Back to Work Tomorrow and my Tecra A11

It will be Monday the 10th January tomorrow which means it is back into the working week routine after having a two week break over Christmas and New Year. This will also mean a drop in my posting frequency as I won’t have the time to sit down and craft up a posting every day like I have been over the break.

I did recently buy myself a notebook computer after resisting buying a personal notebook up until now. I much prefer the performance and flexibility of a desktop computer. By flexibility here I mean being able to upgrade it and add to it with relative ease. Need more USB ports? Then slip in an 8 port USB expansion card and get 8 fully functional extra USB ports (unlike the partially functional USB ports provided by a USB port splitter). Want to add some new USB3 super-fast USB ports? Get a USB3 expansion card and put it in. Need more internal hard disk storage? Then slip in a 1TB, or 2TB, additional hard disk. Want to increase the RAM from 2GB to 4GB? Then add in two more sticks of RAM. None of these are easy to do with with a notebook. Want dual side-by-side screens? Upgrade the video card to digital out and plug in two screens (after buying the required adaptor cable).

Obviously I have used many notebooks over the years as most of my employer provided work computers have been notebooks. Struth—I have even used an NEC 286 Luggable!! Although even at work I would prefer to have a desktop but with the bigger companies now it is almost policy that middle-management and consultants get notebook computers as standard.

This policy is sort of strange in a way as notebook computers have a support-cost profile that is 2.2 times that of a desktop computer, which sort of means that 2.2x more stuff goes wrong with notebook computers (in the corporate environment anyway). Actually, I should qualify that. The support profile for a notebook computer running Windows XP Professional is 2.2x that of a desktop computer running the same operating system (Gartner Research). I suspect that with Windows 7 it is not as high as 2.2x but I actually don’t know what the factor is for Windows 7.

But now that I work away from home for three days of every week I decided that I finally probably did need to invest in a notebook. I got a Toshiba Tecra A11 with a 1600x900 15.6” screen. I so did not want to get one of the current crop of “home” notebooks that have 1366x768 TV screens pretending to be a computer screen. I had to pay about an extra $300 to get the 1600x900 screen but it was well worth the money.

The awesome 1600x900 screen allows me to work on a Word or Excel file and have room spare on the screen for Messenger or a reduced Web window watching streaming video (such as This Week in Tech—which is one of my favourites). The following picture of my screen has had to be significantly reduced to fit the 640 pixel width of my column, but you can see how much space I have with 1600x900; especially considering it is a notebook screen!

For any serious notebook user I think it is well worth the extra $300 or so to get a useful screen size.


[[See my posting on “Upgrading Your Computer Monitor” (here) for more about the various screen resolutions]]

When I got this notebook one of the planned uses was so I could craft up Abalook postings when I was away rather than have three and four day blank spots where nothing was posted. However it has not quite worked out that way. Also it would allow me to view and edit photographs that I might take while travelling. However I have not done any of that either. Partially because I have not yet forked out the $175 it costs for an additional copy of PhotoShop Elements (PSE9) for the notebook.

Mostly I have used it to watch movies and recorded TV. I have watched seasons 1, 2, and 3 of MAD MEN, Season 1 of Spartacus and The Walking Dead, and a few films. I recently bought the TV mini series Centennial (an adaptation of James A. Michener’s book of the same name) and plan to watch that next.

Anyway this was supposed to be a quick posting letting you know that I will be getting back into the work grind as of tomorrow so the posting frequency is likely to take a nose dive.

Good luck to anyone else who gets back into the chair tomorrow as well.