So, after accepting the offer to stay at York to do my PhD, I decided I deserved a present. So here it is – an Asus Eee 4g non-surf. It’s a subnoatbook. It’s a hobbyist computer. It’s smaller than most of my medium sized books. The keyboard at first seems desperately small – a real issue for a machine on which writing is the prime directive. But even after a day of messing around on it my fingers are learning how to cope with the smaller dimensions and half sized backspace key. So, it looks like it will be a real tool for writing – and that’s good, because this thing can come anywhere. One thing – the touchpad and buttons really are small and difficult to use naturally. I solved that by plugging in an external mouse – which in effect increases the size of the computer you encounter by moving the mouse control a foot away from the keyboard, without compromizing the physical size of the machine. It’s like extended theory of mind – if something is going on outside your mind [the computer] which we would call part of your mind [the computer] if it was happening inside it, we should just call it part of your mind [the computer].
People are saying it weighs less than two pounds. Well, my judgment of imperial weights may not be what it once was, but if I was to guess I’d say it’s closer to one pound. I think it weighs less than a bottle of beer – and that’s good.
However, writing is only half the fun. The other half comes from the fact there is a huge community of enthusiasts who are tricking out their Asus Eees, mostly with software. Running windows is old hat – Asus supports and gives you a tutorial to install XP. I’m more interested in the people who have successfully installed OSX Leopard on the machine. There is of course an obvious hurdle with that – journaling could reduce the lifespan of the drive considerably. The Xandros OSX build the computer comes with is entirely workable, if a bit simplistic. And there are many nice other Linux builds I could experiment with.