Sunday, December 7, 2008

Now in the Handy Hospital Size

This last week has been a very special week:

  • On Monday, while chasing the overgrown puppy to keep her from escaping, my wife fell and broke her ankle.
  • On Thursday, the doctor said “Going to have to make your wife bionic, I.E., install titanium plate and a number of screws”.
  • Friday was spent in the day surgery ward
  • And the subsequent weekend was about pain and dealing with a hard headed woman who wants no help from anyone, even when she can’t walk an inch.
I guess being stubborn is endearing at some level. Must be: I am hardly less so. But this isn’t about me....

My title for this is actually a reference to the Acer Aspire One (or AAO, sometimes apparently in blogspace the AA1).

Someone asked me why I use the AAO instead of the Macbook when I am out and about. That was a mistaken impression I had given because I was talking so much about the AAO (such as two recent posts here and here) and not at all about the MacBook. Most of the time the MacBook is with me in the backpack in case I need a real computer to do real work. The AAO, even with a real OS such as Mint rather than WinXP, is suboptimal for extended or serious work. This is mostly because the screen and keyboard, rather than the processor or RAM after the upgrade and with the efficient multitasking OS. (Aside: I have no idea why WinXP chokes on this computer when I try to do more than two things at once, but Linux doesn’t have the limitation, so XP stays unbooted most of the time, except when I am making sure it is fully patched or testing something with IE).

Still, one main reason to have the AAO was for exactly this last week. Lots of time is hospital waiting rooms, lots of getting up and moving from place to place. Lots of chances to pack and unpack the computer. With the AAO’s tiny size and weight, it is all a snap. And worst case, should the AAO be stolen from the waiting rooms while I am nearby but distracted by talking to a doctor, nurse, or what is happening to someone’s baby on “One Life to Live” (Monday in the ER waiting room was all soap day: I guess they didn’t have CNN or MSNBC available on that TV), then I am out the AAO and 350 USD, not the Macbook and my 3,200 USD (from three years ago, to be sure).

On Monday, after they were done putting on the temporary cast and giving me the bad news that the ankle was broken in such a way that they were referring it to a Ortho, the day nurse asked me that the cute little computer was. I replied that this was the “Handy hospital size”. She looked at it, impressed that computers came in such a thing as a hospital size. Then she looked at me with a bit of doubt, feeling correctly that someone nearby was probably pulling her leg. Only seemed fair after what was going on to my S.O.’s leg.

I should inject here that the hospital was/is Memorial Hermann, and that they had an open if slow access point in both the ER and the day surgery waiting areas. Nice. I should also say that compared to our last experience with a hospital emergency room that this whole level of care was much better. It was not without its issues, and it is crystal clear to me that there is both good and bad stuff going on in the US health care system. That is a whole other post.

Friday was more of the same in terms of waiting, and in terms of the utility of the AAO. It was very handy to be able to read all my email from work, and keep every one in the family status’ed on progress, as I learned it from the various members of the staff, or from direct observation. As I moved from check-in to pre-Op to waiting room to lunch to waiting room to post-Op to go-home-prep area, the AAO tagged along and allowed me to stay in touch, even in areas of the hospital where the cell phone was utterly at zero bars. The wifi was omnipresent at MH. The iPhone and the AAO were always in touch.

With every change of location, it was easy to close and tuck the little 2.2 pound laptop back into its Car-DVD-case-acting-like-a-laptop-case. Linux went into suspend mode almost immediately and always recovered (except for the sound server, which is always a goner after the first suspend and takes a reboot to get back. Not like I need that in the hospital though). If I was using the power cord, that took a bit longer to stow. The AAO comes with a long power cord. Good for waiting rooms when you may not be able to sit close to the outlet. With small default battery the AAO comes with, I was using the cord fairly often. I will be watching for a six cell battery for this thing like a hawk.

I supposed I could have done most of surgery day with just the iPhone and an external battery to keep it charged, but reading work email off the iPhone would entail using the craptastic Outlook webmail interface via Safari. Do-able. Not fun, and really not fun for an entire day, From that point of view, the AAO’s screen and keyboard look positively capacious.

While I was being silly with the ER nurse, it turns that in fact, the AAO (with Linux Mint 6) really is a handy hospital size.


Akshun J said...

This is unrelated to your current post. But I wanted to thank you (through gritted teeth) for introducing me to Rachel Maddow. I am in complete geek-lust with her now, and I can't go to sleep until I've seen her. Darn you, Steve Carl!

Steve Carl said...

"My Work Here is Done"


Yeah: I have to say that a day without Rachel Maddow is pretty much a sucky day. That, and "Chuck" on Mondays are how I get through the week.