Experiences with a wifi laptop at home

A year ago, I was proud to call myself “the least wired technology consultant I know” because my home computer was a Pentium-200 box with a dialup modem. I could get online, but only if I had to. And mostly, I didn’t.

Since then, my sweetie Molly moved in. Because she was taking a GIS class, we got an up-to-date PC, DSL and a wireless base station. (Phone jack and office are not particularly near each other, and my 1938 house isn’t that conducive to wiring projects. Plus, I’m lazy.)

About a month ago, we got a gently used iBook from Molly’s brother. Although I’ve had laptops at work for a while, having one at home has really changed the way I relate to the Internet in my day-to-day life. Back in the early days of broadband (oh, 1997), I often told my environmental colleagues that making Internet access faster and more convenient would totally change the way that they used it. “Online” would become a place you “were” not a place you “went.” I’ve been long used to that sensation at the office. But even with a broadband connected desktop PC in my office, home had never really become a place where I “was online” — simply because I don’t spend much time hanging out in the spare bedroom.

Enter the iBook.

Suddenly, my living room, my couch — the center of home and hearth, is “online, all the time” (to quote a phrase from the early days of ONE/Northwest).

Turning on the computer is as quick and easy as flipping on the TV. (iBooks wake up really fast from sleep.)

Reading off an LCD screen in my lap isn’t quite as good as reading from a book or magazine, but reading a computer on the couch is miles ahead of sitting in a desk chair. Suddenly, I can read recreationally online, and I’m spending a LOT more time doing it.

The ready availability of the laptop has made me a lot more apt to spend time writing and blogging when ideas strike.

I’m staying up late more.

I’m watching less TV. (‘cept West Wing!)

The technical annoyances:

  • Printing is a problem. We have a pretty vanilla HP inkjet (USB connection), but there’s no simple way to print to it wirelessly. A minor annoyance, but I’m glad I have the desktop around. Sharing the printer from the PC to the iBook seems annoying at best.

  • The maximum resolution of this iBook screen is only 800X600. Unfortunately, that’s just a little bit too small for really being productive, especially if I want to remote control my work desktop. I pity anybody who still has to work with a 15″ CRT on their desktop.

  • OS X is a beautiful and stable operating system, but I really do miss right-clicking on things.

  • Fire.app, the best multi-protocol IM client for OS X, just isn’t nearly as good as GAIM, the Windows/Linux leader. For example, they haven’t been nearly as quick to respond to recent strangeness with Yahoo Messenger connections.

  • OpenOffice for Mac is lagging behind its Windows counterpart. Boo.

5 thoughts on “Experiences with a wifi laptop at home”

  1. <quote>OS X is a beautiful and stable operating system, but I really do miss right-clicking on things.</quote>

    A third party mouse will fix that (OS X knows about the extra buttons, as do many apps) or option-click if you’re flying w/o real mouse.

    Welcome to the wireless world. I’ve had this going for three years now, and I can’t imagine using a computer w/o it.

  2. Good point, but using an external mouse with laptop is a drag if you take the idea of a “lap”top literally like I do.

    What I really want is for Apple to realize that times have changed since 1984, and to start building laptops with two buttons, especially ’cause the OS now supports it. I know, I know, it’s not the Apple Way ™. But I don’t care.

  3. It doesn’t sound like you’ll be moving away from your PC anytime soon but if it’s any consolation, sharing a printer with another Mac desktop over a wireless network is a breeze, as , I would guess, is sharing from a PC to a PC.

    I don’t know if your Mac has bluetooth built in, but we use a bluetooth mouse with our laptop and it does not take away from the wireless “experience.”

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