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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maccing all my files into thin air

The Macbook air in thin air.
The Macbook air in thin air.

When I read the specs and saw the keynote on the Macbook Air, I like many others gave it a lukewarm reception. What I loved was the low weight. Ultralights have been my favourite laptops since IBM launched their ThinkPad X-series. I had many of them, and I loved them; rugged, good to write on and fast, almost perfect. Hence I knew that when a laptop approaches 1kg great mobility kicks in, meaning you can just carry it along everywhere all day. What worried me most was the small hard disk. I had to see it to get convinced.
I stopped by the Mac store on Regent Street in London, like Guy Kawasaki, I was completely sold. Unlike Guy, I did not walk out with one. I needed to wait to get the Scandi keyboard.
I finally got it few weeks ago. It is a sweet machine. It is the best laptop I have had after my ThinkPad X40 and my PowerBook Duo 230. For weight gain there is data pain. I have never in my tech life had to go on data diet, but now my hardware lust sent me on massive data diet. For a life recorder like me, a 80GB hard disk is way too small. My active digital life is around 140GB. I had to loose around 70GB in order to have some room to spare.
I had run one man brainstorms on how to architect the solution, I came to same conclusions as Guy in his fabulous post, but I am not spending it yet/now. Instead I made the following decisions. I need to diet my data life down to be able to use the Macbook Air as a hub:

1. No Photos
2. Only few key Podcasts
3. A cleaned music library
4. Only temporary video storage
5. Selective copying of files
6. Only actively used apps

I only copied files of meaning from the Macbook to the Macbook Air, a project that lasted a couple of days. I will have a 160GB mobile disk companion containing overflow files and my iPhoto library of 45GB for some occasional mobility. For general image mobility I decided to have my photo library on the 32GB iPod Touch and favourites on my 8GB Nokia N95. These had to be transferred before taking the Macbook Air into use as there was only one USB port. I use a 1TB as a master backup. Will get an Airport Time Capsule to complement it and simplifying backing up.

What I cannot sacrifice is my iTunes, it has become the hearth of the digital hub. I always found it strange to have sync of iPods via iTunes, but it does provide a nice lock-in. I had to clean my music for weird stuff and duplicates. My massive collection of podcasts, got ‘binned’ and back in the cloud, I have to hope they continue to offer them. Amazingly I had collected around 80GB of podcasts. My TV shows are on a 1TB back up, so are other movies. This is a hassle, but something I am willing to put up with.
One thing really annoys me is that the USB port cannot be cloned, meaning you cannot use a USB hub. I have tried both powered and non-powered, neither work. This is a major drawback as I cannot now sync my photos from the external drive to the iPod Touch. I will try to do it over a network drive, but I have not idea if it is going to work. Any advice is most welcomed.

The battery life, feels shorter than promised, when mobile, I tune down everything and I barely get the promised values. This is an Achilles heel while jet commuting in Europe, where there is no in-seat power.
The cover of the Macbook collects fine particles of dirt, I suspect it might be an anodisation problem as the bottom shows no such tendencies.
All in all a great learning experience, this data diet certainly is stimulating for thoughts on the future of computers.

09:28 PM in Technology | Permalink


Should have got a Lenovo ThinkPad X300 :-)

Posted by: Stefan Constantinescu at Mar 30, 2008 10:56:28 PM

I love my Air!

Mine fits snugly in the magazine rack next to my bed. However, it's usually missing because one of my kids has taken it!

Posted by: Paul Golding at Apr 2, 2008 3:22:09 PM

The Lenovo TkinkPad X300 looks like a great machine, should become a huge hit. I would have considered it if it would have been out when I made my decision. A computer is after all a vechicle to the Internet...

Posted by: Christian at Apr 2, 2008 8:01:57 PM

Having a laptop as a data storage device isn't very clever, as those hard disks tend to break now and then.

My work laptop only has a 60 GB disk and my home desktop PC has currently 120 GB. I've got over 250 GB of data. How is this possible?

I bought a home NAS device with RAID-1 support, that is two disks mirrored to show as one disk, and now I access my music, photos and work files on my home network.

What's great I don't even need to manually copy any files, I can just stream MP3 music from my home network whether I'm at work on a trip abroad using wireless access at some hotel.

Posted by: Tero Lehto at Apr 4, 2008 1:43:17 AM

I found a great post the other day by Nathan S. Orms, SVP of Marketing at QlikTech. His hypothesis is that business software users are now expecting the same simplicity and ease of use in their business applications as they get in their web and consumer applications.

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