Crossing the Digital Divide!

I finally obtained some XMAS money from my grandfather. I decided to pick up a netbook. I opted for the Asus EEE PC 1005/1001 series with an Atom N450 processor.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to cross the digital divide. My access at the library is now relatively unrestricted. I am installing my own programs and tools for specific needs such as HTML authoring (Kompozer), graphics viewing (Irfranview), CoreFTPle, xfire, Celtx, Open Office, etc…

I plan to get a linux install going soon on a separate partition. That will take a bit longer than anticipated owing to the lack of a CD-rom/DVD drive.

Surfing at the library is SOOO much better. No more stressful time limit meters. Also new tools that really help. I already tested Skype and now I have access to a phone whenever I have WIFI!!! My long distance + local and voice mail.

A few things to be aware of: these are not replacements for desktop/laptops. However, if you are homeless, the light weight (2.8 lbs) helps a lot. A few gripes: mine has a 93% keyboard (Dell Mini 10 is full sized) and also the lack on an internal drive can be problematic. However as direct to drive installs become the rule, this will make less difference moving forward.

I will mention, I tried to install a 2GB ram card and it was epic fail. The ram is probably bad. Happens some times. I was disappointed that Best Buy did not sell computer toolkits for installing the ram, but tried to upsell their service. I got my toolkit at Target instead. Target provided me with a lot of support and practically offered to install the ram for me- all I did was buy the screw drivers there. Thank you.

Now, I am actively looking for open hotspots around Minneapolis besides the library. I was disappointed that Borders bookstore closed downtown as they used to provide that. Barnes and Noble does not appear to. Some people have suggested Panera Bread and maybe 8th Street Grill… I’ll have to check out some places and see where it is freely available.

Netbooks are not cheap. By the time you add accessories, you are probably going to approach $500, even if you start at $330 or so. I got a nice U of M bag by Tribeca which has pockets for the power cable, holes for breathing and slots for extra USB drives/cables.

I really needs solutions that optimize performance, weight, and space. I highly recommend all homeless people explore getting one- definitely make life better.

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