Maintenance of My Writing Tool

This month, March has five Thursdays in it so I had to come up with another post. Because my blog is more or less centered around writing, I wanted this one to keep in sync with the motif but not require a follow-up.

Maintenance of My Writing Tool

Several years ago I did a post about free software programs that would help keep a PC running smooth. I decided I would do one again to help out my fellow writers and bloggers.

I am, pretty much, paperless in my writing endeavor these days. Even when reading what I have written, I transfer my work over to Kindle. Most of this is due to the fact my printer is on the fritz and I cannot afford a new one or have my current one repaired. So, I make do.

Being paperless means regular maintenance of the devices I use for my projects. Kindle requires little, just remembering to plug it in for recharging. My laptop and PC depend on regular updates of software and security and performance checks.

Jacqui Murray has discussed this subject on her blog as well, including software programs for this support that do have a price tag on them. My budget is way too tight for me to even consider most of those that have a cost attached to them. Would I spend the money on maintenance software if I was published? Probably not. There are programs that are free. More often than not, the only stipulation is they must be run manually–not scheduling. It is a small inconvenience to stay within my budget.

Advanced System Care

IObit offers this software free as well as being able to buy it with bells and whistles.

The free version will speed up, optimize, protect, and clean your machine. However, all but the defragmenter have to be started manually. It has what they call a Toolbox, which lists other software you can get either at a price or for free. Additionally, it has an Action Center that will tell you what programs in your system need to be updated in some way.


[You can view a larger photo by clicking on the images individually.]


This program has been around since 2004. If I remember correctly, I came across it in 2007 and have used it ever since then. Because I use the free version, I have to remember to bring it up and manually get it working on all the unwanted waste in my system. With the paid version, I could schedule it to start on its own.

It removes files Advanced System Care will not touch but will not optimize or help with problems like Advance System Care does. It will also clean my registry. It has other tools too that come in handy when the PC runs slow.


I use the anti-virus program installed in my computer, Windows Defender. I can almost hear the chatter out there with readers telling me I should be using something better. If I start having too many viruses entering my system I will probably buy the paid version of Malwarebytes. For now, I use the free version of this anti-virus software twice per month. So far [knock on wood], I have not had any viruses, just unwanted programs called PUP.

If you like what you are using to keep your PC in good running order, I suggest you keep with it. Sure, these contraptions are made on an assembly line but each one of us uses our babies differently so the maintenance package is going to be slightly difference. However, if you are not satisfied with what you have, you might want to check these three programs out. 🙂


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“there’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” ― Stephen King, Different Seasons


Write Wherever… Whatever…

First, let me say this post for the second week of the month is supposed to be about me personally in some way, something preferably not related to writing. This week’s post is supposed to be designed so you, the reader know me, the entire person behind the tap, tap, tap on the keyboard. Be that as it may, I felt–do feel–this subject will reveal something about my personality and my daily life.


Write Wherever... Whatever...
by Asheboro Public Library

A few weeks ago, I received a newsletter in my email inbox from David Duhr, one of the two founders of WriteByNight. He suggested I try writing in some way that would be unfamiliar to me to get the juices flowing.

Each and every day I sit down at my PC with my first mug of coffee, banging on the keyboard doing battle with my WiP, crafting a blog post, writing a comment on someone else’s blog, or scratching out an email to an online friend. My rear end is firmly in the chair during the day except for housecleaning, quick meals, appointments, minute exercises, and, of course, bathroom breaks.

David proposed I try writing differently. To be sure, my line of thinking went straight to where I physically am. This comfy chair is molded to my butt, after all.

Well, I do have a laptop I’m neglecting with some remorse, although not enough to leave my chair. I could bring it out from under the bed and set it up on the kitchen table where the light streams in from the deck’s sliding door. However, I’d have to wait for the gizmo to sync with my WiP folder at Dropbox. That may take only a couple of minutes, or it could take hours. The extra natural light would be sensational, though. I do hesitate nevertheless because I doubt the height of the table and chairs in the kitchen are going to put my fingers at the right angle for ultimate use on the keyboard.

Doubtless, there’s the spiral notebook and pen I could always divert to, which would give me the freedom to sit in more unusual places. I used to have pretty penmanship. Due to being left-handed, my slant goes the opposite of the way it should be. I position my paper so the top is to my right instead of to my left. My handwriting was small–dinky, in fact–but precise. I wrote longhand all the time before I was introduced to the personal computer. The thought of using a typewriter would furrow my eyebrows and vulgar words would spill out of my mouth. The hassle of having to set up the damn thing was something I didn’t want to endeavor. Nowadays, I cringe at the prospect of longhand because my penmanship has become scrawls that even I can’t read at times. I still write out the greetings for Christmas cards every year but I screw up at least five of them through the process. The ones that are sent out do not have that pretty handwriting. It rates as being legible at best.

