Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Lap, not the Laptop

Glenn Reynolds posts on his idea of the a good laptop, which in his case is the Macbook Pro.

I'm pretty happy with it. Pluses: Slim, elegant design. Nice screen. Starts up -- whether from cold or from sleep mode -- a lot faster than my Dell notebook. Switching to the OSX operating system is easy -- but then, I never needed any lessons to learn Windows either. Both are pretty self-explanatory. The built-in speakers aren't bad for a laptop. Stable. Pretty icons. The iChat is cool, especially the video ichat, which is very well implemented. I like the way the keyboard lights up automatically in the dark.

Minuses: Battery life is way inferior to my Dell -- less than half as long. Form factor is a bit large for actual laptop use. (I'd prefer something more like a 12" Powerbook, really, but Apple doesn't make anything like that). Not as crashproof as advertised -- I've had to reboot once or twice, because of Firefox crashes. Gets hot. No right mouse-button. (Yeah, you hit CTRL instead but it's not the same). No real delete key.

What would it be for you?


What the "best" laptop will be for different people depends on what they want from it. Bill Roggio would settle only for a Panasonic Toughbook (correction by Flavius Maximus) because it was sealed against sand and dust and was specifically designed for use in harsh conditions. He remembers dropping it onto a armor steel ramp from waist height. Try that with something you get out of Walmart. But it is comparatively heavy and hideously expensive. But it was the best for him. My own choice was a Sony VAIO VGN-TX27, an 3.5 pound device with an 11.5" screen I chose principally because it had a huge battery life (6-10 hours real) and a PCMCIA slot. The PCMCIA slot was needed to support a wide-area wireless card which allowed Internet access anywhere in Australia, somewhat similar to a Verizon card. This in addition to its built-in WiF and Ethernet slot. Like Bill Roggio's machine, it is overpriced for the performance spec. If the Toughbook exacts a premium for combat durability, the VAIO's claim to its somewhat excessive price lies in its portability. And portable it is. You can use it one handed standing, seated on a ferry, propped against a wall, sitting in a cafe or in a library corner. With an extra battery you can be power socket independent for close to 18 hours solidly connected. But. There's always a but. A small size means you will strain at the antlike characters on screen. And if you accept the VAIO's draconian power management features (which give it that magnificent battery life) you will have a heck of a time reading the screen unless you are in a sufficiently darkened location. And woe betide the man with large, sausagelike fingers. The miniature screen and miniature backspace/delete keys will make this VAIO a living hell for him.

Recently I've had people walk up to me to ask about the VAIO, largely I suspect, because of its carbon-fiber shell and the fact that Daniel ("James Bond") Craig used a bigger version in the movie Casino Royale. The truth is that it won't make James Bond out of you so much as blind, and unless you have the need to stay connected with a full-power PC only slightly heavier than a PDA you are better off with a more human-friendly machine. Technological advance will continue to make better models available, but I feel certain that the following suggestions will remain useful in selecting a laptop "as time goes by".

  • Don't buy a laptop unless you need to. Desktops are cheaper and easier to upgrade. If you have money to burn, buy the biggest flat panel display you can find and the nicest chair you can afford and spend five minutes each day laughing at all the idiots hunched over their laptops getting migraines just cause it looks "executive".
  • If you mostly commute between a home and regular office, or go from hotel to hotel, get a reasonably priced, big screen laptop. Since it is a short way from the parked car to the desk, portability is really a secondary issue. So get the most reasonably priced desktop-like, high performance laptop you can find.
  • If you are like Bill Roggio and need something that will repel water, dust, shock and even the occasional low velocity fragment, pull out all the stops and get the latest model of the combat laptop. But be prepared to hump that piece of ironmongery. Of course if you really needed it in the first place then by definition you would be prepared to hump it and have the muscles to do it.
  • If you are the kind of guy who needs to stay connected at all times, get both a desktop and a laptop. Then get the VAIO kind of laptop, which has the very opposite physical characteristics of the desktop -- with support for universal connectivity, vast battery life and real portability. Remember that if you can't hump a load like a combat infantryman, you will be hard pressed to carry anything over 6 pounds, including all the accessories for 8 hours, each and every day.

