Tuesday, 16 September 2008

One's office

In much the same way as the mortgage-ignoring song line "Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home" goes, so the modern work version is "Wherever my laptop has a wireless broadband connection, that's my office."

One's latest acquisition is the Asus EEE laptop. I've been sceptical of the emerging range of small, cheap, light laptops, on the grounds that they may not have the power to handle what I need to do for work. Plus, the keyboard may be too tiny for my big hands to use, and the battery may run out too quickly.

Turns out I was wrong. I'm loving this new laptop. The screen is bright and sharp, and the battery lasts for six hours. The time it takes from switch on to when I can do stuff is much quicker than on my 4 year old goliath Dell laptop (which cost several times as much and is several times heavier), and on the 28 month old Dell desktop (the key advantage of which is the large screen).

The quietness is noticeable. No hard drive, just a solid state memory. So most of the time it's totally silent. It's also powerful enough for work, being able to nimbly handle virtual worlds such as Second Life. The keyboard turned out to be fine, too.

So my "office" - the physical part - has now become this:


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The laptop being light and cheap has two other advantages. It's easy to lug around, and if something disastrous happens to it e.g. at airport security, it isn't a huge financial loss. A by-product of this is that, for some people, laptops are now literally becoming a "disposable" item.

There's one item not pictured to add to the passport, memory stick (for backup and easier transfer of files), laptop and credit card, and that's a broadband dongle to give you extra options for getting online in the UK and Northern Europe.

Those five items together - which can fit inside a small shoulder bag - are pretty much the core office. Periphery items such as toothbrushes, clothes, pen and paper are temporary and incidental, and can just be bought and discarded anywhere. I noticed during a summer cleanout that, apart from my underwear (for some reason, cheaper in the UK than anywhere else), all my other clothes have been bought on trips abroad when needed and when the exchange rate has been attractive.

Anyway, back to playing/working with my new toy/mobile office, which goes by the name of "Samantha." This is in recognition of one of the earliest examples of the truly mobile laptop-based authors, who also wrote one of my favourite pieces of travel writing.

11 comments:

  1. Does it really run Second Life OK? Interesting...

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  2. Dear Mr Fossett. Yes, it does. A bit twitchy and not quite as smooth flowing as on the desktop, but fine for wandering and exploring. To be specific it's a ASUS Eee PC 901 Netbook, Windows XP Preloaded, 1GB RAM.May not be that suitable for doing any serious developing in SL though, due to the small screen size, unless you've got really good eyesight.

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  3. Nice! I really really want one. Any reason you chose the XP version? Apart from the fact it's XP and not Linux, the Linux version has a 20GB SSD and then you could have installed XP on it (if you wanted too that is)

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  4. Cool new toy. Why the windows model though?

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  5. I have one which I just lurv to bits. Unfortunately, using a wireless connection in Italy it caught a bug and has had to go back to the manufacturer BUT I filled in the form and 2 days later as promised the label for UPS arrived and a couple of hours later UPS appeared and took it away. Now I only have to wait for it to come back fixed to be truly impressed with their customer services.

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  6. Colin, David: It was a present, and I wanted a no-hassle, no messing around Windows XP based thing. Tested on a few virtual worlds and it works fine, and that's crucial for work.

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  7. I am a happy owner of Asus pc and like you said it is just really easy to travel with. The little screen is not ideal to work with but it suffices for updating my blog, checking e-mail, calling friends on Skype and listening to the radio. http://karelianblonde.blogspot.com/search?q=Blonde+Laptop

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  8. Do you have a broadband dongle? I have an Orange one from work, and last time I was home in Muir of Aird, Benbecula, it never worked due to lack of signal! If you have one in Berneray, which network?

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  9. Colin: no dongle yet. Need to evaluate likely locations where I'll need and use it over the terms of the contract plan. If it works here as well, added bonus, but not essential. I may go for Vodaphone, which have heard people have got to work on Benbecula, or three.

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  10. cool - maybe when you get one you could do an entry on your experiences on it up in Uist

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  11. The asus went away as came back 2 days later in full working order. V.impressed - it had a faulty motherboard

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