Writing Tools: Netbooks

Oh, Friday posts.  You are always written early.

I have had five computers that were “mine.”   The first was a Pentium III desktop, a gift from my father to take to college in 2001.  Even then it was a bit obsolete (Pentium IVs were out).  It ran Windows ME, supposedly the worst of all Windows OS, but it treated me pretty well.  It eventually died of old age, unable to stay on for more than fifteen minutes before it would blue screen, and I wiped its hard drive and recycled it.

The second was a Toshiba laptop, acquired on Black Friday 2003.  Even though I was recovering from a concussion and a bad bout of the flu and basically hadn’t moved in weeks, my mom and I got there about 3 am to wait for the store to open.  That Toshiba was a lifesaver when it came to college.  I ran meetings from it, worked on stories in between class, and wrote ridiculous amounts of Matlab programs.  It continues to limp on, though it has been retired since early 2009.

I will lump the third and fourth together.  In February 2008, I acquired a new desktop, one of those tiny ones.  It had a ridiculously powerful graphics card.  (Alas, graphics card, I miss you.)  I loved that computer.  But the tower had a poor thermal design, and last April, it died a horrible, overheated death.  The motherboard fried.  Never before had I actually killed a computer.  My previous ones had lived good, long lives and gone softly into the night.   I was heartbroken.  Research showed that this had been a known issue with the early slimline models and that they’d been redesigned.  So I replaced it with a newer, better designed version of the same computer.  And then I named it Lazarus, so it could later rise from the dead.  (And everyone said, “Why not name it Jesus, then?” and I said “I don’t want to give it  delusions of grandeur.”)

That brings me to the subject of today’s post – netbooks.  I acquired my netbook (affectionately known as the minitop to me and my husband) in early 2009 to replace the Toshiba laptop  (It had eaten my NaNovel!  44K words in! D: ).  Netbooks were just coming out at the time and I was in love with the idea of a tiny laptop I could take anywhere with the sole purpose of writing.

At the time, netbooks couldn’t do much more than that.

And it has proven its worth over the last two years.  It’s ridiculous easy to port around.  Depending on which purse I’m using, I can stuff it inside and I’m good to go.  Mine has a solid state hard drive which means I don’t have to worry about it if it gets dropped.  It’s not powerful enough to run anything that can be a major distraction.  Many many thousands of words have been written on it.  I highly recommend them to all authors.

Now, however, I have run into an issue.  My netbook’s hard drive is full.  What’s truly aggravating about this is that it’s not my fault.  I have maybe 500 MBs of stories and pictures on there.  The rest of it are security updates, software updates, things I cannot delete.  I tried to defrag the hard drive last weekend, and it told me I didn’t have enough memory left to defrag!   I guess I could wipe the hard drive and load a different operating system, but I can’t guarantee I won’t run into the same issue again.

So I may, very soon, be in the market for a new netbook.  (I see the current gen of them start with a 250 gig hard drive.  Mine is 16 gigs.)  Do you have one?  Do you recommend it?

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris High on 2011/04/15 at 10:55 AM

    I’ve heard wonderful things about ASUS Eee PCs.
    Also, hopefully your Toshiba incident has taught to back up such important things 🙂
    On which note, Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) is super useful tool – 2GB free storage an you can access from anywhere even when you’re not on your computer.


    • Sugarsynch is nice too. Slightly different options for what you can keep synching. I’m running both right now, and synching my writing folder to the free storage, my husband’s computer, and our home external hard drive… as well as keeping a GoogleDocs copy of the WIP.

      As my college advisor used to say: “Save early, save often, distribute widely.” If the house burns down and destroys all our electronics, I’ll still have three copies of everything.


    • Luckily, I had backed it up at 40K, so I only really lost 4000 words. I have heard enough horror stories, so I do remember to back things up. 😉


    • Posted by AM on 2011/04/15 at 6:28 PM

      I ❤ my ASUS Eee PC! I have the first version that came out, and it's got soldered memory (boo). Other than that … love love love. It doesn't have a lot of room for extra things, so it's the perfect computer to write with.

      Plus, it's pink.


  2. I recently ordered the Toshiba NB505 (in turquoise), but as it’s supposed to ship today, I haven’t had a chance to try it out.

    I like LaptopMag.com for reviews – they talk about all the usual stuff like speed and storage, and other important stuff like how hot it will get.


  3. Posted by Idunno on 2011/04/15 at 8:08 PM

    I’m actually toying with buying a netbook myself. Possibly even for the upcoming conference I’ll be attending so I don’t have to lug my huge laptop with me.

    The missus has the first Acer Aspire One. I like it (especially with Easy Peasy installed as the OS), though the keyboard was dinky and the spacebar is somewhat broken. Hopefully newer models are a bit better built.

    I like the SSD HD too, but that’s harder to find these days. I think running Linux instead of Windows would result in a smaller OS footprint on the hard drive. The Linux distributions I’ve run have been a mixed bag on the netbook, with Easy Peasy working the best (and with virtually no problems). I just wish the displays were bigger than 1024 x 600.

    The original Eee PC keyboard was too small for my clumsy hands, but I think most netbooks now have the 80% of normal keyboards. I’d pay extra for a full size or nearer full size keyboard.

    I’m also sorely tempted by the hybrid tablets – tablets with keyboards – but most of those run Android. I want OpenOffice / LibreOffice. I love my open source software! 🙂

    If you get something soon, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on it (to help me make up my mind!). 🙂


  4. …you had a sixteen gigabyte hard drive? *stares*


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