Some of you loyal readers may remember my post a while back about how I prefer having a desktop. Well, last semester I finally caved in and got a laptop just like all the other cool kids. So what why the change of heart? Well, Moores law has continued and today’s lower end consumer laptops are quite cheap and more powerful than my desktop.
It’s very convent to carry a magical machine that does anything you tell it to. From it I can reach the furthest corners of the world and create anything imaginable and except for playing new games, my laptop can run everything my desktop can. Today computers are limited more by their software than by their hardware, it’s a matter of having them set up right to get the most use out of them. So when I got my laptop I wiped the hard drive and installed XP and all my favorite programs. You might sneer, “Windows, how un-1337 of you.” But that’s what I like and what I am familiar with. Perhaps the next time I have several hundred hours free I’ll dual-boot Linux.
So am I now inseparable from my computer? Does it have a name and eat meals with me? No. I still believe in avoiding using computers when possible in my work. Only for programming, number crunching, and sometimes for reference (I still <3 wikipedia) do I use my bring along my computer.
Are laptops convenient? Yes, it’s nice to be able to carry around a computer, setup just the way you like it, but are they necessary? No, my previous post still holds: there are plenty of computer labs on campus and there are never situations where you have to have one. There some people though who simply expect you to own a laptop, you’ll tell them that you don’t have one and then they will stare at you funny, incapable of comprehension.
The problem is that laptops often end up distracting more than helping. In the library I look out at all of my peers and few are without their little sidekicks. What are a good number of people using them for? Facebook, email, videos, etc. It’s important to view your laptop as a tool rather than an inseparable extension of yourself.