Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Writing Quandary

I've been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Probably around age 2. But I still don't know how to do it. If they taught me in school I missed it.

I have Scrivener on my computer. I've even tried to learn it. The Getting Started video is over two hours long. I tried twice and never finished it. I tried using the software without knowing how because I sort of got the drift anyway. But maybe not considering some people write novels with it. So far it doesn't work any better for me than ActionOutline which doesn't have a learning curve that you'd ever notice. They're both basically outline software.

Here's my problem. I think in circles and I write in spheres. Outline software works in straight lines.

I write a bit. Next day or so I write a bit more. Along the way I sleep and dream or I'm lying around and I start thinking about something I already wrote about but I want to add something else.

So I use Search to find where that part of the story is and I try to insert my new ideas but now it sounds clunky. It's like having a rock in a tire. It was a sphere. Now it's got a ka-flump, ka-flump, ka-flump in it.

And then later re-reading another chapter I realize I already wrote that part but not in quite the same way. Rinse and repeat this about 50 times and I've got a mess on my hands. Over a year and a half it's grown to 350 pages and I'm not saying the entire thing is a mess but I sense myself going into avoidance mode lately.

At this point I'm keeping a sub-item called *notes and I write in pen or pencil (still my preference after all these years) on the clipboard I keep next to my bed. Then later I prop it up in front of my keyboard and type it all into *notes. It's a pile of notes exactly the way they come out in no particular order.

If I had a digital tablet instead this would save a couple of steps but I've never tried one and I don't know if I'd like typing with a virtual keyboard. It seems weird just thinking about it.

So now what I do is paste my notes into a text document and go through them on the left monitor and try to find where to add them on the right.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dropbox, Selective Sync

This is a hypothetical Dropbox situation.

Let's say you're in an accident, serious enough you're not going home again and someone's cleaning up your house and getting rid of most of your belongings.

Or let's say you die and your computer gets stripped by your executor in the midst of cleaning up your leftovers.

Either way, or some other way, someone or something is wiping your computer.

Do you have anything in Dropbox that you'd rather have kept? Like the genealogy files you've put in there and/or photographs and/or files you've linked online and want left there?

If you've been backing up your Dropbox contents to an external hard-drive regularly, and left some instructions on where to send the hard-drive, that's got you covered for that part. Although more than one hard-drive is good because they can fail.

When I recently sent 120GB of video to one of my sisters, I told her to immediately copy them onto her computer and then back them up again to a newer external. Honestly, people don't take this stuff seriously enough. Another sister lost ALL her photographs a few years ago because she had no backup for them. But I digress ...

If you're linking files from Dropbox to various places online the external backup won't help you at all.

You know, of course, if you delete something from Dropbox on your computer, in 30 days it's also going to be deleted from your Dropbox account online. Sync means sync.

If someone strips your computer, everything you've got in Dropbox is going to be gone too.

If you want to keep files in Dropbox forever, (however long 'forever' might be) regardless of what happens to your computer, there's an option called Selective Sync.

If I click on the Dropbox icon in my system tray, then click on the little gear icon in the upper right corner and then click on Preferences and the Account tab, I come to Selective Sync. If I click on that I come to a list of my Dropbox contents.

The folders that I've unchecked will stay in the cloud on Dropbox as long as my account exists but they will not show up on my computer. That means if my computer is stripped, the files are still where I want them to be.

There's a slight change of habit required here. IF I want to add a file to one of the unchecked folders, I will have to add it online. I can't put it in Dropbox on my computer because the folder's not there.

This is a simple matter of dragging and dropping the file from my computer into the right folder online, first opening my Dropbox account from this small icon.

If the folder isn't already there, I create one. And then drop the file in.

As I drag the file across, the folder will light up in green to show me that Dropbox sees it coming.

Of course, I also keep a backup of these files on my computer. In the meantime.