As I mentioned earlier, one of my goals is to walk a bit less, and write a bit more.

(It may not have been stated that way, but that's the way I'm thinking about it :)

With that in mind, I decided that I'd like to have a basic laptop that I can throw in a satchel and haul around with me on my walks. Part of the reason I've really started to enjoy walking is that it gives me time to think and gets my thoughts flowing. So in the past year, I've done more than a little bit of draft writing on my phone as I've been out and about... and, honestly, it's a pain in the patootie.  Even with text-to-speech, it's annoying.

Enter the Lenovo N42 Chromebook.

It's light, seems pretty rugged, and weighs in at just a bit under three and a half pounds.  Not a big deal, really.  A few extra pounds will help me work just a wee bit harder as I go, and I'll have the ability to stop and write for a bit along the way.

More importantly, it's cheap.  I like to walk back alleys.  That's where the interesting stuff is.  I've never been hassled, but if I'm going to be carrying around something, I'd rather it be a cheap Chromebook than a Mac Air or something similar.  Plus, being a Chromebook, it's got sync capabilities with Google Drive, so I can write sans network connection then let everything sync up later when I get back to work or home.

The performance is decent. Some things seem to load slowly in Chrome, but for the most part, it's responsive enough.  I'm writing this update on the Chromebook, in fact.  The keyboard layout is slightly different from a Mac (and even a Wintel machine), but I'm not sure how much of that is the underlying OS, and how much is the fat that everything seems to be running under Chrome.

The keyboard itself is absolutely FABULOUS.  It might turn out to be a flimsy piece of junk that breaks after a few weeks of used, but let me tell you, right now it's absolutely wonderful.  I was worried a LOT about the keyboard.  That and the display are the real reason for buying this thing, and a crappy keyboard would make writing a horrible pain.  As it is, I'm barely even noticing it.  They keys are just right - not too clicky, not too soft, not too stiff.  Since this is a 13" laptop, too, my hands actually fit comfortably on the keyboard.

The display is nothing to write home about, but it is perfectly serviceable for doing text editing.  Battery life looks like it's going to be pretty good, too.  I started off plugged in until I got to a full charge, then unplugged to see how well the battery lasts.  It's been about three hours of playing around so far, and the battery meter is telling me I'm at 88% with 11:25 left to go until I run out of power.  That's pretty sweet.

Speaking of playing... the thing that sold me on a Chromebook was the number of available minimalist writing editors available for it.  Anything that will let me do text editing would be fine, to be honest.  My plan is to bang out some drafts, save them to Google Drive, then yank them into Scrivener for organizing, cleanup and editing.  Heck, I could do all that (and have done that in the past, in fact!) as Blogger drafts.  Having something a little more sophisticated than a basic text editor would be nice, though, so I spent the evening installing and trying out a few.

The built-in Text editor is just that.  Looks a lot like Notebook with a little bit more oomph to it.  If you're comfortable with that sort of thing, and are looking for absolutely minimal setup, that's probably all you'd need.  I was interested in finding something just a wee bit more featureful, though.

Caret looks like a great little programming editor.  I've used Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code, and Caret is very similar.  I honestly didn't want a programmer's editor, though.  Don't ask me why.  Maybe because it feels too much like the tools I used day to day for work.  I'm sure I could write in it, of course, but when I pop open something with that look and feel, my mind immediately goes to code.  That's not what I want in this case.

Next in line I was going to try Writer.  I saw a lot of recommendations for it, but it a quick look at some comments about it showed that they use their own servers for storage.  To be very honest, I'm not comfortable with that.  I've had some recent personal experiences  where a change in ownership of a company has made getting backups of archival data difficult.  You can export data if you buy the Pro version, but... you know what?  No. I want something that will save to Google drive.  I've already got my Drive synced to 3-4 different places, so even if Google decides I can't access it anymore, I at least have backups.  I'll stick with that setup, thank you.

I ended up trying another editor called Calmly Writer.  Very nice, minimalist, with just enough configuration options (including white-on-black text mode) that I felt like I could make it just what I wanted without feeling overwhelmed by options.  It has the option to save in a bunch of different formats, including plain text, which is pretty much just what I want.  So I took it for a spin, wrote a few hundred words, then said, "That'll do, pig.  That'll do."

The very last thing I did was install Linux.

Yes, you can install Linux on a Chromebook now, alongside the Chrome OS... or on top of it, if you want to think of it that way. An install of Debian Linux runs in a container on top of Chrome OS, and you can start it just like any other app.  It comes set up with a bunch of the usual suspects, including ssh and vim.  That was completely unexpected, and very nice.  I've got a couple of things I do outside of work to help administer existing web sites for a couple of non-profits, and having the ability to do it from this little Chromebook is really appealing.

So, that's the state of the world.  Happy cheap little rugged Chromebook makes me happy.  Because writing, and Linux.

... but mostly writing.  Which is what I need to be doing now.  Time to take this thing out for an extended trial... :)

The Walking Man Walks On By...

December 29th, 2018.

That day's walk was five and a half miles.

Which put me at 2020 miles for the year.  My lovely wife was with me for 370 of them, including the last dozen miles. I could never have done it without her encouragement.

