Input wanted on hiking with Scrivener for Windows

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brygun
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Sun May 21, 2017 6:47 pm Post

(Not sure which part of the forum to post in. If moderators relocate please let me know where to find the thread)

Salutations writers,

My question pertains to a vision of doing writing in the woods away from my Windows desktop. This likely will come to include a portable solar panel for ongoing power. Based on the weight vs power of the current solar panels I'm suspecting a Tablet will be the way to go. A laptop as well as being heavier in the pack needs more power and I feel is more prone to breaking during a hiking mishap. I'm not an Apple person. Compatibility with the home Windows desktop (and existing laptop) is also important.

The hiking may sometimes be 'deep', as in off grid, or 'shallow', as in a city a regional park.

I am wondering about what experience or suggestions people have for this. Particular questions are:

1) What affordable tablets with keyboards are suitable for Scrivener? Any to stay away from?

2) Moving data files between them when back home. I have seen the warnings that USB sticks work well with Scrivener due to their buffering technologies. I could use a USB stick to move the files to and from. A cloud service might be possible when back in an internet accessible zone.

3) Any general advice on this?

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devinganger
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Mon May 22, 2017 7:47 am Post

Unfortunately, the only general advice I can think of is that you will need to get very specific technical details for both your solar panel charger device and your laptop/tablet. Accurate power consumption details are hard to come by, if only because there are so many variables that change based on what software you have, what tasks the device does on boot-up, etc.

Tablets will probably be better for you just because you need to have an easy way to charge your device and most laptops (or laptop replacements like the Surface line) have proprietary chargers (or require DC power bricks with one of several common plugs, but much higher amperage ratings). Most Windows tablets I've seen can charge from USB input, but typically want 2.1-2.4A input current in order to work and charge. The higher the amperage your solar charger provides, the faster your device will charge up to a certain point.

Don't forget the voltage/recharge requirements of your keyboard -- I would recommend one that uses Bluetooth LE (Bluetooth 4.0) as a minimum for reduced radio wattage/power use. Same for your mouse -- trying to use Scrivener on Windows without a mouse or touchpad is not the nicest experience in the world, definitely not in touch on a small tablet (even with a stylus). For those, if they are not rechargeable via USB as well, I would use rechargeable batteries and get a separate solar rechargers just for those. A lot of hikers I know can rig those smaller panels to the back/top of their pack and recharge batteries for peripherals while they're hiking.

One good community you might want to reach out to who might have specific models and device recommendations are your local amateur radio (ham) groups. A lot of us like to take our radios out in the woods and have devoted a lot of research and practical experience in how to get usable power off the grid.
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kewms
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Mon May 22, 2017 7:38 pm Post

Be very specific about what the tablet you want to get can do. Scrivener will not run on the original Surface tablet or any other device using Windows RT or an ARM processor. It will also not run on an Android tablet. You need something that runs true "desktop" Windows. This will necessarily push you into more power-thirsty devices.

On the other hand, Scrivener's own computing needs are pretty modest, especially if you're just writing text. You certainly don't need a higher end "desktop replacement" tablet. (In the Apple world, this would be the iPad Pro. I don't know what the Microsoft equivalent is.)

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JimRac
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Tue May 23, 2017 12:43 am Post

This is a very cool goal! Best of luck with it. Here are some thoughts.

1) To flip Katherine's question around, what apps besides Scrivener do you want to be able to run while hanging out at Walden's pond? If you are just looking to write and will only be using Scrivener, then you may want to reconsider your stance on an Apple device. I was not an Apple person either until I tried iOS Scrivener on my iPhone 5s - that changed everything. It's awesome. You may want to compare power usage running, say, an Apple iPad Mini against an MS Surface. (I don't know enough about Windows tablets to know if there are smaller model that will run desktop Windows.)

There are a lot of foldable bluetooth keyboards out there. I'm very happy with the Perixx PERIBOARD-805L II W (W=white one supports iOS, there's also a B=black one which supports Windows/Android.) It's aluminium, so sturdy but maybe heavier than plastic ones. Battery charge lasts weeks.

You could get a case for the tablet that includes a keyboard, some people love them. If you go with a stand alone keyboard, you may want to consider some type of very thin lap desk to put the tablet and the keyboard on. In that scenario, you'd also want a case that will prop the tablet up.

