What is your primary computing device?

My primary computing machine is still out of commission which is why my posting lately has been a bit spotty. For the last week or so I have been confined to my 15″ MacBook which is a great little machine but it is nowhere near as comfortable as using a full sized monitor and keyboard. I could hook it up to a regular keyboard and a mouse but then I would have to give up some key-strokes and gestures I can do with mac keyboard, touchpad and Magic Mouse and that would make OSX a bit clunky.

Current Worstation

Current Workstation

As far as my primary machine – I eventually managed to find a cheep video card I could use to test it. Turns out it was a video card failure, but also PCIe port malfunction. I have two ports on my mobo, and only the top one seems to work. With a cheepo card in that slot the machine boots up, but then gets stuck on “Launch Startup Repair” screen. I figured this probably Vista freaking out that there is a cheep ATI card in the top port instead of Nvidia card in the bottom one. Either that or it has something to do with the fact I pulled out the CMOS battery as part of my troubleshooting, resetting all the BIOS settings to default. Dell likes to do funny things with the partition tables on their stock computers so this can be part of the issue.

I figure this is something I could easily fix by issuing the good old fixboot/fixmbr commands from the recovery console, but for the life of me I can’t find my Vista CD. I have XP and Win7 CD’s but not Vista. I suspect I might have thrown it out of the airlock into the nearest sun when I was moving last year or so.

So for the time being I’m browsing the web on a small screen and type on a cramped little keyboard which is less than optimal. That said I’m getting more comfortable typing on it for longer periods of time and hitting the cmd key instead of ctrl which is actually a good thing.

You see, when I’m on Windows or Linux I can run almost purely from muscle memory. I never actually have to think how to do something – I just do it. I had my Mac Book for quite a while now, but I have never used it extensively. It has always been easier to jump onto a desktop with a full sized keyboard for any kind of serious computing/programming or blogging. Now that I’m “stuck” on it I have to figure out how to move around, navigate and do things efficiently. I get to discover all the little in and outs of the environment you only get to know when you spend enough hours struggling to make the machine do your bidding and troubleshooting odd behaviors. This is most definitely a good thing for me. I am a self professed OS agnostic system nomad, and not being fully fluent in OSX has been bothering me for a while now.

It’s kinda new experience on me – to work on a machine that is not yet a part of me – that’s not an extension of me. It feels wrong like something that needs fixing. This laptop must be integrated into my exo-cortex and must become an integral part of my consciousness now.

I figured it would be interesting to see what kind of setups other people are working on right now. What is your primary home computing hub like? What kind of a machine do you use for most of your daily tasks and/or entertainment?

The computing device you use the most is:
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What is your primary OS of choice? What kind of computer do you have? Do you prefer laptops, or desktops? Are you fine using laptop keyboards or do you prefer something full-sized? Mechanical keyboards? Ergonomic ones? Split keyboards? What is the size of the screen you are currently reading this on.

Bonus points if you can post pics on your battle station / control center – kinda like the shot I posted above. Granted this is my temporary setup, but still.

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11 Responses to What is your primary computing device?

  1. Victoria UKRAINE Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    Mine is Macbook Air 13″. I am so-o-o used to it. That’s the screen I’ve read your post on.

    At work I have an old MBP 17″ with oh-rare-these-days matte screen and I am going to try to revive its performance with SSD. That machine had its memory, drive, battery and one of the keys replaced at different points of its life but it still keeps on flying.

    At home I also have a desktop with Apple Cinema display, and it was a challenge to find video card that would accommodate my old machine and have display port for that monitor. My keyboard for that rig is some cheap gaming flat one but with large Enter key and full-sized Shifts. At work I have an old Microsoft ergonomic one, but because of macbook keyboards I am less used to it now and make mistakes on it quite often. I used to be 50-50 PC-Mac user but I have been using Mac more for some time now. Unfortunately, at work we have .NET environment so I have to keep using PC/Windows.

    I also switched to using mouse with my left hand (despite being a rightie) due to wrist stress and pain. Using my left hand more actually was quite good for me.

    So, that’s about it. My device of choice is Macbook Air, next in line is iPad, then others.

