It is time for a smart mobile device on the go, and wireless peripherals everywhere

The ultimate convenience in personal computing is to carry very little with you and have everything available at hand wherever you may be. To make a rather tangent parallel, when you see celebrities or powerful people travelling they never seem to be carrying anything at all, and that’s because there are small armies of people doing that for them. In computing, that small personal army would be your smartphone or tablet, such that when you actually need access to bulky stuff (printers, projectors, large display) they are available on the premise where you are. I imagine a (very) near future where all you need is a good smartphone on you, and dumb wireless terminals wherever you go. Perhaps not even a smartphone per sé, but a smart device that holds your identity and most personal items so that you can experience them on all nearby by-you authorised peripheral devices

I imagine a (very) near future where all you need is a good smartphone on you, and dumb wireless terminals wherever you go. Perhaps not even a smartphone per sé, but a smart device that holds your identity and most personal items so that you can experience them on all nearby by-you authorised peripheral devices. Here are the signs that point to this.

Smartphones and tablets cost more than your average PC

Don’t take my word for it, look up any online or offline store for PCs. Do the same for smartphones and tablets, compare the prices, you’ll see that they’re very close. So, if you are going to buy a PC, you probably can afford a smart mobile device and you are likely to choose for the latter due to the superior convenience and personalisation.

Smart devices have your most relevant and up to date data

Again, if you’re using one you won’t have any doubt about that. I actually craved for this for years and tried every generation of products that I could afford to buy in my time. I wasn’t nearly satisfied until I got my first iPhone, a 3G model when they first came out. With either a smartphone or a tablet, you have Internet with you and you can access your email and do banking, collaborate on documents.

Main PC uses: browse, store print or share things, play.

A smartphone or tablet can perform very well everything a PC can do, but the converse is not true. It is more convenient to browse the Internet with a smartphone or tablet, than it is to do it with a PC. Beyond that, you can also store things or share things without a PC. In fact, you may be better off storing things in the Cloud than keeping them on a PC. Printing from smartphone and tablet has been relatively elusive until printers started to evolve too. Actually, wherever there is a printer there is also a good functioning PC nearby. So, if you’ve already got a PC it is likely that it works well and you have no reason to upgrade it. Mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets is taking off seriously. There’s not much left that you could be missing.

My 5 year old laptop is still amazing

I wrote a couple of posts about my Macbook Pro in this blog. They are still relevant, it’s still incredibly snappy and robust. I did recently experience a problem, which might actually be an unpublicised bug with OSX Mavericks (previous blog post entry). Since writing that post, the second disk appears to be back online, as if nothing ever happened, and I haven’t lost any data because I didn’t rush to reformat the disk or anything like that. Other than this brief issue with the disk, the laptop remains speedy and responsive. The tasks that my ageing laptop doesn’t cope well with include: deeply technical tasks such as compiling complex toolkits, simultaneously running multiple OS on VM, I don’t do any video processing but I’m sure it will be slower doing that compare to contemporary machines. When you look at these tasks though, you see that you actually want those to run on the Cloud rather than locally. Cloud hosting is no longer just for data centers, it’s becoming attractive for consumers too (see Amazon new GPU announcement).

In closing

The ultimate convenience in personal computing is to carry very little with you and have everything available at hand wherever you may be. To make a rather tangent parallel, when you see celebrities or powerful people travelling they never seem to be carrying anything at all, and that’s because there are small armies of people doing that for them. In computing, that small personal army would be your smartphone or tablet, such that when you actually need access to bulky stuff (printers, projectors, large display) they are available on the premise where you are. A smart device affords everybody a kind of celebrity privilege except for the publicity stuff, and I suspect lots of fashion moves were motivated by the layman’s envying what the privileged few have got.

I dislike hype, it’s almost pathological. This makes me feel like coming up with contrarian arguments in reaction to most articles I read these days that talk about computing technology market. This feeling is reinforced by the impression that many of these analysts are simply posturing with no work whatsoever to back up their writings. This is also seen in many articles on the so-called post-PC era. So if they can get away with it, I feel entitled to risk some thoughts on the subject.

Blighted by the hard disk

A failing hard drive on my MBP caused a lot of troubles without ever showing any errors or signs that it was occurring. The disk eventually stopped working, then the laptop became responsive as it always used to be.

Recently I had a terrible time with my MBP and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. It turned out that a hard disk was failing, this only became apparent after a few weeks of bad experience.

Intermittently there would be severe lags in response to just about any action, no error messages showing anywhere and no signs of any sort of trouble. The timing was bad, to say the least. Eventually, the second disk on my MPB started to eject itself frequently and wouldn’t be visible. I had to reconfigure my machine to have all my files in the single functioning disk. Once this happened, my laptop became the nippy device I was accustomed to.

The early signs: every now and then the laptop experiences long lags, no errors shown. Because this was happening at a time when I was working on an assignment on a different setup. I started blaming everything new I had installed and would reinstall and reconfigure programs hoping that would be the cause, alas to no effect.

MBP Disk auto ejects
MBP Disk auto ejects

Eventually, some clues: the disk would intermittently auto eject. This forced me to find a location for the files I needed in the project I was working on. I run Disk Utility a couple of times and it did show a serious problem with the second hard disk. I had no time to dig into this, chose to wait until my engagement was over.

The final straw: only one disk now available in the system. Once this happened, my MBP started behaving normally again.

I was lucky to have had partitioned off my data such that the boot drive had all the essential programs and files needed to run the computer. The second disk mainly hosts data, and nearly all of it was frequently backed up and copied to a second machine. If I fail to recover the disk, I would only lose a few days of work. The project I was working on, when the incident started to occur, was all based on a GIT repository and I was pushing my changes at the end of the day, so didn’t lose any work there. Thank goodness.