59 Comments:

Blogger Boghie said...

Any ideas for a Christmas gift that would serve as a bed tray for a laptop?

I can't seem to find one...

12/21/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

An additional point regarding laptops - and one hinted by Wretchard...

They have a lifespan of about 2 - 3 years. They cannot be upgraded. They cannot really be repaired. And, they have heat problems.

12/21/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Never underestimate 'search'!

12/21/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buddy links a converted bedpan!

12/21/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great for downloads.

12/21/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been quite content with my Powerbook G4. The keyboard is nearly full size, certainly big enough to type on for hours without hand cramps, and the screen had enough real estate to work with without making the overall size too big for a backpack, which is how I travel.

The poor thing's had a hard life, too: my daughters have dropped it on hard surfaces at least half a dozen times and it's still ticking with no need for any kind of repair.

On the other hand, I'm on my second battery and power cord (Li-ion batts are good for about eighteen months, and the power cord has obvious and well-documented engineering flaws.) I consider that Apple actually sells these for $250.00 over the list price, which is the cost of a replacement batt and cord.

By the way, Wretchard - Great Blog!

12/21/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody have much experience with parallels on a mac?
Sounds like the best of all worlds.

12/21/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard wrote, "Don't buy a laptop unless you need to. Desktops are cheaper and easier to upgrade. If you have money to burn, buy the biggest flat panel display you can find and the nicest chair you can afford and spend five minutes each day laughing at all the idiots hunched over their laptops getting migraines just cause it looks 'executive'."

I'm not a game player, I only use computers to blog, maintain my website, write, and create music. So my main machine is just a $400 emachines job about three years old, running XP and Debian Linux in a dual-boot setup. Sweetie gets the $179 Chinese-made desktop from Frys running just Debian (once the worthless CD drive was swapped out). My $199 laptop from UsedLaptops.com runs Windows 98 and is mostly for road trips but I keep my budget spreadsheet on that one. Burglars wanna hit our house they won't get much.

12/21/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Thermblog said...

I hadn't used a laptop for 4 years but recently bought one for a child to take to university; a Toshiba A100 with a 15.4" screen and T2400 processor. (The latest Core duos were not quite ready yet.) What a dream that laptop is. They've come a long way. I'd certainly consider one as an adjunct to my desk machine so I can read blogs away from my main PC.

If portability is important, don’t hesitate getting a smaller display and using a second one while at your desk. A dual display (or 3 or 4) really adds to productivity. Modern display chipsets and XP support dual displays with no fuss.

12/21/2006 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Buddy,

Uuuuuggggghhhh... I was searching through specific stores where I had seen something interesting. Sometimes one forgets the basics, eh...

One of the early hits on your google search nailed it. Believe it or not, a place that specializes in Bed Trays called the The Bed Tray Shoppe'.

Only on the net...

12/21/2006 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger deflion said...

You don't have to restart when an application crashes.

Hold "command" and "option" down, then press "escape".

You will then be able to quit whatever application is frozen. The OS should continue running just fine.

12/21/2006 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Parry said...

Wretchard, you lost me with the first bullet. I long ago gave up on desktops for home use. With a laptop, the computer can live on the coffee table, on the couch next to me, or anywhere I want to hang out in or out of the house. I don't have to go to a special desk just to browse the media.

I have a big hp "desktop replacement" class laptop (actually, I prefer "notebook") with a 17" screen and an integrated numeric/cursor keypad. These two features (plus an actual mouse) are key for maintaining synergistic, desktop-like interaction with the machine. (Most manufacturers completely blow it by failing to provide the numeric keypad on their larger models.)

