January 2008 Archives

January 24, 2008

Take your Kindle to the beach

Just after Christmas I got away for a few days to Jamaica.  All I did for 5 days was read.  I read by the beach, by the pool, in bed.  It was lovely.

But unlike every other vacation I've ever taken, I didn't take a large pile of books.  Instead, I took my Kindle.  And a small pile of books.  (I wouldn't want to end up in another country with nothing to read.  Heaven forbid!)

Understand, even if I don't have time to read more than a few books, I like having choices.  And I like to be able to leave off a book for a while and try something else.

The lure of the Kindle is instant gratification: you get bored with a book, you can download another one in less than a minute.  But that doesn't apply if you're outside the US.  So the night before I left, I bought five more books.  Ah, choices.

I did end up finish four books over my little vacation:

I read more than I have in years.  And I think I know why: no internet!

Another reason I like my Mac: it's QUIET

My Mac Mini may not be the most powerful computer I have in the house, but it has one huge virtue: it's quiet.  I love that.  

The earliest Mini's didn't have a fan.  This one has one, but it is amazingly quiet. 

Nice work.

January 17, 2008

A great laptop bag: The North Face Surge

I carried around an Intel-branded laptop backpack for perhaps 8 or 9 years.  I got it when I worked at CNN, and at the time computer backpacks were not common. 

Various parts were finally giving way, so I decided to buy a new bag as a Christmas present with money my folks gave me. 

I started trying to do some research, but ended up going down to REI to see what I could find.

I picked up a North Face Surge, and I've been very happy with it.   Features I like:

  • Unlike the Intel bag, this is a true backpack, and it feels very good on the back.  I've learned why hip and chest straps are good.
  • It has a little pocket for power cords.  It actually took me a while to find it - it's on the front of the bag at the bottom. 
  • No separate sleeve - the pocket closet to the straps is padded.
  • Small pocket just for electronics - iPod, etc.
  • Very well organized outer most pocket for pens and all the random stuff I carry.  
It's not a cheap bag - around $100 - but if it lasts as long as my last bag, it could serve me for 10 years.  Highly recommended.

I'm happy with my MacBook - no Air for me

My experience with the the Mac Mini I bought in October has made me a convert.  Even though I built a new AMD-based Windows system at the same time that's faster than my Mini, I like the Mac environment.  And for those Windows applications that I can't live without, VMWare Fusion works just fine.   So since October, the Mac has been my primary environment. 

I've never spent my own money for a laptop.  I work in IT, and since 1996, every company I've worked for has provided me a Windows laptop.  But it seemed unlikely that a company would buy me a Mac laptop.  So in December the bug bit me, and I bought a black MacBook. 

I was never really in the market for a sub-notebook, and the specs on the air don't attract me.  1.6 Ghz processor vs my 2.2.  2 gig of ram vs the 4 gig I put in mine.  (From Fry's - only $90 with rebates!)  No DVD.  80 gig 4200 RM drive vs my 160gb 5400.  Higher res screen on the Air - that's nice - but not worth the extra money.

The lower weight and sleekness isn't necessary for me.  The Macbook is already thinner and lighter than the other Windows laptops I've had.   I like it a lot.