2) Whether you go with Window or iOS, I strongly recommend getting a free DropBox Basic account and using that for syncing your live projects. When you are off the internet, you can work as normal on the device off-line. When you get back on the internet, your projects will automatically sync themselves (Windows) or you can make them sync (iOS) to Dropbox.

Similarly, you can have Scrivener send zipped backups to another cloud service, e.g. MS OneDrive or Google Drive. This is painless in Windows, where similar to Dropbox, the backups will be stored locally when you are off-line, and will upload automatically when you connect to the internet.

This is trickier in iOS. When offline, I cannot send a zipped archive to MS OneDrive (the file transfer fails), but I can to Google Drive or iCloud (the file is transfered from Scrivener to the cloud app, and then when the internet connection is restored, it is uploaded to the cloud).

When you are off the grid, if on Windows I recommend backing up your zipped backups folder to USB. I would have two USB drives, would alternate them, and would keep them in waterproof containers in separate places in your gear. That way if a bear walks off with your back pack in her mouth, you won't feel compelled to wrestle her for your tablet *and* your USB drives!

On the iOS side, I believe you can use products like the Leef iBridge (lightning connector to USB stick) to transfer zipped archives from iOS to USB, but I haven't used one myself and I don't know whether iOS Scrivener will recognize it or not.


3) Test it all out in your backyard before you go off the grid! Bring a paper notebook and pencil just in case! :)
Last edited by JimRac on Tue May 23, 2017 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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derick
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Tue May 23, 2017 4:29 pm Post

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Last edited by derick on Wed May 24, 2017 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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devinganger
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Tue May 23, 2017 8:01 pm Post

derick wrote:I'd suggest a used ipad (I run scrivener on a 2013 ipad air with no problems) and Anker solar charging pack. I have a folding keyboard (Microsoft) which i would NOT recommend unless you're going to be at a picnic table. Otherwise you should get something that can sit flat.

Battery life on that keyboard is measured in weeks.


iPads don't run Windows. The OP requested Windows and this is a Scrivener for Windows sub-forum.
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IndyRobitaille
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Tue May 23, 2017 8:38 pm Post

You have sound advice from everyone that has already posted, so I thought I would offer my experience as both a hiker and writer... I have hiked/snowshoed/canoed with various technology and I also prefer to write with a windows laptop on Scrivener. That being said, I break all my rules when hiking. I tend to take my cell phone and backup batteries with a wireless bluetooth keyboard. Then I transfer anything I write into Scrivener after I return. The transferring is a bit of a pain, but it keeps my pack light and when I tried using tablets or taking my laptop- I always had some sort of issue. I hike in very remote locations, so trying to get a solar panel to work doesn't always happen when you want it to. If you can charge a small backup battery- it makes life much easier.
I would also recommend putting these in a ziplock inside your dry pack because it is a very long trip if you happen to rip your dry pack and expose anything to rain. I realize this sounds obvious, but you never know when you will hypothetically slide down a mountain side to retrieve electronic bits after getting caught on a branch. Hypothetically...
I would also suggest that if you have the space, you should pack an additional charging cord. I once had one fail and had to spend the rest of the trip lugging around expensive paperweights as a result.
Good luck and be safe!

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brygun
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Tue May 23, 2017 10:00 pm Post

OP back, thanks for the input. Best Buy had a sale and I grabbed a tablet to try.

http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/product/ace ... 59531.aspx?

Luckily its an Atom processor so hopefully will work out.

The key specs are:

1.44GHz Intel AtomTM x5-Z8300 quad-core processor with 4GB of RAM delivers reliable performance for your everyday computing needs
64GB eMMC flash memory storage offers space to store your applications and software
10.1" HD IPS LCD touchscreen display with 1280 x 800 resolution gives you a clear viewing experience
Detachable keyboard allows you to go from laptop to tablet at will

In researching tablets in general I did at times find people saying that 32 GB flash memory would be largely filled by OS and a few applications. This one has 64 so should be fine.

>>>

Tablet battery power of 10 hours means it might be good for 1-2 nights, as in a weekend. My hopeful plans, aka dream, is to bug-out into the woods for several days at a time. A portable battery is an option. Most solar panels come with batteries, to hold the solar acquired energy. I may look into the portable battery as it is still a useful item. Canada weather often being cloudy really lowers solar panel effectiveness.

