A few weeks back I was talking about my bookstand and how friggin’ wonderful it is when it comes to typing up notes from various readings. In that blog entry I mentioned something about doing a top ten items list, so I figured it was high time to pull that together.
#1- a good chair.
Admittedly, it was not until I was in the final stages of preparation for my exams that having a good chair for working at my desk became a priority. Until then I had been using the same desk chair I had been using since high school – an antique wooden chair with embroidery work done by my great-grandmother. Needless to say it was old and uncomfortable and my ass fell asleep all the time. The vast majority of the furniture in my home are items I have inherited from family members, with the exception of my couch and two book cases (other things like book cases made from cinder blocks and planks of pine don’t really count as furniture).
The lovely Herman Miller Aeron Chair in the picture to the left is not what I have as my desk chair. In fact, my fantastic desk chair was given to my lovely man friend as he had several good leather desk chairs just hanging around his office. It is tall and swivels and has arm rests; it is cushy enough that my ass does not fall asleep; and it is large enough that I can curl up in it in silly positions while writing. All and all this is the #1 for writing.
#2 – my laptop.
Okay, so maybe I am wrong about #1. Perhaps #1 should be my much beloved MacBook. Oh how I love you darling MacBook. We have been through so much together in the past few years. So many drafts, so much note taking, and so much shopping on the internet when I should have been writing. Truly, I am a big fan of my computer. But Mac or PC, laptop or desktop so long as you have what works for you, makes you happy, and is reliable, then there is little more for me to say.
#3 – book flags.
I am not sure how many books I have out from the library right now, but I think it is safe to say that I have a lot. Once upon a time in my pre-PhD student days I used to buy most books that I found myself often using. And then I was accepted to a PhD program, woke up, and realized what it was like to live on a grad student stipend. It is now a rare thing that I buy a book (honestly that makes me rather sad to admit), but I really do love our library and Ohio Link is the bomb! That said all people treat library books differently, and I am just not one of those people who can write in library books. I know others do it. I know others feel free to mark up library books in pencil and sometimes even in pen (!!!), but that is just not me. Book flags, while perhaps and unnecessary indulgence (yes, I could probably make due with post-it notes, or more specifically a few pads of post-it notes that could wander home with me from the office if I was a more morally flexible person) are my way of not ruining library books.
While I have not yet figured out a color coding system for my reading for the dissertation, I had one for my exams (one which matched the highlighter color for that subject too [yes, I know I am a dork]) and that really did work out nicely.
#4 – back-up.
I am someone who is rather paranoid about backing up my work as I know one too many horror stories about friends and co-workers losing precious chapters and pages to unexpected crashes, viruses, and other things. Apple’s Time Capsule (pictured left) is perfect. It is wireless back-up hard drive and a wireless router in one. It also holds 1TB or 2TBs worth of data. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Time Capsule, but I do have 500G external hard drive which works wonderfully with the Mac OS X Time Machine feature – automatic full back-up ever five minutes and the ability to revert to previous back-ups from each day of the week. My external HD is not wireless, so this the Time Capsule is what I dream of when I am far from my desk and working away.
For me, however, having an external HD at home is not good enough. What if someone breaks into the house and steals my computer and my back-up hard drive? What if there is a fire or a flood or a power surge that even overtakes the surge protectors? Like I said, I am a wee bit paranoid about losing my work. In addition to the external HD I have an automatic back-up to an off site server provided by Mozy. Each morning when I turn on the computer it automatically syncs and updates any and all work that has been changed from the previous day. Genius.
#5 – dropbox.
Most days I work from home, but there days when I am on campus working on the dissertation or when I am teaching and need to pull up a file or have 30 minutes between meetings and know that I can revise a section of a funding application. While flash drives are nice, I get confused after awhile as to which file has all of the latest revisions and I fear copying over the right one with the wrong one…. Enter Dropbox. Dropbox is an application you can download to your computer and it works on your computer as a hard drive, but it is actually a hard drive located on an external server. What makes dropbox different is that I can install the application on multiple computers and even an iPhone (if Verizon ever gets the iPhone contract – sigh) and anytime I change a file on one computer it automatically updates all of the other computers when I turn them on. If, perchance, I am at a public computer then all is still fine, but I have to manually download and upload the file to dropbox when I am done working on it (oh so hard!). Last week I told one of my fellow writing center colleagues about dropbox and she nearly cried with excitement over how much this changes he life. Yes, it is that good!