12/21/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Consider any computer an expense. 18-24 months is a reasonable life expectancy. I use macs exclusively and daily for at least three to four hours per day. My latest is the:

Machine Model: MacBookPro2,2
Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
Processor Speed: 2.16 GHz
Number Of Processors: 1
Total Number Of Cores: 2
L2 Cache (per processor): 4 MB
Memory: 2

I travel frequently and find the fifteen inch laptop the most practical. I spent about $2,500 so my cost of use is $2500/ 547 days of use/ 4 hours daily = $1.14 per hour. Internet access of $125 per month adds another $1 per hour for a total cost $2.12 per hour cost. That is less than my cellular phone costs with the equipment fully amortized over 18 months.

I do not need a secretary that saves me $4,000 per month. E-mail saves $800 per month by eliminating overnight services. Search engines and creative software conservatively are worth $1000 per month. I save $400 a month on various news subscriptions.

If I extrapolate the cost savings over the same period of use, I get cost benefits of $111,600/547 days/4 hours use or $51 per hour. My true cost of the laptop and internet access is $51 per hour minus $2.12 per hour or a negative $48.88 which means my computer use saves me $48.88 per hour.

My original equipment cost of $2500/$48.88 per hour/ 4 hours per day use, means that the computer pays for itself in in less than 13 days. After the 13th day it makes me a daily profit of $195.52

I will let Rufus figure out my internal rate of return.
Still think laptops are expensive?

12/21/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

arthur,

I am fortunate to have both a desktop and a laptop. And both have their uses. The desktop really shines when you have to work for extended periods, in which case the desktop becomes part of a customized workstation, with a mounted webcam, landline, VOIP headset and other peripherals as part of the station. The key things typically are the monitor(s) and the high back, tiltable swivel chair. I have a 19 inch flat panel, but if I ever get the money there's a 32 inch wide-screen monitor I want, which will actually require a special video card.

Many people also have a quality highback swivel chair and a carpet protector you can roll it on. The 32 incher is to dream for, but a European I know has got multiple monitors in a kind of semicircle with the display split between. The guy multitasks like crazy. Back when I used to develop software, it was not uncommon to have different monitors to dedicated to different resources, so that if you were doing a build or a long query, you could switch.

Basically a real desktop setup is like a studio, with a lot of simultaneous fires burning, more like a command center. With a laptop, no matter how capable, your in a different ethos. In my view, at least, you use a lap top to reconnect to the physical world. You carry around your portal to the virtual world with you as you attend conferences, go places, pick up information, get inspiration or get drunk, or call on a client.

In summary, the desktop is for bringing the world to your command center and the laptop is for taking the virtual world in to the natural universe.

12/21/2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

A good friend, who labels himself a software architect and who was a consulting expert on the DoJ case against Microsoft, is a total Mac-head. He had one inviolable rule for life with Powerbooks: Replace them every 24 months.

The problem, as has been noted, is heat. At 24 months, heat will have affected the hardware to the point that the work on the machine is at risk. He tried a Dell notebook for a short while (in tandem with his then Powerbook) and decided to go back to Apple exclusivity.

12/22/2006 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

I'm firmly in the "have both" camp - I have a reasonably powerful desktop at the office with a 24" widescreen moniter - perfect for comparing two documents and really multitasking - and a mid-weight laptop for travelling, currently an old IBM T-23 which is still adequate for almost everything I do with a good wireless card, though it's on Windows 2000 pro and I'm ready to replace it. That's been an issue: I've owned Toshiba (a Portege in the mid-90s) and IBM laptops and found them to both provide excellent combinations of performance and portability, but more recent Toshibas have been (to my mind) light on performance/features and IBM is now a Chinese company. At their request, I bought Dell laptops for my daughters to take to college, but those machines have been marginal. In both cases, I sought to duplicate my own preference for the most powerful machine that was reasonable to carry about (i.e. under 6 lbs total) but the Dells have just not been very sturdy and their performance, despite the specs, has been disappointing. My older IBM with a fast PIII often outperforms their P4s with processors rated almost twice as fast. So, I don't know what I'm going to do for a new laptop. Perhaps dispense with it altogther and live with the Blackberry, which has been a godsend.