It did dawn on me that I could get so foreign as to go outside the home altogether. Take my laptop or spiral and pen to the local library, for instance. Except for the height of chairs and tables, and the disgrace of my handwriting, the library would probably be inspirational. It would be quiet, yet give me something new to look at when I mull over on what to put down next. This is plausible if I can get a ride. The car husband and I have is a stick-shift. There isn’t any way I can work with that because of the disability. I’m mulling this over, finding the solution to the one hang-up with this idea.

Indeed, David wasn’t just referring to the physical aspect of writing. I write prose. I love stringing words along to spawn thought, concept, opinion, or story. I want to be elegant at this, which, of course, I’m not.

David suggested trying an alternate form of writing. The mere conjecture of me being able to write a poem is inconceivable to me. Sure, I wrote poems when I was in high school. Disgusting free-verse garbage about war and prejudice. Looking back at those, they didn’t say anything worth recounting in any way. Prose would have been so much better.

I don’t know the first thing about writing a play, whether it be screen or otherwise. Yes, I’m sure I could find a class to take to bring me up to snuff–kind of anyway, but I have zero interest in this type of writing.

Other writers have advised writing in a different genre in their blog posts. This has caused me to pause and consider, although I haven’t even come close to deciding which genre I should try.

I know I should try something altered from the normal hollow I know I’m saddle to somehow. After all, I keep on telling everyone I like change. Diversity is my buddy. It keeps me from falling asleep from boredom. This shouldn’t be difficult for me. Yet…

If you still can’t guess, the revision isn’t going well. I’m set on changing the entire story from first-person to third. This is taking up so much time and effort that is boring me almost to the point of tears. As I do this stodgy work, all I see is me telling a story. I only get glimpses of showing it. Ugh! Before I can even consider anyone else reading it, I’m going to have to rewrite the whole thing. Yes, I know first novels are like this. Nevertheless, I think I’m going to have to do this like a relay race, a snail-slow relay race.

In between this ugly WiP, I’m going to start sketching characters for a new story and make a determination as to what the new genre for me will be. Additionally, I’m thinking about actually taking one of my best online friend’s advice by trying my skill at essays. [Thank you, Tess. ]

Has this post unmasked some aspects of my personality? There are times when I’m extremely mulish. It takes me a while to be insightful but I do get there more often than not if given the time. Sometimes I’m self-loathing.

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within. ~Gustave Flaubert – QUOTES ABOUT WRITING


What’s With My Laptop?!

What's With My Laptop?!

Two weeks ago I stated I was going to go beyond this corner in what I call “the computer room” where my ugly orange pressboard desk and my comfortable padded chair sits. I didn’t think it would be this hard to think of other things to write about. It’s clear that I’m obsessed with writing.

Back in July, my husband bought me a laptop saying it was my birthday present, which, at the time, was two months away. We went to Walmart thinking I could get one relatively cheap there.

There it sat, first in the line of many others, an Acer. The first computer I ever bought was an Acer, way back in 1996. At the time, I wasn’t online. I guess I could have been but I was oblivious to the idea. Chances are it would have been quite a hassle back then anyway. Anyway, I thought it was duly appropriate that my first laptop would also be an Acer. Walmart isn’t what it’s cracked up to be though. It didn’t have any in stock and they wouldn’t let me take the one on display. They didn’t even give me a rain check. Walmart sucks.

We went to Staples. All of their laptops were actually tablets with the keyboard you can attach. I wanted a laptop. Besides, their tablets are way out of my price range. Can you imagine paying over $800 for something that wasn’t really what you wanted anyway? I couldn’t.

I ended up calling Dell. I should have done this in the first place because my current PC is a Dell. By buying another device from them, I got a few bonuses in services. I was an idiot for wasting time at Walmart and Staples.

