Friday, January 16, 2015

I bought an HP Stream 11" Windows 8.1 laptop

I have good intentions of starting to give talks at my small town's local library on safe internet browsing, privacy issues, and any topics that I get requests for. I bought a $200 HP Stream 11" laptop to get up to speed on Windows 8.1 since I only use OS X and Linux.

I am pleasantly surprised at how much I like this laptop! The display is pretty good, the keyboard is also OK, and the no-fan design is nice. It works well with a second 1080p external monitor also. I ordered the laptop directly from Microsoft: their "signature editions" come with no crap-ware; just Windows 8.1 and nothing else.

The shortcomings:

  • Only 32 GB of solid state disk space. After installing Ruby, Java 8, IntelliJ, git command line tools, Pharo Smalltalk, Chrome, and cloning several git projects I have about 11 GB free.
  • Slow CPU. For using Pharo Smalltalk this is no problem. It is a small problem for Clojure development. I use IntelliJ with the Clojure plugin for editing and have a lein repl running in a command window. Not too slow, but not great either.

I bought this laptop just to experiment/play with Windows 8.1 but I think that it will become my travelling laptop. It is very light and small to carry around. The build quality so far seems very good for a $200 laptop.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Happy New Year

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

I am not going to make new year technology predictions, but I do have a few comments on what technology I am using and what I expect to be using this year:

First, I am surprised at how much Microsoft technology I am using. This started last spring when for political reasons I wanted to stop using Dropbox (I did not like their appointment of Condoleezza Rice to their board of directors). At the time, I could not find a good Dropbox replacement but after getting a Microsoft BizSpark business development grant last fall, and very much liking the Azure services, I recently decided to take another look at Office 365. It turns out that for the same $100/year I paid Dropbox for a terabyte of storage, with Microsoft I now get for the same cost one terabyte of cloud storage per family member and everyone in my household also gets Office applications and use of the online Office tools (that run really well in Chrome with Chrome apps). The versions of Microsoft Word, OneNote, and OneDrive for my iPad and my Samsung Note 4 Android "phone" are also excellent. I bet that I end up being a long term customer of Azure and Office 365.

Probably the biggest technology change I am making in the new year is my decision to go back to using Clojure as my primary programming language. I wrote a lot of code in Haskell in 2014, and spent many hundreds of hours studying Haskell - all time very well spent. That said, with Haskell I found myself dropping back to occasional use of Ruby and Java for various tasks so I ended up using three programming languages. It is nice to settle in with one comfortable and productive programming language and not have to do context changes. (That said, I still use Java, Javascript, and Clojure.)

My BizSpark sponsored (with a generous free Azure usage tier for up to 3 years) business plan involves writing a web service that I won't go into right now, but I have already started replacing the Haskell + Ruby prototypes with Clojure code.

The other big change in my life, technology wise, is my Samsung Note 4 Android "phone." We have been listening to the hype surrounding a mobile device lifestyle for years, but for me having a very capable computing device with a very high resolution screen always with me has been a major improvement because I can always write, communicate, do photography, and in a pinch open a SSH window and write a little code or do some admin on a server. It is liberating to not always need to have a laptop with me.