Starting 2016: fancy a spot of techno-meltdown?

No, I know comfort eating DOES NOT HELP.

It is 15.12 uk time. I know I may be sounding like the X-Files. I feel even Mulder and Scully would be tearing their hair out by now at this impenetrable mystery: why does technology, every so often, gang up on one so comprehensively that only two alternatives are feasible, ie stand out on the public highway and have a loud screaming tantrum, or eat an extremely squidgy, delicious Portuguese custard tart?

Being a highly evolved human, I am opting for the latter. For now…

Today, Friday, is my writing day. I look forward to it keenly. It brings peace, reflective space, and not having to talk to anyone all day if I don’t have to. Sometimes, I even manage to write something people want to read. Bliss.

The Writing Cave
The Writing Cave

Bearing the above in mind, consider my day. I arrive at the Writing Cave, eagerly looking forward to writing two blog posts, one featuring a Guest contribution from a writer I very much admire. The other is in response to something I’ve just seen on Facebook – one of those entirely admirable space videos with shouty captions telling us how infinitesimally minute we are, therefore entirely without any right whatsoever to moan about anything at all. I’m already composing a response…

HOWEVER: I cannot get onto my WiFi (EE, just in case anyone else wants to shout at them and ask for a rental refund). Two mobile calls to The Husband establish that where he is, his email works perfectly, thank you very much. I am not consoled. After spending an hour pacing up and down the Writing Cave reading an extremely erudite book about the archetypal significance of the dwarf planeEris, I try EE again. No luck. A quick google via my 4G mobile phone establishes that there has been an EE problem for several days in various parts of the UK. Faint consolation: at least it’s not a problem with my computer.

I form a plan. I’ll pop over to my favourite Friday lunch hangout and lurking place – that wee gem, the Hidden Lane Tearoom. I can use their wifi. So, loading my computer into my backpack, off I go, much cheered in anticipation of lovely people and a tasty lunch.

Oh dear. The lovely Audrey has got her head down in an emptying premises, and is morosely sweeping up. “We’re having to close early. The power is off in quite a few places in the area.”

To say I was less than pleased might just be an understatement. Having sympathised and problem-shared, I head off to my other favourite hangout. Great music, lovely sandwiches, dozens of different coffees and teas to choose from. CC & T. (Go there. Soon.) They are bound to have public wifi.

They don’t. I can now feel mild hysteria beginning to build up. Not a good sign. To quell it, I order a delicious looking toasted cheese and salami sandwich and some Brazilian blend filter coffee. First bite in – and a great spray of tomatoey oil squirts out of the sandwich, globbing over my best purple scarf, jeans, and my favourite grey cashmere cardi. Mine host is most kind, giving me some hot water and a cloth to mop myself up. I leave it to you, dear Reader, to intuit my mood and state of mind at this point…

However, as is often the case, I have found, when up to one’s ears in a crappy day  – a ray of light in the form of kindness penetrates the fast-encroaching gloom. Mine host proffers the shop’s wifi code. Success! I am on line. And – only slightly delayed by a small altercation with the upgraded and supposedly improved WordPress site – I have my inspiration for the day.

By the way – the custard tart was delicious!


650 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


To the Website! Chapter One

Susan Elena is quite a woman! I am a person of somewhat fixed ideas, and she has proved herself expert at dynamiting them. For example, I would have spent months angst-ridden over exactly WHEN to launch the website – but she simply went ahead and did it in mid May. I had no intention of posting anything else on this blog page until September – but, quailing under her humorously withering look when I said I’d post an article for practice then take it off, I have as you can see simply left it on….

The intention in posting To the website! Chapter One is very simple : to encourage all writers to GET A WEBSITE ! I hope this encourages you, wherever you are….

” Much of 2007 was taken up in reflecting on a challenging topic: should I become more computer literate – a writer with a website – or sink slowly to the bottom of an ageing and increasingly befuddled slime of computer-refusing baby-boomers?

Befuddled slime did not appeal, and my old second hand laptop was throwing minor but alarming wobblers. Then the decision was sealed late January 2008 by a visit to the Women Writers Network website, an excellent organisation of which I am a member. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Only four members of the network had sites listed then.(2009 update: sadly, Women Writers Network is no more….)

Researching writers’ websites glaringly exposed the limitations of my dial-up. Its slowness made it impossible to access many sites. Something else became very clear. Having a website meant investing in a new computer and some form of broadband. I could access broadband and WiFi from home. But my office building has no WiFi and my office – being a place to hide – has no phone line. Next conclusion: I needed mobile broadband.

Three things became evident from my restricted and patchy research. First, it is mad to be a writer, especially if like me you will shortly have a book to promote, and not have a website. Second, you need to decide on a focus: author-focused, book-focused, or issue-focused. Third, if you are not technically-minded, you need to find an anorak, preferably under thirty, who won’t charge you the earth, will set up the site competently, and steer you patiently through the whole process.

I found my anorak, a can-do, competent young woman of twenty-eight : Susan Elena. Then I hit the wall, waking up at 3 am with acute anxiety. The prospect of what lay ahead felt overwhelmingly daunting. My state of retreat and paralysis lasted much of March.

However, early in April the paralysis broke with a simple decision. I would set aside website building meantime, to concentrate first on acquiring the new computer and going on mobile broadband. The very next afternoon I was able to go into my office – where, incidentally, the building, being tarted up to enable a public enquiry, was crawling with noisy workmen – and get down on paper my website requirements and sample home page. I had been putting off this task for weeks.

On Monday 14 April I had a one-hour shopping appointment to discuss my requirements with one of the staff at the AppleMac store in central Glasgow – Justin. He was great. Tuesday saw me buy a new MacBook, taking out a three-year aftercare plan which a friend described as “the best value on the planet”. He was right. The support I had initially could not have been better. Further visits on Wednesday and Friday ironed out some initial teething problems. On Friday morning, I returned to the store with a mobile broadband package, which Justin installed in a mere fifteen minutes.

At 3pm on Friday 18th April, I sat in my office and stuck the mobile broadband dongle into my new Mac. I am now connected – watch this space! “

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Chapter Two of To the website! will appear when the site is ready to go live officially….ie in September 2008