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  2. Grzechooo POLAND Opera Windows says:

    Desktops FTW! And a full keyboard of course, I can’t stand these laptop thingies which have keys mashed together with a Fn key in place of left Control. You know, muscle memory.

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  3. Gothmog UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    Vista?!?! Why punish yourself, Luke? Wrrrry?

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  4. Giac ITALY Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    My station is a HP laptop with two monitors. When this machine will die I’m thinking to replace it with a powerful desktop and a cheap laptop. At the time it was purchased I was employed in a “bring your device” company, but now I’m working mainly at home and i don’t need so much portable computing power.

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  5. agn0sis CANADA Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I work in a 17″ laptop, basically because I moved abroad and I thought it would be easier to travel with this thing. I am thinking on building a desktop, primarily because I need an IPS monitor for photography postprocessing and the laptop doesn’t support it. I also want to create a RAID system for a better backup appliance. As for the operating system, I only use linux and I don’t see that changing in the near future. If I got some free time (I don’t know how that could happen) I could install Windows so I can play some games I bought in the last Steam sale.

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  6. Alphast GREECE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I normally work on the (Lenovo R500 ThinkPad) laptop provided by my employer, but I plugged it in a good Logitech keyboard and mouse and my personal Samsung SA350 (24 inches) screen. I work with two screens all the time, under Windows XP. So I voted laptop on your poll, because I am on it 8-9 hours a day minimum.

    But of course I prefer using my personal custom made desktop PC and gaming rig. Just changed the video card to NVidia and happy about it. My only regrets is that it runs Vista Home Edition and that sucks.

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  7. klimeryk POLAND Opera Linux says:

    My primary computing device is a desktop – I need a big monitor (Dell U2711 – 27” @ 2560 x 1440 in IPS glory) for programming and an ergonomic keyboard. I’m using a mechanical/ergonomic keyboard named… Truly Ergonomic Keyboard. While the name is kinda off-putting, the keyboard itself is definitely worth recommending. In fact, I bought two – the second one for work and for my secondary computing device a.k.a. laptop. The laptop is a sturdy ThinkPad x220, with a nice IPS screen. Like most “real” ThinkPads it has a very nice keyboard (compared to competition), but I still plug in my ergonomic keyboard while working (programming) on it.
    I stay away from smartphones and the likes, though – I have a trusty Nokia E72 and it’s doing exactly what I expect from a phone – you can call and message people :P (and the battery lasts at least for a week with moderate usage).

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  8. Mihai ROMANIA Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Mainly laptop (15″ MacBook Pro), the same both at work and at home (BYOD because I dislike Win7’s interface; I bought my first modern Mac when Vista appeared). I use it for almost everything, including as RS232 terminal (via UC-232 and screen).
    Gaming rig at home that is Win 7 (set in “classic” theme, à la W2k) and used almost exclusively for gaming. Most of the work I do via ssh anyway and on the Mac I have everything else handy (documentation, mail, Adium). I don’t dislike the laptop keyboard on my MBP even though I miss the numeric block from time to time – as when typing IP(v4) addresses. On the other hand, the only keyboard I miss is the Model M. I still have one but it’s PS/2 and doesn’t play well with adapters.
    Speaking of keyboards, I have a VT-220 with DIGITAL LK201 keyboard – that one has a nice tactile feel, as well as the Control key where some people like it (but it still has a Caps Lock key between Control and “A”).
    I agree with Gothmog – why did you remain with Vista?

    PS: I wanted to post from links but your site requires javascript to post comments. Preview worked fine, though.
    PS: I wanted to post from links but your site requires javascript to post comments. Preview worked fine, though. lynx’ edit box is more unpleasant (doesn’t have soft wrap)
    ..and (probably due to my multiple tries with various browsers?) your site now said my “location is part of a spam network”. That was after a 500 SERVER ERROR

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  9. Short answer: i don’t know!

    Long answer:

    What is “primary”? The device i use most of the day is clearly my smartphone. I always carry it with me, use it at least once an hour (unless i’m sleeping) and it does pretty much everything i could expect from a device that size.