It could be a matter of the tablet alone 1-2 days. Tablet+battery 3-4 days and solar panel recharging battery 5-10. The upper limit being time available and food supplies.

>>>

FYI I'm not configuring for ultra-light camping, more likely to get to 40 lbs+ including solar panel, several days food etc. One could reconfig for ultra-light or working light. However, I live in Canada and weather changes are multiple times a day so safe gear loads tend to be larger for the different conditions.

>>>

Re ham radio operators and off grid power. Any link to get in touch with them? A forum of theirs? You can send by PM if you wish.

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brygun
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Tue May 23, 2017 10:10 pm Post

PS...

Regarding protecting them while hiking. You betcha! You added some ideas too.

I did get a tablet case that should allow me to tab on it while its raining. Mind you it won't work with the integrated keyboard. I'm also thinking of getting a fold-over drybag to add more protection while travelling. During hikes in the drybag inside the backpack, possibly with a rain cover on the backpack or a poncho extending over.
Some padding just for the laptop might be an idea, like an extra sweater.

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brygun
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Tue May 23, 2017 10:15 pm Post

PPS

I was able to install Scrivener and open a testing project. Appears this tablet is capable of running Scrivener.

It is new so there is tons of configuration to do, including sweeping out alot of the microsoft ad type stuff :roll:

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brygun
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Tue May 23, 2017 10:35 pm Post

Some peripheral tests for this system found I can use off-shelf standard USB mouse (though it would drain power) and a wireless keyboard (which uses 2 x AA) that uses the USB port.

I'm considering a wireless keyboard/mouse combo with them using internal AA batteries. They do tend to last weeks and AA battery spares are already likely for the flashlight etc.

This particular tablet has a full size USB port on the keyboard attachment. The tablet itself has only a micro USB. When hooked up I could use the USB to a squid or wireless combo to have more finger space for typing.

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matsgz
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Wed May 24, 2017 10:29 am Post

devinganger wrote:
derick wrote:I'd suggest a used ipad (I run scrivener on a 2013 ipad air with no problems) and Anker solar charging pack. I have a folding keyboard (Microsoft) which i would NOT recommend unless you're going to be at a picnic table. Otherwise you should get something that can sit flat.

Battery life on that keyboard is measured in weeks.


iPads don't run Windows. The OP requested Windows and this is a Scrivener for Windows sub-forum.


No need dissing those that come with good advice.

The OP wrote:

brygun wrote:My question pertains to a vision of doing writing away from my Windows desktop.


He or she talked about doing it on a tablet and move it one way or other to the desktop machine. iPad is a tablet that runs Scrivener and syncs to Windows. So what's the problem? Why the sandboxing?
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xiamenese
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Wed May 24, 2017 12:03 pm Post

Also, this is not a "Scrivener for Windows sub-forum", it's the "Scrivener Tips" forum!

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devinganger
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Wed May 24, 2017 4:55 pm Post

xiamenese wrote:Also, this is not a "Scrivener for Windows sub-forum", it's the "Scrivener Tips" forum!


True. Mis-read the forum breadcrumbs on that one! Thanks for keeping me honest.
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devinganger
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Wed May 24, 2017 4:59 pm Post

matsgz wrote:
devinganger wrote:iPads don't run Windows. The OP requested Windows and this is a Scrivener for Windows sub-forum.


No need dissing those that come with good advice.

The OP wrote:

brygun wrote:My question pertains to a vision of doing writing away from my Windows desktop.


He or she talked about doing it on a tablet and move it one way or other to the desktop machine. iPad is a tablet that runs Scrivener and syncs to Windows. So what's the problem? Why the sandboxing?


Because the OP also wrote "I am not an Apple person" and "compatibility with the home Windows desktop (and existing laptop) is also important" -- and Scrivener is an important piece of that, but maybe not all of it.

In general, when people say "I'm looking for X but not Y" it's rude to say "You should do Y." iPads are wonderful machines, but not everyone likes them or wants them or needs them, and when somebody explicitly says as part of their initial requirements "not Apple" then maybe they know what they're talking about and an Apple solution is not going to meet all of their needs. So why waste their time?
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