Technology and the easily-distracted mind

Since I started my PhD adventure I have been finding it hard to focus, with reading academic texts and writing anything meaningful being particular issues.  I am often a little bit tired and struggling to juggle too many thoughts and tasks.  I am hoping my newly acquired piece of late 1990s technology will help rid me of some distractions.

It’s hard to say what the root causes are but in particular my computer has become a double-edged sword.  Unfortunately, since I seem to have lost my willpower, I keep impaling myself on the unhelpful edge.  Academic paper to read?  After two or three impenetrable sentences I’ll happily find something to take my mind off it.  This normally involves the Web in some way.  Wikipedia is the worst culprit.  What begins with a quick lookup of something relevant will, through an implausibly small number of links, end up with me reading about Carlos Hathcock’s sniping exploits.

But this bad boy promises to hold some of the answers.

A picture of my AlphaSmart 2000 showing text from this blog post on it's screen.


It’s a keyboard with 128kB of storage split into separate “files” and a 40 x 4 character LCD display.  You type, it stores.  When you’re ready you connect it to a USB port, open up any program that supports text input and hit send.  The text appears on the screen.  That’s all there is to it.

No Web, no email, no games, nothing but unformatted text.  No to mention hundreds of hours typing on 3 AA batteries, no hard disc, no screen hinges, no heat and no noise other than the tapping of the keys.  £25 of solid, designed for schoolchildren eBay goodness.

I’ll report back on my first AlphaSmart-enabled trip to the library.

(This post was powered by AlphaSmart.)


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