The Temp Set Up

After I lost my MacBook Air last week, I still needed a computer to do work while traveling and also at home, since I was using the laptop as my primary computer. But I didn’t want to spill out a serious amount of money, not only because there was (is) a chance the Air would still show up, but also because, you know, I’m cheap. So I ended up going for an Acer Aspire One netbook. I’ve had one before and liked it although it was ultimately a little too small; this newer edition, however, has an 11.6-inch screen (the other one was 10.1) and what feels like a full-sized keyboard, so we’ll see how it works out. I’m getting along with it just fine, although I am definitely missing the Mac trackpad; it’s ridiculous how much better those are than just about any other trackpad on the market.

Since I was feeling grumpy, I also decided to pick up a Galaxy Tab 2 7-inch tablet, which was also relatively inexpensive. I’ve been wanting something close to a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet, without being locked into either the Amazon or B&N ecosystems, and because I’m one of those people who actually prefers the 7-inch tablet size over the 10-inch size. I like it so far; it’s using Android 4.0, which is a nice operating system, and it’s doing all the things I want a tablet to do.

Between the two of them I should be able to get back to work. Which come to think of it, I need to be getting to right now. I have a backlog. Excuse me.

28 Comments on “The Temp Set Up”

  1. I’ve tried many times to work on just a laptop/notebook but I keep coming back to my desktop system. Not because my laptop doesn’t have enough power or whatever: it’s an i5 with plenty of memory and good video. No, the simple fact is I’m addicted to my old Z-board keyboard and my real mouse. I like the feel of a nice clicky keyboard and having a large screen (1080p 27″) doesn’t do my old eyes any harm either. The next laptop I buy will probably be with a docking station so I can use my existing peripherals as long as my wrists hold out…

  2. I got a Nook tablet when the 8 gig one came out. I was already locked into B&N anyway, so I figured what the heck. I wanted one that I didn’t need any extra cell phone carrier data plan for. So it only as Wifi, but that works for me. It has actually become my primary internet device at home. I see “Tubes” sitting there on your desk too, it’s under some SciFi book by an author whose name escapes me. It’s a pretty good book if you haven’t started reading it yet.

  3. MikeB: I’m with you about how “having a large 27″ screen doesn’t do my old eyes any harm. If they made laptops with screens larger than 17” (my current laptop size), I’d probably use my lappy as my primary. Having said that, I’ve heard many people talk about how they can “plug their laptops in” to their desktop’s monitor. When my last desktop died, I tried plugging my laptop into my desktop’s monitor, so I could still use my computer with the monitor that was most comfortable for my vision. The largest screen size I could get with the laptop was around 20″. For whatever reason, the data wouldn’t fill my 27″ screen. Because of that, I’m sticking with my desktop system as my primary, and I’ll continue to use my laptop only for travel, or situations where I need computer access where none is readily available (visiting my MIL in the hospital, for example).

  4. You’ve locked the Air via iCloud; are you aware of the “Find My Mac” service that Apple also has? If someone gets it on wireless you can find its approximate location.

  5. If that’s an AO722, I’ve had that exact model in my Best Buy shopping cart online for a few days, pondering it as a budget MacBook Air alternative.

    How do you get along with the keyboard? I’m sure it won’t beat the stellar MacBook Air keyboard, and I know it’s not backlit, but does it feel flexy or wobbly at all?

    I have a 10″ Asus, but as you’ve said, it’s just a hair too small. I’m counting on the extra 1.5″ of screen space and the higher resolution to make the Acer more usable as a daily driver.

  6. Kevin Williams:

    Yes, I have it set to phone home the instant someone tries to connect it to the Internet.

    Marko Kloos:

    The keyboard is fine; slightly flexy but not bad, and the keys aren’t especially wobbly. I’ve generally had no problems with Acer keyboards. Generally speaking, the Acer is what it is: an inexpensive computer best suited for text entry and basic Web browsing and computing stuff. As long as you don’t kid yourself about what your $330 is getting you, it’s a nice enough piece of tech.