12/22/2006 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Two things - if you need both a desktop and laptop, consider a docking station instead, with a big screen, and a few USB hard drives, unless you need the power of a desktop for gaming or graphics, you get the best of both worlds.

Second, if you mainly consume media on the road, rather than produce, consider a smartphone. You don't want to write a novel with your thumbs, but if you're just reading blogs, it may be all you need.

12/22/2006 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...

I can't get my hands on what I'd prefer - too much moolah to get it by Mrs Triton... I'd have to build my own.

(Don't laugh - AOpen has a bare case available for those who dare.)

12/22/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger snowflake said...

I use a Dell Latitude D600 with the optional battery to replace the dvd. It's on it's second deployment to Iraq, and it pretty much does it all. Good battery life (8 hours with 2 batteries and a dim screen), decent power for things like games, video and multimedia, and a 80gb HDD for movies, pictures, etc. And at $1200 it was relatively cheap. The Dell customer service has always been exceptional (I've heard that my experiences are not typical however). I consider it my portable entertainment center more than a computer. One accessory I never leave home without is my CaseLogic Neoprene laptop sleeve. It is about 3mm of with top and bottom zips that allow me to use any bag as a laptop case. It also provides a degree of heat shielding to my lap.

12/22/2006 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Flavius Maximus said...

In my business (oil) I have to be a true road warrior in the sense that I have to have complete functionality and portability throughout Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Weight and space are a premium. My criteria ever since having an early VAIO model in 2000-01 has been to buy the thinnest, lightest notebook that still has a built in CD/DVD drive and a reasonable sized screen. Even though jump drives and MP3 files have largely supplanted CDs for file transfer and music, I still insist on the CD/DVD drive for ease of loading software and as a backup if the USB port or jump drive fails.

My criteria are currently best met by the Panasonic CF-Y4, which is part of their Toughbook Elite series. It's a 14.1" screen, 3.4 pound, 1" thick magnesium cased beauty. I've had it a year now and am very satisfied. It also has the PCMIA slot, which I use for an aircard to get 'highspeed' access in Russia and CIS.

Panasonic website shows they now have the new Core Duo models, the 14.1" CF-Y5 at 3.4 lbs and the 12.1" CF-W5 at 2.7 lbs. Only downside is their cost, north of 2 grand. Panasonic (not Toshiba as stated in W's post) also makes the Toughbook series used in a lot of military and industrial settings, if one is looking for a shock proof, dust proof model. But as stated in the post, they are heavy.

Thats my 2 cents.

12/22/2006 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua E. said...

Wretchard -

Just out of curiosity, what did you think of "Casino Royale"? Ironically, I thought it was great just because of the nice break from all of the ridiculous high-tech gizmos which had been weighing down the series. I think it was grittier than the others, and hence a touch (I said jsut a touch) more believable than the recent ones...

12/22/2006 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

Perhaps a parallel theme for this blog entry.

I'm currently reading Beppe Severgnini's "Caio, America!" In one chapter he talks about the contrast between the way the Italians and Americans view science and technology:

We [Italians] treat science and technology a respectful detachment that masks our fundamental lack of interest in the subject. But Americans don't respect science. Depending on the historical context and the mood of the moment, they adore it, they abuse it, they talk about it, they fiddle with it, they laud it to the skies, or they damn it to hell. But they get to grips with it. They actually use science.

Reading all the comments here reminds me how much our discriminating and often heated dissatisfaction with the machines that we build generates so many of our varied triumphs and breakthroughs. Americans reveal both passionate shrewdness and discernment when talking about machines, whether it be the Mars Rover or which laptop performs the best.

*

12/22/2006 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMHO (somewhat biased since I work for Intel) I've seen em all and right now you can't beat a Hewlett-Packard laptop with a docking station for home use. Make sure to get the intel core2 duo mobile processor and an extended battery and you still come out well below $2k with lots of options. Nobody's making better laptops right now than HP and the core 2 processor gives you lots of horsepower and great battery life with good heat dissipation. Very sturdily made as well.

