Dragon*Con 2012: Monday is calmer

September 6, 2012

I made a particular point of planning to stay in Atlanta through Labor Day so that I could enjoy all of the Monday programming – as well as getting there on Thursday so that I’d be ready to rock first thing Friday. Overall I’m pleased that I did, but Monday was definitely a quieter day on the programming schedule, and I was ready for it after three days of high-energy Con-ning. On my way out of the Westin, I spotted this well-dressed Steampunk couple:

I headed on down to the WeyrFest room first – their first panel was ‘Dreams of Dragons; who else did Anne inspire to write about dragons and dragonriders?’ It’s funny how one of the first names anybody mentioned was Christopher Paolini, but there were some other books discussed; several of them went onto my ‘to be read’ list.

There was also an interesting side note about Ursula LeGuin and Earthsea, although she was admittedly a peer of Anne; the lady in the row behind me admitted that she’d always thought of the speech of the making in ‘Earthsea’ to be telepathic and not verbal, just because that was how people and dragons talked on Pern.

I stayed for a second WeyrFest panel; ‘If I could only…’ about if we could visit one of Anne’s worlds, which I remember being discussed earlier in the weekend as well. This time slot actually turned into a mostly off-topic but hugely enjoyable ramble by Todd, discussing things like his mother’s horse stables and current deliberations of the estate regarding future writings in any of the worlds she created.

Next, I returned to the Writing track homeroom for a talk on ‘Goal, Motivation, and Conflict‘ by the woman who started it all, Debra Dixon. It was great stuff, I feel like I understand GMC and how to apply it to my writing better, and I have a great further reading list, including Debra’s own book, which I hadn’t quite realized existed.

She did an example GMC worksheet for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, (which she admitted was a basic example, but better to get through in a one-hour talk with questions from the audience,) and I took tons of notes on the Eclypse phone.

Note to self: I still need to find a better text editor or word processing app for that device. I was using Polaris Office, which isn’t too bad, but it scrolls left and right to an imaginary page width instead of wrapping to phone width, and every time I use the FN key to type in a symbol it moves the cursor to the beginning of the line. I was in a hurry, so kept typing periods or commas in place of the punctuation I wanted to use. I hope I’ll be able to read the notes okay.

By this point, most of the tracks were into wrap-up panels. WeyrFest wrap-up was in the same time slot as GMC, but I went to the Whedon Universe wrap-up first, “WU in review”, where people had lots of praise to give the track volunteers, some constructive feedback and some venting about things (like sound and video setup, guest booking) that were completely out of the track staff’s hands.

Then things got side-tracked into a discussion of costume contest standards – apparently there was a blonde Cordelia cosplayer who’d been given a Judge’s Favorite award in the Whedon Universe costume contest, even though the guy in charge of the track had strong feelings that in a costume contest, anybody who didn’t match the character they were coming as in an obvious detail of appearance should be penalized for it – but he couldn’t overrule the judges on that score.

The final wrap-up I went to was the BritTrack, which was much more informal. The staff were reading out feedback cards when I got in, and several of them were teasing and roasting the track director – a charming woman who’s apparently getting married next summer.

And that was it for the organized con. I picked up a soft serve cone, went back to my hotel room, watched some videos on the netbook, and got to bed early.

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Not my ideal writing machine: Asus Eee Pad Transformer

September 23, 2011

I’ve been playing around for a few days with a new gadget – the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. It sounded like a great idea – an Android tablet with a touchscreen, that docks onto a keyboard to form a machine with an ultrathin, ultralight netbook form factor. I thought it would be great for writing, revising, working with simple spreadsheets, and as a multimedia machine to watch videos and listen to music on.

It’s not a bad machine. It can handle all of that stuff – sort of. But I’ve found that the available Android office and productivity software is awkward and doesn’t exactly play nice with the keyboard interface. The pre-installed suite, Polaris Office, won’t open Rich Text Format files, doesn’t offer a word count function or show comments, and it’s awkward about text entry and navigation in spreadsheets. I downloaded a trial for another office package, OfficeSuite pro, and that was a little better, but I still found some issues – like no spell checker or ability to actually see the contents of comments.

More than just the office software, there’s all kinds of things about Android that I don’t like in the netbook keyboard experience – the complete absence of scrollbars in scrollable lists, for instance, since Android things that being able to push the list up or down on the touchscreen is so completely intuitive. The movie player doesn’t show titles, just sample frames; the music player is locked into a kind of a circle flow interface, and the Market application (to find and install new apps) seems very buggy, often getting stuck at the point between downloading and installing my app.

And wait, there’s more issues! The mouse touchpad is incredibly sensitive while typing, although to their credit, Asus had foresight enough to include a dedicated button to turn the touchpad on and off. And the browser doesn’t seem to want to let me scroll up and down inside a text area as opposed to scrolling the page up and down – which is incredibly frustrating when I want to compose a blog post. (And the WordPress android app is still stuck and won’t install.)

I know that I could probably sort out some of these annoyances by experimenting with other Android apps, but at the moment, I don’t have the patience for it. The entire package is going back to Futureshop, probably tomorrow. Thanks for the test drive, Asus, but this latest product wasn’t worth it – nearly $800 canadian, with the 2 year warranty plan and taxes. No thank you.

PS: And the web browser won’t even let me paste in text from OfficeSuite, so I won’t be able to post this to the blog until I get home. Grr all over again.


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