Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Little Review of a Writing Tool - Dragon Dictation

So, awhile back I posted about some writing tools and after I posted, my sister commented and told me about Dragon Dictation. As it is a free app on iOS, I downloaded it to my iPad right away. But it wasn't until two days ago that I actually had a chance to use the gadget.

On Sunday night I made a random, stupid mistake. I was turning over in bed in the middle of the night when the very corner of the quilt just barely grazed my cornea. It's not as if I sustained some sort of serious injury but it did sting for a few moments and watered like crazy.

Of course, it puts me in mind of the fact that this human body is so damned delicate. It is and it isn't. Muscles can endure a lot. But why did we evolve such delicate structures for such important purposes? What if the edge of the blanket had whipped across my face just a millimeter closer? Would I be blind in one eye now? What if it had scrapped both corneas? Would my dream of being a published author of speculative fiction just be shut down? I'm sure I'd find a way around it -- writing braille. But it's just so stupid. A single moment of carelessness and my whole life could have changed.

Well, none of that happened and here I am just doing fine. But the morning after it happened I woke up with a sore eye. I went about my day nonetheless, and by noon my eye was so strained. I couldn't look at the computer any longer. I went to a comfy seat and sat down to rest my eye and think about how I was going to finish everything I need to get done that day.

And then I thought about Dragon Dictation. Saved!

I'll admit, it was a little awkward to use. I'm not in the habit of dictating my ideas at all. But there was something a little freeing about stating new ideas in a stream of consciousness fashion. Usually when I have spontaneous ideas, the sentences come to me fully formed as they would appear on the page. And when I write them down they have already been polished by my inner critic. But speaking out ideas makes them just flow.

I really, really like how speech goes immediately into text. I don't have to listen to the sound of my own voice, which cuts the awkwardness down to a minimum. But I find that the app works best if you speak directly into the microphone and articulate carefully. In my fervor of getting ideas out without having to actually look at a computer screen, I muttered quite a bit on Monday and didn't look at the text until much later. Some of it was completely indecipherable.

I'll probably use it again, however. And maybe this time I won't have to injure an eye to do so.

Monday, January 27, 2014


You know what else this blog has been missing? Honesty. Not that I've been lying to you, but I have not really written lately about things that piss me off. I've never been afraid of the darker human emotions but for some reason on this blog I feel the need to sanitize my thoughts. Weird, that.

Today I want to rant about The Carrie Diaries since the other night I decided to watch some of it. Now, I will admit it, I used to be a big Sex and the City fan, back in 2006. I watched the entire show in syndication and then I read the book. I liked the book a lot better -- it was so raw, so 90s gritty and such a downer ending. Not surprising since it was more memoir than novel.

Of course, the Sex and the City that most people know has been filtered through a sloppy, fairy tale fictional ending and then two ridiculous movies. And now, two decades after Candice Bushnell began writing her original New York Observer columns called Sex and the City, there's a CW show based on the main character aimed at preteens and teenagers.

Now, I get it. The Carrie Diaries has a Gilmore-Girls-left-a-hole-on-the-CW and antidote-to-shows-like-16-and-Pregnant vibe, in terms of presenting a main character who is both a teenaged girl and has ambitions for a career. That I get and it's commendable for the CW to offer a smart character. But in terms of her goals being fulfilled, the show is just ridiculous.

Carrie, in the show, gets an internship at Interview Magazine. At 16 years old. Even though she goes to high school in the next state over. Fine, okay. I'll suspend my disbelief. Sure. But then the episode I saw that made me super upset found her screaming that "she got her first byline!" at the same magazine.

I have a similar problem with the Dan character on Gossip Girl (doesn't matter how corny, if there's a movie or TV show with a character who is a writer in it, I'm watching it. Although somehow I haven't gotten around to Californication yet...hmmm....). Anyways, in that show there's a similar phenomenon. Teenaged writer has all sorts of doors opened up to him by a story he wrote about meeting a rich girl at a party. It's published by the New Yorker! He lands internships with famous authors! The Paris Review wants him to write something for them! Huzzah!

Okay, so the problem I have all this is the unrealistic nature of it. Let's say that these characters are both prodigies, right? And let's say that they have extremely supportive friends and family and writing instruction, mentorship and guidance aplenty. All the things that I never had growing up and so they never feel as very lost as I did at their age (but I'm not bitter).

