Geek Methadone

Since I’m book writing on deadline, I have to cut down distractions, which means that basically for most of the day I pull the DSL out of the computer, so I won’t do my rat-to-the-feeder-bar compulsive checking of web sites and such, which will actually keep me from focusing. On the other hand, e-mail is the primary way people reach me, and I do have a number of e-mails of the business sort that it will be better for me to respond to sooner than later. But if I plug in the DSL, I’ll get myself all distracted. Because I’m pathetic, you see.

The solution? You’re seeing it here. The big screen is the computer with pages of text on it, with the DSL disconnected, and the little screen is my new Archos 605, with its wifi connection, open to my e-mail. This way I can see if it’s an important e-mail, and even respond (briefly) if I need to, but otherwise it doesn’t signal the “Don’t write! Surf!” procrastinatory centers of my brain. Everybody wins! Or, well, I do, anyway.

36 Comments on “Geek Methadone”

  1. O Slothful Scalzi, it’s not that you’re pathetic. You’re just slothful.

    A couple of great pictures of The Beauteous Ghlaghghee would be highly motivating to everyone.

    The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

  2. But you still managed to procrastinate by writing this post

    You, sir, take procrastination to the next level. As exemplified by the bacon-cat incident.

  3. Sara Genge:

    “But you still managed to procrastinate by writing this post.”

    No, no. I hit my numbers for the day and stopped. Then I wrote this post.

  4. I’m surprised by how many High-Ranking Exec types I see using an iPod Touch as sort of a portable email device. Usually paid for out of their own money. This is a bit puzzling because these guys almost always work for a company that has some sort of Microsoft Exchange setup going, and for less cost than a 16 GB iPod Touch, you can get a Windows Mobile* phone that’ll sync directly to the Exchange cluster, have a number of additional features, and probably come with an actual data plan to boot.

    If you have an MBA, apparently Teh Sexy beats out Teh Featurez.

    *Of course, Windows Mobile does suck. Oh, the hours I’ve wasted pecking at a screen with a stylus.

  5. Fazal Majid:

    Oh, God. I so sympathize with Banks.

    Ironically, I’m reading Matter right now. It does bear marks of being influenced by Civilization, I have to say. Which is not a bad thing.

  6. Wow. I grovel before the master. Trading the giant InterWeb tube in for a tiny interweb straw is pure genius. The only thing more genius than that would be taping bacon to your cat…

  7. Mmmmm….I once tried to justify playing Civ when I should be writing….I said things like, “But I’m inspired by little soldiers exploring the distant dark reaches of a continent,” and “I’ll start working on writing/art RIGHT AFTER I build Angkor Wat.”

  8. What a cool idea! I’ll have to try this out if I ever get a portable internet device.

    jm, iPod touch does not come with an email client. So these High Ranking Execs are talking to the Exchange server via its webmail interface? (And, obviously, only when they are near a WiFi access point since iPod touch does not have a cell radio.)

  9. Jim Wright, computer spinners! Yes. There’s a marketable idea (USB powered, CNC’ed out of billet aluminum, oh yeah, I see a market). And then we can accessorize with computer skins with Yos. Sam or the aluminum chick, just like mudflaps.

  10. Steve, I think you might be able to get a sultry bunny computer skin already at I’m soooo tempted by that site, but as I have a desktop and not a laptop, it seems a bit silly to emblazon it with a koi fish or motorcycle flames. I’ll just have to wait, I guess.

    Haven’t seen the spinners yet, though something tells me we may already have the neon glow (only with LEDs, of course.)

  11. Matter? The next culture book? The one being released in February? You’re reading that now?

    You do realise that once they do release a direct neural interface you’re absolutely screwed.

  12. Andrew B:

    Yes, that Matter. Because I’m special. Also, I’ll be interviewing Banks when the book comes out.

    Not getting any direct neural interfaces. I don’t want Russian Viagra spam in my head.

  13. …so I won’t do my rat-to-the-feeder-bar compulsive checking of web sites

    Feeder feedback hell, it’s that electrode in the pleasure center that does it.

    The first step to a cure is to admit that you have a neural implant.

  14. Do you really prefer a monitor in that orientation, landscape I guess, to the other way around? It looks like you can’t see a full page from top to bottom.

    Not that I often write anything longer than a page, but I’m pretty sure I’d prefer more vertical space, if I had the choice. And for some reason, side by side pages feel like fingernails on a chalk board.

    What does the cat prefer?

  15. Nice to know a professional is just as insane as I am. I compulsively check my flist, whatever, boing boing, music thing and matrixsynth. No wonder my novel isn’t done.

    I find the only thing that gets me to buckle down is loud music in headphones, pulling the hood over my head and a pint of tamari almonds. Oh, black tea helps, too.

  16. Anne C., thanks for that cool website. As a designer I usually do my own decoration, but those look cool (and sometimes I can’t jones the proper substrates).

  17. Graeme Williams:

    In landscape, the monitor can display two full-sized pages side by side. I can swap it to portrait if I want, but actually this works a little better for me.

  18. Steve, maybe I shouldn’t tell you this ;) but they have a “custom” option that appears (haven’t found the time to fully investigate) to allow uploading your own art. There’s also a function to take their artwork and modify it.
    I noticed this option because, like you, I’d prefer to come up with my own stuff. It’s not as cool as Pixelfish’s artwork, but it’s mine and no one else will have the same thing.

  19. Nice setup. My wife (at work) has you beat. Her department equips each person with four screens. But that’s the news business, a new deadline every microsecond (the length of today’s “news cycle”).

  20. …so I won’t do my rat-to-the-feeder-bar compulsive checking of web sites…

    That’s it! That’s the best description yet for the addiction. Heaven help us if they poison the “kibble.”

    Excellent solution, btw.

    Your Sister in Procrastination,

  21. JM – The iTouch is a helluva lot faster to poke through e-mails than to use the stylus on a Windows Mobile PDA. And read e-mail on a phone? Sorry, I keep thinking of a cellphone as something too small to have a screen to read on, rather than a boatanchor of a PDAwannabe. (grin)

    Being able to zoom in and out anywhere on a page on the iTouch — it’s a beautiful thing. Plus it reads my university e-mail, which my Windows Mobile PDA won’t. That Microsoft hates Java thing. (double-edged grin) Oh, and don’t forget multiple browser sessions.

    Some of us have been using multiple sized screened devices for years, John. And my main writing machine at the office has no Internet capability by design. Also has no need for anti-virus — runs really fast, too.

    Dr. Phil

  22. I’ve done the same basic thing, with my Blackberry being the “I can still see e-mail but it’s a pain to surf” element.

  23. Yes, that Matter. Because I’m special. Also, I’ll be interviewing Banks when the book comes out.


  24. Anne C. #19: actually the case modders do make heavy use of cold-cathode fluorescents, which are close enough to neon for this purpose. And electroluminescent wire, which looks pretty neon-y.

    Maybe the case spinner could go over the (oversized) fan vent?

  25. Can I add a grateful “thank you” for all your confessions? I’ve come to recognize lately how easy it is to surf in the morning. Even a “just one simple check on wikipedia to confirm this fact” is enough to lead me to the e-mail, to Bloglines, and then I’m surfing Slate and an hour’s passed.

    I’ve held off going to a cable modem for fear I can’t resist YouTube.

    Now I know I’m not alone.

  26. Wim @ #34: Thanks for the info. Looks like we have all we need with current technology to seriously pimp John’s PC (the Mac, like the VW, gets unpimped).

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