Re: Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?

Subject: Re: Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 12:51:02 -0400

I have a company laptop, that travels back and forth with
me, and from which I can connect to the company VPN.

There's a docking station collecting dust somewhere. I don't
use it.

I occasionally use the laptop as a laptop, when travelling
by car (my wife likes to drive -- for me it's just how I get
from place to place...), or when sitting out on the back
deck, watching the birds and sipping something cool (during
the two-and-a-half months of the year that it's not winter
around here... ahem...).

Otherwise, the laptop pretends to be a desktop, with
various cables plugged in:

- power
- network
- video (to the big monitor)
- mouse/keyboard (PS/2 splitter)

At the office, the monitor is 21" and FAR nicer to work
on than the laptop's built-in screen... not the quality, the
onscreen real-estate. I really dislike scrolling every two
The keyboard is ordinary, but more spacious and comfortable
(especially because I can [re-]position it at will), and
the mouse is a trackball, which my right wrist tells me is
now mandatory.

To me, those little eraser-head pointing devices on laptops
are rather annoying, and the touch-pad version (I have both
on my Dell) are excruciating. Only to be used when no other
option is available.

At home I've got a full-size tower with a 19" monitor. It's
connected to the home network (as is my wife's machine).
When I bring the laptop, it hooks into my hub/router to
share my ADSL connection, and also into my KVM switch to
share the big monitor as well as my keyboard and mouse.

Anyway, the upshot is that I don't even need to change
profiles when I move between home and office with the

The laptop doesn't have a CD-burner, and to get one would be
prohibitively expensive, if it was even possible. Instead,
I use the networks to back-up files and to get them over to
machines that do have CD burners.

If I were to lose/leave this job (where I'm quite happy,
thankyewverymuch), I'd lose the laptop, so my first move
would be to acquire one of my own. That would be either a
new, down-market model, or a refurbished one. I don't need
tremendous power on a laptop, just my tools and some good
reliability. I can do upgrades on the home tower (which
I've had for a year and a half, and which already has two
new hard disks, a DVD player that I added, a newer video
card... the old items worked just fine, but I built a box
for my brother and used the pieces from my own machine
that I wanted to improve).

I agree with those who say having two machines is good
insurance, and I agree with those who say it's worthwhile
to totally or partially build your own. You learn a lot, and
when something breaks you can usually just step across
to the local mom'n'pop computer shop to buy a replacement
that you can install yourself in minutes.

To me, the prohibitive aspect of getting a manufacturer or
the computer shop to do repairs/upgrades is the time it
takes. If I take it to the shop, I'm looking at a few
days with no computer, and no way to change that, if my
situation (or masochistic index) changes. If I just buy the
parts, I get to decide when the machine will be down, and
whether (or not) I want to work into the wee hours to get
the box going again.

I use the expertise of the computer-shop guy to help me
in diagnosis and to ensure that I buy the right parts for
replacements/upgrades, and I gladly pay the slight premium
of his prices in order to keep his good will. (In other
words, I don't mooch his advice and then go down the
street to the big-box store to spend a few dollars less.)

In my current arrangement, I come to the office for meetings
and to run the company product (hardware and software) on
the test computer that also lives in my cubicle. That's were
I observe the strangenesses and capture screenshots, etc.

If I were to consult/freelance, then I would probably
re-configure my home system to include a Windoze partition
or two, in order to run possibly-buggy client software
(assuming that the customer would not lend me a machine for
that purpose, but that I still wanted[needed] the job), and
I would keep that Windoze stuff on a separate hard disk, so
as to minimize any crippling effects on the overall system.

Here's a separate issue:

I'm Linux-only at home, and the laptop is dual-boot linux
and Win NT.

I have not discovered how to get linux to properly work the
laptop's onboard pointing devices, though it does a perfect
job with a plugged-in mouse or trackball.

Anyway, those are my observations/practices. FWIW.
Go for the combination, and keep your options open.

** DIR-ty DEEDS, and they're DONE dirt cheap. (Sing it,

Buy RoboHelp Deluxe starting at only $798: you'll get RoboDemo, the hot new
software demonstration tool that's taking the Help authoring world by storm,
together with RoboHelp Office. Learn more at

Your monthly sponsorship message here reaches more than
5000 technical writers, providing 2,500,000+ monthly impressions.
Contact Eric (ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com) for details and availability.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

RE: Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?: From: Sharon Burton-Hardin

Previous by Author: Re: Documenting open source software in product?
Next by Author: Re: Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?
Previous by Thread: RE: Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?
Next by Thread: Re: Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads

Sponsored Ads