  7. Boo, sorry about your bag :(.

    The fact that no one’s tried to connect it suggests to me that maybe it’s still working its way through the lost-and-found system. When I lost something on the metro, it took an entire week before it showed up at the lost-and-found facility.

    Cabs are on a different system, but I’d be quite shocked if it was a more efficient one.

  8. You have a copy of Redshirts on your desk.

    Now you’re just teasing us. Blast you!

    (Seriously, though, looking forward to it eagerly!)

  9. John,others, I’d love your thoughts on how the Galaxy Tab is as some sort of primary work system. I’m in the very distant market for a tablet. I’m specifically looking for something that I can take quick notes on while doing research in archives – I want something that’s easy to use, that doesn’t take up a lot of desk space (because those archival folders can be quite large, especially if you want to take a photo of a document), that travels well, and plays my music/videos/doubles as an e-reader when I have downtime, or am travelling via public transit. In terms of writing, I’m thinking maybe a page or two over a week of research – seriously, just jot notes; the sort of thing I used to do on note cards which I promptly lost. Ideally, it would be easy to transfer those jot notes from the tablet to my primary (desktop) computer. Is the Galaxy Tab what I’m looking for, or is it still an expensive toy?

  10. I just got an acer aspire one netbook as well, if under less unfortunate circumstances than yours. So far, seems like quite a nice netbook for the money.

  11. As a result of my job in life I get to play with many tech toys. Currently I have a iPad2, Samsung Galaxy Tab (7 inch original), Kindle (keyboard) and a Samsung Windows 8 tablet. I agree that I love the size of the Galaxy Tab. I thought about getting Tab 2 but was not sure about the performance.

  12. Check out and compare the Blackberry Playbook 7″ tablet. Impressive stats and I must say I just love mine. I don’t even have a Blackberry phone (it’s not necessary to use the tablet) but if you do, it’s a no brainer to get a PB. This isn’t an ad and I’m not getting anything to post this reco. Just check it out.

    Hope you get your gear back, John.

  13. That is exactly the combo of devices my sister-in-law just bought to head out to Cannes. That’s a pretty nice portable combo. I still hope you get back your macbook Air though. Those are SWEET. (And I totally wish I had the cash for one.)

  14. Wow, I had no idea they still made netbooks. I wouldn’t try writing a whole novel on one, odds it’ll die horribly by about chapter 13 are probably good. Still, something to amuse your future grandchildren with I suppose.

  15. I’ve seen your picture of work area before and this time noted 2 things. 1. you’ve got everything setup in a very small space efficient way which made me go “hey I need to do that!” and 2. Does it every bug you to look up and be staring at the corner of the wall? I’m guessing not because you’ve had the setup quite some time books keep coming.

  16. No external keyboard so you can put the laptop on a one-foot stack of books or something? Makes my neck hurt just thinking about extended typing sessions. Personally, I really need that gap between keyboard and display.

  17. Oh Gracious Host, you have my sympathies, since I’ve been in a reasonably similar position myself recently.

    About two weeks back, my little Acer laptop which I’d been using as a PC-equivalent for most of its lifetime (about 3 – 4 years) decided to die on me. Just bluescreened once, and dropped dead. Which would have been annoying any time it happened, but on the particular Wednesday it chose to do it, I had a 1500 word lab report due that Friday, a 2000 word essay due the following Wednesday, and a statistics interpretation assignment due the Friday after that. Consequently the computer meltdown triggered one all of my very own.

    Fortunately all my data was backed up (I’d started using a 1TB expansion drive as the location for all my personal data, rather than having it clutter up the hard drive) so I didn’t lose what I was working on. But it meant I was dashing down to the nearest electronics store to purchase a new PC almost before I’d woken up the next morning, and pretty much losing the whole day to the “install and reboot” polka as a result. Plus it meant I had to switch from Windows XP (which I know and like, and which had some pretty good features I was fond of) to Windows 7 (which I am learning to loathe dearly, and I have plans to set things up so the machine at least dual-boots with one of the Linuxen just as soon as the semester is over).

