Thoughts on Translation is back from vacation (Costa Rica was amazing, thanks for asking!) and ready to attack some new projects. Summer always seems to be a challenging work time; I’m in and out of the office a lot doing fun things with the family and we also travel for several weeks, so I’m usually trying to fit more work into less time than usual. I haven’t yet made the leap to a smartphone, so mobile computing has been on my mind a lot this season.
I feel it’s really important to take at least one real work-free vacation a year, so on our recent two week trip to Costa Rica we took my daughter’s XO laptop to play some games and briefly check e-mail, but otherwise we were computer-free. My warhorse laptop, a factory refurbished IBM ThinkPad that I bought 7+ years ago, is finally on its last legs; first the touch pad stopped working, now the WiFi only works about half of the time, and sometimes when I boot it up it gives scary error messages that are probably its last gasps of usability!
After a lot of hemming and hawing, I decided to get a netbook; I was on the fence between an MCI Wind and an Asus Eee and finally decided to go with the Eee. The model I got, the 1000 series with a solid state drive and Linux OS, isn’t insanely tiny (unlike some netbooks that are approximately the size of the graphing calculator I had to get for 9th grade math!), but since I have pretty big hands and do a lot of word processing, I thought that a model with an almost full-size keyboard was a better bet. So far I’m really happy with the Eee. I replaced the factory-installed Linux OS with Ubuntu’s netbook-specific distribution and it’s really fast and easy to use. The whole package (the computer, cord and my flash drive) zips into a little neoprene case for easy carrying, it’s pretty slick!
Part of my rationale for getting a netbook was that in the age of ever more pervasive WiFi, it seems like a pretty good substitute for a smartphone. If I’m waiting to pick my daughter up somewhere or out doing errands for a few hours, I’m nearly always within range of a WiFi signal and the Eee Linux model uses so little battery power that I can leave it on nearly all day on one battery charge. Also, I wonder if netbooks are going to put a dent in the market for software upgrades. I paid a little under $400 for my Eee; because our office is an all-Linux shop, the cost of software upgrades isn’t an issue, but if I ran Windows, I would certainly look at the option of attaching a netbook to an external monitor and keyboard instead of purchasing OS and office software upgrades for a desktop computer. Any other netbook-using translators out there? If so, what uses have you found for your little tool?