Aeon Timeline, Revisited — and Two Displays are Always With Me #amwriting

Aeon Timeline is back on my desktop
Aeon Timeline is back on my desktop
The last time I mentioned Aeon Timeline I was in glorious Dulles International Airport, coming home from a funeral and trying to get some writing done. At that time, I was abandoning it as a tool, since it didn’t support my workflow very well.

Fast forward nearly three years: I have the beta version of Aeon Timeline 2 (AT2), and it rocks.

I’m not going to do a full-up review: it’s still not released, and it would not be fair. But it was definitely worth the $25 for the pre-order and early access. Enough to say, that the much closer linking to Scrivener makes it practical for me to use AT2 despite the fact that I’m starting to use it after writing two-thirds of a novel. As a result, I have my narrator character’s life actually described; I know how old he is, what schools he’s gone to — his prior career, his new career, the events that shaped him…

It has its problems, of course — but it’s so much more usable than the old AT — for me — that I tolerate the occasional quirk.

Oh yes — that’s my new Macbook in that picture, with AT2 on the main screen, and Scrivener on my iPad 3rd gen as a second display via Duet Display. Duet is a wired (only!) solution for using an iPad as a second display for a Mac or Windows machine. (Or even an iPhone — but I tried my iPhone as a second display, and trust me, an iPhone 5c is a lousy second display. It might work OK on an iPhone 6 Plus — if you try it, let me know.)

This solution works fine in a situation where I can plug my Macbook into power — the wired USB connection keeps my iPad charged, and Duet is fast enough to not even really be aware that it’s a software simulator rather than a hardware monitor that’s my second screen. But if I can’t plug in, the iPad will quickly vampirize the Macbook’s battery. For cases like that (no outlets, or I forgot my Macbook charger), I use the Splashtop Extended Wireless Display app. I already had the Splashtop streamer on my Mac in order to use the Mac Mini remotely; it got installed when I upgraded to the MacBook, so why not leverage? It’s a WiFi solution to using an iPad as a second display; as such it lags a bit on the iPad 3 — but it gives me a second screen without drawing down my MacBook battery for it. I can even use it without a real WiFi network handy — I use my iPhone as a portable hotspot, connect both the Macbook and the iPad to it via WiFi, and I’m computing. With two displays. It doesn’t even use my data plan as it’s all local data transference.

I love technology.

NaNoWriMo’s Done — But I’m Not

Screenshot 2015-12-01 14.54.07I’m not giving up. Yes, even though I didn’t get halfway — look at that graph! I’ve been writing EVERY SINGLE DAY since November 20. Given how far I’d sunk into despair — yes, I was thinking, “What’s the use? I’m not even writing…” — That’s a remarkable comeback.

So I’m back at the Starbucks in Burbank (What’s that you ask? Why Burbank? In a moment…) writing this afternoon. I’ve been going to Starbucks in various locations often, as I seem to get at least a few words written when I get out of the house, and none when I stay in.

As for why Burbank — I found the Starbucks at Verdugo and Olive a few months ago after shopping at the IKEA store, also in Burbank. This Starbucks is a spacious store, and particularly well-supplied with power outlets and comfy chairs. Parking is free, too, which is no longer the case with the Starbucks closest to my home.

I really like comfy chairs, nice overstuffed chairs I can curl up in, with my iPad and its keyboard. I’ve even (gasp) taken my Mac Mini with me, plugged it in, and used my iPad as a wired monitor. The software to do this is called Duet Display, and lets me avoid all the remote desktop v. Index Card v. folder sync with text editor challenges — I just use Scrivener on my Mac Mini. Problems solved. Of course, since the Mac Mini is a desktop computer and therefore has no batteries, I must journey to a place with lots of power outlets. So if I want to write on the subway (yes, we have subways here in Los Angeles) I still must use other solutions.

I may even break down and get a Mac laptop. I feel like a traitor to mobile device writing (having converted before 2005 via Palm OS PDAs), but there it is — there’s no release date for iOS Scrivener except “not in 2015.” I’m way too spoiled by Scrivener to go back to anything else. And the good folks at Literature and Latte are not putting any effort into improving their other sync schemes because they have chosen to put their effort into Scrivener iOS. So… the Mac Mini is over five years old. It’s about replacement time anyway (I’ve already replaced both the DVD drive and the hard drive.) So a MacBook Air may be in my near future.