Categories
Writing

A Review of Sprinter

A person writing at a table in a notebook/journal.

So, for the past couple of days, I’ve been using the Sprinter distraction-free writing environment by Freewrite/Astrohaus. And so far, I think it’s an okay environment to give you a semi-distraction free writing environment.

The Sprinter environment is rather simple. It’s a drafting tool with no formatting tools, no spell check, only one real way to go back and edit things (the backspace key). It is good for what it is: a way to birth your ideas into the world. Editing comes later. In this sense, Sprinter does its job.

The Good

Firstly, it’s free. And I don’t mean it in the same sense as the Danger Notes app is free, but it has ads once you finish each sprint. I mean it in the sense that it’s not only free but ad-free. You can use the environment as a completely distraction-free writing environment.

Secondly, it allows you to sign up for Postbox, which is their own syncing service. I wanted to sign up for Postbox immediately because I had recently bought a Freewrite Hemingway Special Edition Smart Typewriter. Though, that’s a bit of a mouthful so I’m just going to call it the Hemingwrite. Postbox also allows you to set up a connection between it and Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. I chose Evernote because I have over a decade’s worth of notes in there.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it gives you (to a certain degree) the space and freedom to just write. In just two days, I wound up writing 3,844 words across two projects I am working on.

Fourthly, it gets you to commit to and explore ideas because, again, you’re disincentivized to go back and fix things. For example, I thought that I wanted to give my main character strawberry blonde hair but then, I had realized that a paragraph or two before, I gave her red hair. Now, if I were on Scrivener, I could have just gone back to that paragraph and fixed it. However, because I was in Sprinter, if I wanted to go back, I would have had to delete everything I had written from that point. In short, you’re sort of incentivized to commit to what you’ve written and move on.

The Bad

Now, time to get down to the bad. And the first bad thing is that sometimes, inexplicably, you can lose your whole draft. Now, thankfully, I had the wherewithal to set up Postbox pretty quickly upon getting the membership. This included syncing to Evernote. There was a time delay between when I lost the draft and when it would be removed from Evernote, so I had to act fast. I was able to grab a fairly complete copy of what I lost, copy and paste it into Scrivener and finish the sprint.

Now, if you’re just saving this to Postbox, you’ll likely have a bad time. But, if you save it to a third party streaming service like Evernote, you’ll probably be able to recover your draft. But why should you have to be prepared like that?

The Ugly

Firstly, by default, you’re going to be using Folder A with no means of moving content between folders. Now, with any review of the Freewrite Smart Typewriter or Traveller, you’ll know that one of the things you get is a folder system that lets you sort drafts into three folders, A, B, and C. However, when you use Sprinter, everything saves into Folder A and I’m not entirely sure why.

Secondly, and this is crucial, you’re (presumably) accessing it on your computer. And this leaves you open to notifications. While it is true you can disable most (or all) notifications by creating different focuses in OS X, this doesn’t stop Facebook from pinging in your browser if you have it in another tab. It doesn’t stop the other apps you have open from showing their red dots to try to get your attention.

Also, if you want to use it as a drafting site to blog, you might find it difficult to use a more rigid template. After all, this is just a blank screen for you to put your text on. Copying and pasting don’t work in this environment.

Sprinter, in Summary

Overall, would I continue to use Sprinter? Long term, no. But until UPS sends me my new Hemingwrite, I think I’ll continue to use Sprinter to draft with the keen awareness to have Evernote at the ready to pop open just in case it eats another one of my drafts.

Also, I earned an achievement for writing my first 1,000 words through the service. I hope that the image for this achievement has a transparent background so it’ll look nice whenever I get around to setting up dark mode on this site. 🙂

Categories
Life

Learning French on Duolingo

I'm on Section 3 of the Duolingo French course, which corresponds to the A1 level.

So, I am currently learning French and while I’m not quite good yet, I feel like I’m making slight progress. However, I feel like I’m moving up the skill tree quite slowly. After all, I’m learning on Duolingo and I finally got around to finishing Section 2 of Duolingo’s French course. I also don’t feel like I’m getting a good sense of past tense/future tense, even though I am learning a few words (like pleuvoir) that describe something that’s going to happen.

Now, I feel that the way I started did help me to learn a bit more with learning on Duolingo. The first bit of work I did was a French course in community college with a native French speaker from Africa. This helped me with my pronunciation and I feel like I focused a lot on that. This was critical for helping me to speak French better.

Further, Section 3 (which I am currently on) is still the equivalent of CEFR level A1. However, I had an evaluation with someone from the local Alliance française in my town. They placed me on level A2.1. They did mention that I don’t have the past and future tenses solid. However, they think I know enough to be able to flourish in the A2.1 classes.

So, what comes next, after Duolingo?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure. According to their course, they can get me up to level B2 on the CEFR. Even though I do have aspirations to learn a couple more languages, I do want to be just as fluent in French as I am in English.

So, what other languages am I planning to learn?

