Tag Archives: RAM

The Death of Writing

James Fallows points out that not everybody back in 1980 believed the computer would replace the typewriter as a writing implement, and that his prediction that the device would be useful incurred the wrath of, among others, the late David Halberstam. James offered to write some articles on a computer, some on a typewriter, and offer a prize to anyone who could tell the difference. No-one took him up.

I recall Bruce Chatwin saying that he could always tell which books had been written on a word processor and which hadn’t. And, funnily enough, I disagree with James’ assertion that:

As is obvious to everyone now, but as was not obvious to most people then, the “sound” of people’s writing is overwhelmingly their own sound, not that of the ThinkPad or the quill pen or the Number 2 pencil or even, gasp, the Macintosh.

I don’t think the ‘sound’ is the issue. The real difference between the two technologies is that a computer transfers some of the creating process from the head to its RAM. Anyone who has written on a typewriter will know that it’s less painful to compose before committing anything to the page, since the price of correction is so high. So the words, once they come out are much more likely to be the final words one uses. Computers meanwhile, allow indefinite revision, so the composition process takes place on the screen.

 I’m not saying one is better, although I think I probably wrote better when I had a typewriter. I used to take more care over my words; I definitely wrote less, too, which has to have been a good thing. When I joined the BBC in 1987, we only had manual typewriters, and my colleagues looked down their nose at my Canon Typestar, which allowed me to compose a line in the tiny LCD before committing it to the paper. In retrospect, I think they were right: My writing went downhill from then on.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Is The Tablet Coming Back Down The Mountain?

This space is getting interesting: The sort-of-tablet-handheld. Nokia unveils Linux based 770 Internet Tablet:

The main attraction of the device is its widescreen, 65K colour TFT touch screen with a diagonal size of 4″ and resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. This, along with a navigational array flanking the screen on its left side, provides an interface to the Nokia Internet Tablet 2005 software which powers the device, developed atop Linux by the handset maker to power this new category of devices.

Offering up 64 MB of RAM and approximately 64 MB of non-volatile storage for users, the 770 Internet Tablet also harbours an RS-MMS card expansion slot for the purpose of memory expansion. Whether this will be necessary, however, is another question entirely as the functionality of the 770 appears to revolve mainly around the streaming capabilities as provided by its Wi-Fi 802.11b/g connectivity.

Not content with Wi-Fi, Nokia also integrated Bluetooth 1.2 into the unit, allowing for among other things the ability to connect to the Internet via a compatible handset. Several profiles are supported, including Dial-Up Networking, File Transfer, SIM Access and Serial Port, with the 770 also offering USB as a wired alternative for PC connectivity.

Does this compete with the revived Tablet PC? Or the LifeDrive? What I would love to see is these devices coupled with the wonderful Stowaway XT Portable Keyboard for USB from ThinkOutside, which I’ve never seen in the shops, but which has the same great action and design as its Palm and PocketPC forebears. Maybe they just didn’t sell, which would be a shame. The keyboard coupled with one of these devices would be all you’d need.

RAMming Home An Old Point

For many of you this is a no-brainer but maybe some folk might find it helpful. I had to switch laptop the other day while one was being fixed and was horrifed to find how slow the replacement was. Every program, every file, every function loaded slowly and the hard drive was stuttering along despite being well-defragged and with plenty of spare space.

Of course, it was the RAM (computer memory, where programs operate, rather than hard drive storage, where they hang out between bouts of action). Why IBM ThinkPads com come with only 256 MB of RAM as standard baffles me. Unless you’re running absolutely nothing, my experience has been that it’s just not enough to get you into Windows, let alone do any serious work.

The good news is that it’s really, really easy to add another 256 MB, just by unscrewing the bottom and slotting it in. Do it. Given it’ll cost you less than $100 it’s worth it. Now I’m back to 512 MB and I’m very, very grateful. Now the question is: Is it worth adding another wodge of RAM? My technical advisor says not.