Sunday, September 30, 2007

My alternative laptop

There it is - my alternative laptop. The Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, with a foldable Freedom Universal bluetooth keyboard (folds to half it's length). I've added a pen to give an idea of scale (it's a one-meter long pen, though - naaah, just kidding).

I spent an entire weekend trying to follow instructions on how to install the driver for the keyboard, but they are now working nicely together.

The screen has a terrific resolution which makes a big difference in terms of usability. There are dedicated buttons to toggle in and out of fullscreen mode, and to zoom in and out as well. The habit of reaching for a mouse is unlearned quickly thanks to the combination of the fullsize keyboard (with important shortcuts) and the touch screen. There is also a choice of two styles of on-screen keyboard: my favourite is the larger of the two - it takes up nearly all the screen and allows you to thumb the keys easily, or even quasi-touch type.

The built-in browser is Opera, but it's possible to replace the rendering engine with a Mozilla one. I've done this, and now I can use Ajax-based websites very easily, including Google Documents - an important part of out planned travel software solution. And of course it works well for blogging too. The next blog entry I write here will be from the N800.

As for memory, I plan to spend some money on MicroSDs. My camera takes Memorystick Pro Duo and the N800 takes SD. So the most convenient way of transferring from one to the other (for the purpose of viewing, blogging, or uploading to Google Pictures) is to transfer MicroSD cards from one to the other by means of MicroSD-to-SD and MicroSD-to-ProDuo converters. I guess it beats hauling a hard disk around with me. I'll have to keep an eye out for a convenient microSD container to hold a large number of them together. They seem particularly fragile and easy to lose.

It's not a laptop, and there's no point in pretending otherwise. It'll seem slow and hard to read compared to the normal laptop experience. But it comes in at less that 500 euros including the keyboard, can (and will!) be carried in a jacket pocket, and also runs skype. An excellent travel communication and journaling kit, all in all.

Speaking of communication, I've just bought a SIM from a new Irish service called MaxRoam which will keep the phone bill way down both for ourselves and anyone who wants to contact us. I'll blog on this later this week.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty...Go straight to Katie White's entry on this Freakonomics blog entry.

But what the hell. We can deal with it. Right?