Laptop Limbo (and some news)

As I count down the days til I’m back at my desk at home, I feel like I’m in sort of “work limbo” right now. I’m actively seeking and quoting for freelance opportunities — some of which are looking more positive than others — but I still have a huge amount of work on at the day job, all of which I need to get through before I can actually leave. I’m effectively back to trying to fit two full time jobs worth of stuff in to one day, without sacrificing all of the other things I have going on (like, uh, raising my children).

I really want to make working from home actually work (haha pun) for me this time. As mentioned previously on the blog, I’ve got my plans in place to get me out of the house so that I don’t turn into a hermit. I’ve got my desk set up with space to spread out (unlike my original home working desk area!) and I’m even considering investing in some new tech so that I’m not slowed down by a hardware bottleneck. I have been working on laptops for over 10 years now, but the call of the power of a desktop machine has been tugging at me for 6 months or so (and not just so I can get back into gaming during my spare time … what is that again?)

Looking at Tesco’s laptop v. desktop info to try and figure out what I want to do, I can see that the pros of keeping the laptop mean retaining the portability I have now (super important) but then I watch Gaz switch between his laptop (at mine, or downstairs at his) and desktop and he makes it seem effortless so it’s not an all or nothing scenario. Pros of a desktop include greater power, and less likely to succumb to damage (because it’s out of the way of sticky fingers).

To complicate matters further I’m in a bit of “home limbo” right now too. I recently asked Gaz to move in with me and he said yes (yay!) so I’m in the process of decluttering and getting rid of everything that isn’t 100% necessary to make room for his stuff. This means that I’ll likely be getting rid of my desk, which is fine because I can work anywhere (including at his desk) with my laptop, but fitting two desktops on one desk is impractical. He has suggested I just use his PC, but I’d find that really weird. I’d feel like I’m invading his privacy, even with my own user account.

I guess ultimately my choice will come down to two things: 1) can I afford a new desktop? (probably not) and 2) am I likely to see sufficient speed gains by switching to an SSD hard drive? (probably would) Guess I’ve solved my own dilemma there…

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

18 comments so far

  1. rjp said:

    Switching from a laptop with a real drive to an SSD was like night and day. Definitely worth doing if it’s easy enough.

  2. Laura said:

    Two PCs on one desk it totally possible (hubby and I are doing it as I type).

    We have a very wide desk (I reckon it’s about 1.5m by nearly a metre deep) and the monitors and PCs themselves are on a shelf mounted about a foot above the desk. Loads of room for all our random crap but without awkward mouse confusion (which would be the case on a narrower desk).

    I love working on a desktop. Once you’ve got it set up Just So it’s easier to work at than a laptop that always seems to be a compromise on where you have it or the angle of the screen or what have you.

    Plus decent desktops aren’t as expensive at they used to be (not high end gaming rigs, obviously, but depends what you want it for, really). I was quite surprised.
    Our SSDs are really useful for gaming but I’ve not noticed any noticeable improvement for owt else.

    • Jem said:

      The problem is going to be lack of space – Gaz’s current desk is not that big and is only just going to fit in the space where mine currently sits, definitely not big enough for two (working) desktops side by side. I think in the short term I’m best off making do and then we can always look at it again further down the line.

      • GazChap said:

        With your exercise bike in your utility-cum-home-gym, there’d be room next to my desk for another identical desk and then we’d easily manage.

        Well, until I decide that two monitors isn’t enough and want to upgrade to four.

        • GazChap said:

          For some reason I can’t reply three levels deep.

          The chests of drawers will presumably fit in the wardrobe on the side of the room, with my shirts etc. on top on hangers as they are at my place.

          Certainly one would fit in there.

  3. Katherine said:

    I have both a laptop (for on the go) and a desktop (for resource intensive work projects university FINE I USE IT 90% OF THE TIME FOR GAMES!).

