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Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Dyslexic Blogger

I am a relevant newcomer to blogging. So why bother? I am dyslexic. I am naturally left handed but was forced to switch to writing with my right hand after 3 years of learning to write with my left hand. That sent my mild dyslexia into over drive.

Computers set my mind free. I found talents and abilities I never thought possible. I bought an Amiga computer in the mid 80's and fell in love with computers. Since 1989 my whole life and livelihood has been based around computers. Working as a 3D artist and Video Editor in games to teaching 3D, video and photography today. Things I love.

It took me a long time to learn to enjoy reading. I used to only read technically based books. They got to a point quickly. I really did not enjoy reading at all, because I literally could not see the forest for the trees. Far too many words on a page with no point in view. It took some friends reading a series of books and raving about them before I forced myself to read on. Eventually I learned to enjoy reading fiction, and especially lots of science fiction.

If reading took awhile to catch on you can imagine how long it took to enjoy writing. I know I am not an elegant writer. But at least I can communicate my thoughts relatively clearly. I remember watching some tv show where I heard, "nothing more creative then putting pen to paper and start writing". As a dyslexic, I've never enjoyed putting pen to paper. But I did enjoy putting my fingers to the keyboard, and hand on mouse.

Getting back to my earlier question, why bother blogging at the late date I started. I've found blogging to be cathartic. I've let out a lot frustrations and shared some ideas. It's helped me process deeper issues even if I was not directly addressing them in a particular blog.

By the way have you ever noticed that dyslexics never misspell the word dyslexia?

Twitter and Twhirl

How can I describe twitter? It's an amazing place to share thoughts, ideas, everyday events, pose questions and receive answers. It's a place to link up with people you know or you might enjoy hearing from.

With twitter you follow people meaning you receive their updates, and if they follow back, they receive your updates. It's limited to 140 characters, like an sms. It's described as a micro blogging site. But calling twitter just a micro blogging does it an injustice. It's also defined as social networking, but that term will become overused soon enough.

How did I start on twitter? There are some podcasts like this week in tech, windows weekly and macbreak weekly. That's where I heard about twitter and those were the people I followed at first (Leo Laport, Paul Thurott, etc). As I learned more about twitter I sought people with interesting bio's and similar interests.

I love twitter. I am not out there to shamelessly self promote myself (maybe just a bit). But I enjoy communication. Email just does not hold an allure for me any more. At work I receive so much multi recipient email that has no relevance to me it's hard to sift through my inbox to find anything that might be important.

If you or someone is discussing something newsworthy or important you can add a (#) tag (called hash tag). During the Israeli Gaza war you could search for tweets from people on the ground. Rather than wait for the news to report what was going on, you could read it in real time. Obviously there will be some misinformation, but I am intelligent enough to sort it out.

You can access twitter at There are also various twitter client applications created. I have tried a number of them but the one I have found with the most useful features and intuitive to use is Twhirl. It runs and macs and pc's.

Why twhirl? Number one it's fast. It's easy to keep up with the real time stream of thoughts that is twitter. In twitter you can send messages that are part of your public time line. You can reply or you can send direct messages to people easily. You might thank someone for following you with a direct message so your public time line is not full of "Thanks for following" over and over. Twitterers tend to get annoyed at seeing that. Twhirl makes it very easy to retweet a post. Retweeting is reposting a very important, interesting relevant or cool post from someone you follow,  so your followers can read them and potentially follow whoever originally tweeted it.

I suppose I can best sum up twhirl as the one twitter application that felt the most natural for me to use. What does that mean? I am a long time computer user and if some program does not suit me, I just won't use it at all. I don't care if it's supposed to be the hottest thing out there, if something does not work in a way I like, then forget it.

I am a 3D artist. I have used Alias, Wavefront, Softimage, Maya, 3DS Max, Lightwave and old 3D programs that ran on my Amiga. Even though other programs are popular, the 2 I like the most are Softimage and 3DS Max. The features  are easily and intuitively accessible.

So twitter makes sense to me, and I love using twhirl, what can I say. I suppose I could delve further in to the technical issues that make it the one I like, but believe it or not this is not a tech blog.  Except lately I happen to be focusing on a lot of tech. The Grandkids have not been puking on the furniture lately (they are older now) so there is no reason to blog my frustrations in that area of my life.

I still have a lot to learn to get the most out of twitter. And sometimes I use the twitter web site for posting and reading replies. But I do enjoy using twhirl. Watching tweets go by till something catches my attention and then continuing the conversation. After all, that is what I like to do, communicate.