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ATPM 17.01
January 2011


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by Mark Tennent,

A Tale of Two XPs

I didn’t think of it at the time, but I’m the one who ends up suffering and it’s all the fault of the excellent LogMeIn.

Wednesday night, leaving work and as an afterthought I left my computer on and put all calls through to my cellphone. That evening, more snow fell in our area than in all the years since 1963 put together. Here on the coast, even the influence of the ocean a couple of hundred metres away wasn’t enough to melt the snow. Which, when I ventured out to clear the wild bird feeders, was up to my knees. Also up trouser legs and down inside shoes.

Thursday and Friday, I was able to operate a complete service: telephone calls were answered, e-mails replied to, and bids put in for potential profit earning placements. Then, late afternoon, the calls started to arrive from work colleagues: “Are you going to work tomorrow?”

”Well actually, I have been at work all day.”

Idiot! While they lounged around, had extra time in bed, watched old movies and made snowmen, I was holding the office together. We all get paid, even those who did bugger-all. To make matters worse, they aren’t going in today, so I am still the only one at work.

To repeat it again, it’s all the fault of LogMeIn. Even the free version sets up a secure, encrypted VPN, and running Windows XP from my Mac Pro is a sight to behold. The visual appearance of Lotus Notes is far superior on a 23-inch Apple Studio Display than the clunky Dell 17-inch screen it’s normally displayed on. Colours are glorious rather than muddy, and because Windows XP is running on a true Windows machine, my work Dell Optiplex, there are no driver problems to contend with.

XP Expedited

This is completely the reverse of my partner’s new Mac OS X netbook. Also a Dell, a tiny Inspiron 910 with an Intel 1.6 GHz Atom Diamondville. This little subnotebook has a sticker saying it is designed to run Windows XP, when in reality it has Mac OS X 10.6.5. Dell designed it as a competitor for the Eee; with Mac OS X (installed courtesy of these instructions) it becomes far more.

My initial thoughts mirrored Steve Jobs’ in that the 9-inch screen is too small, the trackpad doesn’t like large fingers, and the processor is too limited. But after the little chap has been here for a day or two, we have started to quite like the form factor.

Last night, we were able to watch live TV, screen-shared from a Mac Pro running Elgato’s EyeTV, transmitted across a 802.11g wireless network. Even though the Inspiron uses Intel’s integrated video, it ran the stream without any hang-ups. We found the same when playing compressed videos.

Maybe Apple has missed a trick and should make a netbook. No matter, the Inspiron is a nice little computer and feels solidly-built apart from the awful trackpad. It is certainly much cheaper than any netbook Apple would release and, with the lid closed, almost pocket-sized. As a step-up from an iPhone, or more accurately a step across, Dell’s hackintosh has become a point of arguments over who uses it first.

I just can’t decide whether I need one, just like I need an iPad and I need an Aston Martin DB9…

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