Food Blogging 101: Tips for Computer Software and Hardware for Food Bloggers and Writers
Most writers want and need to concentrate on the words, not the computer. Computers, by definition, require technical acumen, and many of us have neither the skills nor the desire to learn. The fact is, in today’s world, we must; it will make our lives easier if we do.
Food writers and bloggers do not need extremely powerful computer hardware if they are posting mainly text files. Working with images, however, requires more powerful equipment. Each publisher will require different software and applications.
Software and Applications
If you’re preparing a book in manuscript format, you don’t need a huge desktop publishing package, though that’s what most people seem to end up using. Many authors use Microsoft Word, others swear by a variety of less-common options.
For those writing for print, if at all affordable, I suggest buying Microsoft Word Professional or its equivalent. It offers stricter spelling and grammar checkers and has more complete dictionaries and thesauri for a long list of languages, if you indeed need the language option. Even if you’re doing content writing for online publications, this version of Word will give you a maximum of tools.
If you’re using Windows or another Microsoft operating system, I’d suggest taking a class in how to maneuver it and problem-solve. Whether you’re using Microsoft or Apple, a class in Word is a time-saver in the long run, and it will save you hours of frustration. Learn to use the Format, Insert, View and Tools options, and how to create and use a style sheet. I’ll be giving a summer class in Word for Writers. Fill in the form below to sign up for the class.
Ask the publisher what file format they require, because not everyone will have the most up-to-date versions. If you’re handing in a Word file, it is easy to provide different formats by choosing File, Format, Save As, and then choosing the file format required under Format. When writing for a blog platform, it is easy to transfer your Word files directly into Typepad, Blogger or WordPress using a filter. There may be a bit of formatting cleanup, but it is minimal, and the time it requires is well worth it when you consider all the tools Word provides as compared to a blogging platform.
Which is best, a laptop or a desktop? This is entirely personal.
This depends largely on the space you have in your office or on your desk, and on whether you travel a lot. I have both, because I move around a lot.
Desktops are usually easier to upgrade and upgrades will generally cost less. If you’re running a PC, you can often use generic parts, which can save you money.
If you work with a lot of images, however, the larger the screen the better. I would always choose my iMac over my MacBook for visual work. When you work with images, you’ll also need more capacity in general, i.e. more RAM (live memory), hard disk, faster speed, probably a video card and a sound card, etc. I’m no specialist, but be aware that you need to tell the salesperson that you plan to work with images.
In any case, make sure to get some kind of external backup. This can be in the form of a cloud drive, such as Amazon, Dropbox, iCloud, Google drive or Microsoft Skydrive, or in hardware form. I have a Time Machine as well as a few Seagate portable drives. It’s not the brand that’s all-important; what’s important is that you form the habit of backing up regularly. I started working on mainframes when I was a kid, so I learned to back up every day. I’ve never lost that habit and it’s served me well.
When your hard drive dies, it takes every beautiful image you’ve stored on it, along with every perfectly crafted sentence you’ve ever sweated over. It takes all those hours of your life, and it is often totally unrecoverable. Think hard about that when you’re feeling too tired to make that final effort of backing up every night before turning in.
HARD DISK CRASH
If your hard disk crashes, don’t try and fix it. The first thing to do is turn off the computer.
If you’ve made regular backups, you know you can recover them, and that you haven’t lost much. Data on a crashed hard disk can often be recovered. There are young IT people who do this for a living, or you can take your computer to the nearest computer shop. Just remember, every time you try and recover your data yourself, you are overwriting data, which will make it harder for the professionals to recover it.