Traveling Light

A few weeks ago, I had a decision to make that would likely have an impact on my involvement in Second Life. My Windows laptop had started to “act up” and it was likely the motherboard. I hardly ever used this computer, but I needed access to work through a windows-only VPN, and my desktop is a Mac Mini…also getting older, and the victim of a lightning strike last fall that had short-circuited the ethernet capability (wireless is still working).

Both of my computers were incapable of getting shadows in SL due to their on-board video components. I admit that I have had severe shadow-envy over the last 6 months or so.

With the windows laptop fading fast, I had to make a decision about new hardware….and to get a laptop that was able to do shadows, even used on ebay, was going to be pretty expensive. I had my eye on used Macbook Pros, with the idea of running Parallels to access my work’s windows-only vpn. It made sense…but paying $600 for a used computer didn’t seem like a good solution. Refurb MacBooks were in the $850 range. I could have gotten a new Windows laptop equipped with a suitable video card in the $600 to $700 range if I looked around…but I confess…I hate Windows. I use it at work because I have to, and I have configured XP to be as lean and mean as possible. But Vista and 7? Bloated.

Meanwhile, the pilot for iPads at work has been moving forward and guess what? Everyone I talked to told me how they have pretty much replaced their laptops with iPads…a vpn has been opened to accommodate those participating in the pilot.

I thought about it, and realized…all things considered…wouldn’t I rather replace my clunky laptop with something really lightweight and easy-to-use? Refurb first generation iPads start at $349 on Apple’s online store. That’s a lot less expensive than any laptop I was looking at. Official Apple keyboard docks (with a close-to-full-size keyboard) with minor cosmetic defects are less than $40 at Other World Computing. So, for less than $400, a full mobile solution is now available to replace laptops, and do all the great things that iPads are known for.

The only thing missing, of course, is Second Life. Yes, there are lots of remote desktop clients that will allow an ipad to log in, and one can play Second Life that way, but really, isn’t the long term solution a fairly full featured SL client? There are some 3rd party mobile clients available but they are very limited. Why isn’t Linden Labs falling all over themselves to get one out? Blue Mars is heading in this direction, although their client is limited to avatar appearance editing at this time.

The post-pc world is here, folks. It’s time for legacy applications to adjust/evolve or risk extension.

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