They would still be utter and complete failures. Even provided that prestigious publications like the New Yorker, the Paris Review and Interview Magazine would actually deign to publish pieces of writing that really should have stayed in their teenaged journals, it is still not realistic to portray these kids as racking up success after success with very little effort or actually work on the writing, I might add.

And why is that? Because of the great rule of all art: success equals persistence. Persistence is more important even perhaps than talent. That's a quotation from someone famous, certainly. These are terrible role models to presents to young artists. Just do what you do and you'll be published in the most important literary magazines in the world! Nevermind that Animal Farm garnered George Orwell a rejection letter! You'll never see one of those.

The bottom line for me is that raw talent is never a substitute for dedicated work and persistence. And I  wish, as a young writer once upon a time, I had known that.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The world of my imaginings

I have an aunt who is a much-traveled lady. She once told me about a place that she knew of in Vienna. Everyone was dressed in black and smoked cigarillos. The place was underground in a dim room painted black. She sat at a round table and listened to someone singing about anarchy. The bartender made specialty drinks in martini glasses and would spin them, with a flick of his wrist, towards the subdued, serious revelers. I remember when she first told me that story, I didn't think I'd ever heard of anything so cool.

Lately, the image of that possibly mythical anarchist club in a far off land has been haunting me. I was reading Vanity Fair when I came across a word I'd never heard or seen before: "conversazioni." Weirdly enought, the modern spelling "conversazione" appeared to me a day later in my copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (sidebar: an adaptation due out next December. Happiness). Was this a case of serendipity? Or was it one of those tricks of the brain in which one learns the meaning of a word for the first time and then it is everywhere?

Either way, I discovered the "conversazione", when used in English, denotes a social gathering for the purpose of conversation about literature, the arts, science. I'll add philosophy to the list to round out my personal interests. The word fired my imagination. I thought of the older meaning of the English "salon" which was a gathering for purposes of education rather than the informal literary readings that they are today.  I daydreamed of shabby rooms filled with elbow-patched blazers and unruly hair. I imagined what a gathering might be like. I have determined that when I move, I will begin a writing critique group. But this is one of those professional "shoulds", if you understand what I mean. Beginning a conversazione group, now that would be a "want".

I remember back when I was in my undergrad, taking philosophy courses. After the last session of the upper year special topics seminars, the profs would invariably take our small class out to the dingy, dark little grad bar at Carleton, Mike's Place. God, it felt so grown-up to get an invitation to that bar. But when we sat down and settled with our beers or what have you, I was always disappointed. There was something about those philosophy kids that bothered me. It was more than the fact that they were always on, it was the constant pissing contest that was apropos of nothing. They had studied quite a long time to prove that they were smarter than the next kid. They would bring up a topic and then one by one, they would expound other people's theories. They had memorized quotes. They could say, "but Wittengenstein has it..." with the greatest elegance. They could cite individual page numbers in specific editions written by all the great thinkers of the Western canon. But from those kids I don't think I heard a single unique thought in all the time I spent at Mike's Place or in those classes.

Perhaps I was the one who had it wrong. Maybe modern philosophy has come to a juncture, a mid-life crisis, during which great thinkers are considered great if they can pile up other people's theories like a stack of pancakes. I don't know. What I do know is that when I think about this concept of "conversazione", I don't like to remember that sort of "intellectual" discourse. What I want to know is what you think of specific topics -- not what great thinkers have said, not what is in the news, not those phrases that folks of my generation seem to repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat -- pawning them off as unique thoughts. I would like, above all, to converse with intelligent, divergent thinkers. Yes, that's what it is. Divergent thinkers gathering in dark, quiet pubs or shady underground clubs. That would be divine! :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Put on your Glad Rags, it's Date Night!

So we went to the symphony again this weekend, one of four parts of a half price package we got back in July. Saturday night was something called "Four Horns and Beethoven".

It was a good excuse to put on our glad rags and have a nice date night. I was excited to just sit back, relax, and let the imaginings wash over me. But we had a little trouble with that because of the girl who sat one seat over from us. First she came in late. Then she played with her phone. The concert hall being dark, we could see the screen of her smartphone as it flashed up and down from her face. It was all very confusing -- was she making calls? Checking her messages? And more importantly, WHY?

Well she finished eventually but then left the hall and returned with a bottle of water -- just in time for the intermission. What a waste of money!

