I’m not sure where I read it, but I remember someone remarking that the term “Road Warrior”, was dreamed up by marketing bods to make sales reps feel that there is something glamorous about a lifestyle involving being holed up in a travel lodge in a different place each night, working on a spreadsheet on their laptop. I don’t quite fall into that category, but I am working in a few different places (albeit mostly a skateboard/bike/car journey away from home). I’m doing all of this on a laptop (lovely black macbook) – and even when working at home, I don’t have a desktop machine anymore, preferring just to plug my macbook into a mouse/keyboard/monitor, rather than consider having a dedicated desktop machine.
I’m trying to avoid gushing about the macbook, but it has so far proved to be a massive step up from my 12″ powerbook. The powerbook was great too, but I quickly went out and replaced it when I struggled to use it on a day to day basis in a freelance situation – where I would turn up at a clients site and be expected to get straight down to working all day, without the luxury of plugging it into external peripherals (other than a mouse), and often not being able to get access to other machines for testing in IE etc. My hands would “fall off” the sides of the keyboard, the screen resolution was too low, it was slow, and it was just useless trying to use virtual PC to do testing in multiple versions of IE. So the powerbook will now hopefully see a few more years service as a more than adequate general home living room email, web, word processor, print server and music/ video jukebox machine.
The macbook, with 2gb of ram and a copy of windows XP running in a VM using parallels in coherence mode, has (touch wood) improved the situation massively. The screen resolution is adequate, speed is significantly better, the keyboard is lovely (I actually prefer it to an external keyboard – the “spaced out keys” seem to suit my clumsy typing style) and it has a solid, sleek feel to it. I know some people see them as expensive, but even with the highest spec model it is still under a grand, which makes it cost effective in my eyes, as I hope/expect to get a few years out of it. Parallels is excellent – although I struggled with it before I upgraded my RAM from 1gb to 2gb, it now runs really well and I have it open most of the time, with multiple versions of IE and other windows apps just a click away and opening almost seamlessly, but otherwise working within OSX.
I’m also chuffed to find out that the macbook has wifi reception in the apparent wifi “deadspot” in my garden, where my powerbook wouldn’t find my network. I’d been out and bought a wifi range extender to resolve this, but haven’t yet set it up, and probably won’t need to now. I’d heard before that the aluminium case on powerbooks inhibits the wifi reception, which might explain this.
i’ve also inherited a PDA phone – a T-mobile Vario II (pocket PC with 3G, wifi and slide out QWERTY keyboard). These have a reputation for being flaky, but it has been reliable for me so far, and incredibly useful – terminal services has come in handy for restarting services on one of my windows servers when I can’t access any other way, and I have pocket putty on there in case I need to ssh into a server (haven’t needed to yet other than to try it out). The pop email client works well with gmail, although i’ve disabled it for the time being due to the high volume of email I get. I installed the missing sync software on the mac and syncing works fine, and it is working as a bluetooth modem for the mac after installing a 3rd party modem script.
My main gripes with the Vario would be battery life (less than a day if you are using a lot of the features like wifi), and a bit of fiddliness – I often have to get the stylus out to find a contact and make a phone call. It’s also a bit bulky and no iPhone in the looks department. Also I haven’t fully figured out the wifi – it seems to randomly try to connect to any available network when switched on, not what I want. Other times (seemingly random) it gives me a list of options via a notification, but not necessarily the options I want). When connected seems to work fine (other than the aforementioned battery guzzling) – good with skype etc.
