I received the following question on my facebook page:
Hello, would you comment on the blog about what computer you use? I wonder if you use older computers only, or stick to open source software to reduce cost.
I use a 12″ G4 1.33GHz Powerbook from 2004. The reason I got it is because I did not want to spend a lot of time setting up a unix like system on a laptop and because I wanted a laptop since I do/did a lot of traveling. Since OS X, the Mac operating system has been based on BSD (geeks correct me if I’m wrong) which provided easy access to emacs and terminal based unix.
Today, it is much easier to purchase a laptop with pre-installed linux and the support for peripherals is much larger. Back in 2004, one could generally count on getting the screen to work, and likely the network card, but sound cards and wireless cards was a hit or miss affair unless you knew how to patch a driver.
I really like my computer. It’s the size of a piece of letter format paper, so it fits into bags, planners, and binders, as if they were designed for it. It also has a full size keyboard which is really important to me.
I reckon my laptop will die some day and I would want to replace it with another laptop. I have been looking at the ASUS Eee. I find the fact that it costs less than $400, comes with linux pre-installed and has a solid state drive (the hard disk on my mac died within my extended warranty) very appealing. I do not like the fact that the keyboard is only 95% of a full size keyboard. This may be enough to keep me from getting one. I type at 70WPM, but as I do not touch type and instead rely of idiosyncratic memorization of where to put my fingers down and often switch keyboards, a smaller keyboard would not work well for me.
For software, I have openoffice, but I only use that to deal with the occasional doc or xls file coming my way. For text editing I use LaTex and emacs. My calculator is “bc -l”. My RSS reader is shrook. I also have skype installed. Other than that most of my work happens online through the Camino browser.