Drop Your Laptop or: How to Live a Happy and Fulfilling Life by Keeping Your Data on the Network

I managed to drop my IBM-owned Thinkpad fairly violently last weekend and the hard disk crashed. Thinkpads are worth the money, folks, they really are the most reliable laptops going (honest - IBM has sold the brand to Lenovo now, anyway). Unfortunately even it couldn’t withstand my abuse.

I’m currently in the process of getting it fixed, but it was impressive how little disruption it has so far caused. I was both concerned and embarrassed when it first happened: partly because I really need a laptop to take away with me to San José, and partly because, well, it’s embarrassing to break other people’s stuff (even if that person is a virtual entity employing a few hundred thousand people).

Nevertheless, I began to realise just how much data that was important to me, both personally and professionally, was out there on the network, and thus still seamlessly accessible from the remaining PCs I have at home and in the office. My email is all web accessible (save from my business mail, which sadly is not - not without some fuss anyway). My bookmarks are all on delicious, and contain pointers to many things I read regularly. Some of my data (presentations, documents, etc.) is on internal IBM network storage - the rest I’ll be moving onto there in short order from backups. I use Google Reader as an RSS reader, so that wasn’t disturbed. I’m currently evaluating which of the remaining applications I use I should try to find online equivalents for.

I’ve always been paranoid about backups, and that’s one of the reasons why I held off using online applications for such a long time - I worried about control over my data. David convinced me to chill out about this, and I started using delicious (although I still run an automated backup of my bookmarks from it). It was so useful that I started to move more data off my machine. As well as illustrating to me how unimportant the operating system I use really is (I’ve been without a Windows system for a week, and it hasn’t mattered at all), I now really love the compelling value of network-based data, and this event has demonstrated the value of that to me clearly.

Go network!


[...] agree - even if mine is supplied ‘free’ for use on company business. After dropping it again the other day (yes, I’m clumsy, sorry boss), it took a huge chunk out of my wooden floor. But [...]
[...] this is a noble and sensible aim within reason, there are other advantages to be wrought from keeping data on the network (and sometimes you have to just chill). He also advocates a degree of customisation - for example, [...]
[...] As part of my cunning plan to move my data online, I decided to move away from using my Palm for managing my diary - and towards Google Calendar instead. I’ve already stopped using the Palm to-do list; all I really need to do now is find a decent online addressbook; Plaxo being one possibility that Chris suggested. [...]
[...] Well, I’ve been in the Bay Area for nearly 3 weeks, with another 2 still to go on my Redbook project and then 1 week of vacation (which I’m now regretting not making longer - too late - my plane tickets are non-refundable). The Redbook is thoroughly enjoyable and there are some talented and interesting people on the team which makes for a worthwhile experience. The apartment here is beginning to feel a bit like home - I even found myself referring to it as ‘home’ this afternoon. It’s interesting how easy it is to uproot and move your life elsewhere for a while (keeping data on the network has a surprising amount to do with this). I’d quite happily live in this area permanently. The standard of living is without question higher than in the UK (despite the typically variable US food), and the only thing that’d hold me back would be missing my friends and family in the UK, which I would find hard. I’d also miss the opportunity to go to London so often, which I love too (San Francisco is the closest equivalent here). [...]
[...] OK, so I’m an idiot. I broke my camera (again). And I can’t (practically) get it repaired before I get back to the UK. Somehow, breaking valuable stuff seems to be happening a lot recently. Is it possible to train oneself to be less careless? Or is it just an unchangeable characteristic? I’m not in a good mood, anyway. Fortunately, my trip out today wasn’t really that photogenic in practice - there’s been a lot of rain here recently, and even though I drove 140 miles today (all the way up the East side of The Bay to Oakland, across the Bay Bridge, and through San Francisco), it was pretty misty and wet, and I wouldn’t have got any good pictures anyway (although I got a good view of downtown, with the Transamerica Pyramid and many of the other landmarks I remember from my last trip). Nevertheless, I’ve decided to comfort myself by buying another thing I can break - the 400D (together with the IS lens Adrian suggested). Amazon here are doing a good price, and will probably deliver it by the end of the week, in time for next weekend. I just need to make 100% sure that the warranty covers the UK - I’m getting mixed messages from the web. [...]