This Week in Mobile Tech Manor #81: Size Doesn’t Matter

The end of the week is here so time to share the past week at Mobile Tech Manor with you, my friends. It was a typical week full of gadgets, software and good e-books. I used a different computer every day this week and got a new software tool added to my utility belt that is aiding the creative process. Come on in and lets visit for a spell.

Device agnostic

I achieved a wonderful liberation when I went platform agnostic. The ability to work on either Windows or OS X opens up many options, and it’s only possible due to the software tools that I use on both platforms. I am mostly able to use the same programs on either OS, something not possible that long ago. Even when I use different apps on the two platforms to do the same task, I am able to use the same documents I create which is very cool.

Being platform agnostic has a big benefit given my work, as it means I can carry it even further by being truly device agnostic. This means I am able to use any computer and get the work done. I can also get the work done just as easily no matter the device I use, which is even more important. I don’t sacrifice anything by using a different device or OS, and that means I am just as productive no matter what.

This week I used a different computer every day, as I wanted to put several of them through a real working experience. I used the MacBook with the external monitor when at my desk in Mobile Tech Manor, but every day I also used a different notebook. The notebooks I used in no particular order: ThinkPad x200t, HP Mini 5102, Lenovo IdeaPad s10-3t, ThinkPad X100e and the Viliv S10 Blade.

These 5 notebooks are all small as notebooks go, but that’s where the similarities end. Three of them have 10-inch screens, one 11.6-inch and one a 12.1-inch screen. Four of them have touch screens, which shows how prevalent that feature is becoming in the notebook space. Three of them have Atom processors, one an AMD Neo processor and the last an Intel Core 2 Duo. One of them has an SSD while the rest spin conventional hard drives. Three of them have swivel screens permitting use as a slate, while the other two have fixed notebook screens.

Looking back on this week, I am surprised that none of these devices stands out in my mind over any other. That’s not saying that none are better than any other, just that for getting the work done they all did a good job for me. There were no hardships that plagued me while working, and that says a lot about the quality of notebooks of today. The tools I used didn’t get in the way of getting things done, and that is wonderful.

Sure the ones with the bigger screens were easier to work with for longer periods, simply because I could see more at a given time. But only two of the devices display the standard netbook resolution of 1024×600; three of them are higher resolution. Logically, the higher the resolution and thus the more on the display at once, the easier it is to get work done. But amazingly I found that it didn’t make as big a difference in usefulness as I thought it would. I found I adapted quickly to the given resolution and just concentrated on the work, not the tool.

Ink and writing

As a long time Tablet PC user, it’s no surprise that I enjoy using the pen on the screen. I don’t claim that handwriting on a tablet is more efficient than typing on the keyboard. I am a good touch typist so that’s not the case. But taking the pen to the digital paper is a big part of my writing process, at least for longer analytical pieces such as the Long Views for our research site, GigaOM Pro. I use OneNote on the Tablet PC to prepare for such articles, by outlining in ink. I find that using the pen in my hand stimulates the creative process tremendously during such preparation, and it expedites the process.

I start out with a blank page, and quickly jot down a crude outline. While I am doing this the ideas flow smoothly, much more so than trying to do this with a keyboard. I find myself solely concentrating on the creative process, which is stimulating.

Once I have a crude outline, I go to another blank page and repeat the process. This pass I am more analytical as a rule, and as the first outline is still fresh in my mind I create a more formal outline quite handily. This outline stays in front of me while writing the article, and it’s a great system for me.

Finding MobileNoter this week has been a boon for this process, as I can sync up these OneNote ink outlines to the iPhone. I keep the iPhone on the table in between the keyboard and the screen while writing, so the handwritten outline is right there for reference. The difference this simple tool has made for me is simply amazing.

Cool web choir

The coolest thing I saw on the web this week still blows my mind. Think virtual choir — a choir with members all over the world. Now think of each of these dozens of choir members singing in front of their computer with web cam recording each solo performance. Then take each video stream and magically, carefully mix them all together for a masterful choral performance.

That’s what Scott Haines and Eric Whitacre did and the resultant video is simply spectacular. If you do nothing else today watch this video all the way through. It is stunning.

American Idol sucks

I have been a fan of American Idol for years, I admit it. As a former professional musician the idea that a show like Idol can create an instant world-wide star is addictive. I can only imagine what it must be like for the contestants. I am often derided for liking the show, and I understand why many hate it.

The fact is that Idol pretty much sucks most of the time. The contestants are mostly pretty bad, the show is campy and it gets monotonous. So why does it continue to be a show that I watch religiously? Contestants like Crystal Bowersox.

Bowersox has a rare natural talent that is absolutely awesome. She is a complete musician, and while lacking the flair and glamor that the show is looking for, her performances are great. Music touches me deeply, and great music moves me. Her music moves me.

E-book of the week

This week I started a novel that kicks off what is turning out to be a good sci-fi series. It takes place during World War II, and is an interesting look at that conflict. The story centers around an alien invasion of the Earth during World War II, which is a wonderful premise for a story. Harry Turtledove has done a good job, and I raced through In the Balance. I’ve just begun the second book in the series, Tilting the Balance which picks up where the first left off. It’s a good read.


That’s my week, I hope yours was as productive as mine. I love sharing the week with you in this column. While it’s largely tech focused, it gives me a platform for whatever is on my mind. I hope you enjoy it. Until next week — peace out.

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