Thursday, 31 July 2014

So what do you use?

I've been a bit remiss posting on this topic - it's actually quite difficult given that I flit between platforms and devices, but I've managed to come up with the following table based on my principle activities:

Windows OS X Linux (Ubuntu) ChromeOS Android
WordProcessing LibreOffice LibreOffice LibreOffice GoogleDocs n/a

LibreOffice via
Lightweight document creation (MarkDown) Retext StackEdit MarkDrop

Retext via
Spreadsheets Libre Office Libre Office Libre Office GoogleDocs n/a

Excel via OneDrive
Email Web client Web client Web client Web Client Application
Twitter Web client Web client Web client Web Client Application
RSS Reader Web client Web client Web client Web Client n/a
Document Management Evernote Evernote Web client Web Client Evernote
PDF Viewer Acrobat Preview Evince Google viewer Acrobat
Epub Reader Calibre Calibre Calibre n/a n/a

This of course doesn't cover the devices used - for example I'me still using my old Cool-er ereader to read epubs offline, while my Kindle is used for recreational reading, and I still use my old noname 7inch tablet for notetaking.

I also find I use my full size windows laptop at weekends for more serious writing but prefer my Chromebook during the week for email, web and rss reading, plus writing the odd snippet. My newer Samsung tablet is used for email, online newspaper reading and online banking, but strangely I still like my original 10" Zpad for viewing images, even if it's a little slow these days ...

Monday, 28 July 2014

Travelling with a 3G router

As I’ve written elsewhere, we’ve been on holidays, riding the train up to Cairns and driving back south through the edge of the western emptiness. During that trip we of course faced the great question of the twenty first century - how to get internet access.

Some of the places we stayed at provided complimentary internet, some did not, and some were simply out of range where there’s no coverage.

We couldn’t do a lot about a lack of coverge, but to combat the problem of small motels and rental cabins without the internet, we took our own, in the form of a little D-link 3G router I bought off of ebay for $18, an unlocked Huawei USB modem and one of these cheap data sim packages.

In the small towns of the bush it worked reasonably well allowing us to surf the web from an android tablet, check our email, and use internet banking and newspaper apps. In bigger, coastal places, such as Port Douglas, which was swamped with tourists, it didn’t do so well, probably because the 3G network was overloaded, meaning we suffered from dropped connections and timeouts.

Where we had good connection we even managed to have two tablets running at once - which was pretty neat.

It was fortunate though we’d taken tablets with us at the last moment, I’d originally planned to simply take the Chromebook and rely on phones for the rest.

Previously at home I’d successfully used applications on over a 3G link from my chromebook so I reckoned we’d get good enough performance.

In practice I didn’t. The Chromebook was tempremental - I’m guessing just too much back and fro to big G and time outs. Where we had a fast connection it was usable, where we didn’t it wasn’t, even though our tablets were. We’d have probably done better with the Windows netbook I took to Sri Lanka last year, and using postbox for email despite my various whinges about the netbook’s overall performance.

Spending blocks of time - four or five days off the net at a time also just revealed how dependent we’d become on the net for news and weather information - in the old days we’d have taken an AM/FM radio with us and listened religiously to the news and weather forecast on Radio National - well we still have the radio we used to take with us, but didn’t think to take it.

We also became extremely adept at spotting where there was working internet in a restuarant or a stop on the highway - where the internet worked people, starved of electronic interaction, sat and looked at their phones or tablets - where it didn’t they talked to each other, and there were payphones and people using them …

Written with StackEdit.