Anyways after that all seemed okay, until I heard this strange electronic noise that went on every time the music came to a swell. At first I had trouble placing the sound. Then I remembered when my grandmother Wilson, then in her nineties, would put her figure to her hearing aid and twist it around in order to hear us better. It made the same sound.

It's true. There were a disproportionate amount of old folks in attendance that night -- much more than the Pops concert we attended back in September. This meant the ringing of hearing aids but it also meant that there were less jogging pants and ratty jeans in the audience, at least. Still, I don't ever remember this many octogenarians from going to the opera in Toronto.

During the intermission I mused about what it would be like to live in a city with a world-class symphony orchestra. Not that the WSO is bad in any way -- but I was wondering more about what it would be like if sports and the arts here were turned on their head -- if season's tickets to the symphony were as expensive, sought after, and rare as season's tickets to the hockey or the football are in this city. London, Vienna, New York -- I'd much rather be in an artsy city.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Moving Soon!

With this blog, I wanted to recapture some of the fun and the wit of a personal blog I'd kept about a decade ago on LiveJournal. I wanted to write about my life and my adventures in becoming a writer in a personal way that would be as interesting as that blog had been.

I remember when I wrote that blog. I was young -- in university. As I walked around campus I'd have encounters with friends, lovers and foes and then I would think about those encounters, about my academic life, et cetera and how to frame them so that their description would be entertaining to my tiny audience of about three close friends. Back then, I was at once fearless but I also wrote with a certain audience in mind. And witticisms came fast and easily to me.

But now I feel like, when it comes to writing this blog, sometimes it's like pulling teeth. Sure, I can think of a thousand writing-life related topics that I can write about, but they are not always entertaining, are they? Thankfully, I have thought of a list. Entitled:

Why This Blog is Not the Same as That One:

Winter Roads in the rest of the country...
1. I do not walk enough. Walking was a big part of my life back then, and it was dynamite for thinking up ideas. I've heard this often said by other artists. But in this city of Forever Winter, that's not always an easy prospect. Take today, for example. Yesterday, it snowed and into the night and this morning there have been high winds that have blown the snow around. My walk is completely blocked again. And thanks to this city, I do not expect even major roads to be plowed for the next four days. Seriously, when cars and cyclists have this much trouble, what chance does a pedestrian have? Especially in a city designed for cars.

...and Winnipeg`s version of `plowing.`
2. Chances for actually interacting with people in the real world are limited. My home town, Ottawa (or, if you prefer, the best place in any possible world), is a like a big club. If you're a newcomer to the city, it can be isolating. But all you need is a single in. If you become friends with an Ottawa native of your generation, the city will open up for you. There is always tons to do and your friend who grew up in Ottawa will always know which events and parties everyone is going to. You'll get introduced to a bunch of other folks and will likely never be bored, even in the dead of winter (thanks in part to the passable roads that are plowed efficiently after every storm).

But Winnipeg is a club of a different kind. It's not as if everyone of a specific demographic hangs out together, it's more like each tiny group of friends/family hang out together and don't have much to do with anyone else. They are very much into hibernating here. Not that I can blame them. When one's daily commute or doing something as simple as grabbing groceries is a case of taking one's life in one's hands, it's not appealing to go out socially. I get it. However, it makes for a very boring and not very noteworthy existence.

I could see my walk yesterday!
3. I work from home. The other major barrier to having anything noteworthy to jaw about on a daily basis is my work set up. My day job as well as my writing takes place in my home office. I communicate with my coworkers via instant messaging. Yes, I told myself that I would spend the winter working on my writing in coffee shops, at least part of the time. That was a great thing to do and a great thought, when it was autumn and the streets were bare. But this winter has been even worse than last when it comes to impassable byways. The whole thing is very frustrating.

The Good News

I've been holding back the good news for some time, however. Before spring comes, I am moving away from this heinous town. And this week in particular, for some reason, I find myself becoming very excited about the next chapter in my life, marked by the move. Maybe it's because now that it's after the holidays, it feels as it is nearly here!

