Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Writing Technology: Netbooks

Technique Tuesday

I acquired my first laptop in 1998. It was a state-of-the-art Pentium II with 64 MB of memory and a 4 GB hard drive. Most phones now have more computing power than that.

I mention this old system because as the years passed, I took increasing pride in keeping it running and doing useful work for me. Once it could no longer run the current Windows operating system, I found a small version of Linux and had a perfectly capable system that could browse the internet and support the usual reading and writing tasks. Of course as newer laptops became lighter and more powerful it became more challenging to find tasks that weren't too much trouble to do on the old laptop.

I thought I'd found a perfect use for the old system as the mobile text editor on which to draft my book. The Linux distribution gave me a character-mode editor, the system was old enough that it was easy to turn off all internet-related distractions, and as a laptop, I could take it to a quiet part of the house where I wouldn't be distracted by the work-related materials that littered my desk.

The arrangement ended when the laptop's screen died. The tragedy was that the system worked just fine with an external monitor. But since mobility was a big part of the value the system provided me, I reluctantly decided that it was time to upgrade.

Because I have other computers, I chose a netbook: specifically, an Acer Aspire One AOD250*.  I've provided a link and the image to give you a point of references, and not to recommend this particular system above other netbooks.

Some people call netbooks underpowered laptops and claim that they can barely keep up with modern applications. That may well be. I did remove a fair amount of shovel-ware**. But because I use the system as a text editor, it's been more than powerful enough for my needs.

That's what I expected. What I didn't expect is how useful the fact that it's small, light, and will run for eight to nine hours before the battery needs to be charged would be. Put another way, I've found myself using the netbook far more than I anticipated.

So, if you're looking for a writing platform, you may want to think seriously about a netbook.

* I have no connection with Acer and received no consideration for this mention.

** Shovel-ware: software of variable value included with a system by the manufacturer.

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net