My Trip without Laptop - Part 3 (Conclusion)

It’s now over a week later, I have just completed the second business trip away overnight in as many weeks. Both without lugging around the traditional laptop or netbook equipment.

It’s now time to pronounce success or utter failure on the whole experience.

Well…the remainder of the time spent on trips….after my last posts (Part 1 and Part 2)…have mainly involved being the audience in training sessions or sales/technical update sessions.

Due to the previous six months of ownership, I already know that the iPad is alright as a note taking device. It’s usefulness is further enhanced with the bluetooth keyboard. The almost instant-on feature of tablets and quick access to fully syncable note taking apps, make this format precisely what is needed for jotting notes and such. It makes perfect sence for anyone with such appalling handwritting, like me who has problems reading what I have written only a few days before.

The main suprise of this whole experiment was a data centre visit. I have recently purchase a server for the Dave’s Downtime project (ebay special), and it was time to go put it into colocation.

I was appropriately equipped. I had network cables and both type of power cables (I can never remember which data centres use UK pin and which use IEC female on their PDUs). I had bought the racking kit and also checked that it fitted the server before getting myself in front of the rack. We’ve all be caught out by that one. I also had all the sundries of cage nuts/booths, insertion tool [oh-er] and screwdrivers. Access was booked and parking had been arranged.

It was whilst travelling down the road to the data centre that I realised that I had left the now redundant laptops under the coffee table at home. Arrrggggg! Now, I have spent a lot of “out of hours” time in data centre, and have had more than one occasion when a whole schedule of work has been stopped due to a laptop’s battery running out of charge, and the correct power pack or cable being unavailable.

I had to make a quick decision. Pospone the whole thing, turn back and try again later…or push on through, see how far I got and maybe call in a few favours to get the remote access tested.

As this was a kinda personal project, with no or little impact on anything important, I decided to proceed. I would note that I probably have not gone on if I had a fixed outage window, or was working on a customer’s critical system. The safety net rule always applies.

Needless to say, the physical installation of racking, powering and cabling went fine. I then needed to make sure that I could admin the new server once I had left the DC facility, and so had to test remote access. The hand went to the iPad, and the RDP application (Wyse Pocket Cloud, which has a built-in machine connection feature), was called into action. Using a 3G connection I was able to access my work PC and perform the neccessary VMWare, Linux and Check Point functions. WIN! Didn’t need to bother anybody else, and the whole thing was done in about 15 mins.

The only thing I missed was a mouse, as the screen taps on an RDP client can be quite inaccurate at times. To implement a mouse on the iPad would involve buying a new bluetooth mouse (tight Yorkshire man sighs), jailbreaking the iPad and voiding it’s warranty and losing the ability to use the keyboard at the same time. Not compeling reasons to give it a try! But I may give it a go at a later date.

On the flip side of this experiment, was yesterday’s “upgrade” [cough] of an Apple TV 2. This required putting the multimedia device into maintenance mode and flashing it with firmware. This was done by using the unit’s MircoUSB port and could only be performed from an PC or Mac.

To save time I though I would do the whole process, in situ, using my Samsung Netbook running Windows 7. After about 15 mins, when the net book had finally stop booting and updating (Windows Update, Adobe flash and reader, iTunes, anti-virus, Windows Defender, system restore point, etc), I finally tried to do the upgrade. This resulted in an extremely frustrated user (me), and several nasty looking scratches on the AppleTV, due to me raging and bashing all things technical within my reach against a radiator.

In the end I went and unplug the ATV 2 and took down into the cellar. I was then able to do the flash on my desktop PC, which went surprisingly well.

So all-in-all the whole “discard the laptop” experiment has gone well, although there will be times when such a “locked down” device such as a tablet and its lack of physical connections, will simply not cut the mustard. I must admit I am suprised by how much a iPad can replace two laptops, in most everyday situations….

…now to go put the Samsung on ebay!

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