Because of the nearness of the event, I keep picturing the next phase of my writing career and my life. I can`t tell you where I am going yet and I can`t even tell you when the move is going to happen. All I know is that it is coming in the next two to three months and there is a chance it will be to a better city. And I already know what I am going to do when I get there. Another list:

1. Find a cafe. Moving there in the spring, I`ll have three seasons for which to enjoy coffee shops of the neighborhood as well as the independent variety. I intend to immerse myself in the life of the city and absorb it. I also have high hopes for winter, as there is no other major city in this country where the combination of weather and terrible snow removals techniques make it impossible to walk anywhere.

2. Find some bookstores. I have romantic imaginings of hanging out around independent bookstores. That`s where my people will be.

3. Start a writing critique group. I think I've banged on about this topic enough on other posts.

4. Think about attending a conference. Now that I actually have some content out there in the world, I think I wouldn't go amiss in attending a literary conference. Agents and editors and publishers, oh my!

What I want, in short, is to actually get out into the world and interact with actual people. I think if that happens I might have something a little more interesting to write about on this blog.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Some time ago, I made a promise to myself to change the tone and focus of my life and this blog. When I first started S.A. Wilson, which might have be named something else at the time (I honestly don't remember), I had a lot of rantings about banal daily life. I was living in Trenton, Ontario at the time, at the very beginning of my writing journey (Okay so the real beginning occurred when I was nine -- but in terms of deciding to do this and take it seriously, that happened in about 2009-2010). I was just starting to study the basics of novel plot, dialogue and description. I was doing a lot of messing around, but I lacked focus and was not producing much content. I was writing about trips to the thrift store and all-smoothie diets and other things that are really not very important in the grand scheme of things. I was focused more on style than substance, on how I looked than my career.

But then something happened that has only happened to me three or four times before in my life. The first time it happened, it was the first day of school in grade seven. I made a decision that I never went back on, never regretted. It was a really simple decision. I decided that I wasn't a little kid anymore, and therefore it was time for me to start swearing. That's actually how it went logically in my head. A lot of other kids had been swearing throughout elementary school, but I personally didn't think that was right. But in grade seven we had to start at a school that went all the way up to grade 13 (the now defunct OAC in Ontario).

As a side note,  can you even picture this in your head? A school that contains both 12 year olds and 18 year olds? Insane.

Anyways I figure since there were 18 year olds walking around the hallways I really didn't need to be a baby about swearing anymore. It was not something I did often as I didn't speak often in general in those days, but when a situation called for an explicative I just let it fly rather than saying something like "oh, fudge."

All that to say that I made a decision about this blog and about my life at a certain point during the past two years. I decided that I wasn't going to care about distracting concerns such as appearance for awhile. I was going to take every bit of energy I expelled on dieting, exercise, glossy magazine reading, shopping, et cetera -- all those stupid, time consuming, life consuming things -- and roll it all back into my work. I refocused my blog and began to write about the primary concern of my life: writing.

But this will not be a blog post wholly about writing.

Personal Resolutions

 Is it already too late in the year to write about resolutions?  I wrote a post about how artificial New Year's day is -- it is an arbitrary date, after all, that could have as likely have been July 21 or September 22 or December 21 or (my favourite har har) March 20. Or you know, April 17 or something. You can resolve to pick up new habits any day, any minute -- this minute if you want -- since leading a life is but a long unending string of decisions big and small. But I think the time is ripe for me to make some resolutions.

Because all this work towards my novel #RoboNomics at the expense of pretty much everything else has been crazy productive. I have indeed sallied forth into realms of creativity that I never thought possible. But it has come at a price. And that price has been my health. This is not just a vanity thing. It's not just that I'm frightened by the number on the scale -- one I have never seen before in the upwards direction -- but I recently have begun having pains where there were none before. And frankly, sitting at a desk all day may get things that need to be done, done but I am a little sick of having to buy a whole new set of pants every second month. It's getting pricey and annoying.

And so, I resolve to:

1. With the help of a wake-up light, carve out another hour in my day by waking up earlier. So that I can:

2. Workout. In the past I've tried different workout videos, programs, what have you. But inevitably I am a terrible personal trainer for myself and so the programs I schlep together always turn out to be boring. I lose interest and then quit. Oh, that and also I quit since while working out I usually ask myself: "My god this hurts. Is it really worth it?" So I'm going to leave all that difficulty of finding a good workout program to someone else.

