As you may have noticed, I've been putting in a fair amount of time at the keyboard this past week. I still have a lot of ideas for Dreams Into Lightning and its affiliated blogs, and I will probably continue in "high gear" through next week. (Yes, I do have a life outside of blogging.)

Miscellaneous tech notes. My views may not always be PC, but I did break down and buy a Toshiba laptop with Windows XP. I do love my 17" iBook and my G5 desktop, but there are some things that Microsoft just does better - or that Mac won't do at all. (Sorry, Charles and Helen.) As a long-suffering Windows ME user, I found Mac to be a breath of fresh air. I've got to tell you, though, that I found myself growing tired of the "Spinning Beachball of Death" and the unapologetic announcement that "This application has unexpectedly quit." (Would I like to send a bug report to Apple? Honestly, I'd really rather they had fixed the problem before I bought the product. But I digress.) I never could get used to the Apple keyboards. The G5's keyboard sticks, and looks like a 20-year-old IBM keyboard. The notebook feels like an oversized pocket calculator; more problematically, it's much too easy to hit the shift key and the up-arrow key at the same time, thus highlighting (and, on the next keystroke, DELETING) a large block of text. And would it have killed them to include a forward-delete key? And there are so many little features that just don't operate on Mac - the formatting buttons on Blogger, for instance, and the AOL browser's handy drop-down mail preview. Reliablity? Well, it looks like old Bill has finally gotten his act together, that's all I can say.

This isn't a pro-Windows or anti-Mac post, although I know loyalties are very strong on both sides. I do like the sound and picture quality I get from my G5 - Apple is without peer in that department, for sure, and I wouldn't trust my RealMyst or Mathematica to a PC.

My own technical expertise is exactly zero, so I'm sure there are all kinds of geeky solutions and work-arounds that would make my computer life easier if I'd only take the time to learn them. Well, what can I say.

Miscellaneous tech notes, part 2. As some other ITM regulars have noticed in the past, Blog*spot pages don't always refresh right away on the AOL browser for some reason. (I've found this with both AOL/Mac and AOL/Windows.) The work-around seems to be to close AOL and open another browser (MSIE or Safari, for example) and then switch back to AOL again.

Miscellaneous tech notes, part 3. You probably grew up being taught to shut things down when you're finished using them; nowadays they say you shouldn't power down your computer too often (just put it on power saver) so you don't wear it out. There's a happy medium though; apparently it's best to shut down at least once a day because this gives the computer the chance to clear out garbage files. (Learned from experience: when I stopped doing that, my Safari browser began running very slowly and finally ground to a standstill - until I re-started, or powered down, the machine.)

Miscellaneous tech notes, part 4. My Toshiba never crashed until I installed a new HP printer. The crash reports from Microsoft identified the printer driver as the problem. After a couple of sessions with the HP help desk, I tracked down the problem - a bunch of applications that run automatically in the tray and don't really serve any useful purpose. The tech told me how to get them off of the startup menu (they're not on the regular menu, you have to run "msconfig" and uncheck a bunch of boxes). That solved the problem; since then, I haven't had a single crash with my Toshiba. So that's why I say it looks like Microsoft has cleaned up its act. I'm still not giving up my Apple gear though.

Back to the non-cybernetic world: after I get my blogs up to where I'd like them to be, I plan to take a short hiatus of a few days (a week at the most) to catch up on reading, outdoors time, social life, and other AFK stuff. After that, hopefully I'll be able to establish a regular schedule for the blogging end of things.