12/22/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard, you mentioned the high back, tiltable swivel chair. I'm in the market for one, and since I know many of your readers are virtually attached to their PC's, I thought I might take this opportunity to ask for suggestions.

12/22/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

The best laptop is one that someone else pays for. My company machine is a Dell Latitude D610, and the only weakness I've noticed is that my wireless modem sometimes doesn't work where others do.

My own, 4 year old Dell Inspiron 8200 just died with a horrible gnashing of hard drive noises. I think I paid over $2,000 for that sucker!

As for chairs, the Herman Miller Aeron is the long-time champ, with recent strong competition from a Steelcase model. There's an excellent article at www.consumersearch.com.

Okay, enough staying on point.

Did you guys see the Al Qaeda announcement to the Dems that Al Qaeda actually won our last election? HAHAHAHAHAA!

Maybe John Kerry and the rest of these Senate tools who are visiting our enemies can take comfort in that. Talk about another Vietnam! This is EXACTLY how we lost that war, and Kerry was the star of that effort too!!

Ahhhh, this is too good. It's on Brian Ross' blog at ABC right now, on Drudge, too.

12/22/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Jane Fonda, and the SDS does not approve of that message.

12/22/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Hey Jane,

Loved your work in Barbarella!

The photo shoot in the North Vietnamese AA mount - not so much, you FTB.

12/22/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I will let Rufus figure out my internal rate of return."
---
...and develop a sustainable energy power supply.

12/22/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FTB?
WTF?
What's up with that?

12/22/2006 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/22/2006 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I have 14" widescreen HP. Its just a consumer model but I absolutely love the form factor -- noticably smaller than a 15.4 (much less a 17) but much larger than a 11 or 12" so you can stand to do some real work on it.

I dragged my feet on getting a laptop for years (always built/upgraded/repaired my own desktops) but decided the time was right 18mos ago. Since I still had desktops at both work & home I leaned more toward portability.

Again, 14 wide is a great compromise.

12/22/2006 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Judith said...

Since my beloved Titanium Powerbook died lasst week, a MacBook Pro sounds good to me. Having to use Windoze machines while here is Israel reminds of of why I don't want one.

12/22/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Judith said...

"They have a lifespan of about 2 - 3 years. They cannot be upgraded. They cannot really be repaired. And, they have heat problems."

My Titanium Powerbook never gave me a spot of trouble for 3 years of 8hrs/day use, plus intermittant use for 2 years after that. Finally the screen went dead, but the computer is still working. If I attached it to an external display it would be fine (but not much use for traveling.)

12/22/2006 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kid's New Dell has 5200 GB Memory!
Dell PowerEdge 1955, 3.0 GHz, Infiniband
MHPCC

12/22/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

opps, That's the Gay U.H. Website

12/22/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whirrled Peas:
Maybe we can get the Muzzies Hooked on Artificial Blood

12/22/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rufus,
We REALLY need sustainable energy supply for this one:
"This new 5,120-processor Dell PowerEdge 1955 system"
---
Forget how much he said it burns every 24 hrs.

12/22/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Barbarella--hubbahubba

12/22/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony,
Does your Dell have one of those modular hard drives?
Lots of those available on E-Bay.
Thanks for the visual nostalgia of Barbarella.
How sweet she was/is.

12/22/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Joshua e,

Casino Royale's virtue is that it is relatively faithful to the Ian Fleming novel's plot. Like the Lord of the Rings movie, it benefits from hewing to a relatively superior story line. Screenwriters should realize that the classics are classics for a reason and refrain from tampering with them without good cause.

j willie,

I can't recommend any chair in particular except to say don't save money on the chair if you are going to spend hours in it. All the human interface things will tell in the long run. The chair, the mouse/trackball, the keyboard, the screen. If you don't spend much time on a computer, you can economize on all of these. If are a developer/author who is shackled to the workstation for endless periods, you can never have too good. As good as you can afford is what you need.

