Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Portable Computing: Catch the Wave

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Portable Computing: Catch the Wave

Article excerpt

REGULAR readers of this column may remember my travails with laptops. Years ago the Monitor supplied me with a Tandy TRS-80 Model 100, which was great in its day but didn't run DOS. Last August, the paper sent me a Toshiba T1000SE, which ran DOS but didn't have a hard disk. Finally in February, computer prices dropped to the point I could buy my own portable.

That purchase has changed the way I work. Perhaps a portable computer will do the same for you.

The machine - a Twinhead SlimNote - wasn't cheap. But I got a less-than-six-pound portable with a fast 486 microprocessor, a 200-megabyte hard drive, eight megabytes of random-access memory, and a trackball (which works like a mouse but is much more convenient for portable computing). Those of you who understand those numbers will realize I didn't skimp. About the only thing I didn't opt for was the color screen.

The SlimNote does double duty. In the office, it hooks into my Lantastic network and works like a server. That means any program or data on the portable can be accessed by my desktop computer, which is slower but has a better keyboard and a big color screen. On the road, the SlimNote shines even brighter.

In my pre-SlimNote days, it took hours to prepare for a road trip. I'd print out reams of background articles. I'd try to think of all the possibly useful contacts in my computer database and print them out, too. If I forgot something, that was too bad.

Now, I just pack the SlimNote. All my important programs and data are already stored there. (That's the beauty of networking: You can keep your data on any server, even if it's a notebook.) The machine makes trip preparation nearly forget-proof. Too bad you can't pack socks and toiletries on a hard drive.

But the greatest reward of portable computing, I'm finding, is the writing itself.

Critics of computing often complain about the dehumanization of technology. Writers, they say, should feel the scratch of the pen or, at the very least, the clunk of typewriter keys against the platen. …

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