November 2008

Travelling with Mini-Me

by alec on November 28, 2008

A decade ago I had one of the first Sony Vaio executive notebooks.  It was a gloriously light, metallic purple titanium-clad affair which turned heads everywhere I went.  At just 12 or 13 in size, it was the perfect travelling companion, and with my Microsoft budget, affordable for an aspiring young mid-manager.  I used it everywhere — meetings, planes, coffee shops — you name it, it was always with me.

In recent years, however, notebooks have ballooned in size.  My Toshiba Tecra A-1 had a 15″ screen.  My more recent HP DV6000 was even larger.  Weight has increased to the point where I walk with a permanent lean, and the possibility of working on a plane has all but disappeared as airlines have crammed seats together.

For the last couple of days I’ve been travelling with the HP Mini 1000 — Mini-Me.  This diminutive “netbook” weighs just over 2 pounds, has a 10.1″ screen, and runs Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2007 just fine.  I’ve used it in airports, on airplanes, in board rooms and hotel rooms.  Size-wise, it’s perfect for travelling.  The battery lasts long enough at 2.5 hours, although I will probably upgrade to the 6 cell battery coming in the new year which claims to extend usage to over 4 hours.

Caveats?  Sure, there are a few.  If you buy a Mini, consider the following:

  • To be really productive in a hotel, you’re going to want to get a travel mouse as well.  My choice was a slim little number I picked up at Fry’s, but any mouse will do.  Skip the wireless mouse — the dongle is just one more part to carry and lose.
  • The Mini has no VGA out.  That’s right… none.  It does, however, have a proprietary peripheral port, and HP has promised to ship a VGA adapter cable for that port in the new year.  In the meantime, if you need to do presentations from the mini, you’re going to need an USB VGA adapter.  I’m using one from GXT.  It works fine.
  • You’re going to need a bag.  The appeal of this device is that it’s small, but that also means that the external peripherals — including the small brick-like power charger — are going to be extras you carry everywhere with you.
  • You’ll need to get used to scrolling your screen.  Most web sites now assume 1024×768 as a standard screen dimension.  The Mini’s screen, while very readable, is a non-standard 1024×600.

Despite the small drawbacks, I’m very happy. For the first time in a long time, I’ve not felt the stress of the massive pile of work accumulating “at home” while I’m on the road.

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Of course Canada is a digital ghetto!

by alec on November 28, 2008

When CBC’s Jesse Brown asked Is Canada becoming a digital ghetto, my answer was an immediate “Of course”.  Canadians who don’t travel or do business outside of the country would never know this, but the wars being fought and won over consumer digital rights in other parts of the world are simply not news here. Canadians will pay more for phones and televisions because the CRTC has sided with carriers on the crucial issue of network neutrality.  Because of our “Made in Canada” copyright reform, ordinary Canadians who buy and share music with family members will become criminals in their own homes.

My American friends speak glowingly of the convenience of being able to download and watch television using services like  They enjoy generous flat rate plans for telecom that give them virtually unlimited buckets of minutes and are driving a booming mobile telecom industry.

They have these innovative products and services because the regulator in the US favours the consumer and not the entrenched network interests.

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Why I dumped the other IM networks for Skype

November 26, 2008

Yesterday morning I twittered that I was abandoning all my previous IM systems and standardizing on Skype.  It generated some interesting responses in the blogosphere, which I didn’t really expect.  To me, it was a bit of a non-event. I just wanted people to know how to reach me. In any case, I’ve now shut […]

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Mini-Me arrives!

November 25, 2008

Over the past weekend I picked up one of the new HP Mini 1000 netbooks.  As much as I love my HP DV6000 entertainment laptop with its massive 17″ screen, it is heavy (12 cell battery), near impossible to work with on an airplane without paying for a business class seat or being lucky enough […]

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Visit us at Winter Arts and Pottery Sale

November 23, 2008

I spent yesterday at the annual Winter Arts and Pottery Sale put on by the Nepean Visual Arts Centre with Janice.  It was a trade show, but not the usual kind of show I attend.  No switches, routers, or PBX’s in sight, and nary a phone anywhere!  Instead, row upon row of local artists and […]

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BlackBerry Storm panned.

November 20, 2008

Team RIM has got to be a little disappointed this morning.  After the months of hype, the first reviews of BlackBerry Storm are arriving, and they’re not pretty.  The SureTouch clickable touchscreen keyboard is getting panned, the browser dismissed, and the experience labelled “Bold with a touch screen”.  Not the iPhone killer they had hoped […]

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How to achieve clarity in pricing. Hint: do not emulate Rogers Wireless.

November 18, 2008

I finally did get my Rogers iPhone upgrade issue resolved, yesterday.  Using the suggestion made by Larry Borsato, and others, I called and asked for “Customer Relations”, which is sometimes also known as “Customer Retention”.  These folks have a certain amount of latitude in what they can charge a customer.  Even so, the Rogers Customer […]

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Please sir, may I have an iPhone?

November 17, 2008

Sometimes reality really is stranger than fiction.  Take, for example, my efforts to buy an an iPhone from Rogers for my son.  You may recall that a little two over two weeks ago I paid a visit to the Barrhaven Rogers store with Jon, money in hand, to buy an iPhone.  On that occasion, we […]

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Will mobile rebels suffer the same fate?

November 16, 2008

Doug Mohney’s The Fallen – Crashed and struggling VoIP companies is worth a read, if for no other reason than to learn the fates of some of the companies we have all known in the VoIP industry.  One could summarize what he has written as: the carrier competitors,  excepting Vonage, ran out of money.  Vonage […]

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Calliflower goes Mobile on iPhone

November 12, 2008

The nature of meetings are changing, my friends.  As work styles have changed, so have meeting styles.  Once upon a time, we used to all gather in a room to converse.  More recently, groups of us have gathered in different places, crowded around a speaker phone and talked with people in far away places crowded […]

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