Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No More Excuses

There I sat, in the afternoon warmth of the front porch, the jazz coming through from the local NPR station via my solar-powered shortwave radio that sits in the ever-shifting shade of my patio table's umbrella, shaded against some creeping internal weakness that renders its LCD display opaque and useless after being subjected to the relentless onslaught of direct southwest sun.

Beg-a-thon was in full swing on both NPR stations, the periodic fundraiser that serves as a substitute for the incessant drivel of commercials on other stations.

I was pausing from reading an older William Gibson novel, "All Tomorrow's Parties," looking at the cedar trees that line my driveway, wondering why one is tinged ochre with the dust of its springtime reproductive urgings, whereas its larger sibling, though free from the orange tinge, sports clusters of seed-balls on nearly every branch, all the way up to the top, where they shone in the afternoon sun. Perhaps they're male and female, these trees. A married couple, conjoined at the roots, deep under the hardpacked soil.

Then I heard the diesel clatter of a truck out front, coming to a stop, its door clunk open then shut. I knew it was the UPS van, delivering what I had been impatiently waiting days for. I heard the footsteps of the driver across the swath of xeroscaped gravel in my front yard, then the gate latch clank open.

She, the driver, sported dreadlocks and a cheery smile. She held a box in her hand, along with the digital clipboard device, where I recorded a pixellated scrawl that barely resembles my real signature.

I wonder if someone back in the corporate office reviews those chicken-scratched, pixellated signatures. Maybe some special mainframe software, a handwriting analysis program from some university with a secret contract with some three-letter government agency, that's able to plumb the depths of my psyche just by the subtle nuances of my LCD pixel signature.

We exchanged the polite chatter of strangers meeting for a common purpose, and then she was gone. I hurriedly retrieved the serrated letter opener from the kitchen and slit the strips of tape that sealed the package, carefully unearthing the treasure from within. An AlphaSmart Neo, grayish-green, with accessories.

It sits in my lap, upon the open box with bubble wrap envelop, CDs, USB cable and manual, and I can tell that this is going to be fun.

I place my fingers at the home position and begin to type. The keyboard, it's not just merely adequate, it's really good. As in, better than the keyboard for my desktop computer back inside the office. I haven't felt such a naturally easy typing device since I don't know when. It's like the best typing experience I've ever had. And the LCD display, it's large and easy to read at the default setting. So far, in the first ten minutes of using it, it seems to be everything, or more, I had expected. There's got to be some catch somewhere; like any other electronic gadget, after the initial infatuation is over, the honeymoon spent, the charm looses its luster. I hope not, in this case. The Neo doesn't offer much in the way of gadgetry and geekery; it doesn't surf the internet while permiting text messaging and cell phone chatter while playing music, for instance. It's not an iPad. It's just a keyboard, screen and word processor; neat, efficient and does its few dedicated tasks with amazing efficiency. So there's not much to fall out of love with. If I want to write, it's there for me, waiting to press the "on/off" key and begin writing.

I suppose there's no more excuse, now. I've got to write, incessantly.

PS: As I set up the title shot, I compared both the Neo's and my desktop computer's keyboards, side-by-side. The Neo has larger keys. Go figure; no wonder it's so comfortable to type on.


Blogger deek said...

Pretty cool, isn't it? I don't have a Neo myself, I went El Cheapo and picked up a used AS3000 but did find the upgraded OS to give me a ton more options.

I carry it in my "read bag" everywhere I go and love it!

5:54 AM  

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