Can I live in the Cloud? [Asus EeePC Week]

Cloud computing is a new label for the subset of grid computing that includes utility computing and other approaches to the use of shared computing resources. Cloud computing is an alternative to having local servers or personal devices handling users’ applications. In general, the label suggests that function comes from “the cloud” — usually assumed to be the Internet — rather than from a specific identifiable device [source: Wikipedia]

It’s been 16 months since I declared “Google is my Microsoft“, after realizing that more of my computing needs were served by Google’s portfolio of online applications – Gmail, Reader, Docs, etc, – than by Microsoft’s alternatives. In fact, I noted, in terms of software I actively used, except for Windows XP and Hotmail my computer was practically a Microsoft free zone. Today then marks another milestone along that path as I cast aside the remaining vestiges of Bill Gates’ influence on my daily routine. For a week at least.

A few days ago I wrote about the device which turned me into a drooling big kid during my attendance at CreativeCamp Kilkenny – the Asus EeePC. On Thursday John Kennedy, a stalwart of our Limerick OpenCoffee meetings, phoned me up to say he’d be passing by my house in a hour and would drop off his own EeePC for me to play with for a few days. Woohoooo!! After 2 hours of giddy testing, attaching peripherals and customizing settings I have to say I was totally blown away by this diminutive but fully fledged PC. Tech-head that I am I regularly get excited by gadgets but I can honestly say that no device has ever impressed me in the way that this piece of Asus wizardry has.

But the thing about this EeePC is that it’s essentially a thin client computer, or at least a very lean client. In fact system software claims about 2/3 of it’s 4GB of storage so there’s very little room for downloaded apps. Therefore the big question is, am I really ‘computing in the cloud’ to the degree that I imagine I am, such that I can switch to the EeePC at the drop of a hat for a full work week? To answer that question this week will be ‘Asus EeePC week’ on my blog. Without any preparatory archiving or copying I closed my Dell Inspiron 510m last night and won’t open it again until next Monday. Instead I’m going to work off this Asus netbook and see if I can transition smoothly without reverting to my workhorse laptop.

To be continued….

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10 Responses to “Can I live in the Cloud? [Asus EeePC Week]”

  1. walter Says:

    Hi James,
    I’m sorry we didn’t get to chat more at CreativeCamp last weekend. I’m interested in hearing how this experiment works out. Is it a linux or windows machine? Don’t forget, any photo-editing – you know where to go 😉

  2. James Corbett Says:

    Me too Walter, and very sorry I didn’t get to catch your, er, panel discussion, with Bernie either! The Asus EeePC I have came with the standard ASUS-customized variant of Xandros Linux (based on Debian GNU/Linux 4.0). There’s an Easy Mode and Desktop Mode designed for novice and advanced users, respectively. It’s a long time since I used to be an ‘advanced’ Linux user but I’m looking forward to getting back into it again. Still, for the most part this experiment isn’t going to be about the nuts and bolts of the machine but instead how suitable it is a thin client. After all Intel classifies it as a Netbook. As for photo editing I’ve already got half that post in draft 🙂

  3. James Corbett Says:

    BTW, you can install Windows on it too but hell, who’d want to do that!?! Actually, a lot of people apparently because the recently announced successor to this EeePC 701 is the EeePC 900 which will be available from the get-go in either Xandros of Windows XP versions.

  4. Eamon Costello Says:

    Look forward to hearing about the trial.
    If you are working off linux you might have trouble getting software for your camera and your phone. you should be able to see then as simple storage devices but your phone might have some nice software to back up your contacts and stuff. You probably only need to this kind of thing periodically though. Another thing I can think of (if this was me) is my nouvi 700 sat nav has software to allow updating of maps etc. not sure if this would work under linux. google sketch-up not available for linux 😦
    I have a tablet laptop (lenovo x60) that cost about six times the cost of an asus eeepc! In fact my n95 cost more than the asus. One of the real upsides of this is that I wouldn’t be so worried about having an asus stolen so I’d take it more places.
    – Eamon

  5. Eamon Costello Says:

    Look forward to hearing about the trial.
    If you are working off linux you might have trouble getting software for your camera and your phone. you should be able to see then as simple storage devices but your phone might have some nice software to back up your contacts and stuff. You probably only need to this kind of thing periodically though. Another thing I can think of (if this was me) is my nouvi 700 sat nav has software to allow updating of maps etc. not sure if this would work under linux. google sketch-up not available for linux 😦
    I have a tablet laptop (lenovo x60) that cost about six times the cost of an asus eeepc! In fact my n95 cost more than the asus. One of the real upsides of this is that I wouldn’t be so worried about having an asus stolen so I’d take it more places.
    – Eamon

  6. Jeremy Gould Says:

    Interested to see how you get on with it. I’ve got one and have spent an awful long time tweaking the various apps to get them to do what I want (and save as much screen space as possible). As a longstanding Mac user I guess I’m just a bit spoilt about things working well. Having said that, I love the eee and find myself using it a lot more than I ever expected.

  7. James Corbett Says:

    It’s interesting to hear a Mac user’s perspective Jeremy – it seems that many Mac fans have no time for the EeePC! Stay tuned for a wrap-up review towards the end of this week.

  8. Jeremy Gould Says:

    That’s because they all wanted to Macbook Air to be similar in size and cost! Seriously, at events I’ve been to in London I’ve seen lots of drooling from both PC and Mac users. The eee does look like the illegitimate offspring of my old ibook though…

  9. dave Says:

    I’m new to this…
    I just want to back up the PIM data to SD or a USB cruzer
    How do I do this ???
    Backing up docs and sreadsheet data is not a problem.
    This computer is great – perfect for my needs.
    I just don’t want to re enter all the info if something happens
    Any help with this will be greatly appreciated.
    I will eventually get up to speed..
    Thank you

  10. dave Says:

    I’m new to this…
    I just want to back up the PIM data to SD or a USB cruzer
    How do I do this ???
    Backing up docs and sreadsheet data is not a problem.
    This computer is great – perfect for my needs.
    I just don’t want to re enter all the info if something happens
    Any help with this will be greatly appreciated.
    I will eventually get up to speed..
    Thank you

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