Evolution of notebooks

Written on 7 October 2015, 10:46am

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Microsoft just released the Surface Book, a truly innovative product in which I see a lot of potential.
What I think it’s particularly interesting is how the hardware is organized:

[…] the battery and Intel Core processor are built into the screen half of the hybrid laptop, while that high-powered GPU is in the keyboard base.
The idea is that you’d use the device in laptop mode, while connected to that graphics processor, when playing games, editing video, or typing.
When you want to use it as a less-powerful clipboard-size tablet, it detaches from that GPU-packed base for lighter tasks.
Wired – Microsoft’s Surface Book Looks Like the Ultimate Hybrid PC

This reminds me of this old dribble. With the introduction of the Surface Book, the updated picture would look like this:

evolution of laptops

Weekly links

Written on 5 October 2015, 02:43pm

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Inaugurating a new post type – a collection of links to interesting articles/stories. Aimed to be updated weekly :)

“If a gravitational wave were to pass through you now, this ripple in spacetime would stretch you taller and thinner, then squash you shorter and fatter. The reason you wouldn’t notice is because your height would be altered by less than the width of a proton (a fraction of the size of an atom).”
Cosmos Magazine – Einstein’s gravitational waves remain elusive

Every picture ever made during the Apollo moon missions has been made available on Flickr through the Project Apollo Archive.
Washington Post – Over 9,000 Apollo moon mission pictures are now online

“All of these feature were built for one reason — a self driving future combined with an entire self-driving mobility platform. The Model X was built to be either the ultimate self-driving taxi, or the ultimate human/self-driving rental car — or both.”
Gavin Sheridan – Elon Musk’s sleight of hand

Do I really need mobile internet?

Written on 2 October 2015, 02:07pm

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In the beginning of this week I started a little experiment. I did not reload my prepaid phone card – meaning I no longer had the usual 2Gb of mobile internet which were typically lasting for 3-4 weeks. I didn’t really know what to expect: without being a social media guy (probably one of the last on this planet not being on Facebook), I thought that FOMO will kick in. Well, it didn’t, maybe also because I was not 100% disconnected, still being able to access the internet from work.
Here are my top 10 findings, collected in a random order. Next to each item I put a score representing how much I missed the connected mode:
1 – not missed it at all
2 – not missed it, but it was nice to have
3 – missed it, but I could easily find a workaround
4 – missed it; the alternative is inconvenient or time consuming
5 – definitely missed it; impossible to do offline and no real alternatives/workarounds

My offline experiment

1. Music: I missed the fact that I could not listen to a particular song that crossed my mind and I had to rely on the offline playlists. Also, on one occasion I could not Shazam a song playing on the radio. Score: 3/5
2. Email: Not receiving emails on the fly is not a problem; I rarely receive emails I must respond urgently. In any case I could check the email several times per day from work. What was really annoying was the fact that I could not snooze emails to have a clean inbox. Score: 3/5
3. Photos: Here the only problem was not being able to post the photos on flickr or share them with family on Google Photos. Not very annoying, so score: 2/5
4. Files: Accessing files from Dropbox could eventually be replaced using the website; but extracting a file stored on my iPhone (like a photo or scanned invoice) required connecting the device to my work computer, which is not always possible and definitely inconvenient. Score: 4/5
5. News: Being informed is important to me, and I like being notified about the latest news. I use Newsify as feed reader – and during the test I had to make sure that I download the news in the morning. I was eventually catching up with the updates in the evening, along with the football and local news. Score: 3/5
6. Connected devices: Here I found that the mobile internet is essential. I was no longer receiving updates from my connected security camera or smoke detector, unable to see/set the home temperature or to find my Tile. Internet of things, so score: 5/5
7. Messages: switching from iMessages to old-school SMSs was not an issue in communicating with the persons that already knew about my experiment. But it was an issue for the ones who didn’t, so I was not receiving iMessages until the evening. Also, I was unable to send/receive other media than simple text. On the other hand, synchronous communication is not ideal, so score: 2/5.
8. Weather: In Belgium the weather can change quickly. So I got used to checking the forecast regularly and have the temperature displayed on my watch. Also, I was relying on push notifications to have weather updates twice per day. With the offline mode being active, I had to make sure that every morning I check the weather from home. Score: 2/5
9. Maps: During the experiment I did not need the maps. However, I know that it’s a feature that I use from time to time, and I would rate it as essential. The alternative would be to download maps for offline use, but it’s not always practical. Score: 4/5
10. Others: I realized that I am using the mobile bank app more often than I thought. But this was not an issue and it can always wait for the wi-fi.
Tracking car fuel consumption was still possible by taking a few pictures and filling the data at home.
Checking the mobile operator stats (credit, usage, etc) was impossible even on wi-fi (cellular data must be enabled), but I could always send a mobile request (#120# or similar).
Calendar, TV schedule or Skype could always wait for the wi-fi.
Overall, I would put score: 2/5.


Being disconnected is not a first world problem. We got used to do certain things from mobile internet. Meanwhile, it’s true that the current technology makes it incredibly easy to introduce yourself ‘mobile’ needs: communication, information, home automation, secure mobile banking, etc.
During the offline experiment, I also noticed some benefits. Being offline meant:
– more time to read e-books or 100-pages long PDF posts
– more time to play Peak
– more time to take/edit pictures
But being disconnected did not meant I stopped using my iPhone. Nor that it pushed me to buy newspapers/books. It just meant that it made me plan better for the day, re-organize things and make the most of the wi-fi usage.

To answer the question in the title – yes, I need mobile internet. After all, my scoring system above indicated that 3 items out of 10 scored 4 or 5, and the average was 3/5. What’s more important, mobile phone slowly becomes synonym with mobile internet device. And that’s the point to remember.