Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taking the Desktop Offline

The primary function of my netbook - that is, going on the Internet - is going well enough that I've decided to take my workhorse desktop offline 90% of the time. Other than occasional administrative stuff, my desktop doesn't need to go online anymore. While I cannot make it a single-tasker yet (it's more of a double- or triple-tasker), I foresee my personal "slow food" computing revolution come to life.

My desktop handles music recording/mixing, video editing/animation, and (let's call it) advanced number crunching. I'll leave the trivial yet sometimes overwhelming multitude of Web-based and document-based tasks for the netbook, as well as personal entertainment and education: My netbook contains the Desmond-centric episodes of Lost in iTunes (in case I want to time travel with everyone's favorite Scottish-Peruvian Jesus), as well as eAudiobooks with limited library DRM licenses in the Windows Media Player. Until I can get my hands on an 8-core tower with lots of room for PCIe cards (make it two or three of 'em), I feel this is a good arrangement.

Desktop...netbook...screw notebooks (for now). Notebooks represent doing heavy lifting on the run. That's fine for some people, just not me. I'll do some extraordinary computer-based work with immobile equipment and quick work with lightweight equipment. I find it funny that the OK-sized 8.9 or 9-inch netbooks are now joined by newer 10-inch netbooks, apparently upgrading and growing until we get back to regular notebook laptop monitor sizes.

As for smart phones...I don't feel comfortable blogging with my thumbs. I don't quite understand 3G networks, either. I know there are USB antennas that connect to a service, but I don't know what constitutes a good price - and what kind of bandwidth limits come with the price. $60 per month just seems too steep to go online, when you can easily find outside Internet access at Starbucks (which I own...still, sadly) or at a public library. I think you get mere kilobytes for $20 per month access.

So here's my conclusion (currently) concerning notebook-sized laptops and 3G networks: If I have to go to Antarctica or the Amazon, I'll buy a Toughbook notebook and subscribe to a 3G network. I could blog while using the Toughbook as a shield against the elements and predatory animals. Until then, a subnotebook-sized netbook (with a five-hour battery) protected by a travel DVD player slip case, and carried in a regular backpack will do just fine.

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