My New Laptop Computer is an iPod Touch – Part 3 – Analyzing Needs and Usage

Here’s the next installment in my multi-part series on my decision to buy an iPod Touch as my new laptop computer. The focus of this part is on how I looked carefully at actual needs and usage patterns to make my decision.
To review quickly and reset the scene:
I came to the conclusion it was time to consider buying a new laptop computer. I had broken the keyboard on my Tablet PC. My trusty Sony Vaio had just completed work on my book, but was five years old. And, this is a very important part of the story, I had a new employer-provided laptop to take care of my work needs.
Although my temptation was to just take advantage of the extremely attractive deals I was seeing on basic Windows Vista laptops, two things stopped me. First, the fact that by the time I configured a computer advertised at $600 in the way I wanted, the total was always in excess of $1,500. Second, I really wanted to try to focus on the way I use and I want to use a computer.
I’ve long had an interest in usability. Coincidentally, I was sitting next to a group of usability experts at work, giving me the chance to learn some practical details about usability and human factors analysis. And, at TECHSHOW, I had gotten the chance to talk about usability in this context with Ariel Jatib of RocketMatter, another usability expert.
So, I spent some time looking about how I actually used computers in non-work settings – home, travel, etc.
As usual, there were a lot of thought experiments and cogitation – the patterns I described in “The Best is the Enemy of the Good” still stay with me.
The key to my decision, however, came during the three days I spent at the Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference, where I took two laptops with me (it was a car trip, not a plane flight).
I had the usual unusual projector problem – it took the second AV guy who came into the room to notice that there was some kind of translucent (yet clear-looking) lens cover on the projector. Funny, yes, but I now have one more thing to the long checklist I have made up of actual projector issues I have experienced.
I used a backpack to carry around a laptop. I used the wifi to check email, RSS feeds, web sites and to do some Twitter posts. I searched for available electric outlets and the usual stuff.
I talked a bit with Ross Kodner about laptops. I later announced to Ross that, after observing how I used my laptop, that I felt that the MacBook Air was the way I was going.
The more I thought about it, the more the Air made sense to me – except for the price, which felt a little steep, and the small hard drive. That, and the fact that any laptop made wearing a backpack around at conferences a necessity.
When I got back to St. Louis, I had to go to the Apple store to replace the power cord for my MacBook Pro, which had, incredibly, turned into a melted, frayed, non-working mess. Looking on the Internet, you’ll see quite a bit written about this problem. I saw some posts that said some Apple stores will replace the cord for free. My store happily let me buy a new cord at full price.
When they asked me if they could help me with anything else. I asked them to show me a few things about the MacBook Air. The more I saw and the more I asked, the less the Air felt like a fit.
I then asked, “Would you show me a few things about the iPod Touch?” In the back of my mind, I had the feeling that everything I did for three days at the conference with my laptop could have been done with an iPod Touch (and without a backpack on my back).
About 45 minutes later, I had the answers to all of my questions, including whether an iPod Touch would work as an eBook reader for me.
I didn’t make the purchase on the spot, for reasons I’ll discuss in part 4.
In the meantime, I thoroughly recommend Ernest “Ernie the Attorney” Svenson’s post on his recent experience using an iPhone on a trip while leaving his laptop at home. I saw lots of parallels to my own thinking.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here Now available on Amazon, too.
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Collaboration Tech: Around the Corner or Around the World

This month’s issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine is out and it has an international theme. Lots of good articles, but I especially wanted to highlight an article called “Collaborative Technologies: Working with Others Around the Corner or Around the World,” by Tom Mighell and me.
We based the article on some of the main themes of our new book on collaboration tools and technologies. This article is designed as an short introduction to the topic of collaboration tools. The sidebar addresses the all-important issue of collaboration culture and sets out some tips for handling cultural issues in your collaboration efforts.
The money quote:

Today it’s relatively simple for any lawyer, regardless of firm size or budget, to collaborate with clients, colleagues, co-counsel, experts or even opposing counsel in nearly any corner of the world. The difference? The rise of the Internet as a communications tool.

I also like this quote, which illustrates one of our aha insights while we wrote the book – the notion of co-evolution:

The ways that people work together shift over time, which can affect your culture of collaboration. More important, the introduction of collaboration technologies can also change the culture of collaboration. If handled properly, the tools and the culture will co-evolve.

Check out the article to get an idea of why I think that collaboration is the most important topic in technology today.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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Talking 3G and other Wireless Acronyms

I’ll get back to my blog series, “My New Laptop Computer is an iPod Touch,” tomorrow, but wanted to point you to my latest technology column in the ABA Journal, which has an iPhone theme.
My editor, Reg Davis, had been suggesting a column that explained some of today’s telcom and wireless acronyms. I liked the idea, although I was not quite as enthused about the topic as he was, in part because telcom acronyms are a world of their own.
However, when the new iPhone launched with all the hoopla over 3G access, I realized that I didn’t have a very good idea about what “3G” really. The timing seemed right for the topic.
So, I took a stab about putting together a short primer to help people try to understand the arcane, daunting and confusing world of wireless acronyms, and the differences between services and generations of wireless standards, both voice and data.
The column, called “Learning 3G-Speak,” takes you on a tour through the sometimes wacky world of wireless standards. Once you get the idea that 3G refers to third, it follows what 2G and 4G must refer to, but what the story about 2.5G and even 2.75.
The column should help you understand whether you really can take advantage of higher data speeds or not and aid in navigating the wireless world. Learning to speak the language will be a benefit in this area.
Let me know what you think of the article.
Follow me on Twitter: @denniskennedy
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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My New Laptop Computer is an iPod Touch – Part 2 – Framing the Question(s)