It took me a while to figure out how to get the wireless to work. I still am having problems syncing it with my PC. Again, it’s my own fault. I changed how verification is done before I thought it all the way through. Trying to find a time when I’m extremely calm and alert so I can get this done has been impossible lately. The verification comes by way of a phone call giving me a random four-digit number. This wouldn’t be hard at all if I had two hands to use or I didn’t have short-term memory loss. Even getting rid of one of the assets and I could still handle it, no problem–I think. As it is though, I must be at my very best mentally. However, there’s no such thing these days. Therefore, I can’t sync my two devices. In addition, I think I’m going to have to call Dell anyway on this because I can’t see all files at DropBox when on my laptop. I dread the thought. Me and virtual help get rather confusing, both for me and the technician on the other end.

I’m still stuck in my little corner when I write on my WiP. I keep on wondering if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Would I be more inclined to write more if I could go outside on the carport to write? Out there I know I’d have old Jake, our oldest “outdoor” cat keeping me company. There’s a possibility that I’d probably have Wilma, Ashes, and Ciders there too. In my little corner, I have Miya, our oldest “indoor” cat snoozing away on the floor just in reason for a love pat every once in a while.

Where would I get the most inspired writing done?

To tell the truth, I think I might be better staying where I am. I don’t have to move anything to get set up. My hot coffee and bottled water are just a room away. My books on writing sit in a weaved bin on my ugly desk where I can reach them with ease. I just need to get husband moving on helping me make my corner a more desirable place to be.

This doesn’t mean my laptop was a dumb buy. I do use it. There are times when husband is home and yet I want to be absolutely certain I’m completely alone while I write. This is usually when I’m adding to my private journal. I go to the back bedroom where my laptop sits under the bed. I pull it out and place it on a stadium blanket that’s been folded several times. I stuff pillows behind my back while sitting on the bed half Indian-style, and hammer at the keys.

Maybe my hassles are because I’m not thinking outside the box.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath


Mucking Up the Works

Mucking Up the Works
This image is a conglomeration of three different photos.
firefox_community @
Akuo Yeh @
JASElabs @

As is with most of us, I get fascinated by the all the different trappings computers have these days. The technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right? I admit that in several ways it does. However, many of the additives I’m coming across are pretty much worthless. And not every app or extension is compatible with other applications and programs installed on my computer.

This last week I got fed up with Mozilla’s Firefox. The thing kept freezing and crashing. Supposedly, it was all because of the program, Shockwave by Adobe. I don’t know if this is true or not. All I know is that my Firefox browser was freezing and crashing at least once a day. I do 99% of my research for my book online. Having this problem reoccurring time after time is infuriating. I’ll be on a map page studying where businesses are in a town when in a split second, the entire window with the browser freezes. I tried all sort of weird maneuvers trying to get to get some action on the screen. Even the mouse will freeze. Often, I’ve had the shut down the computer and start it up again.

I let this bedevilment go on for a few days. When the browser would crash, a box would pop up from Mozilla apologizing and asking for feedback. Dutifully and with a little exuberance, I would put my two cents in and send it on it’s way. After four days though, I decided Mozilla had screwed around so much with their product they had made it a complete disaster. Time to switch to one of the other browsers.

I had tried Chrome before, but I found it was impossible to know which apps and extensions to add that were right for my use of the Internet. Nevertheless, on Saturday I downloaded and installed the program hoping I was smarter this time, or Google had made it simpler. The darn thing was slower than mud if I used more than one tab. In addition, the apps and extensions are more ludicrous than they were before. For example: you can download an app or extension for email, download another one for a calendar, and download still another one for an address book that has more than the email address. Yet, try to find an app or extension that will do all three (other than Gmail), you probably won’t find one, or if you do, it’s taken you half of your day. Apparently I’m not smarter and Google is still full of thoughts about owning all of technology and trying to dupe everyone. Time to find another browser.

Seeing that I have Windows, Internet Explorer is already installed. I clicked on the icon and began using multiple tabs to test it. The one drawback is I have to apply my bookmarks manually to this browser. It doesn’t play well with others, I guess. I’ve had four tabs going at the same time with the performance of the browser still staying fast and clear. Once in a great while, the browser would hide for just a second while it was loading a page into another tab. But I didn’t have any freezing, actual slowness, or any crashes. I found my browser. 😀

All this hullabaloo got me thinking. Maybe you need to pick your browser by the operating system in your computer. What should a person using Linux have for a browser? Should Mac users be using Chrome for best performance? What operating system should use Firefox?

For years, IE had a bad reputation. Those were the days when you just had to have an antivirus program that you paid for if you wanted to stick with this browser. Chrome wasn’t developed yet, so many people were using Mozilla’s Firefox or Opera. Firefox was popular back then because hackers either couldn’t figure out how to put in a virus through it or, at least, it was difficult. Most of us got along find with a free antivirus program if we used Firefox. Now, antivirus programs are free for casual/home use no matter what the company is. Paid security is still recommended for commercial use though.