    >> On switching between PC and Laptop
    When I need the beefiness of my dual screen PC but I’m not home I just remotely connect to my home computer via the laptop. Remote connection is a good option if you need the strength of a PC but don’t want to dish out the thousands of extra dollars for the same power in a mobile computer. As long as you have a reasonable WiFi connection you won’t experience much (if any) lag since all of the processing is taking place on the PC – you are basically just streaming your PC’s screen. :) – Downside of remote connection? Your PC will have to remain constantly ON if you want to use it – you can’t boot your computer remotely.

    >> Shopping for Power PCs
    As far as shopping for power rigs goes: I originally purchased a really REALLY nice Bare Bones kit for about $500 (roughly €441.71) from Tiger Direct. I love these kits because you get much beefier hardware (companies buy the parts in bulk and you get a discount on better CPUs/Motherboards/etc) AND it is easier to replace/upgrade parts down the road.

    The downside of a bare bones kit is that it comes with no OS, monitor, or peripherals. I will admit that in my experience it is super easy to quickly blow through the money you saved by purchasing cute peripherals to go with your new computer *sheepishly hides gaming mouse and keyboard*. You also have to put the entire computer together yourself (which is fun for me, but I know that intimidates some folks). Also, never underestimate the price inflation of computer monitors, especially if you want a good one! Because I do a lot of design work I did end up shelling out $350 for a really nice Samsung monitor because I wanted to be certain I had at least 1 really good display to view my projects on. (I did get a crap secondary monitor for $50, but that one is basically just for e-mail and secondary windows and crap. :3)

    Actual Relevant Point – there are a lot of good PC options out there, make sure you know exactly what you want your PC to do and try to figure out the best way to get the rig that you want. In all honesty I would stay away from the factory built ones that you just buy off the shelf – they are cheaper, but they tend to be out of date in roughly 6 months AND they NEVER come with enough RAM imho, so you will probably have to immediately buy another 2gbs right off the bat.

    • Jem said:

      And the epic comment of the year award goes to… ;D

      Stop tempting me to the dark side Katherine. I’d all but decided to stick with my laptop! :P

  4. han said:

    because I’m surprised noones mentioned it already – what about a mac.

    not a new one – a 2011 model, still upgradable, you can get one for fairly affordable, replace with SSD drive (seriously best decision I ever made to get ssd!) and you will have a super machine that will last way longer than windows. (my 9 year old mbp is still going strong!)

    I’m also a big fan of the super slim ibm thinkpad ones – quite a few developers use them.

    (and to prove I’m not all mac mac mac I’m looking into windows 8 gaming laptops – windows 8 is surprisingly ok!)

  5. karl said:

    Harsh. They’re just x86 platforms now..the OS is hardly relevant or indeed irreplaceable, and the footprint and design not bad.

    I’d suggest thin client to citrix or VDI/VMWare as a solution, and site the brains away from the workspace, personally, but graphics aren’t a strong point. Eminently doable though. As to SSD…make note of the benchmark scores…there ARE crap ones out there.. I shan’t mention brands.

    Mind you, like i care! Spent 30 years working on and supporting the things..don’t miss it even slightly, ha.

  6. Kristine said:

    Ahhh, your hatred for Macs is still strong, I imagine… ? I would have suggested just go with Mac, but decided against it since you’re going for the affordable route. Definitely SSD. My Mac feels like it’s still a brand new computer all thanks to the SSD.

    • Jem said:

      I just can’t stand the mac operating system, and there’s no point me paying over the odds for apple hardware only to stick windows on it. :/

  7. Catherine said:

    Could you just have one screen, two seperate PCs? My dad has his tiny study set up with four different pcs and just the one screen. It works quite well. its the screen and what not that takes the most space, isn’t it? I switched to a SSD in my laptop and it has made a huge difference – but I still prefer my desktop. I have my PC set up to be more sophisticated though! It was not that expensive either. (For a basic PC- a larger hard drive, graphics card and memory upgrades quickly added up, but you don’t have to add them all straight away) Also what about laptop docking?

    Also, congratulations to you and your boyfriend!