Regular Spelling
Thoughts and observations about language

Tabula Rasa II

So the plan of course was trying to write a novel this month as I had a bunch of travel going on. And it was a decent plan in theory. However, as it turned out, it didn't work at all the way I wanted, and in reality I got very little work done on it. So now I'm just going to cut it off and get back to programming.  

The problem was my choice of tools. As I stated in my intention last time, I got a Transformer Prime with dock earlier this year, which worked fine for general light tasks going to events and stuff doing working on web from those and such. What I didn't realize - and what I really should have tested more before - is that is where the line is drawn. The problem came from trying to do anything more than that. When I tried to get into the very serious, heavy-duty typing, it fell apart, leaving it in shambles. I ran into three distinct problems: typing lag, performance problems with large documents, and formatting issues.

By far typing lag was the worst one, though, and from some research seemed to be a systemic problem with the Android UI itself when running in horizontal orientation, which of course the whole tablet is when the keyboard is docked. I type at a fairly high speed (at the moment doing a test on TypingTest.com I received a score of 79 wpm adjusted for errors, but all night I am fumbling up typing both this and that so it was with a large number of errors), and when I would try typing on the tablet after just a few words it would start lagging and to see if I was typing correctly I would have to stop and wait. This is with multiple programs I tried: Kingsoft Office, OfficeSuite Pro, QuickOffice Pro HD, and something else I deleted right away so I don't remember anymore. The only two programs I had that wouldn't lag were DocumentsToGo and the built-in Polaris Office.

With those out of the question for actual typing, I did try to use them for reading through the work I had already done. I have two documents making up the Pocketwatch, "privateworld.dotx" and "privateworld ahead.docx", which make up Act 1 and Acts 2-3 respectively of the book (becuase I started in the middle when I got the idea for the book), as well as a document called "REF-PrivateWorld" which is an export of my StoryLines project for the book which contains the full story sequence-by-sequence. Trying to read the REF document was a disaster, nearly all of the programs either simply got an error reading it or rendered it with the tables in the document blank. But aside from that all of the programs struggled sluggishly to scroll through the documents making it difficult to read back to make sure I got something correct or to jump somewhere else to work on a different part.

Which left formatting issues. Polaris Office only can save in .doc format, which is why when I very first got the tablet I purchased DocumentsToGo (QuickOffice I purchased later in a sale, and OfficeSuite Pro I was using the trial of, for reference), because at the time it looked like the best option. I use .docx format exclusively since I started using Windows Phone, since that's the format that the Office Mobile 2010 saves in, syncing with my Skydrive once Mango came out (none of the Android productivty suites sync with Skydrive at this time, so I use FolderSync for that). However as I did some work on the book (in July, actually) I discovered that DocumentsToGo doesn't format the way I want it to, double-spacing new paragraphs (which I could ignore somewhat), and shifting the entire paragraph indentation when pressing tab, which was a much bigger issue with me. I eventually found in the settings where to adjust the spacing for new paragraphs, but nothing I could do in the configuration would let me get DocumentsToGo to not make everything at the same indentation, I could not use tabs to start new paragraphs. And this made formatting a mess once I brought it back into Word on the PC, so ultimately that was not an acceptible program for the task. This is why I tried all the other programs, but with the abhorrent lag problem I was left with no other choice than to work with Polaris, saving in .doc format to reconvert later, much to my disdain. But that didn't work well either for me, because, as it turned out, Polaris liked to jump back to the top of the document if I stopped to think for a while on what to type next, making me have to go through the sluggish task of scrolling back to where I was again.

And that's how it went. The tablet, the Android platform altogether, works for a lot of things, but serious authoring it just does not, or at least that was my experience with it. From what I've seen of Jelly Bean its supposed to fix the root cause of the typing lag issue, but who knows when that will roll out to the Transformer Prime. But its too late for that now, the trips are done, and I ended up getting very little work done on the tablet. And that's the end of the experiment. Windows 8 will be out soon, and Transformer-like devices will be coming out for that, leaving the decision simple from there: go go back to Windows, which is a long proven (on x86, not going to get an ARM Windows 8 tablet) platform, where these same problems aren't going to exist because the OS has long been designed for the tasks I want to do, and I will be able to use a "real" productivity suite on it (sticking with Office, but LibreOffice and WordPerfect are just as viable options), as well as being able to program on the go as well.


Date posted: 22 08 12 - 19:56
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« So, Writing A Novel |   » Let's Try This Again
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