Thursday, October 29, 2009


Musical Laptops:

About 6 years ago I bought a Dell Inspiron 8500. This was a very good laptop for its time, in my opinion. As time went on the machine kept on truckin', and I bought a new battery for it last year. Early this spring I bought additional RAM for the machine, bringing it to the laptop's 2Gb maximum.

Then, soon after adding the additional RAM, the motherboard failed, in a unique-to-Dell way. Dell incorporated into the Inspiron 8500 a circuit that checks whether the AC Adapter plugged in to the laptop is a Dell AC Adapter, or an AC Adapter with somebody else's brand-name on it. If the AC Adapter is NOT a Dell, the laptop will not charge the battery, and will run at 50% speed.

On my laptop, the circuit failed, resulting in a laptop that won't charge batteries, and runs too slowly to be usable, even with proper Dell AC Adapters.

Once I concluded this was something that wouldn't be fixed, I found a terrific Thinkpad T41 for sale on Craigslist, and bought it with a fairly large amount of accumulated change on my dresser. The Thinkpad was great. It was the right size, powerful enough, felt great to type on, and had a great set of features. Last week it died.

Once I gave up hope of repairing the Thinkpad, I spent an enormous amount of time researching and shopping for a replacement. This is certainly not the right time for me to be indulging on expensive luxuries, and I very nearly traded my old Dell in to Staples for a $75 trade-in credit, that I planned to use toward their $350 Acer, a very low-end laptop.

I then considered that whatever laptop I purchase will be a tool I use to earn my livelihood, and it isn't unreasonable that I equip myself with a decent toolset. Also, a friend of mine pointed out that I can be 'finicky', and if I did buy the bottom-of-the-line laptop, I'd feel irritated about the machine every single day.

So I decided to get something better. I didn't get the top-of-the-line, $1100-1200 models I'd looked at over the last week. I did get something that was a little bit pricey though.

The machine arrived today, and I LOVE IT. Soon after I'd opened the box, I concluded I made the right decision. What did I buy?

The Asus UL80V.

This laptop is undeniably neat. It is light. It looks good. It isn't the fastest thing out there, but it was a lot cheaper than the absolutely fastest stuff out there, and it gets amazing battery life, even if the real-world battery life turns out to be only half of what Asus claims. (I haven't had the laptop long enough to test the real-world battery performance.)

So I might have spent more than I should have, but I'm thrilled with the decision.

On the job front:

I'm still with ISS Group. But for the last several weeks I've also been working with a new company, Cloud Strategies. At year-end, I may be working at CS instead of ISS. Cloud Strategies is a consulting firm, with a focus on helping businesses evaluate and implement Microsoft's cloud-computing product, Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). In September I implemented BPOS at ISS Group, and I've been very impressed with the product, and also the support Microsoft offers behind it.

If you've got a small (or large) business and you've been frustrated with the cost and/or headaches associated with maintaining your own Exchange and/or Sharepoint servers, I encourage you to investigate BPOS. The product is surprisingly easy to get started with, is inexpensive, and free 30-day trials are offered.


Changes In Latitude...
Sunday afternoon I'll be helping to coach Nate's soccer team as they play a double-header. So far this season the team has played three games, winning 2 and tying one. Sunday evening, after Nate has showered and everybody has had dinner and changed clothes, we are hitting the highway! I've just paid off my car, and while it sits in fully-owned glory in my driveway, we're minivan-ing it to Chicago, to visit Jessica's sister Elissa and her family. I'll be working out of their home for a week, and next Friday we're beginning the drive back to NJ.

In December we plan to travel again, either to Orlando or NOLA. The destination will be determined soon, hopefully.


The New Orleans Saints!!!

This year's Saints are phenomenal. They looked great in pre-season, and they haven't choked yet. Watching and listening to the Saints games this year has been thrilling. I hope this ride continues for a few more months!

More next time...

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