A special thank you to Dawn, Bob, Marcia, David, Jon, Martin, Debbie, Aaron, Amy, Michelle, and so many others who were a constant source of encouragement.

Plus a VERY special thank you to Lori, Sarah, Cheri and the rest fo the folks down at Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea for keeping me caffeinated throughout all my travels

Some stats:
  • Walked 338/363 days this year.
  • Average of 5.97 miles per day.
  • Twenty-nine days walking at the Pittsburgh Mills mall.
  • Sixteen days where I did 10+ miles.
  • Five pairs of shoes.
  • Two half-marathons.
  • Over 18,000 photos.
  • Over 1,000 photos of abandoned clothing.
  • Shed 15 pounds, and went through two new belts.
Goals for next year?
  1. Walk in 19 new locations for 2019.
  2. Lose 19 pounds in 2019 - get down to 180.
  3. Write 190k words in 2019 - 3700 words per week.
As an adjunct to #3, I intend to finish a novel this year, and publish it; either indie, or trad.

One way or another.

Here's to 2019!


Flickr album embedded:

04 January 2019

Flickr photo embedded:

Lost Word

Flickr photo embedded, slideshow:

Lost Word

Flickr photo embedded, slideshow, header, footer:

Lost Word
Flickr photo embedded, slideshow, header, footer, 640x480:

Lost Word

Walking Man

So, I've been walking this year.

A lot.

Earlier this year, I decided that my goal for this year would be to try and walk 2018 miles in 2018.

As of today, I'm on my fifth pair of shoes for the year, and I have just a little bit under 100 miles to go to reach that goal.

As of tomorrow - if I can get out and do my daily walk as planned - I will have walked twice as much this year as I have last year.  Including running two (official) half marathons, and walking several unofficial "What the heck, let's see fi we can do 13 miles today" hikes.

I don't want to walk nearly as much next year.  I'm happy that I set myself a hard goal, and very happy that I'm going to meet it... but walking 5+ miles every day gets old fast.  I do like to take a longer walk every now and then, but I think I will enjoy my time much more if I don't have to focus on mileage.

So I think my goal for 2019 will be to walk in 19 new cities.  That should actually be pretty easy - I think I've managed a good two dozen different locations outside of Pittsburgh proper this year, just looking for new places to wander.

When I first started walking last year, I was doing it for my health.  Now, I'm doing it because it's a habit, and because I enjoy visiting new places and taking pictures of interesting things along the way.  I've been posting my photographs on Facebook, but I've been experimenting with using Flickr instead these days.  If you'd like to take a look, you can find me there as Walking Samrobb.

Wow. Been a while.

Sorry for that.  I've had a bit of a lot going on lately, you see.

Some things that are going on...
  • I've been walking.  Like, a lot.  Easier on these old knees than running.  My goal is 2018 miles in 2018, and I'm currently at 1846 miles.  On track to complete that.  Yay!
  • Oh, well.  Walking is easier than running, but I've done some of that, too.  Two half marathons, in fact.  The first was - kind of - an accident (at least the running part); the second was to prove to myself that the first wasn't a fluke.  (Spoiler warning: it wasn't! :)
  • I've been working as a moderator/admin on another web site.  Takes time.  Totally worth it.  We save lives, one person at a time.
  • MY company got bought out.  By the Evil Empire, which these days, seems to be the Least Evil Empire.  Maybe even the Somewhat Cool For A Company That Age Empire.  Liking it a lot so far, at least.
  • I've been working on loosing weight.  Approaching my goal of getting under 200 pounds for the first time in three decades or so.
  • I've been writing.  Like, a lot.  Successfully completed NaNo this year.  In fact, I ended up writing the story before the story I wanted to write, so I've got 70k of Book 1 written and about 30k of Book 2 queued up and ready to go.
So, yeah.  A lot going on.  For various reasons, I'm starting to think that FaceBook ain't the place to be anymore, so I've been checking out MeWe and generally liking the more quiet nature of life over there.

Goals for next year are still pending.  One of them will be to publish something.  Actually, I've got three somethings in the works.  Let's see how many of them make the grade.

So, there you have it.  Hopefully some more writing snippets will be going up sometime in the near future. My first novel is going to be a tender, sensitive book about a young man coming of age on the streets of Pittsburgh as he questions his childhood relationships, his family's strictures, and his place in society as a whole.

... nah, just kidding.  It's about graffiti writers who kick the living snot out of creatures from Faerie that try to screw around with their city.  Because if there's one thing that Pittsburghers hate more than Browns fans, it's eldritch horrors from beyond that make it hard to go shopping in the Strip.

No Shave November

You know, I'm not really much of a "do this for the cause" sort of guy. Probably why I'm generally a libertarian. So I've never been one for "No Shave November", just because I'm usually growing a beard anyways, because winter.
On the other hand, I've just found out that - according to some feminists - men growing a beard to raise awareness for prostate cancer is "problematic". Because patriarchy, or something.
Which pretty much means I'm going to grow a beard every November out of spite. Because while I might not do it for a cause, I will DAMN sure do it if someone looks down their nose at me, sniffs, and tells me that I shouldn't do it.

Correia's Law

Correia's Law, first seen here:
"The amount to which someone tells others to moderate their tone is inversely proportional to their own ability to do so."