3. In twelve weeks' time, lose a total of 15 pounds. So that's until April 1st. Five pounds a month, little over a pound a week. At least it's a realistic goal. I should add a caveat, however, for any young/impressionable person who might stumble onto this blog. 15 pounds lighter than I am now, I would still be on the slightly heavier side of healthy for my body frame and height. And I am not doing this so much through diet as I am by building muscle and reducing size of fat cells, etc. My meals now consist of fruits, vegetables (tons of vegetables!) lean proteins and 'multigrain' or 'whole grain' products such as brown rice, wholegrain bread in small quantities, et cetera. And tons and tons and tons of tea and water.

This is very important to me to point out. I am not doing a Master Cleanse. I am not doing a smoothie-only diet. I am not doing a fast. The goal of this for me to become more healthy, and I don't think I can do that without building muscle. That's the danger of all those starvation diets, not only that you'll rebound, but also that you will lose muscle mass. And as I have always considered my body mostly serving as a vehicle for my brain, I want the contraption to be healthy so that I'll live quite a long time, since I have quite a lot of material to get out of my brain and onto the page. (HaHa! I can relate just about anything back to writing, can't I?)

My love's big graduation is roughly six to eight weeks from now, and until then I am cutting out fast food, junk food, and booze. I also found a great little tool to help with the whole "is this really worth it?" whining that I had a tendency for. Have you ever seen The Big C? Do you remember one of the first episodes, when Laura Linney's character tells Gabourey Sidibe's character that she'll pay Gabourey's character $100 for every pound she loses? I can remember thinking what an amazing idea that is. Being paid to lose weight? Ummm... yes please.

So I signed up for a dietbet challenge. Basically you bet on yourself -- pay a certain amount at the beginning of a set period of time and if you obtain the goal by the end of that period, you get to split the pot with whoever else won. At worst, you get your money back. At best, you can make money on losing weight. Amazing! Instant motivation. Sounds like a plug but really, I love this idea.

Anyways, I've been working towards these three resolutions since Sunday. So far, so good. But that doesn't mean that I have been neglecting my professional resolutions, which are far more important as well as far more hefty. And so:

Professional Resolutions:

1. Write my 'morning pages'. Basically, a daily brain dump in which I get to write about anything I want, using whatever words I like. It's something I have done on and off since 2009, but this year I intend to commit to it.

2. Write at least 1,000 words a day of fiction in draft form. (Another on again, off again habit that I should commit to).

3. Write a blog post on one blog or the other every weekday. Done for today! :)

4. Read at least 20 novels in 2014 (should not be too tasking).

5. Complete one iTunes U writing course.

6. Finish reading the how-to writing books left on the shelf (there are less than five).

7. Finish posting RoboNomics the novel on Self-Publish the novel, market and distribute.

8. Complete Draft 2 of new novel, "Otherworldly."

9. Once we move in the spring, start a writing critique group.

Okay, that feels like a lot. Ambitious, certainly. However, most of it is comprised of small steps that I can work on day after day, the work piling up until I've finished it all by the end of the year.

I am proud of my resolutions this year. They are very specific, which is helpful in the completion. They are also written down on the internet, which will make it easy to access them and come back and check on my progress. I really want this whole becoming a novelist thing to move along, I want the whole project to be a success. And so I resolve -- I decide like I did in grade seven about swearing -- to keep moving forward.

And what about you, friends? Do you have any resolutions for 2014? Are you excited about this year? I sure am! So many fun projects to continue and/or begin!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Problem with Facebook

So the launch of Chapter 1 is complete, and I am working to finish up Chapter 2 in time for next Monday's release. But in the meantime, I am having a little bit of trouble harnessing my online networks to get my first easily available work into the public eye. And it mostly has to do with Facebook.

The Power of Facebook

So, I know that a lot of folks -- especially of the younger type -- believe that Facebook is over. There are Tumblrs and Twitters where young can congregate away from their parents' prying eyes. I can certainly (even at 32) see the draw as my parents' generation have also infiltrated what was once a network for college students only.

However, as much as articles about social media want to tout the phenomenon I described above, the numbers fly in the face of that observation. And no, I'm not talking about number of Facebook accounts or even number of active accounts. I'm talking about when I'm reading an interesting article that I would like to share on my social media networks, my default is to go straight to Twitter. But more and more, I am noticing that the Facebook 'shares' or 'likes' are double or triple the amount of Twitter 'tweets'. Obviously, peeps still love Facebook.

