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Remote working…

Posted by markharrison on October 12, 2007

There’s a lovely blog post on dot neil about remote working, in which he gently pokes fun at the way that magazines try to depict “teleworkers.”

It did make me think about how much things have moved on even in the last year, though.

I don’t go anywhere without my mobile phone any more – OK, that’s probably true for everyone these days (even my mum has one now!) However, I’m also increasingly reluctant to go places without my laptop…

… and the reason that THAT has changed is that I’ve started using T-Mobile’s data service, and broadly it works. OK, there are some limitations – on the package I have I can’t access secure sites, and it’s slow… but heh, as I said… broadly it works.

For example, at Mog007, I was able to make a number of blog posts, including photos (via Flickr). I admit I had to scale down the photos quite a lot rather than posting them at the normal resolution, but even MS Paint can manage that 🙂

Which brings me onto the second bit of technology that’s helped – my current laptop has a built in card-reader… that means that rather than faffing about with cables and trying to hook up the laptop to the camera that way, I could just flip the card out of the camera, and stick it into the side of the laptop. Again, it all “just worked.”

Which brings me onto, I guess, a point about Operating Systems.

My laptop runs Windows XP Media Centre 2005… I needed that operating system, because last year I ran a bunch of training courses for a client on a particular product that had an MCE plugin. Alas, the new version of that product needs the Vista version of Media Centre, so the current laptop is no good for that… and the laptop is gradually getting slower as more and more bloatware seems to make its way onto the machine. So, I have five choices:

  • Get a Vista laptop. The ONLY reason I can think of for doing this is so I could run that particular training course… but if truth be told, I’d rather just borrow a desktop with Vista from the client in question (the course involves lots of other kit anyway, so it wouldn’t be an issue.)
  •  Carry on. The slowness is liveable with, and certainly the few seconds a day I’d gain wouldn’t repay the time it would take to ORDER a new laptop, let alone set one up 🙂 My friends with Vista, though, tell me that a new laptop with that runs just as slowly.
  • Get a Mac laptop. Erm, except that would cost about £1,000 MORE than the next option… however, if my iPod, or the Mac Mini that just runs a rolling display in the coffee bar at Architectural Plants are anything to judge my, Apple make lovely, easy-to-use kit.
  • Get a Dell laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed. It’s the cheap as chips option, and I’m looking with interest to see how quickly Dell start shipping with Ubuntu 7.10 which is due for final release this week.
  • Just install Ubuntu 7.10 on this laptop (probably as a dual-boot).

Here’s the point though, for 99% of what I do ANY of those solutions would be fine. For all that Macs, Linux and Windows have their advocates, as far as I can make out, 99% of the exciting development work is taking place in on-line applications. We deliberately released the CD-ROM from my property mentoring programme to run on any of them… and even have the files in either MS or format so those who don’t want to pay another £300 for an office suite can use them… and as far as I can make out most other people are doing the same. (There are still, alas, a few people who only seem to test in Internet Explorer… but I’ve stopped going to their sites because they scream “amateur night”.)

Newsflash people, the desktop war is over… and the result was that everyone one (except, maybe, lazy web developers who haven’t noticed what their customers use.) Compared to even 2 years ago, all three of the options really just work for everything I need anymore.


2 Responses to “Remote working…”

  1. Daniel James said


    Have you considered using vertulisation for your various differing requirements… Vista, XP, Linux?

    It’s really revoluitonised the way I work, no more building machines, or meesing about wiht configs, they are also very portable, so moving them between machines is not a problem.

    Just a thought



  2. maryh said

    My motivation for getting a Linux laptop would be for avoiding the cost of a Vista licence… I don’t believe that Virtualisation would help there?

    I +do+ use virtualisation already, for the purpose of checking that our websites look OK on different operating systems. (I run Ubuntu inside a VM on an XP machine.)

    I’d be interested in virtualisation IF I could run CompizFusion virtualised on a second monitor within an XP host… but the virtualisation package I’m using (MS Virtual PC) doesn’t give enough access to the graphics subsystem to let that work on Feisty.

    Heh, Gutsy’s out tomorrow… I’ll give that a go.

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