Living online

Smartphones have shown us that we can do so much more online, but they are not the only tools that can help. BRENDAN LEWIS

Brendan Lewis

By Brendan Lewis

After four years of trusty service, my notebook computer is starting to look a bit dodgy. It’s getting slower, noisier, and some of the accessories are broken. The battery now holds about 20 minutes charge.

I tried to ring the company but found their customer service in Australia sucks.

Nope, I’m wrong. They advertise that they have customer service in Australia, because if they actually did they would have answered my web tickets or phone messages (“our service guarantee is that we will respond to you within 24 hours”). Therefore their customer service doesn’t suck, they’re just liars.

I did speak to a reseller though, and it appears that I will need to spend around $300 to get the broken bits fixed.

Obviously this is the decision point where you say, “time to upgrade the laptop” or “you rotten stinking piece of s**t”. Either way it translates to at least $3000 for a new machine and software.

Something else caught my eye though, and made me stop and think. I was speaking to Con Zymaris the CEO of Cybersource who suggested he was going to upgrade to the new ACER Aspire One. This tiny little computer is called a Netbook. It has no hard disk (but 8GB of flash memory) and is light as a feather. The idea is that you use it to access internet based services such as the web and email, rather than store them locally. The price? A little over $500.

The concept of thin client is old, however it is kind of new idea to use the internet as your server with a netbook as the thin client. Vendors obviously feel that it’s a big area though, as all major players are now releasing netbooks (Asus, Acer, HP, Lenovo, Dell etc) or announcing them.

The advantages of using a netbook appear to be:

  1. Will make it easier to collaborate with others as it will force me to put most of my planning documents online.
  2. I can use any internet connected computer to access my resources, rather than being pissed off that I am in the wrong office.
  3. I can have professionals managing my systems properly and backing them up regularly, rather than me.
  4. Its total cost of ownership appears to be way cheaper at just $500.
  5. The operating system and almost all software I will use will be free.
  6. If I don’t like it, it will be easy to change back.

So I have ordered an Acer Aspire One (a blue one) but have decided to challenge myself by ordering it with a Linux-based operating system (free) rather than Windows.

Over the next couple of weeks I intend to write on the issues I run into and how I solve them. I reckon if I give it a red hot go, and it works, there is no reason why corporate and schools shouldn’t look at them as a much more desirable alternative than managing a fleet of laptops.

Living more of my life online!


Brendan Lewis is a serial technology entrepreneur having founded : Ideas Lighting, Carradale Media, Edion, Verve IT, The Churchill Club, Flinders Pacific and L2i Technology Advisory. He has set up businesses for others in Romania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Qualified in IT and Accounting, he has also spent time running an Advertising agency and as a Cavalry Officer with the Australian Army Reserve.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



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