    But then… most of my tasks are outsourced to my server. RSS-Reading, IRC, Podcasts, … pretty much everything i do runs on that machine and i just remote via SSH into it to control it (well… and get Podcast-Files/Playlists via HTTP/SFTP). So does that count as primary device?

    Then there are my work-PC and my gaming-PC, both running uBUNTu (“bunt” == german for colourful) with i3wm. Both really are the devices i use when there is something important/complex to do. I couldn’t stand using my smartphone or tablet for something where i really need to type more than one or two lines of text.

    Even more… i got my Toshiba AC100 (10″, armhf Netbook, with Tegra2-SoC, less ressources than my phone, but full keyboard and usable i3wm make it better for writing and ssh, all this while staying far under 1kg) and a small tablet (7″, Archos Gamepad, RK3066 SoC) which i use for most gaming.
    Those are both pretty unlikely for beeing my primary device, even though i use them at least an hour per day, whenever i’m annoyed by the shortcommings of my phone but don’t want to leave couch/bed.

    If lost, i probably would miss my server the most, but then my phone does navigation/music player/ssh/notes/whatever, so it’s far more versatile than my server? Also i could run most of my server-tasks on any other PC. It’s not like there is any time a day i wouldn’t run at least another. Just keeping Data in synch would be some kind of a hard task.

    Without my phone the pretty much only restriction would be on my 2x15min way from/to work, so that can’t be my most important device. Even though it’s the device used most often.

    My work/gaming-PC are plainly replaceable. Give me anything with linux, ssh, git, vim and i3 and i got it perfectly set up in 5min. I pretty much don’t need any local data, since everything besides the browser (or sometimes a mediaplay) runs on my server anyway.

    Even more: I pretty much don’t care about what’s primary.

    But lets look what i would need to make something primary:

    * I don’t need mice that hard (i3, screen, ssh) and i really like the small keyboard of my 10″-Netbook (or that similarry sized bt-keyboard), so besides beeing able to play on it and having number-block my mechanical keyboard at home isn’t that much better.
    * Having multiple screens does make a difference. I want to be able to view at least 2 Terminals and a Browser in usable sizes, at the same time.
    * I don’t need a big harddrive. I can pretty much work perfectly with my slow 8GB Flash-Drive inside my AC100.
    * RAM matters! I can’t work with less than 2GB. Using a browser on my ac100 (512MB RAM) is just pain. To keep me from waiting all the time 4GB are currently ok. More is always better, i wouldn’t buy a new PC with less then 4GB.
    * CPU/GPU doesn’t really matter. No, really! My Tegra2/3 are ok, my Atom330 in my media center is ok. Even the kind of gaming i do runs on those (i.e. SNES-Emu, UT2K4 or Urban Terror). If i want to play 1080p-Video i would want hw-en-/decoding anyways. If the device is fast enough to do that in software, then thats great… if it isn’t then it’s not that important to me.

    So even desktop/netbook/notebook doesn’t make that much of a difference to me, even though i prefer desktop-devices for better pricing. Last year i would have said that i will always keep one for gaming, but that shifts more and more to android in the last years.

    I would use a good 10″-Notebook if there were any with >10h battery, good screen resolution (1024px vertically?), non-glossy screen, >=4GB RAM that i want to afford (no, it’s not worth 1500€). But there just isn’t.
    You currently can’t buy such a device for a reasonable price. There are some that “should” be aviable in half a year, but since the old Atom-netbooks there have been no new devices in this section that are worth to waste money on them.

    So i’m split between all those devices, since i can’t buy a single one that fits my needs.
    So much for “you can buy everything in free market economy”.

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  10. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    For work: Laptop plugged into a separate keyboard/mouse/monitor, and jacked up on top of a laptop stand so the screens are at the same height.

    For pleasure: Laptop.

    For Angry Birds while pooping: Smartphone.

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  11. Ron NEW ZEALAND Google Chrome Linux says:

    Up until very recently a main rig was a T61 (with an Intel 330 SSD) which I love, but recently purchased a new Desktop, which is going to have the added bonus of freeing my laptop from its shackles of all the crap hooked up to it (despite a docking port).

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