Archive for April, 2012:

Is my Windows 8 Tablet a Whore?

It has been said that the perfect wife is a whore in the bedroom, a chef in the kitchen and a lady in the living room (not that I can find out who first said it or how it was first said, or anything much other than people asking the same question).  In any event, the same is true of the computer.  The perfect computer should be a productivity machine in the workplace, a quick reference device in the living room and a reading companion in the bedroom.  Unfortunately there is no perfect computer, so I’m left with my laptop in the bedroom (which, is, you know, my true love) and having affairs with the high powered young desktop at work, and the sleek, shiny, not even really out of beta school yet tablet in the living room.

Or I was.  Because today I’ve finally decided to shake up my life.  Not by settling for a life of monocomputey – While machines have physical locations and have to be moved from space to space, I’m confirmed polyinterfacarous – but I’ve wondered if I shouldn’t be spending a bit more quality time with my laptop, and introducing my tablet to the ways of the bedroom.

Byt enough of an over-extended, and frankly disturbing metaphor…

I’ve long been a believer in the sofa computer – a computing device for the living room.  This is the machine you grab from your couch when you want to quickly surf the web or dash of an email.  In an automated home (when do I get my automated home?) it would be the control panel for complex tasks like controlling the PVR, and setting the heating schedule.  At first I thought the sofa computer would be the netbook – but my attempt at this, an early ASUS One was too slow to boot, and too clunky to be useful.  My next belief – on seeing the iPad – was that the tablet would fit the niche.  For a far time, I relied purely on my smartphone (I couldn’t justify paying for a fondleslab), but when Microsoft kindly gave me one, I figured I would be in techno-sofa nirvana.

Meanwhile, my laptop has lived upstairs.  Its meant to be my general purpose machine – where I play with new ideas and do my home coding, writing and web design.  That sort of thing.  But increasingly it has become the device I surf the web on when I’m unable to sleep.

In fact my writing is not nearly frequent enough.  And often, I’m sitting in the lounge with ideas for things to write, but not quite managing to motivate myself to start.  Despite the fact my tablet is sitting right there.

Because tablets are a pain to type on, when you are sitting on a couch.

My windows tablet is actually better than it might be: it has a bluetooth keyboard, and a dock.  But the dock is out of the way – not where I would want to see the screen when I’m typing to it.  And the keyboard, being light, doesn’t work well on a lap top or the arm of a chair.  Neither of these are problems with my MacBook.

However, I’m concerned that my tablet might not quite live up to its youthful promise in the bedroom.  Much of my strict bedroom routine requires it to play well with Google reader, and right now, the internet explorer client won’t scroll the feed bar, while Chrome is a bit picky about what it thinks I’m clicking on.  I suspect I’ll actually have to do more control with either a stylus or a keyboard – but at least the dock is in the right place for this to work.  I also suspect the keyboard will work better for typing from bed than it does typing from a sofa.  This remains to be seen.

The tablet did make a delightful travelling companion – the dock and keyboard letting me use it for a both work and pleasure on my recent city break in London.  I guess this was really the first time I took it into the bedroom.  The dock turned out to be particularly useful int hat it took a wired ethernet connection – this was a big win for it which I could not have predicted.  It also seems to be better at picking up the house’s WiFi signal than my MacBook, which is another point in its favour.

And the laptop in the living room – how is that doing?  Well, its early days: one always has to adjust to new living arrangements.  And I still need to see if my wife can put up with my new and experimental ways.  But I’m writing on it, and its comfortable and fun.  So I’ll need to find new excuses not to write more blog entries.

(brought to you by the “titles that make a bit more sense once you read the first paragraph” department.  And also by the “Ade will kill me if she ever actually reads any of this” department, for that matter.)