12/22/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

When working at a single location I definitely prefer a desktop. I'm looking to get a new Mac. The 24" iMac may work. The new iMacs are like a laptop without the lap; no tower, very small footprint, but also not upgradable. Of course about half the price of a laptop. The 24" screen is very cool. A 32" screen would be too big for normal work.

OT, W have you seen happyslip? Filipino culture in the Big Apple. Mixed Nuts YouChoob

12/22/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything wrong w/the mini?

12/22/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

utopia parkway,

32 inches would suit me just fine because you can split the screen into two working areas without much eyestrain. Using a 32 incher for one code window would be too much, but if you were working across documents incessantly it would have it's uses. Alternatively, I could get a couple of 20 inchers and hefty video card and then split the screens between the virtual resolution. Probably cheaper to do that than hold out until the big screen becomes affordable.

12/22/2006 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Hey Doug,

Yeah, my dead Inspiron has a modular hard drive, I went out and got one for about $70 new. That's when I discovered it really also needed a new optical drive (boot CD drive to recover or re-install XP). So, that was too much hassle and I just put it on the shelf for a month or two. One day I switched it on and it miraculously came back to life. Then it died again, and now the hard drive is making torture noises. I'll probably just replace those two things for a total cost of about $100 and my fat-fingered labor. It still has the big screen, nice keyboard, XP Pro, Office, etc. Though the urge to buy a new one is always there, I'd rather have this:
http://www.gunslocal.com/gunimages/2972.jpg

(Ps. Along with my old laptop, I lost my Belmont cut'n'paste link code - can someone help me out?)

12/23/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Doug, the mini is a little underpowered and of course hard to upgrade. How handy are you with a putty knife? If you already have a monitor/mouse/keyboard it may be a good budget choice. Not all of them have DVD burning capability, which you want for backups (at least I do) and you probably want a Core 2 Duo if you can get it. I think most would be more happy with a 17" iMac, which is only a few hundred more.

W, I was looking at a 30" monitor in CompUSA and it is a big mutha. You'll probably mount it on the wall or on an arm. It depends what kind of work you're doing on whether it would work for you. For viewing videos it would be great, but you'd sit across the room. I'm not sure what it would feel like to sit within arm's length of it and do work though.

My wife has a 23" screen and because of her aging eyes she can't read small text onscreen very well. She sets the font size in her documents to mondo and works like that. Whatever you have to do to get your work done I guess. I'll have to tell you about my computer glasses but I've got to run.

12/23/2006 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My wife has a 23" screen and because of her aging eyes she can't read small text onscreen very well. She sets the font size in her documents to mondo and works like that."
---
Redacted and revised, ready for presentation to Husband Review Commission:
---
"My wife has a 23" screen and because of slight vison problem she has had since birth, she can't read small text onscreen very well.
She sets the font size in her documents slightly larger and works like that."

12/23/2006 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a spelling problem,
just a slight vison one.
Lacking in vison since birth.

12/23/2006 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Doug, I think she sets the font to more than "slightly larger."

My computer glasses are great. I am near-sighted and see well up to about 12" from my face. I prefer to read and do close work with no glasses. I can also use a computer with no glasses but I have to place my head close to the screen, which tires my neck after a while. Alternately, I can wear my regular glasses and keep my head at arm's length, or a bit more, from the screen.

I found myself alternating between glasses off and close and glasses on and far, which led to back and neck pains.

The optometrist gave me a prescription for glasses that are weaker than my regular glasses and which keep everything in focus that is within arm's length. He called them computer glasses.

I have progressive bifocals now for my regular glasses and they are terrible for computer use.

If your eyes are starting to weaken with age and you're near-sighted ask your optometrist about computer glasses. Not sure if they have something similar for far sightedness.