    What I did lose was about 6 – 8 years worth of bookmarks in Firefox, and all my email. Poot.

    But I’ve largely adjusted, and I’m starting to get used to the various quirks and wibbles of Windows 7 (or as I not-so-affectionately nickname it, “Windows Large Print Edition” – seriously, the last time I had this little on-screen real estate was when I was using Windows 3.11 on a rather cranky 486 with a cheapie 13″ CRT!). I miss the “My Recent Documents” menu, though. *sigh*

  18. As a general rule I would feel your pain on this front, Having been the proud owner of a MacBook Air for all of two weeks though, well, I’m positively bleeding for you. I’ve used a lot of laptops in my life, even written a book or two on two different netbooks. By far and away the MacBook Air is my favorite writer’s laptop by a wide margin. The size, the weight, the keyboard and pointing device especially…all so perfect for someone that needs to crank out the page count. I get little mini panic attacks at the thought of this beautiful creature disappearing on me so I hope yours finds her way home to you!

  19. My condolences.

    Seriously, I actually had nightmares about losing my laptop. I don’t work on it much – I gots a huge desktop mac for my art needs – but it’s my *gaming* rig.

    Lost laptops are a pain, they just feel that personal.

  20. @MikeB: A laptop with a docking station is a pretty sweet set-up. I’m using it now, and I’m starting to rarely take my laptop out of the docking station, thanks to my iPad 2.

    I also prefer the smaller tablet size. It’s right in the sweet spot between the iPad and iPod Touch, the former being too large to lug around town all day and the latter being too small to read all day.

    I bought my wife a Nook Tablet. (I got a discount because B&N runs the college book store). I haven’t used it too much, but if my wife can figure it out, it’s pretty easy to use. (My wife had a hard time with an iPod shuffle. I love you, Dear.)

  21. @megpie71
    Time for you to hope that what happened is your laptop’s cooling
    system got clogged up with dust and the CPU roasted to death.
    If so, your email is still on the hard drive in the laptop.
    I paid, like? 20 bucks? for a USB to EIDE connector a while ago
    and I assume that somebody makes one that’ll fit a laptop (2.5″)
    I’m not gunna take my laptop apart to see, perhaps that one
    would work.

  22. John – is that a USB microphone? If so, which one and how do you like it? I’m in the market for one, and would appreciate your take on it.

  23. Shawn T – yeah, I suspect that may be what happened (I’m trying to take precautions with this new lappie by keeping as much dust as possible off it in so far as that’s even do-able). The tricky bit at the moment is that even $20 is a bit more than I’m willing to spend (having spent about $700 on the new laptop, and winding up with a whole heap of other expenses all arriving at about the same time, in the way they do), and I suspect the true cost of something like that would be a lot higher here in Australia (Aussie Tax[1], gotta love it).

    [1] Aussie Tax is the colloquial nickname for the way that prices of just about everything go up simply because they’re purchased in Australia. For example, a paperback copy of “Redshirts” (once it finally gets released here) would probably set me back the better part of $25 (and that’s a pretty typical price for any paperback here).

  24. @megpie71
    Wouldn’t it be great to have as much money as you need?

    The lower left hand corner of my Acer Aspire 4315 got really hot.
    It got less hot when I turned off the wifi, but the heat worried me,
    So I installed some CPU temp monitoring program(s) and when
    the CPU temp started going to 95 degrees I bought a new fan
    that included thermal type heat sink goo.
    While I was replacing the fan I learned that the fan was trying to
    push air through ducts that were horribly clogged with dust, and
    that the fan was fine.
    About 2.5 of about twenty little ducts weren’t clogged up.
    To clean the clogged ducts I needed the take out the fine fan, and
    use the thermal goo, and my toothbrush, and a vacuum cleaner.
    (My teeth taste like dust ;p)
    On this laptop the fan was working, but the duct work inside it was
    clogged up with dust.


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