The Problem with Facebook

The thing is, unlike Twitter or yes, even Google+, where the audience of people I actually know in my personal life is limited to mainly 'safe' people (that is, people who already approve of my literary endeavours) Facebook includes a whole slew of folks who are either completely negative or at best more or less indifferent. And then there are the ambiguous folks. Who knows how they will react??? The entire thing makes me want to run and hid under the covers. The old shame at daring to be talented rears its ugly head. With strangers, no problem! You can read my work and I know next time I see you -- if I ever do -- you won't be squinting at me and trying to analyse what buried feelings I possess about you that come out in the work. I know for sure that you won't look at me any differently because you've never met me before. But my family and friends reading my work and having me knocked out of whatever pigeon hole they mentally have me in! Baaaaaaaaaah!

Finding my Bravery

Of course, what I should say to myself is that none of the above is my problem. I have gathered a little clutch of people who actually truly believe in me and the rest of my social world, I should tell myself, can just deal with it. Haters gonna hate, essentially. To that end, I have actually set up an author page on Facebook and I have invited those 'safe' people to like it. But I really should extend the invites and truly promote my page. More likely than not it'll probably happen in the next few days -- it's just at this point a matter of talking myself into it.

The same kind of problem exists when I think about LinkedIn. After all, I consider my writing a professional endeavour and I have different folks on that network than I do on Facebook. But still I resist. Maybe it's just time that I took myself seriously enough to overcome all that fear and all that resistance. Maybe it's time that I let go of all that shame.

Alright. It's decided. Time to 'harness my networks' as they say. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this little bit of Chapter 2 preview:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Covet a Writing Tool

Hey Everyone! I'm back from vacation and not a moment too soon. Chapter 1 of RoboNomics drops tomorrow (technically tonight) and I am extremely excited for you to read it! Yay!
In the meantime, I am thinking about something that I really shouldn't be, considering I am still coming down from Christmas gluttony and greed. I am thinking about a present to myself. For surviving the holidays perhaps? Sure.
Present to Myself
Okay, so it's not so much a present to myself as it is a work-related efficiency tool. I know I am going to be a complete and utter hypocrite here, in that I've asserted before that being a professional writer does not require much expensive equipment. Dollar-store notebooks, cheap but reliable pens, and either a cheap basic laptop or a membership card to a library system that includes free computer access (we're lucky in this country. Pretty much every major Canadian city I've visited and some not-so-major cities offer this service). Pretty much that's it. For five bucks or less you could get your writing career started since your most important resource is between your ears.
There are a few other tools, if you have the dough, that can make the entire process more streamlined and efficient. If you read this blog regularly you are probably familiar with some of the tools that I favor. There are tools for capturing ideas: Bath crayons for ideas that come to you in the shower, notebook/tablet in the nightstand for inspired dreams, digital recorder or shucks just your smartphone if you have one for sound recordings of ideas while driving.
There are tools for drafting: more notebooks! Or software made specifically to cancel out distractions such as Omm Writer. Or, you know, your modem's off button.
There are tools for compiling and editing drafts: Dedicated software like Scrivener that can convert digital text into widely accepted manuscript format. Or as I've shared here before, colored post-it notes for recording and coding scenes, and colored pens when editing for specific foibles.
But there is one aspect of the process that occurs for me at every step. That is, the converting of my handwriting into digital text. Up until now all of my notes, character sketches, setting details, random ideas and plot points -- if they made it from the nascent stage to the manuscript -- would have to be transcribed by me from page to screen. No longer!

I recently discovered these lovely things called digital pens! Basically the idea is that you take this pen with a sensor and real ink and write to your heart's content (okay, up to about 200 pages. But who's going to do that in one sitting?) and then you plug it all into your computer and press a button and voila! Digital text! Yay!

Apparently there are differences in models. Some have to use special paper whereas others (better ones, I think) can be used with any notebook you like. The only problem is that they are expensive. In the $100 to $200 plus range. But just think about it. The way I work, this little digital toy could cut my work load by at least a third. So I'm definitely dreaming about it.

What about you? Have you found a similar problem with audio clips? I don't usually record my ideas via audio devices mainly because I can't stand listening to my own voice recorded. But I'm curious -- it is very difficult to convert voice recordings to text? I'm thinking yes -- but if they have software for that it would be very exciting that they finally figured that out. Perhaps Siri is a clue: after all, she can listen to your voice and then do an internet search. Although she is not exactly very accurate...