I always go on (and on…) about how I chose a 12″ powerbook because it was really portable and had decent battery life. Thinking about it, it isn’t that much more portable than a bigger powerbook or macbook, but it has better battery life than those with bigger screens. Now that I have a new battery in here I have to gush about how nice it is to have really useable battery life. Last night I watched a film (well a long TV episode) on battery power, listened to about an hour of radio paradise over wifi, and then here I am this morning, blogging, surfing and doing some web development and still have a third of my battery left. All this time i’ve had wifi on, screen at full brightness and about 10 applications open.
and just like that my battery fixed itself! Ha. if only – I actually coughed up and bought one from ebay in the end as the Apple store one isn’t going to arrive until well after plone conf seattle (but when it does i’ll have a spare which will give me a full working days worth of battery power). I think the calibration is confused at the moment as it thinks I have 4539mAh capacity (out of 4400mAh) – the battery status think in mac osx is stuck on “calculating”
I’m surprised that I still can’t find an ftp export plugin for iPhoto. This would be really handy for maintaining websites but also using the ftp facility with photobox . In fact a photobox export plugin for iPhoto would be even better. If anyone knows of one or a tried and tested solution please leave a comment here!
I now get just 9 minutes per charge on my powerbook battery, and today i’ve forgotten to bring my power adaptor out with me. I’m blogging this in caffe gusto with the screen very dim! Just enough time to check me email I hope, before it goes to sleep and I have to stare out of the window for a while (I should have agreed to take a copy of the metro off the insistent vendor today for once).
i’ve now gone full circle and am using my powerbook (plus second monitor, keyboard, mouse etc) as my main work machine. The windows laptop now sits on the edge of the desk so I can reach over for IE testing. Using windows as my main machine drove me mad. unexplained freezes, random system tray frenzied disco icon action, “insufficient ram” messages, despite me having over a gig of it and only using about 200mb of it. Flakiness.
Being back on the mac feels lovely, even if I do have to skate a couple of miles with it in my backpack to get it here. The battery now only gives me about 30mins – new one on order (wait, did I already blog that?).
Someone else here is using an intel mac mini with a stack of ram and parallels for windows testing. works a treat. need to distract them and steal it!
I threw this question out on the underscore mailing list today (typos corrected – at least you can do that with blog posts):-
i’m gutted that my powerbook battery isn’t eligible for replacement due to the recent recall, as i’m only getting about an hour out of now, so looking for a cheap replacement. Looking on ebay there are two cheapskate options :-
1. supposedly genuine apple batteries, coming from china
2. non-apple batteries
anybody had any good/ bad experiences with either of these options? anyone been stung for import duty with stuff coming from china? anyone lost any body parts to an exploding battery?
I was then pointed in the direction of coconut battery, a handy little app for analysing your battery. It shoes that mine has about 40% of the capacity that it had when it was new – translates to about an hour of use on a full charge. So it it obviously needs replacing – anyone out there able to recommend or warn me off the cheap batteries I found on ebay, as opposed to forking up twice the price for a genuine replacement from apple?
This is just a mandatory “i’m just trying out another desktop blogging tool” post. I’ve just downloaded flock, mainly to see if the built in blogging tool is a suitable solution for OSX. So far so good – not sure whether this thing supposts categories, although I haven’t actually got any categories yet so…
For the past few months i’ve been using mainly windows for web development, because I seem to find myself doing a lot of testing in IE, and I was fed up of lugging my powerbook to and from work (on a skateboard), so I nagged netsight into buying me a cheap laptop to use here and to take on client visits. Set up on an iCurve stand with a second monitor it has proved to be a nice little set-up. One thing I have noticed is that it gets into a panic if you do something such as unplugging a cable at the wrong time and I do find myself rebooting quite often compared to my mac. It is nowhere near as portable and robust as the powerbook. Always paranoid of the viruses too..
At home i’ve ended up running ubuntu linux with windows running as a virtual machine in the excellent and FREE vmware server. The powerbook will shortly be married to an apple studio display as a living-room friendly multimedia machine and workstation. I have probably spent an unhealthy amount of time getting myself in a situation where I can do everything from every machine – using putty in windows to develop on the linux and osx machines, vnc, terminal services, shared folders. I justify this because I am after all a developer and I have my reasons for using all these setups. If I wasn’t a developer I would just stick with the powerbook.