Musings & Thoughts for Thursday, May 6, 2021, or: Keeping Tabs on My New Laptop & Change is Afoot for My Blog

Hello, Dear Reader. It’s almost midday on Thursday, May 6, 2021 here in New Hometown, Florida. It is hot and muggy outside on this mid-spring day; the temperature outside is 86˚ Fahrenheit (30˚ Celsius) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 71% and the wind blowing from the west at 4 miles per hour (6 kilometers per hour), the heat index is 93˚ Fahrenheit (34˚ Celsius). The forecast for today calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 89˚ Fahrenheit (32˚ Celsius). Tonight, we can expect mostly clear skies and a low of 71˚ Fahrenheit (22˚ Celsius).

Well, yesterday UPS delivered my new Logitech – MX Anywhere 2S Wireless Laser Mouse, thus completing the first of two shipments connected to my recent purchase of a new Lenovo Ideapad. My Hewlett-Packard/Compaq laptop died last week after many years of hard use, although I had not used it regularly since I moved here from the Miami area six years ago. It ran on the Windows Vista Home Edition operating system, which was already old when I bought the laptop back in 2009 as a backup for my Hewlett-Packard desktop; Microsoft ceased mainstream support of Vista back in 2012 (when the company was rolling out Windows 7) and ended extended support on April 11, 2017.

I have a small Lenovo Thinkpad on hand as an emergency backup for this computer; it was one of my last major purchases while I lived in Miami, and because I had not used it much in the six years since Amazon delivered it at my former home, I wasn’t 100% aware of its limitations as a backup. Yes, it runs on Windows 10 like its big brother, the Lenovo all-in-one that I bought late in 2014. Yes, it has a lot of free space in its hard drive because I have not installed a lot of apps or programs on it. Yes, I’ve synched my Office 365 account on it so I can work on Word documents outside of this room, which really wasn’t something I really thought about doing until the Caregiver decided to move me out of the master bedroom and turned my study/man cave into my bedroom, as well.

I tried using the Lenovo Thinkpad for an extended time the other day; I synched my Office 365 account on it, then successfully added my Amazon Music and Steam accounts for entertainment purposes. The Thinkpad is the first computer of any kind that I’ve owned without either a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, and even though it is a backup and not a primary computer, I don’t want to be limited to surfing the web or using it for just writing blog posts, reviews, or the occasional letter. So I downloaded three games from my Steam library and, of course, the music app so I can still listen to music while I write.

And that, Dear Reader, is when I realized that although the Thinkpad is going to be fine for out-of-the-blue, short duration sessions of either writing or gaming, it’s not ideal for occasions in which I want (or need) to use a laptop for an extended period of time.

And so, even though I was not thrilled about it, I bit the proverbial bullet and ordered a Lenovo – IdeaPad S340 15″ Touch-Screen Laptop on May 1. Then, Best Buy was asking $599.99 (before sales taxes); today, it’s listed at Best Buy at its original price of $799.99. I also ordered the Logitech mouse that arrived yesterday from somewhere in Ohio.

I don’t know where my Lenovo – IdeaPad S340 15″ Touch-Screen Laptop is at the moment; it’s listed in the “Orders” page of my BestBuy.com account as Shipped, but UPS has not yet provided the seller with a tracking number. The only thing Best Buy can tell me is that the new computer will get here by next Monday. Stay tuned.

Some (Necessary) Changes to ‘A Certain Point of View, Too’

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but WordPress and Spotify have joined forces (in a way) to allow bloggers to turn their posts into podcasts via Spotify’s Anchor app. It’s a new and – I think – cool way for content creators to widen their reach across the blogsphere, and I thought I’d give it a try.

There are two ways in which you can create your own podcast once you create a free account on Anchor. Ideally, you can let the app access your PC’s microphone and you can read and record your posts. If you’re comfortable in front of a mic, have a pleasant speaking voice and like performing to an audience, this is the best way to go.

I, on the other hand, decided to go with the “synthetic voice” option. I don’t have an unpleasant voice – I sang in my school choirs in elementary and high school, after all – but I do not do well as a “spoken word” performer. I’m also not keen on giving an app access to my PC’s mic. Call me paranoid – I have been called worse – but if I don’t give Facebook permission to access the microphones or cameras on my phone and computers, there’s no way that I’m going to give Spotify/Anchor access to my microphones.

So after listening to a sample of the male “synthvoice” – its name is “Cassidy” – I went with the automated text-to-audio option instead.

I’ve converted a handful of posts into podcasts using Anchor, and although I am mostly satisfied with the results, I do have to make a few adjustments to the text-and-pictures version of this blog to take into account some of the issues I have with Anchor.

For instance, Anchor’s software converts every word or character in a post – including photo captions or the numeric indicator of a footnote – from text into audio. It does not discriminate, like a human reader would, between text that is meant to be read aloud – like the main body of a blog post – and purely informational stuff, such as image credits or copyright information under illustrations that are not an author’s own work.

I like to use pictures and YouTube videos to add relevant visuals to my blog posts. Sometimes I use photos I take with my phone’s camera, but most of the time I use images from Pixabay, Pixels (WordPress’ main source for free photos, and – when I write Star Wars action figure reviews – from Hasbro’s official website, eBay, and online stores.  And since you have to give proper attribution when you use other people’s work on your blog or website, I usually put credits under the photos or illustrations.

This works well in visual media. On audio media? Not so much, especially if you are using an app that converts text to audio.

So…here’s what I’m going to try. I’m going to create an “Image Credits” section at the end of each post with the attributions. If I like the finished product, I’ll keep doing the podcasts. Or letting Anchor do the podcasts. If I don’t, I’ll end the podcast experiment and go back to the old way of attributing other people’s work.

What do you think, Dear Reader? Let me know in the Comments section below.

Well, that about wraps up this installment of A Certain Point of View, Too. It’s already way past noon and I have to do a few other things today, so I will take my leave of you. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Image Credits:

Photo #1: Lenovo, via Best Buy

Photo #2: Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay 

Photo #3: Pixabay

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

4 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Thursday, May 6, 2021, or: Keeping Tabs on My New Laptop & Change is Afoot for My Blog

    1. You can have Anchor convert your text to audio (the female voice is pleasant to listen to) if you want to give it a whirl.

      I’m not sure if I want to make the podcasts EVERY SINGLE DAY, though. It’s not time-consuming to do; it only takes a few minutes for Anchor to do its stuff. But…I am not sure if anyone at all wants to hear my blog!

      Like

  1. I think it’s a good idea to put credits at the end. Seems like it will solve your problem while still giving the credit, and you’ve done it here in way that’s very easy to understand. I always put my image credits at the bottom, as well. I’m kind of intrigued by the article-as-podcast idea, and I would probably try it with my actual voice, since my stuff tends to be in my “voice”, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

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