Nov 272018
 

This post should have been called “Back to Mac.” I’m out of practice and making religious metaphors when I should be making them about System Preferences. 

Geez.

  •  November 27, 2018
  •   Comments Off on Missed Opportunities
  •   Moments
Nov 262018
 

I think of wild animals in our imaginations. And how they are disappearing—not just from the wild, but from people’s everyday lives, replaced by images of themselves in print and on screen. The rarer they get, the fewer meanings animals can have. Eventually, rarity is all they are made of. The condor is an icon of extinction. There is little else to it now but being the last of its kind. And in this lies the diminution of the world. How can you love something, how can you fight to protect it, if all it means is loss?

—Helen MacDonald, H Is for Hawk

 Macdonald on Wild Animals  November 26, 2018  Tagged with:
Nov 222018
 

A year ago, I made the leap from Mac to PC by buying the pieces and building myself a gaming desktop. It was an impulsive move, motivated by too many years of frustration with the limits Mac hardware created for gaming. And I don’t regret it because no matter how often I play off gaming in conversation with casual acquaintances, it’s a big deal for me.

The stress point though was work: gaming’s fun but I use my computer daily for the grind and could I manage with a PC? Over the past year I discovered that I could, largely because Windows 10, unlike its recent predecessors, is a solid OS. And because my school is full-on PC land and the Mac-based fiction I’d dealt with for years disappeared, the jump to Windows was actually near painless.

The key word here is “near.” 

The main problems? First: junkware. There are a lot of sketchy apps in Windows world and I’m just not interested enough to sort out what’s what. Macs feel secure and I believe Apple is interested in keeping them that way. Windows and Microsoft? Not so much. That may be out-dated prejudice given the changes in security features in Windows 10, but suspicions kept me close to the base system for much of the past year.

Second: buying Windows equivalents for Apple software is expensive. People gripe when a Mac app costs more than 10$, but spend some time in PC world and you’ll realize that the apps offered by Mac developers are a bargain. Even the “expensive” ones.

Third: Eastgate’s Tinderbox. I’d had periods in the past when I was confined to an iPad and have written about how difficult it was to do my work without Tinderbox’s various tools, most of which I’d come to take for granted. Those earlier moments had been temporary disruptions. But now, working on a PC, they became my new normal, and after a year of genuine, wide-ranging and eventually desperate experimentation, I realized I missed the software badly. I’d become something like a mental-cyborg used to lifting cars, who now suddenly, alarmingly, finds himself fully organic and stuck lifting groceries. Or maybe some over-filled garbage sacks. I’d grown used to thinking in a way that assumed that my info could be organized into forms I could think about. It was a constant annoyance (and also a real impediment) not to have the tools at hand to make that happen.

But I just sprang for a new MacBook Air—!!!!—and so I am now happily on macOS once again. My first thought: thank god. Yes, my Tinderbox query and action syntax is rusty (very!) and I’m having to find my way back into the forums and the TbRef, both of which feel for the moment like navigating a train station in a language I don’t quite speak. But I don’t care. As I’ve said elsewhere: TBX is powerful enough to be game-changing even with only it’s simplest tools in play. So it’s worth it already and I know the pay-offs will just get bigger as I fall back into the groove.

So for the record my current set-up, which seems close to my ideal, is a PC desktop for gaming and a MacBook for work. (iOS, as tempted as I am to be tempted, is a distraction and a dead-end for me. It’s just not part of the equation outside of my phone.)

And since it’s Thanksgiving in the States, let me say: I’m lucky to have the means to buy and maintain both systems.

  •  November 22, 2018
  •   Comments Off on Returning to the Fold
  •   Reflections
  •  Tagged with:
Nov 212018
 
Is there a call for the vote?
  •  November 21, 2018
  •   Comments Off on My Day
  •   Moments
Nov 172018
 

These were choice documents to me. I read them over and over again with unabated interest. They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently flashed through my mind, and died away for want of utterance.

–Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of…
 Douglass on Reading  November 17, 2018  Tagged with:
Nov 112018
 

A few years ago, I had my first-year research writing students work on the Martian rover missions for their end-of-semester projects. The assignment was a hit and listening to their presentations cemented my nostalgic, Johnny-5 style affection for Spirit and Opportunity.

This video is perfect.

  •  November 11, 2018
  •   Comments Off on Sounds of Martian Sunrise
  •   Moments
  •  Tagged with:
Nov 112018
 

Their
Is discord

In this play.

Between all
The characters.

  •  November 11, 2018
  •   Comments Off on Found Poetry: Essay Exam
  •   Moments
Nov 102018
 

When I think of cyborgs, I think of metal men, bodies run through with hardware and silicon. Sometimes, if I’m feeling expansive, I think of it in terms of “the web + search” or of “the cloud.” These make the hardware metaphorical: the silicon is elsewhere, I access it from a distance, and so my body–my cyborg me–is now the biological-technical information system as a whole.

In both versions of the cyborg, the interface between self and hardware is embodied rather than mental. This is more overt in the image of the metal man but is just as real in the information system cyborg. There the mind remains intact, biological, while memory–envisioned as storage distinct from and accessed by the mind–becomes technological.

After nearly a year away from macOS, I’ve now returned, and in doing so, I realize that I’ve never imagined the cyborg that I’ve become because it is precisely my mind, my manner of thought that has been run through and transformed and by software rather than hardware.

I’m talking about Tinderbox. It is a tool, but after habituating myself to the slog and resistance of other tools these past 10 months, I’m especially sensitive to how my mind works differently when that resistance isn’t there. I now see that I know and understand more–and as a result am able to think better and to greater effect–when I arrange my projects in Tinderbox’s hypertextual world. I struggle and hit roadblocks, yes, and these arise from hitting both the limits of my control of the tool and the limits of my thought’s development, but these roadblocks sit further out then I can easily go without Tinderbox.

This last is what I find most striking after a few days back on macOS: my mind, my thought, my very act of thinking has been run though, enhanced and even transformed by software. This is cyborg-ism that matters and suggests that my early analogy between Tinderbox and a pencil is too timid. Tinderbox is writing.