Ode To My Phone

Our smart phones have become an extension of our lives. I was using mine the other day, typing away at a chapter on a story and took a moment to think how great this thing really is.

So a nerd love letter from me to my phone.


The first part is easy, and it should be. Above all other things, we use these devices to communicate. The phone part, sure. Text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it, there is an app, and we chat… All of us. Inherently I think this is the primary function, and use, of our phones: Talking to other humans.

We love it. And rightly fully so. I can be sitting in a museum in Ottawa and show a picture to my mother who is on vacation in Denver in an instant.

With our phones we are now close, even when we are not.


This one turns out to be a section on its own. Adding cameras to cell phones wasn’t an obvious thing when it first happened. They were small, took bad pictures, and you couldn’t really do much with them.


Yes, I have a DLSR and a few nice lenses. I have a few old film cameras and love taking them out.

But my primary camera is my phone. It is an older phone, and yet still takes amazing shots. Coupled with the fact that it is always with me, and it is easily my number 1 camera.

Add in all the effects apps such as Hipstamatic (my personal go-to) and editing is also possible on my phone.

New York City #hiptstamatic
New York City #hiptstamatic


I recently got a Bluetooth keyboard for my phone. I have a Logitech one that is fantastic, BUT it doesn’t travel well because of its size. So I use it with my phone, but only in certain places.

I wanted one that could go more with me, and so I ended up grabbing an iClever one that folds up, and has a little ergonomic angle too it (my keyboard of choice will always be the Microsoft Natural…)

Portable Awesome
Portable Awesome

This paired with a mini stand to hold the phone at an angle, and suddenly I have the hardware combination that turns my phone into something very useful for on the go writing.

I have Byword on my phone, something I’ve raved about before. Also Scrivener as well, which is pretty powerful in its phone edition. DayOne (for now at least, grr subscription fees) for my journals. Notes for… Uh, notes. Evernote as well. Even Pages / Word / Google Docs.

All in a little package that folds up, comes apart and fits in my pocket.

All Packed Up to Go
All Packed Up to Go


I’m not good at this part, but still I love it. I have a few drawing apps on my phone, mostly Sketchbook is the one I use, but Paper and Sketches Pro are also great.

I can doodle away, anywhere, and make some neat things. I’ve seen what people with actual drawing skill can do on these little apps and it is amazing.

I have worked on book covers on my phone before, using Pixelmator to edit some files on the go.

And More…

Duolingo to learn Spanish. Buddify to practice meditation. Amazon to buy things. Podcast apps, Scanner Pro which will let you scan in documents by taking picture of them. Spreadsheet apps. Libib which I used to categorize my books. Run keeper and MyFitnessPal to help with my body.

My phone is my main source of music these days. Purchased, streaming, ripped from CD and synced over.

Ebooks from many sources for reading on the go.

And of course the Internet itself, in my hand for whatever new need pops up.

News, weather, reminders, grocery lists, calendar, all there.

Why did you write this?

Other than an excuse to use my new keyboard? (That’s right, composing this on Byword on my phone.)

I have friends in all kinds of places, doing all kinds of things.

A reminder of the versatility of the tool that someone already has can be a good thing. As someone whose first computer when he was a kid was a Mac Classic, I can say the power available to us in our phones is amazing.

Just from a publishing standpoint, I could write a book, edit a book, make the cover using pictures I took, produce a PDF and ePub file of that book, ALL on my phone.

And yes, specialized tools will always be better, but not all of us have those, nor can afford them. And it isn’t “making do” if it works. If it is working, then we are working.

After The Data Is Safe

I am currently writing this on Typora installed on Ubuntu, which I am running on a thumbdrive.

Persistent live, to be specific. It isn’t perfect. For example, it will not boot at all on my other computer. And yet, on this one, it seems to work fine.

I had a realization recently. While data is always king, and backing it up is important, I found myself without a computer recently. My computer crashed recently and had to be sent in for repair.

And while the data was all safe, I found myself with a different problem: work is more than just data, it is also workspace, applications, overall setup.

My email was safe, but without my computer, I could not check it. My ebooks were safe, but without my computer, I could not make more. My book covers were safe…

Get the picture?

So I spent that time while I awaited my computer to return setting up my wife’s computer for my use. Now I had a true back up, not just of files, but of function.

And still, the idea that I could have a full Linux install on a thumb drive, set up the way I wanted, to use on any hardware I could find is very appealing. This is a mini computer, just add, well, the computer.

I tried several things, from setting up a live USB drive, attempting a full install. It took a bit, but finally I got it. I used the live USB to set up MKUSB, and use this tutorial to make the drive.

It has a partition set up in FAT32 format, so when I put it in a normal computer, it will work like a thumb drive.

And all of that sounds great… but it still doesn’t boot on my computer, just my wife’s. Which tells me it will be not as clear cut to use.

So while the idea is still appealing, the execution is still wanting. I’ve not given up on this idea.

But think of it for a moment for yourself: what do you need to work other than your data?

(and for you Windows people, consider Portable Apps as well)

What Happens to your story before Publication

So, ever wonder what happens to your story in-between the submitted Word document and the final output? Here is a quick overview of what I do.

  1. I copy and paste the story into plain text. This strips out all formatting, all styles, but most importantly, all of the sins of the word processor used to create it.
  2. It is Find and Replace time! Remove the Tabs, and double spaces after punctuation. Change it so ultimately it is two hard returns after a paragraph, with no hard or soft ones in-between.
  3. Quotes are straightened, single and double. Each dash and hyphen is inspected to ensure it is the correct punctuation mark.
  4. Any spacing between sections is normalized. I use either * * * or just blank space.
  5. I open up the original again, and reformat any italics in the piece. I check to make sure the paragraph breaks are correct, all the section breaks were marked.

And now I have a clean and correctly formatted version of your story in a TXT file. From here, I can convert it to DOCX or EPUB or just about anything I want without formatting worries. If there is a change to be made, I can make it in the TXT file, and it is changed everywhere.