IE has changed, of course, so I’m learning what is new with it. Still, I’m glad I’ve gone back to something made for my operating system. 😛


Balancing "Things" and Values in Life

A new Internet friend of mine, Nihar Pradhan recently wrote a post about the effect technology has on our lives. He asked me to give my perception on the pull that technology has and how I keep my world balanced in this age of technology.

Balancing "Things" and Values in Life
Image provided by
Mike Steele @

Maybe it’s that I’m not young anymore, but I know that much of technology is something I could live without. After all, I lived without some of it from my birth until I was forty years old. That’s when I got my first PC. Even then, I wasn’t online.

I like my PC. I’m online often during the day in between activities like housework, meals, reading, writing, etc. And even with the writing and sometimes with the reading, I’m still using the PC, just not online.

With this said though, if one day my PC has vanished, I’ll be okay. I won’t freak out, although writing this makes me realize that I should get some home addresses of my online friends. I don’t want to miss out on good friendships because of a technical problem. As far as writing goes, I have a spiral notebook and pens. I’d go to the library to type them up or buy a typewriter if I can afford it.

I have a Kindle but I haven’t used it in over two years. It isn’t a Kindle Fire or the Kindle that doesn’t have the glare. Do I hear someone whispering “relic”? In today’s society, it probably is. Eventually, I’m suppose to get a Kindle Fire from the cable company Hubby and I just signed up with. Because it’s more like at tablet, I might be inclined to use it more. We’ll see.

I also have a cell phone. I could get online with it but I don’t see any point in doing that. I use it when I’m out of the home, which isn’t very often. Usually I’m out and about just to go to an appointment of some sort. How many appointments can a stay-at-home wife have? Not many, I assure you.

I grew up with TV, although when I was in elementary school it was still in the baby stages. No one had color — it was all black and white — okay, lots of gray too. I grew up with Leave it to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Ed Sullivan, Mighty Mouse, etc. The TV was never turned on until the evening news came on during the week. On Saturday, it wasn’t touched until my brother and I had finished our own household chores. And what I mean by touched is literal. We had to go up to the TV and turn a knob to get the TV on and off, and the same for changing channels. Yes, we got a bit of exercise in the living room. Sundays were a lot like during the week because we had church in the morning and we were either at a relative’s house or they were at our house. When there was company, the TV was not on. It was pretty much that way until I married Hubby. I think TV is one of his addictions — I know that he’d have it on 24/7 if he was home all the time. When he goes off to work, I turn the blasted thing off.

Nihar mentioned electricity as part of technology. He may have a point there because without it, we wouldn’t have the rest, would we? I’ve been camping where I only had a fire in a pit as my light and there wasn’t any heat except for what the fire gave out. I guess camping is alright but since I’ve been an adult, I’ll only do it if I absolutely have to, like the town I live in crumbles to nothing. I’d manage but with some grumbling along the way. I think I’d go out and buy a wood-burning stove and an ice box as quick as possible. That is unless I didn’t have a home to put them in. :/

Because of movies like “The Postman”, most of us have some idea of what we’d be facing without these conveniences. Yet, with all that we have in today’s world, do we have any idea how many values we have lost or neglect?

As a species, we used to be able to tell when someone was depressed and needed our help in pulling through. That person wouldn’t have to say a word about how he/she was feeling. Because we were aware, we’d just know. Nowadays though, we’re too busy looking at our Smart Phone or Kindle to even acknowledge that there is even a person standing in front of us, happy or sad. We don’t look at people when we talk to them. Again, we’re too busy with our cell phone or tablet. In spite of the inclination that we want everything “yesterday”, do we realize how many times we’re heard saying, “Just a minute,” because we need to text someone, finish reading a line at a website or something else that must be more important than the person who needs our attention? It boggles the mind.

Are we taking good of care of our values as we do with our tech. junk? I know that sometimes I’m not. I get caught up in all the gadgets, not paying as much attention to how I’m acting or what I’m saying to the people around me. For me this means my integrity is being compromised — by me. When I can catch myself, I walk away from as much technology as I can (which doesn’t include electricity) and I spend more time with friends and family if it’s possible. If not, I get out a book to read. I can usually do this a couple of times each day in between the other things that aren’t so technical — like housework. 😛

Is your life balanced between things and values?

Now, with all that said —

Do you like the new winter look for my blog?