Intergalactic planetary

Greetings, fellow spend-what-you-can-before-the-end-0f-the-financial-year-folk.

While (as previously noted) 2013-14 has been a pretty rotten year for ebook sales – although I did sell a dozen copies of The Obituarist after that teaser of the sequel, which is rather awesome – it’s been a pretty decent year for the ol’ day job. And so, with an eye towards getting a nice tax-deductible tool that can be used for publishing, writing and wasting the precious years I have between now and the ever-dark, I bought myself a Samsung Galaxy Tab last weekend.

So sleek. So light. So claimable as a business expense.

(This is the second Android tablet I’ve bought this year. The first was a $99 reconditioned Pendo Pad I bought off eBay, and if it was possible for me to melt plastics with the power of my hate, that goddamn useless piece of shit would be a puddle still cooling in the corner of my study. Whatever you do, do not buy one; just pay someone a hundred bucks to repeatedly punch you in the dick instead.)

I bring this up not to boost or make myself look cool – because hell, we already all know that I’m cool as a motherfucker. But the Galaxy is hopefully more than an executive toy; I want to use this to help with my writing, my business and my general ability to remember to wear pants every day.

So what can it do? I’ve downloaded a fair few apps already; here’s what’s on my mind.


I’m not giving up my Kindle; I think there’s a real advantage to having a device that can only be used for reading, with no other distractions (plus e-paper is better on the eyes). But I’ve got a Kindle app on the Galaxy, if only so I can check how my ebooks look on it. The Galaxy also comes pre-loaded with Google Play Books and Samsung Readers’ Hub, which let me discover that my books aren’t on their respective stores anyway – whoot.

One of the main things I needed the tablet for was reading PDFs; it came installed with Aldiko, but that was a bit unsatisfactory, so after much testing of various apps I replaced it with Mantano. And you know, it’s interesting how much both those apps sound like kaiju. Or sex toys. Or both. Anyway, Mantano’s got its quirks, but it renders PDFs fast and has strong tagging/metadata functionality, which let me spend many a pleasant hour tagging the hundreds RPG PDFs I’ve put on it.

No, I’m not kidding; I really love doing that kind of thing. This is probably why I’ll die alone.


I’m not a big fan of writing directly to a touchscreen; at some point I’ll need to get a keyboard add-on if I’m going to actually use this as a serious writing tool. If/when I do that, I’ll need to look at writing apps; all I have now is an MS Office emulator with limited functionality, good for editing stuff in Dropbox (oh yeah, it has Dropbox and Google Drive) but not much else.

I’m more interested in tools that might help with writing, specifically with tracking and developing ideas and keeping me focused. Evernote was an obvious option; I’ve never used it but I’ve seen other people use it or OneNote to excellent effect as a way of creating notes and collecting information. And I thought I might try mind-mapping ideas occasionally, so I got Mindomo and will see if that does anything for me.

Plus, of course, Wikipedia to look up information. And Urban Dictionary to find out what the young people are calling the stuff I look up on Wikipedia.


You know, I really hate the way we fetishise ‘productivity’ these days. It’s this all-important principle, as if efficiency and output and KPIs were all that mattered. It shits me. On the other hand, I’m lazy and unmotivated and I need to write and to do my job, so a couple of tools won’t go astray.

So far, a couple of tools are all I have; Todolist to make, um, to-do lists, a pomodoro timer to break my various tasks into manageable chunks, Skype and GoToMeeting to communicate with people… I think that’s about it so far. I need to do more thinking here about what I’m trying to achieve (finishing projects, meeting deadlines, not getting fired) and what assistance I might need to do that.

Day Job Stuff

Got quite a bunch of these. But I generally don’t talk much about the ins and outs of educational publishing on this blog, and I’m not going to start now.

Games and Social Media

Nope, not doing that. Leave that for the phone.


Generally not doing that either, except for a music player for bumping soundtracks during gaming writing sessions. The two built into the Galaxy – Samsung Music Player and Google Play Music – are both a bit unsatisfying, and I need to look at alternatives, especially ones that allow me to update song titles and visuals.

Oh, and I found an animated image of a red galaxy slowly rotating through space to use as my wallpaper. Because why the hell not.

What else?

The upshot of this is that I have a very respectable chunk of computing power that I can now hold one-handed while drinking coffee with the other. And I want to do more with it than just stream pirated video while leeching cafe wifi.

So what else can I do? What other apps can I download that aren’t distractions but might instead improve, enhance or at least focus my writing (and publishing) work?

Send me links, people. Recommend me stuff. Tell me what to buy.


2 replies on “Intergalactic planetary”

If you touch-type, make a point of testing keyboards before you buy. Some models have a lag between the fingers hitting the keys and the words appearing on the screen; it took me three keyboards before I settled on one of the logitech models, which more-or-less keeps pace with my typing speed if it’s got fresh batteries.

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