12/23/2006 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have progressive bifocals now for my regular glasses and they are terrible for computer use."
---
Utopia:
Thanks for that:
The wife has been trying to talk me into those now that my computer glasses have mysteriously become too strong.
(notice how much nicer that sounds than referring to myself and my own eyes.
THAT's probably what motivated Sandy Bergler to remove a few things here and there: Modesty.)
You have cemented my decision, time for a new set of computer glasses.
---
I see fine w/no glasses.
...from 3" to 7"
Great for close work, fine print, a little lacking in depth of field!
(or if I misplace my glasses)
OTH, I do a heck of a Mr. Magoo thing, hoping not to feel that horrible lump under my thongs as I stumble about.
---
She'll still want me to get progressives also, as I drive her nuts looking over, taking off glasses, etc. I'm fine, of course!

12/23/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony,
Here's a pic of the code you can type into notepad.
The b....... resized it, sorry.
Last time I used a png, they left it intact.
Anybody know how that works?
---

12/23/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



---
I hate automatic stuff: Now they're messing with the code, but the link with the date above gets you there.

12/23/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Original Image (I hope)

12/23/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger brough said...

I sold the Toughbook/Let's Note R4 (one of, if not *the*, smallest and lightest [sub]notebooks around--2 lbs) for the fully ruggaridsed Toughbook CF-29 (8lbs!).

You know what? Thanks to the handle, it's more portable! The footprint of the cf29 is identical to the R4 (now R5) once you factor in the 10.4" polyurethane Zeroshock sleeze you need to transport something as dinky as the R5 safely.

One thing abot the CF29 (this may be fixed in the new CF30): it's rugged as hell (screenflex??!--feh!!) but some serious design flaws mean it's not really reliably sealed against dust and moisture ingress. The battery and port doors are watertight hatches but the USB port is attached directly to the motherboard and pokes out of an oversized *hole* in the chasis, through which you can see the mainboard (internally the thing is open plan so everything is exposed--cpu, the lot). This hole is plugged by a dinky plastic cap when the usb port it not in use. So, you can't really use the usb port in a dusty or wet environment, with the usb cap out the Toughbook is one of the most vulnerable computers around. Absolutely crazy. Almost as if the USB port (and there's only one of them onearly CF-29 models) was an afterthought in an (ostensibly) $3G laptop. Even the headphone jack is behind a hatch.

Otherwise, it's awesome. Love how you can use the backlit rubberised Rambo keyboard as a coaster for mugs of tea. :) Unfortunately it does lead to rather a lot of typos, I really need to refit the normal keyboard....

I picked the 29 up new from an MOD overrun on ebay for a quater of the retail price. The fully ruggardised models can be had inexpensively as they are often from a volume corporate or gov order, the executive models tend to hold their retail value.

Toughbook Elites used to have a reputaion for not being as well built (and certainly not as well equipped) as the Japanese-market trailblazers. If you're interested in buying a Toughbook, consider getting a Panasonic Let's Note from a reseller like myicube.com. Price is about the same. Don't worry too much about the warranty issues--you shouldn't expect to need it.

leog.net forums are the best place to ask questions about Panny models before buying.

The Toughbook 74 looks great... semi-rugged executive model (with a handle!).

12/24/2006 02:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Silicon Seal a Stub USB cable in place!

12/24/2006 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks Doug!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, does Desert Rat still come around?

All I want for Christmas

12/24/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

As a computer professional (programmer/analyst) I find different circumstances require different machines. When I want to work out in the field a laptop is necessary. At home I have three desktops and a laptop. The desktops each serve a different purpose.

But what I really want is a reliable computer that I can wear on my wrist like a watch with good enough speach recognition so that it will do what I want (Dictate a letter, send an email, check the weather) by my talking to it. Kind of like the old Dick Tracy Wrist Video, but with an onboard computer. That would be nice. And the nice thing about it is that it should't be too long before we get those. :)

12/24/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony:
A Good Spot to look for the 'Rat

12/24/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When he's working out in the field, Sardonic, watches Jane's video on his laptop.
Back home he's got Surround Jane.

12/24/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger brough said...

>...Silicon Seal a Stub USB cable in place!

haha ,yeah, that's an idea. Crazy this should be necessary.

12/27/2006 08:28:00 AM  

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