Juggling The Hardware

Juggling Gadgets - Small Business Blog It’s no secret that I am somewhat a gadget junkie. If I was working for some of the blogs that review gadgets constantly, I would probably forget the paycheck now and then. However, I don’t work for any such place, therefore experience a gadget hunger once in a while.

However, as I go along with many of them, I tend to realize that half of the gadgets are useless in 99% of cases. Depending on the work flow, a different set of gadgets is needed, so here’s mine:

  • Lenovo W701 laptop – my main power horse. Despite being exactly what I wanted I regret the purchase from time to time, thinking I should have opted for a smaller machine that would not take up a whole table at Starbucks.
  • Lenovo X61s laptop – the opposite extremity. While I wanted the lightest laptop possible, I didn’t quite realized, until later of course, that 12 inch screen with 1024×768 resolution is a little too small, especially for meetings with clients.
  • Droid/iPhone – or any smart phone for that matter. Surprisingly, I find myself more and more demanding only one thing from my phone – that is making/receiving calls. E-mails, notes, web, news, books and everything else from “on the go” menu has gone to iPad that is just as easy to flip out but has a lot more screen real estate.
  • Four 1TB USB-connected hard drives – too many connections, too slow a speed. I might only need one out of those four (or is it five?) drives, yet they are constantly connected for that “just in case” moment.
  • IBM T42p Windows XP based file server – this would have been a disgrace all by itself, especially given how many Linux servers we are running at Zealus, if not for this: despite all the rumors of Windows being a buggy unstable system and all, it’s been running without reinstall for OVER 2 YEARS straight! OF course, I don’t install a lot of software on it, and, of course, I keep up with patches. And the hardware is amazing too.
  • Gateway FHD 24 inch monitor – it’s like every acid junkie’s wet dream, the colors are so over saturated that my color calibrator gave up. Seriously.

So what am I replacing this zoo with in the course of a next year or so?

  • Lenovo W701 laptop – not going anywhere. It’s a solid performer and I doubt I will be replacing it any time soon. Given its 17 inch screen and 8 GB RAM – it hasn’t exhausted all its capabilities yet
  • Lenovo X61s laptop – I was thinking about Macbook Air, given how slim it is, but by the time Apple will have decided to update the hardware it will again be obsolete, so I wouldn’t even bother. Currently looking at ASUS UL80-J series, the one with 14 inch screen and Core i3 CPU. Alternatively, I just might go for Lenovo’s T410 series.
  • Droid/iPhone – I am keeping my iPhone 3GS at least until the end of the contract anyway, since that’s in February I guess I will be able to see all the offers of this year. But my primary urge is for Motorola Razor, so if you have one laying around – send it my way.
  • Four 1TB USB-connected hard drives + IBM T42p Windows XP based file server – will have to be combined into consumer NAS. There is no other way around this, unless I opt out for entry level server box.
  • Gateway FHD 24 inch monitor – being replaced with new IPS-based Apple Cinema display. Given how hard I am hitting photography now there is little, if any, alternatives left.

Have your own idea? Send it to me before Christmas shopping hits my wallet!

laptop technology

Two Birds With One Stone

Having worked as desktop support technician for quite some time I’ve seen my share of dead hardware. But what happened yesterday just blows my mind. My workhorse laptop had decided to have a sabbatical for the few days, so its main hard drive got that notorious “click of death” sound. What was even worse is that the secondary hard drive (where all the data stored – exactly in expectation that two drives can’t die at the same time) was dead too. Lost about a month worth of work (since last backups) and about three months worth of e-mails (no biggie, everything important is saved in three Gmail accounts).

While definitely not having a best evening of my life I’ve called Lenovo and asked for a replacement hard drive. However, the second hard drive would still need to be ordered separately, as it wasn’t in the original configuration. Since I also own a very small X61s, I have decided to treat myself to a little better option. I ordered 30GB MLC solid state hard drive for X61s, while the hard drive that’s in there now will become a secondary in my main laptop.

Of course, it isn’t the fastest nor the best drive out there, but I am just not ready to spend $600 for a hard drive. Going with a cheaper drive would not yield an ultimate speed boost, but should help with productivity.

So far I am running fine after half a dozen tweaks and adjustments for Windows XP to get more “solid-state friendly”. There’s usually plenty of resources available, depending on the make and model of the SSD. However, the following have been observed:

  • reading is lightning fast. Ditch paging file – and system boots and shuts down in less then 30 seconds.
  • writing is slow. Get rid of writing, set up a RAM drive or secondary HDD for browser/system caching or page file.
  • no more worry about shaking. I used to be worried about opening laptop on the bus – no more!
  • extended battery life. Depending on your usage and initial battery state you may get some boost in battery life. My X61s reports an extra hour on 9-cell battery.
  • less heat, less noise. There are no moving parts, so there’s not much to get the noise from. Might get a little hot, but I hear fan starting a lot less now.

Overall, I can state that I am very happy with the replacement. Recently I’ve added more memory to my laptop (so that I am running 3GB under Windows XP SP3 32-bit), then gave up 1 gig for RAM drive for paging and cache.

Using cheap SSD in servers, desktops or general purpose laptops isn’t, probably, worth a hassle, but for my “on-the-run” checking e-mails/logs/sites it is more then adequate.


Portable PC? Oversized Phone? Laptop? Desktop? What!?

It looks like the manufacturers for ultramobile PCs, oversized phones and ultraportable laptops are struggling with a dilemma. They have manufacturing capability but they don’t know what to manufacture. Will there be a demand for overly smart phones? Or ultraportables? Or laptops with phone headsets? What is it they have to jump on?

Well, I have a solution for them. It’s easy. I have a solution for every one of you.

Let me build my ultra portable, over powered, uber-universal but still very personalizeable computer. Make it modular. Make it Lego blocks sticking together. Stop thinking Apple all-in-one, start thinking Microsoft one-for-all. It’s a great concept, if you only think about it.

Let me have a CPU/RAM unit/module where I can plug in a screen (24 inch when I am at home, touch-sensitive 7 inch when I am on the go, 12 inch when I am at the conference or on the plane and so on), keyboard and storage unit. Let me plug in media unit when I need to burn couple of CDs or DVDs, audio unit for high-quality audio output, external monitor or projector for presentations, beefier video for gaming and throw larger battery with that.

Make parts interchangeable – when I need to upgrade CPU everything else still works. If I need a larger screen – it’ll just stick. Replace the hard drive? No problem. New video? Just stick it in and have fun.

Need more incentive? Take hotels. Create a set up with large screen, keyboard, mouse, media bay and high-speed network. Guest just plugs in his CPU/RAM module and he’s good to go. Sell this to colleges and doctor’s offices. Sell this to rental office space owners and travelers.

We have the technology. We have the people. We have demands on the untapped markets. Let’s put it all together. This idea, as far as I remember, pops out in one form or another, every year. Just get to it!