So as I mentioned I succumbed to irresistable gadget lust and bought me a teeny tiny eee. ( geek wurbling )
I've named the computer Little list
(cheers for the witty suggestion, emperor
!) There doesn't seem to be a way to tell the computer its new name, but that's minor. So, yesterday and today, Little List got its first field trial, in the form of a couple of days at a small local conference I got roped in to attending.
This took place in Tammsvik
conference centre, which way over on the other side of town, and near inaccessible by public transport. So I had to get up unpleasantly early Thursday morning, and take a 50 minute train ride to the end of the line, where I missed the only bus (it runs only twice a day), but luckily was able to share a taxi with some colleagues who were also aiming for that bus. Using Little List on a crowded train is slightly uncomfortable (I had to hold it on my lap with my palms, while typing with my fingers, not very ergonomic!) but certainly doable and much easier than using a full-sized laptop. I conclude it's not worth getting out the baby computer for my usual ten minute commute, but for any longer journey than that, it's very useful to have. And it felt really nice to be able to dash off short catch-up notes to a couple of friends, not a daunting task like settling down to write a long, properly composed email.
Tammsvik is very pretty, traditional buildings (some are genuinely at least quite old) looking out over Mälaren lake and beautiful forests. But it's otherwise very poorly set up. We were a group of a hundred, but the facilities would have been barely adequate for 20. There were three toilets for the whole group. The sound system was utterly dire. They somehow concluded that there were only four vegetarians, though to be fair they were generally helpful when we pointed out the error, apart from one frazzled waiter who yelled at the fifteenth person who asked for a vegetarian meal long after they'd run out. There were several groups using the facilities at the same time, meaning that we felt rushed and crowded a lot of the time. The meeting ran from 9 on Thursday to 4 today, but we were only allowed to check in after 3 pm and had to check out before 9 am. Outside those times, we had to leave our bags in a tiny little cloakroom which didn't really have space for a hundred coats, let alone a hundred overnight bags. Part of the problem was that the meeting itself was overscheduled; the toilet situation would have been less acute if we'd been allowed more than a 5 minute break in a four hour session, and the checking in situation if we'd been allowed more than half an hour for a hundred people to go through reception, take their bags to their rooms and come back to the meeting. Networking, ostensibly the point of the meeting, was pretty difficult with so little unscheduled time. But I did get to catch up with RS, who is now working at Stockholm and I hadn't done very well at keeping in touch with her since she left our department.
The centre has wireless, for which you buy 8 hour passes. That's 8 hours of time, not 8 hours of actual use. They had provided the group with some of these passes, but again, not nearly enough for 100 scientists. I decided not to bother trying to use Little List to take notes, as there were no extra power points in the room and the battery wouldn't last all day. But I did get my paws on one of the coveted wireless passes, so in the evening I was able to catch up on email and LJ from the not very comfortable comfort of my narrow, hard bed in a cold, draughty room.
Apart from the logistical crap, and the overscheduling, the meeting wasn't too bad. There were some good talks, and my own talk, first thing this morning, went pretty well even if it wasn't the greatest triumph of my career. I had thought of testing whether Little List would seamlessly talk to the projector equipment, but I decided I'd better not inflict that experiment on the audience at 9 am, and anyway, the SCSI cable needs a converter from its small socket to the standard sized one, I think. However, I was able to open my Powerpoint presentation in Open Office, in order to read it through and check that I knew what I was going to say.
I think even after the novelty wears off, having a tiny computer will make a positive difference to my life. I'll likely still need to carry a book wherever I go, because I get fidgety if I have to wait five minutes for a bus, but that's not long enough or comfortable enough to get a computer out. But it will be good to be able to use longer travelling or waiting around times to catch up on emails or LJ posts, to be saved for when I next get online. And it was so lovely to be able to get online while staying away from home, and I expect other conference centres / hotels will have better power and internet facilities than Tammsvik.
Of course, it may tempt me to spend money I don't have; I can't really subscribe to mobile internet, because there are so many different providers that it would be a waste of money. But if I start paying for one-off wireless access on the move, I will soon find that the costs mount up. But generally, yay tiny computer!