I could write at my own pace to my heart’s content in peace, with a very light weight but at the same time very flexible and powerful text editor.

If I were Good Guy Greg, then I would be donating some to the creators of notepad++, but…

Update November 2013

Author discovers Pages for Mac. Notepad++ moves instantaneously to the garbage bin.