Monday, May 31, 2004

So what is that little laptop in The New York Times article?

Last Thursday, The New York Times ran an article by Katie Hafner under the headline:

For Some, the Blogging Never Stops

The article featured me and my blogging habits, including a photo of me blogging by the pool in Key West. Since the article came out, I've received a number of queries from friends and strangers. Let me try to address them.

-- What the heck is that little laptop?

It's a Sony Picturebook. I bought it in October 2001, right after 9/11, because I had a speaking gig in the Netherlands (in Maastricht, conference by First Monday) and didn't want to haul a lot of hardware with me.

-- So if I want a really portable laptop, is that what I should buy?

That's a really hard question. First off, I love my Picturebook. I think it represents outstanding engineering. But I don't think Sony markets it in the US anymore. And I think today the Picturebook and Sony's followons may not be the best choice, though the logical heir, the VAIO TR3AP3, is a damn sexy looking critter.

If I were buying today, I'd look seriously at IBM's Thinkpad X series. I've always loved the keyboards on the Thinkpads I've had -- wow, can it be, I've had four Thinkpads? And the newest X series offering, the X40, gets weight down to the 3 pound range, which is barely a heavier than my little Picturebook. That pound buys a lot, including a 12.1 inch screen and a full size keyboard. I've never met a laptop keyboard that equals what I've found on Thinkpads.

-- How the heck did this article come about? Did the reporter find you blogging by the pool in Key West?

Um, no. It was the other way around. I had contacted the reporter, Katie Hafner, to give her a news tip. She asked, as any good reporter would, if I'd told anyone else about it. I told her no, that it was in my blog, but no one reads my blog. She thought that was pretty strange. I told her "It's worse than that; I write for money for Searcher and my editor caught me blogging instead of meeting deadlines."

So Katie's article is about why one blogs for no personal benefit. The article mushroomed into a piece about obsessive blogging. Somehow the piece migrated to above the fold on the Circuits page, and they decided they wanted a photo to tell the story. The Times hired the main photographer for the Key West Citizen, who came up with the idea of a geek typing away madly poolside while everyone else relaxes -- and you should be relaxing during a Key West vacation.

-- Wait a minute! I blog a lot more than you do! Why does the article paint you as obsessive? I'm much more obsessive!

First off, congratulations on your obsessive blogging. I once tormented a friend by telling him he was the second most competitive person I know.

Again, the genesis of the article was the idea of someone wasting time blogging for no audience and for no money, when he could write for real recompense. I am not competing for the most obsessive blogger title -- though the fact remains that I think about what to post in my blog when I could be doing much more profitable things.

-- Were you really on the toilet blogging the morning of your anniversary?

Sigh. I knew The Times piece about blogging was coming out soon, and I woke up with an idea for a blog entry. I tried typing on my Picturebook in the darkness, but that wasn't gonna work. I thought of turning the lights on, but I didn't want to wake my wife up. This was a simple (but nice) motel room in Key West, not a suite. So I went into the bathroom so I'd have enough light to see the keyboard.


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