Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Home Networking Made Simple

Home Networking Made Simple?: "Network Magic is the only software that makes the day-to-day use of your home network easy, intuitive and enjoyable. With Network Magic, you can:

  • Set up Windows home networking in just a few steps
  • Add new devices in minutes instead of hours
  • Get automatic repairs made to your network
  • Share pictures, files, printers and more securely, reliably and effortlessly"
Network Magic

If this works as advertised (and according to a friend of mine it does) it could be just for thing for a Windows networking twink such as myself.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The $3,000 Laptop Bag

Don't skimp on your laptop bag: "When it comes to a laptop bag I opt to go as small and light as possible. My laptop already weighs over 6 pounds by itself and to add a lot of weight with a heavy case just doesn't appeal to me. I may have to rethink that strategy after..."—jkOnTheRun

I found this article amusing, given that just days ago I was complaining to whoever would listen about my 3-pound laptop and my 30-pound bag. Don't get me wrong; it's an excellent bag. But it literally gives me back problems, despite my ultramodern, superlite tablet computer's meager heft. And as with all great luggage, there's a story behind it...

It was early 1999 and my new wife and I had moved to the Bay Area to get used to being married and try San Francisco on for size. I was working as an SE for Vignette, and business was going gangbusters. The sales rep I worked with and I had a presentation scheduled with a company in Santa Clara, and it was for a relatively small ($70k) deal. The rep (who shall remain nameless... wait, no he won't, his name is Ladd Austere), lived in the East Bay and called me the night before the meeting. He told me that it was a really long way for him to drive for such a small deal (I told you business was good) and that I should do the whole meeting myself. Now, you must understand that the way this normally works in enterprise software sales is that the SE does the demo and the chalk-talk and handles technical questions and the rep does everything else. Doing the whole thing myself was something I had never even considered. But being the cocky young gun I was, I agreed.

The presentation went off without a hitch (if I do say so myself), the demo was flawless (at least from my side of the table), and the deal was done. I think Ladd actually took the paper, but he never had to leave his house to do it. He got the commission (probably around three grand unless he was already into accelerators, which is likely, in which case it would have been more like five) and I got... a laptop bag.

Ladd, being the gracious guy that he is, bought me a very nice Tumi bag, which I carry to this day. It's too big and it weighs too much, but it and I have been through a lot together, including at least 500,000 air miles. It's protected every laptop I've had in the last five years, and I'll carry it until either it falls apart or I do.

The whole situation made me realize I was underselling my own skills, so I demanded a sales rep position in order to make better commissions, both of which I got. But looking back, I realize that between Ladd and me, I probably got the better end of the deal. I still have the bag. I can guarantee you Ladd doesn't still have the three grand.

Ladd, if you read this give me a call. Good times.

What's Up, er, Dock?

For months I've been using my M1300 without a dock, simply plugging in power and USB connectors when I get to my desk and unplugging them when it's time to go home. But my new office setup has tipped the scales. And not being one to do anything halfway, I bought not one FlexDock but two.

As part of my new job, I'll be working some from Austin, some from Denver, and a lot from seat 3C on a plane to somewhere. The tablet form factor is ideal for airplane work, but I need to have a full desktop setup, including keyboard and mouse, second monitor, and wired Ethernet, in both of my offices. After a week of plugging and unplugging all of those connectors every time I got up from my desk to go to a meeting, I decided it was time to invest in a dock for each office.

I placed the orders yesterday and now eagerly await delivery, especially since I left my AC adapter in Denver. Since Motion's headquarters is about a mile from my house, I'm hoping shipping won't take the estimated 6-8 business days. But then again, FlexDocks might be coming overseas. We'll see. Once I get set up, I'll let you know how my experience goes.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

What Does Your Tablet Say About You?

Tablet PCs at Yahoo!: "First it was Powerbooks. I was seeing them more and more around campus. But today I was in a meeting where two of our execs appeared, both sporting Tablet PCs. The near one was using it as a mini-laptop while the far one had sworn off the keyboard. After the meeting I got a really brief look at them and later received an 'Ink' e-mail...."—Jeremy Zawodny (Yahoo)

I've been talking to a friend of mine who is a die-hard Mac user about the social implications of the choice of one's laptop in a business setting. You see, he works in a creative field where Macs are de rigueur. But I work in a more buttoned-down industry where toting a PowerBook into a meeting is akin to wearing rainbow suspenders. It just marks you as a willful goofball. That being said, I use a PowerMac at home. On the Internet, no one knows you're a goofball. In the office and on the road, I use a Tablet PC.

So what does a Tablet PC say about its owner? I've gotten reactions across the spectrum. Most people I run into are vaguely interested, and ask how I like it. Some people are indifferent, and a handful look at me like I brought an Etch-a-Sketch to the meeting.

Ultimately, I think people's reactions to your machine of choice says more about those people than anything else. I myself harbor some prejudice against anyone with a Newton MessagePad, but that's probably just my way of dealing with my hidden shame of being a one-time NewtonScript developer.

For now, I'm sticking with my tablet. It runs the Windows apps I need for work, it's very light, and it's usable in a cramped coach seat. I just wish it ran OS X too.

Reboot daily, Tablet users advised: "Microsoft has publicly acknowledged the Tablet PC bug that eats up the computer's memory until the machine crashes. The out of control memory leak remains unchecked while Redmond's Red Adairs grapple to put a lid on the blow-out. But there's no word yet of exactly when a fix will be issued."—The Register