It's odd to look back at what computers were like fifteen years ago. When I was growing up, the internet was unheard-of, floppy disks were floppy, screens were green on black, printers were dot matrix, computer games were so basic that they now have retro charm, I was one of the few students at my school writing my homework on the computer, and I did so using a word processor called Wordstar which threw a canary fit every time I inserted a footnote – and footnotes formed about a third of the text when translating Virgil. Or possibly the computer hated the virtuous Aeneas even more than I did.
At uni, I went through a few years of all-nighters in computer labs before getting a laptop of my own via the Disabled Students' Allowance. It was a 14” Toshiba Satellite Pro, with rather nice sound for a laptop. and a trackpoint
, or “nipple” mouse, right in the middle of the keyboard. They don't seem to have been very popular, those trackpoints, and looking back they probably didn't have the all-singing all-dancing functions that mice and touchpads today need to have. I did like being able to mouse without taking my hands out of their usual typing position, and you'd think they'd be making a comeback for netbooks, small wireless keyboards and the like. I have to confess that the pointer function eventually went barmy and refused to do anything other than charge off to the top right corner of the screen, but that would probably have been fixable if the uni disability computing services had sorted out the motherboard instead of repeatedly replacing the keyboard.
So when that little laptop finally gave up the ghost in 2004, right in the middle of a raging (and hilarious) trolling drama on gothic_lit
which necessitated hastily ringing up eye_of_a_cat
and telling her how to hack into my LJ account so that she could become a co-moderator, I ended up buying a cheap and nasty laptop from PC World, under the illusion that it would only be temporary as I'd be getting another DSA-funded computer soon. ( No such luck! )
Last year, this beastie began to make alarming noises suggesting that its fan was unhappy. I cosseted it with a gel cooling mat
, not to mention feeding it more RAM and buying it an external hard drive, but I couldn't deny that it was getting elderly. This is the time when netbooks had just exploded onto the computer scene, and I was eyeing them with great interest. I'd previously tried a ( Psion Revo Plus, a PDA which is a forerunner of the netbook. )
Back to the ailing laptop. Those gel cooling mats really make a difference, and I was hoping to get a few more months of life out of the thing yet. I'd been waiting for netbooks to come out in XP, as I use the RNIB's audiobook service
via online streaming, which can only be used with NetPlexTalk
, which only works in Windows. The idea was that I would get the 9" EEE for small-computer uses now, try to keep going between it and that dying duck of a 14" laptop for as long as possible while the prices went down and the specs went up on laptops, and eventually get a nice big 17" laptop for my main computer and for watching films on. The netbook could live on my sewing table in the living room, where I could listen to audiobooks while quilting and do the odd bit of internet browsing. Alternatively, ghost_of_a_flea
and I could give up the lazy habit of watching films in bed, keep the larger laptop in the living room, and use the EEE as a nice little bedside computer. Since even a 17" laptop is perfectly fine for carrying around the house, it wouldn't be difficult to swap them around, it's just that having a netbook as well as a laptop would save constantly ferrying the same computer between rooms.
This didn't quite go as planned. ( At last we come to the EEE PC 900. )
To those of you who do have netbooks, which one do you have and how do you get on with it?