[FoRK] The trend away from desktop computers
<jbone at place.org> on
Sat Jul 21 10:25:50 PDT 2007
On Jul 21, 2007, at 4:14 AM, Adam L Beberg wrote:
> I give web 2.0 another few years before they figure that out. By
> then the iPhone and related devices will have replaced laptops,
> which are replacing desktops.
^are replacing^have replaced, for many serious users.
My decision 7 years or so ago to begin living *strictly* on my laptop
for all purposes (coincidental to my switch to Mac) is probably the
single most significant / impactful life-hack I've ever managed.
(The second, made at the same time, was to "drink the Kool-Aid" w/
the Mac, i.e., to force myself to exclusively use the Apple-provided
tools (Mail.app, Safari, etc.) rather than seek better 3rd-party
alternatives. This reduces impedance mismatch and ongoing search /
maintenance costs and improves productivity at the occasional expense
of desirable functionality, e.g. Greasemonkey.) A great example of
empowering constraints in action... The decision to live only on the
laptop actually changed not only everything about my workflow and
lifestyle -wrt- tech, but my entire point of view about where the
whole computing industry was / should be headed.
Whereas before I was deeply concerned about certain problems (like
how to maintain a single, consistent, replicated environment across a
range of machines --- part of the motivation for the original
Deepfile concept, in fact) I suddenly got to completely ignore the
multi-machine / decentralization syndrome. This also significantly
reduced my interest in Web apps, as in many ways those are a
substitute for a self-contained computing environment that you almost
always have with you.
Nowadays I again have a desktop (was a Mini, now a left-over G5 tower
so that I can drive multiple monitors) at work, but I use it only to
drive a couple of big displays that I use to run various read-mostly
market monitoring tools, CNBC on VLC, etc. I don't keep any data on
that box, and indeed don't even have a keyboard and mouse hooked up.
I use Teleport (a virtual kvm sort of thing - cf. http://abyssoft.com/
software/teleport/ - HIGHLY recommended! It even syncs clipboards.
Mac only. There are a few cross-platform options that supposedly
work across Linux / Windows / Mac, but all of them that I tried were
very flaky on the Mac.) on the laptop and desktop in order to drive
the desktop from my laptop's keyboard and trackpad when needed. No
plugging / unplugging the laptop when I get to my desk or leave, just
snap it shut and go.
The laptop contains everything of interest, and is regarded as the
canonical "source" of my entire computing environment. I've got a
simplified .dotfile setup that I use across the Linux cluster, etc.,
but even there my home directory is as minimal as I can make it;
i.e., the environment is the laptop --- the cluster (and other
computing resources) are just that, CPU farms, interfaces to specific
functionality (e.g. at home, the Mini that is the media server, etc.)
I doubt that true mobiles --- phones, etc. --- are going to be able
to displace laptops as desktop replacements, at least until we have
decent HUDs and some (perhaps inherently impossible) new form of
text / navigation input is invented that has the same benefits of
keyboard + pointer. The "form factor / application" thread sort of
touched on my issue / concern there... I suspect that the need for a
keyboard and pointing device is deeply embedded in all application
domains that require significant data input or complex data
manipulation. So the laptop may well be the ideal balance between
need to consolidate on a single machine, need for (some, though
limited relative to e.g. phone) mobility, and need for various
hardware / form factor / ergo functionality (significant display real
estate, keyboard, and pointing device.)
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