Back in NZ

OK, so my adventure working out of NZ is over. My trip back involved stopping in London and Belgium and Japan on the way back. London was cold, wet and expensive. Belgium was slightly less cold and wet and Japan was ‘just right’. This is my second trip to Japan, and it’s such an interesting and bizarre place. It’s amazing that so few tourists bother to go.

Computer-wise I haven’t been up to too much. The T42 is still going, but it’s feeling quite old now. I’m still using dwm on Slackware 12.0 on it. dwm is mostly OK if somewhat eccentric. If you like keyboard shortcuts and don’t want too many shortcuts to remember then its great. Some apps such as Skype really don’t like the tiling approach, but most apps are fine.

The most noticeable slowdown on the T42 is when you try to run a virtual machine. Lately I’ve installed Solaris 10 x86 and the old Pentium-M 1.5Ghz does push itself (I have 1GB of ram). I have vmware workstation and the new (1.6) version of VirtualBox running on the T42. I’ve used VirtualBox before, but now that Sun has bought the company it looks like they’ve pumped up the development progress on it. It should be interesting to see where it all ends up. Sometimes VirtualBox feels faster than Vmware but its hard to tell. Vmware has very easy to set up networking, whereas VirtualBox encourages you to play with linux bridging (which I am fine with) which is definately a bit more complex if you’ve never set it up before.

So a newer laptop would be nice, so I’ve been googling doing some research (as you do). Naturally, I started looking into getting a newer Thinkpad. I like their keyboards (generally brilliant but getting worse and worse) and I prefer using the trackpoint. I trawled through the forums at and I get the impression that the T60 and T61 really aren’t as well built as the T42. The T61 sounds like the better choice out of the two. However, I’ve also been researching Mac laptops as well. I’ve had the Mac Mini for a while now. I don’t use it as much as my linux systems here, but it is an OK Unix platform and there aren’t that many things about OS X that are annoying. On linux I often find there is a lot tinkering and research that goes into ‘making something go’, whereas with the Mac, the software already goes … so you just get in and do the creative thing you wanted to do in the first place (admitedly you could say the same about Windows … but I just hate Windows).

The Macbook is reasonably light and actually weighs almost the same as the 14 inch T42 (about 2.3kg). However, if you trawl some apple forums you find lots of people complaining about stains and cracks on the white macbooks and grease marks and smudges on the black ones. You get the impression that Apple have fixed or perhaps lessened some of these issues over the years … but its difficult to tell. There there’s the new Macbook Air.

The Air is quite a bit more expensive, but lighter and has barely any ports on it. I hate wireless networking so I’d probably always have to use the USB ethernet adapter which is not ideal. There are also lots of forum posts regarding core shtudowns … which appears to be less so now or can be resolved by undervolting.

So definately some choices to think about until next time.