Desktop versus Mobile Computing

Despite my best attempts to avoid the desktop, I can’t seem to completely avoid it.  Not that I can’t in practice.  Rather the desktop proves to be mindbogglingly useful as a productivity platform.  For one, typing with a full ten fingers really gets things done.  Second, screen real estate is cheap and allows for vast expanses for a UI to cover.  I can not understate the joys of working on a widescreen with a large resolution.  The only greater joy is working on multiple HUGE widescreen monitors with massive resolutions.  At work, I envy the graphics folk who get the large screens.  Coding and graphics works becomes a joy.  Third, the desktop or notebook out-competes in terms of sheer computing power.  Thats one aspect that I fear will always plague mobile computing platforms.

The last advantage is *gasp* openness.  Thanks to open source and open standards, I can freely arrange my desktop computing experience as I see fit.  Yes, there is always room for improvement but mostly it comes to avoiding some icky technical limitations.  And most of that is thanks to legacy code.  Ugh.  On the mobile, well… I tried to connect two apps together: a web browser and an office suite.  Fail.  Most likely a Symbian faux pas.

I have great hope that platforms like Android and Maemo along with more powerful and robust smartphones, will make mobile computing be as comfortable as desktop computing.  But for now, hold on to that desktop… you’ll still need it at least as a harness for your mobile gadgets.

A Return to Mobility

As a happy owner of a Nokia 5800 smartphone, I quickly realized the potential of this gadget as a great pocket-sized mobile computer. Unfortunately, for the longest time I relied completely on wireless access points. With the lack of a physical slideout keyboard, this phone felt like a step down from the N810 Internet tablet. On top of that, while the Symbian platform is well supported. I really enjoyed both the UI and multitasking abilities of the N810. While the 5800 XM does allow for multitasking, it feels a bit uncomfortable to use. Now I won’t complain about Symbian because I understand that it is limited by its age and its original intended useage. I’m sure that Nokia and all the other Symbian players are working hard to keep the old workhorse going. But there really is a limit to what you can do with it. Hence my anticipation for the N900. Lets hope it’ll be available for Canadians soon.

Sticking to only wireless LANs has the downside of being offline most of the time. Plus it means using the office WLAN when at work. And I’d prefer not to for the obvious reason of wanting to maintain the separation of work and my personal life. So eventually, I bit the bullet and added a data plan from Fido. Everything seemed perfect, until I checked my phone bill. Apparently the data plan didn’t appear, and the bill was a lot larger than expected. Dismayed I contacted Fido, and stopped using data to avoid an even larger bill. You can imagine my elation, when a rep from Fido called me today, withdrew the charges and reinstated my data plan. Yes! So I’m back online in the mobile space, enjoying the Internet everywhere.