I suspect that it won’t surprise most readers that I have more than one computer. It might not even surprise readers how many computers I have and use regularly. I also tend to keep and use computers a long time.
So, deciding it’s time for a new computer is a big deal for me. And it always strikes me as a way to come up with material for a new article or blog post.
In early 2008, a visitor to my house might find me using either my HP Tablet PC or my trusty old Sony Vaio notebook (depending on what I was doing), my wife on a desktop computer running Windows Vista, and my daughter using my MacBook Pro. There’s another desktop computer that runs the main printer in the house and largely functions as backup storage.
Things changed in two key ways this spring. First, I broke the keyboard on my Tablet PC ( a long story), limiting some of its usefulness, to say the least. A replacement keyboard would be surprisingly expensive. Second, a new employer-provided (locked-down) laptop computer entered the mix.
I’ve found that the big issue with older computers is not necessarily performance, but lack of storage. Small hard drives fill up quickly and you need to clean them out and defrag on a regular basis or they get very, very full and you take a big performance hit. Keyboards start to get worn (or break) and the displays aren’t nearly as good as they are today.
So, I found myself in a situation where I was actually thinking about adding another new computer to the mix.
Let’s review the cast of characters.
HP Tablet PC TC1100 – I understand why many think that this might have been the best of all the Tablet PCs. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using this computer. It really irritated me when I broke the (portable) keyboard, but this computer was showing its age. It also posed two difficult issues. First, its small hard drive constantly filled up and performance was becoming an issue, even after adding RAM. Second, and what had become a big problem, this computer had too many problems with projectors. It’s never good to have projector issues when you are speaking about technology. A number of hotel AV guys told me that Tablets and projectors were not a good mix. It reached a point where I did not have confidence that I could take the Tablet to a presentation. That was too bad because it’s a great computer for traveling.
Sony Vaio 505. I think this computer, on which I’m writing the post, is my favorite computer ever. I love writing on it. In fact, I brought it back into service to write Tom Mighell’s and my book. On the other hand, it’s five years old. That’s 50 in computer years. Again, hard drive room has become an issue, it’s a little heavy and bulky, and it runs hot. The keyboard is now either worn or has a nice patina, depending on your perspective.
MacBook Pro. Great computer and beloved by teenagers. For me, the 17″ screen is too big and this computer runs very hot. Homework needs generally outweigh my ability to use this one, except for some specialty tasks – like audio and video. I’m a big fan of the MacBook Pro, but would have preferred the smaller model.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more set in my ways in what I like and dislike about computers and also gotten a better sense of how I actually use computers.
Also, and you might find this a surprising admission from me, I don’t like to buy new technology just to have new stuff. I realize that might cost me my legal technologist club ID card.
So, I found myself at a point when I had good reasons to buy something new, and some plausible reasons to stay the course. After all, I really like the computers I have.
The perfect recipe for running an experiment that could turn into an article or a series of blog posts.
I decided to take a hard look at how I use computers, how I want to use computers, what might best fit my actual needs, and ways to simplify. And that will be the story in Part 3 of this series, along with how I first began to think of the iPod Touch as a serious option.
Note: A big thank you to Neil Squillante and Sara Skiff at Technolawyer for posting Chapter 17 (on SharePoint as a collaboration platform) from the book as a Technofeature. See the chapter here and take the opportunity to join Technolawyer.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here. The book has recently become available on Amazon.
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My New Laptop Computer is an iPod Touch – Part 1 – Introduction

My readers have often enjoyed my writings on why I decide to purchase or use a product or technology. That doesn’t surprise me, because I enjoy reading about people’s decisions about and experiences with new technologies. In fact, one of my articles on that topic, “The Best is the Enemy of the Good,” is one of my most popular articles and one of my personal favorites.
So, I want to write a multi-part series of posts on my most recent purchase, an iPod Touch, which was the answer to my recent question: “What laptop computer should I buy next?”
In fairness, it was a bit of trick question, because I was really answering the question of what should be my secondary laptop?
It’s a story of unexpected twists and turns. I really tried to make an effort to identify exactly what my needs will be and what best fits the needs. Along the way, I became intrigued by what might be the right platform in the coming world of cloud computing.
I also had a few constraints that I’ll talk about in later posts. To answer the obvious question, I decided that the iPhone was not an option, although I have the occasional second thought on that. You might be surprised at what other choices I ruled out.
In upcoming posts, I lead you through the problem I was trying to solve, the thought process, the decision, the purchase and the actual experience. At this point, I’m feeling that I made exactly the right choice, although not without a few bumps in the road and a few reservations.
Stay tuned.
Reminder: You can follow me on Twitter: @denniskennedy
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here. The book has recently become available on Amazon.
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