A laptop / notebook computer really has the potential to change your life. At least your digital life, for sure. If you’ve been a long time desktop-only computer user like me (I keep saying that, don’t I? ), with 1 or more computers at work and 1 or more computers at home, then, like me, a pretty substantial portion of your life has been spent shuttling data between these computers; an account of my travails follows:A laptop / notebook computer really has the potential to change your life. At least your digital life, for sure. If you’ve been a long time desktop-only computer user like me (I keep saying that, don’t I? ), with 1 or more computers at work and 1 or more computers at home, then, like me, a pretty substantial portion of your life has been spent shuttling data between these computers; an account of my travails follows:
I have had a primary computer at home and a primary computer at work for a long, long time. The home computer is just about continuously downloading all sorts of goodies (we’ll go into what-I-do-with-my-bandwidth later. Maybe.). The office computer is my primary “work” machine, where most of my corporate communication, project related files and research lies. I often carry a lot of work home and this must include all the files that are being worked on. Similarly, a lot of my colleagues at work want the goodies I download at home and these must be carried to work ever so often as well.
A major complication in all of this is email. I’ve got several email accounts, some related to work, some private / personal that got made over the years. All of these email accounts get downloaded into Outlook email at both locations. A lot of my work is corporate communication, I send out and receive *important* email. If I send a mail out from home, I must have a copy of it at work as well. This usually means emailing a bcc copy of the email to myself while sending it out from home and then picking it up manually from the inbox and moving it to Sent Items at office, later. So I’ve got slightly different email stores at both my locations.
Over the years I’ve regularly tried several different routines to get some semblance of sanity into this whole soup. For files I’ve tried out:
Emailing / online storage:
Pros: “Ubiquitousness” of files
Cons: Internet is required at each location
Large files take looooooooooong to transfer, at both ends.
“Thumb” usb flash memory drives:
Pros: Miniscule physical footprint,
Cons: Large files are generally not possible.
Pros: A more “hard copy” of your files that you can carry around with you
CDRWs go bad often – reliability is low.
Decent file size possibility.
Cons: Need to have a writer to write files
Pros: A bigger file size possibility
Cons: Same as Rewritable CDs with one added complication, not everyone has a DVD ROM drive yet, so you might be stuck with a “How do I….?” issue.
USB IDE hard disks:
Pros: A much bigger file size possibility
Standard IDE hard disks can be used – a typical “cheaper-than-ever” starter hard disk is easily purchased
File transfer is f-a-s-t!
Cons: A lot bulkier (and heavier) than a CD or a thumb drive
Power is external to the device – not only do you have to hunt for a power point everywhere, you’re forced to carry a stiff power cord with a bulky, heavy power adaptor brick in it.
USB 2.0 “Laptop” hard disks
Pros: Quick plug-copy/play alternative.
Single, thin USB 2.0 cord required, powered by USB
Transfers are fast enough that you can access content direct from the drive.
This is currently my transfer device of choice.
Cons: None that I can think of!
So what does all this have to do with the usage of a laptop computer being a life altering experience? Read on. I’ve recently had the opportunity to finally “move into” a brand spanking new laptop over the past 2 – 3 weeks. This, if nothing else, has been a consolidation drive for me as I’ve now only have ONE primary computer now!! I’ve managed to consolidate all my email accounts onto the new laptop, all the important files are always present, and I can completely avoid the embarassing / publicly humiliating spectacle of me emailing myself that business proposal document that is yet half done and must be continued to be worked on from my “other” computer, because the file is *already there*. On my laptop.
Of course, having a laptop with you has many other different life alternating consequences. Your primary computer is *always* with you. Wherever you go, it never leaves your side. Once you get settled into using a laptop all the time you start consolidating the rest of your digital experience *around* this laptop! You start accumulating gadgets that you carry around with you and can plug into your laptop at will. This includes that must-have portable wireless mouse, extra disk storage, perhaps an extended battery, a headphone / headset and a webcam for all those voice / video calls that you can now easily make over the Internet, anywhere! Everywhere you go, you frantically hunt for wireless Internet connectivity and are disappointed if you can’t find it.
All-in-all it’s been a pleasant experience shifting my digital life over to the new laptop and I’ve seen quite a productivity increase just because of this not so humble machine. If you’ve been thinking of going in for that laptop that you’ve been eyeing for quite some time and didn’t know whether it would actually work out or not or whether the “extra” laptop would ever end up being useful or not, trust me and go in for it, once you do get it, there will be no turning back. And laptops are continuously delivering more bang for a much lower-price so look around for the best deal possible.
If you’ve gotten so far, then you must definitely have identified with at least some of the problems / solutions that I mention. Do tell me about your own experiences. Just pop in a comment if you’ve got something to say, I assure you I read *all* comments.