A New Member of My Office Staff

My goal is to replace my computer about every three years. My computer will hit three years in March 2011. However, I had noticed that it has been running really slow lately and I could see that the end was neigh. Rather than waiting for it to die before I replaced it, I recently ordered a new computer. Although it was not supposed to arrive until after the first of the year, I got it just before Christmas.Dell-latitude-e6410-red

I bought a Dell Latitude E6410. From what I can tell, this is the successor to my old D630. It is approximately the same size as my D630, although it seems to weight a little less. Also, they have moved the battery from the front to the back. I like this change a lot, although it means that my VGA connection has been moved from the back to the left side of the machine. In other respects, I like the machine a lot.

For the most part, it is an updated version of what I used to have. However, it has a few notable differences. First, I got a lighted keyboard. This is absolutely awesome. I have used it several times already and don’t think I will buy another laptop without this feature.

dell-latitude-E6410Second, the computer came with Windows 7, which I am enjoying so far. This is a legitimate successor to Windows XP, which I have used for several years. It is responsive, fast to boot up, and works without a hitch. I had heard several good things about Windows 7, and I am glad to see that it works as well as advertised.

Additionally, on my old computer I was using Microsoft Office 2007. With this new computer, I upgraded to Office 2010. There are a lot of similarities between 2007 and 2010. However, there are a few differences, that I think are improvements. First, the file menu is back. This seems like a small thing. However, I like it. Also, in Office 2007, the interface for Outlook was essentially Office 2003, with some 2007 features. With 2010, Outlook now works just like the rest of the suite.

As an added bonus, Outlook is working much faster. I don’t know if this is because Outlook 2010 is a faster, leaner, program, or if it is because of Windows 7, or if it is because I have a faster machine with more RAM (or some combination of the three). Regardless, Outlook 2010 loads a lot faster and works a lot faster for me that 2007 ever did.

Finally, my new computer is red. I prefer this greatly over the silver that  I have had on my two previous laptops. I know that this is a small thing, however, I am glad that I went with a color other than silver.

Addendum:I forgot to mention that there is one change on my new computer that I do not like. On my old laptops, the tops were secured by a locking mechanism that I had to slide to unlock. With my new computer, the unlocking method is to push a button. The lock that locks the top seems to require more force to make sure that the lid is locked. Also, the button release makes it much easier to accidentally release the top.

Extending Your Laptop’s Battery Life

PC Magazine has a great article on extending your laptop’s battery life. The article contains suggestions that we are all familiar with such as dimming your screen and not using the DVD drive. However the article also contains more substantive tips.

Some of these include:

  1. Turn off ports. Disabling unused ports and components, such as VGA, Ethernet, PCMCIA, USB, and yes, your wireless, too. You can do this through the Device Manager or by configuring a separate hardware profile (see next step).
  2. Create Power-Saving Hardware Profiles. Configure your laptop for the various scenarios in which you use it (on a plane, at the coffee shop, at the office, and so on). You can do this through the Hardware Profiles menu by right-clicking on My Computer and selecting Preferences or by using a freeware utility such as SparkleXP (for Windows XP users).
  3. Configure your display to turn off when not in use. This is different from just using a screensaver, because in many cases a screensaver still requires the display’s backlight to be on. You can set the interval to turn the display off in Windows’ Power Options—found in the Control Panel.

The article contains several more tips, all of which will help you extend your laptop’s battery life. i urge you to check it out.

Is the iPhone/iPod Touch the New Laptop?

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed an interesting series of posts from both Dennis Kennedy and Ernie the Attorney. Dennis has posted a three part series in which he explains the process that he went through in deciding to purchase an iPod Touch as his new laptop computer.

At the same time, Ernie the Attorney was posting a series of entries about his trip to Panama during which he left his laptop at home and took only his iPhone. After his experience, he concluded:

As you recall, last week when I went to Panama I didn’t bring a computer. I mentioned that I relied heavily on my iPhone, and that I was able to do a lot of work with just that device. But, I pointed out, that the trip was for pleasure so I didn’t really need a computer. If I had been away longer, or if I had been required to do more work on the trip, I would most certainly have brought my laptop. But, for a short trip that doesn’t involve a lot of work, I can say that an iPhone works just fine. In fact, I would venture to say that the iPod Touch would work fine. My daughter had one and was able to check email and do most of the things that I did on my iPhone.

Although his phone service did not work in Panama, he was still able to make calls using his iPhone.

I thought my iPhone would be able to work on the local phone network here in Panama. It did last time I was here, but not this time. AT&T assured me it would when I checked right before I left on my trip. “”Yes sir, you’re signed up for the Intenational option at $3.99 a month,” the representative told me.

That turned out not to be true. But doesn’t matter because I have the TruPhone app for my iPhone which lets me make low cost calls using the free Wi-Fi at my brother’s beach paradise.

I found both of these series of posts quite intriguing. It certainly sounds attractive to be able to travel without a laptop and still be able to get some work done. However, I doubt that I will be traveling down either Dennis or Ernie’s path in the near future. First, as I have mentioned before, I hate iTunes, and I would be tied to it to use either product effectively. Second, with respect to the iPhone, I hate AT&T’s service (which is your only real option with an iPhone). My wife and I both have Treos. She has AT&T service, I have Verizon. Often I will have better reception than her. Also, when traveling to the less populated areas of the country (where we have family), she often has no reception, while my phone works just fine.

Nevertheless, if you are considering trying to lighten your load while traveling, check out these posts from Ernie and Dennis and consider leaving the laptop at home.