Spanish

The first result I got when I searched Pexels for "Mexico".

Well, it depends on when I get to level B2 of French. Pragmatically speaking, Spanish would be useful. After all, I’m planning to have three surgeries in two Spanish-speaking countries (Mexico and Spain, in case you were curious). And I feel it would be incredibly critical to be able to speak to people in those countries.

I also know that if I learned Spanish, I would be able to increase my reach. After all, I do want to be an educator on trans issues. To be able to do this effectively, I need to be able to communicate with more people. So, I would want to be able to communicate and relate to Spanish-speaking people. In other words, I have a mission-minded motivation to learn Spanish too.

Furthermore, I feel that Spanish would provide me a gateway to learning Hebrew. I know that statement would cause a few people to scratch their heads in wonder. However, it’s not that shocking. There is a Jewish language in the Diaspora called Ladino and it’s actually a language spoken by Sephardic Jews. Another name for it is Judaeo-Spanish. I also find it intellectually fascinating and a unique way to approach Hebrew.

German

The inside of a German train station.

However, my intellectual curiosity is pulling me towards German. I’m incredibly curious about learning German because English is a Germanic language. I feel that learning German would give me a greater appreciation for and understanding of my native tongue. I also distinctly remember wanting to learn German when I was a kid. However, I honestly don’t remember why.

Furthermore, I know that Yiddish has Germanic roots. I feel that increasing my knowledge in German would help me to learn Yiddish. And I feel that learning Yiddish, like learning Ladino, would help me to learn Hebrew.

Japanese

Akihabara

Then, there’s also the weeb in me and as a result, Japanese is a contender for my next language. I’d like to be able to watch anime and read manga without dubs or subtitles. I also feel that it would give me access to more manga and anime. After all, I wouldn’t have to wait until some fan group dubbed or subbed a particular series. I remember waiting anxiously while a fan group of subbers were slowly releasing episodes of Bleach. It was excruciating and I’d love to be a bit more independent in this regard.

So, what resources do I plan to use to perfect my French?

Honestly, not sure. I’ve heard good things from Evan Edinger about Clozemaster. I also plan to read more French and QuĂ©becois news and listen to French-language podcasts.

Categories
Writing

Write The Truest Sentence That You Know

That sentence was once written by Ernest Hemingway. No, not the “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” one. That is a screengrab from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Misery. But it does loop so well, no?

Now, I’m not sure I could ever write poetry. Best I could do is a limerick about a trans woman from Nantucket. But I know I have stories in me that can be told. I’m currently working on a couple of romance novels and a weird fiction story that I’m actually kinda proud of. I’m working to write them all by the end of the year.

Categories
Uncategorized

Why I’m Sticking With Dvorak

Anyone who’s ever tried to use any computer I’ve had over the past decade has learned the hard way that I’m a Dvorak typist. In fact, I’ve been typing on the Dvorak keyboard layout for almost a decade now. I learned the Dvorak keyboard layout during the 2013 floods in Boulder County, Colorado. At the time, I was living in Longmont. I was stuck at home due to the rain. Transit wasn’t running at all, so I needed something to do to pass the time. So, I decided to whip out a keyboard map I printed from the Dvorak Zine and switch my new MacBook’s keyboard to Dvorak. No time like the present!

Confession Time: Why I Needed To Learn the Dvorak Layout

A bird perched atop a branch
I bet this bird could hunt and peck.

I used to hunt and peck when typing. Yes, I was someone who programmed for a living and was hunting and pecking. I learned a ton of bad habits when I was learning how to type, which is odd since I took a keyboarding class in high school. However, my typing speed was never that great. It was high time to fix that shit. Dvorak was my ticket to touch typing.

And it worked. I’ve been touch typing ever since I spent a week learning the Dvorak keyboard layout. Now, the thing is… can I tell you where the “o” is on a Dvorak keyboard? Sure. Could I tell you if I weren’t allowed to move at all and/or I weren’t in front of a Qwerty keyboard? Not a chance. I’d be telling you from muscle memory. I know that my left ring finger would be the one to hit the “o” on the Dvorak keyboard, meaning that it would be the letter “s” on the Qwerty keyboard. It’s pure muscle memory.

Enter Colemak

A race.

So, if I’ve found a tool that works for me, why bring it up? Point is, I’ve been aware of another alternative keyboard layout called Colemak. And I’ve given a little thought to switching to Colemak. But the thing is, my speed is pretty appreciable and based on the advice of others, I don’t think Colemak could help improve it any further. I know I could hit 70-ish WPM if I took a typing test without preparing right now.

Point is, Dvorak is doing what I need it to do for me. I type pretty well and I do so without having to look at the keyboard except if someone hypothetically asked me why I’m hitting the wrong keys and yet, typing the right words. But usually, I’m too fast for people to notice that sort of thing. The fact that randos typically can’t just walk up and use my laptop is an added bonus.

I’m not looking to be a speed demon. I’m just looking to start writing novels.