As a bit of an experiment I have brought myself a Chromebook. Specifically the ARM based Samsung built 303C. This cost £229 from PC World which is very cheap for something that looks a bit like a Macbook Air 🙂

Obviously the Chromebook is a cloud based device and not a full laptop but as long as it is in WiFi range it does a good job of providing most of the facilities that I use on a daily basis. One thing that is missing is software development tools but this can be somewhat overcome by using a cloud based IDE such as Cloud9.

I have not yet experimented with what is possible with the Chromebook fully off line or with how usable it will be “out and about” with a MiFi. I intend to try out both of these scenarios in the coming weeks.

Adventures with an iPad 2

As a (pre) Christmas gift to myself I purchased an Apple iPad 2. For a while I had been trying to decide what to buy by comparing the iPad 2 with the current crop of Gingerbread / Honeycomb / ICS Android tablets. My research followed the normal paths and, as others have found, shows that both options will provide a tablet that will get the job done and the decision must be based on the different philosophies of the two platforms.

Apple iPad 2

  • Closed Apple ecosystem
  • Development tools cost money and only the Mac is supported
  • Many apps optimised for the “big screen”
  • Designed to “just work”

Android tablet

  • Open system
  • Free development tools that run on multiple platforms
  • Programmable on the device
  • Less tablet optimised apps
  • Very configurable

In the end my decision was made because I planned to used a tablet as a way to consume content and not create it. I have desktop, laptop and netbook machines to allow content creation in a much more comfortable environment than that provided by a tablet. At this time the quality of the apps on the iPad is higher than that on Android, particularly in respect of using the larger screen of a tablet. I am sure that this will change as ICS is deployed more widely but we will have to wait and see.

So, I now have a second iOS device to join my iPod touch. How has it been so far?

The iPad hardware is beautiful, there is no other way to put it. As well as the aesthetic qualities it is also built to last. I thought that I would miss the configurability and widgets of Android but so far I have not. The iOS launcher is a little dull but very functional; it gets you were you need to be, in an app and consuming content, with as little fuss as possible.

The main advantage of the iPad over my other devices is its “instant on” quality. When I need to look something up on the Internet it is now my first port of call. For heavy use of the Internet I will still use a PC but for reading news, social networking etc. the iPad is perfect.

WordPress Update

This blog was originally hosted using the “1&1 Blog” built-in WordPress installation from my web host. However this was designed for ease of use and did not give the full power and configurability of a full WordPress install.

I have now updated my hosting package to include MySQL databases and installed WordPress 2.8.6, these words are now being served by that install. One of the main reasons for this was so that I can install new plugins to allow such things as syntax highlighting for code examples.

I intend to make full use of these additional facilities in the future.

Todo list in the cloud

As I have said before I have been using “Life Balance” and “My Life Organised” to handle my todo list. Both of these are very good but have the limitation that they are only available on certian platforms. My Todo list must be available both on my PC (for ease of data entry and review) and my PDA (for when I am out and about). I originally used LB on PC and Palm but had to change to MLO when I changed to using my Windows Mobile phone as my PDA as there is not an LB version for WM.

Now I am changing my mobile phone and do not want to be limited in choice by my Todo application. I also use both Windows and Linux on various PCs and finding an application that runs natively on multiple platforms is not that easy. For these reasons I decided to use an on-line Todo service. After looking arround at the various options I decided to go with Toodledo. I have now stopped using MLO and so far Toodledo is doing everything that I need.

I am a little worried that my todo list is now in the cloud and outages could cause me to be unable to see my data. However there are some ways around this. I have brought the Toodledo native application for my iPod Touch, this syncs with the web version and keeps a copy of my data on the iPod. I also export my todo list regularly as XML and back this up on my network. For the future these is discussion of a Gears version of Toodledo, this would be good but we will have to wait and see.

All in all Toodledo should serve my needs until my own GTD application is ready 🙂

BjbGtd project on Kenai

In order to keep my life in order I have for many years used a task management system based on Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen. Initially I used a system called Life Balance on PC and Palm then moved to My Life Organised on PC and Windows Mobile.

I like the way that both of these systems work but as a software guy I have always thought “I can do that!”. So now I am putting my money where my mouth is and have started my own open source GTD project. Initially I am implementing a library to handle the GTD data items (Tasks, Contexts, etc.), this will be followed by desktop, mobile and, maybe, web applications that all use the library.

The library is called BjbGtdLib, is written in Java using NetBeans and is hosted on Kenai.

Go take a look!

Internet on the move

In these days of cloud computing it is getting to the stage where it is not possible to do even the simplest things without an internet connection. All of our data is “in the cloud” rather than on individual computers. This is a good thing in my case as I have a number of devices (laptop, netbook, phone etc.) that I use at various times and need to have access to my information.

To help with this situation I have taken two actions, the first is to signup for mobile broadband for he first time and the second is to increase the monthly data limit on my phone. I have been impressed with mobile broadband, plug the dongle into the laptop or netbook and away you go. The speed is good when there is 3G coverage and so far it has been very reliable. Bandwidth is obviously limited but should be fine for what I need. Most of my access will still be at home or at work with the mobile broadband just for when travelling and when on holiday. I have 1Gig a month on the mobile broadband and 250Meg a month (up from 4Meg) for the phone. I can now access my data, surf, e-mail, blog, etc. from wherever I happen to be without worrying too much about hitting limits or extra charges.

The information age is a wonderful thing!