I have an older Dell Mini 1012 sitting in my so called “museum”. It was just there doing nothing and I’ve been wondering what can I use that machine for. I already have the 13 inch Macbook Pro which is pretty portable anyway by today’s standard and I already have a tablet that I use the most during my daily commute and travels.
Then something struck me, I’ve been wanting to do some software development using my tablet but I have never been able to do it efficiently mainly because the tablet doesn’t have the editors that I am used to and browser experience for cloud IDEs is still not there yet, although they are no doubt improving. Also of course there’s that annoyance where android browser would randomly refresh your tab as soon as you come back from another. It sucks when you haven’t save your work yet.
Anyway, in the end what I did was setup my Dell Mini in my network again, took out the battery (I don’t want to overcharge it) and setup remote desktop software. At the moment I’m using Team Viewer but I have also tried using Pocket Cloud too.
The tablet setup is also simple of course, I simply install the Team Viewer or Pocket Cloud client and away you go. Of course if I was feeling creative I could also do remote desktop access via ssh tunnel.
So What are the Advantages?
All the above sounds pretty darn cumbersome, but there are some interesting points that might inspire you to do the same even for non technical things like writing a post or report.
- The 3G wireless internet is not perfect, I lose connectivity quite often during my daily commute. Perhaps it is because my internet provider sucks, but it’s really something that most people has to live with. Having my coding or writing session safely done via the netbook in the office means that if I lose connectivity and I haven’t save or auto save, at least my session is still running in the netbook. I can simply reconnect to the remote computer as soon as the network is back.
- Tablets can ran out of memory while switching task, causing you to lose unsaved work. As an example, if I’m writing this post in a browser in my tablet and an email popup, I wil want to reply to that email. However as soon as I switch to the email client and do my work there, the tablet could have cleared the memory, losing unsaved changes in my browser. Not very good.
- I can use whichever text editor that I wanted to in order to do my work.
- A netbook is also a low powered machine so having it running most of the time in the office for this purpose shouldn’t use that much power.
- I also get to use the netbook for something as oppose to just having it sitting on the shelve.
The other thing that I had to do was to make sure that the netbook resolution is set to fit to the tablet. Works well for my setup as the netbook has similar dimension to the tablet itself.
In conclusion, it’s pretty good to work this way when I am out and about. The only thing that I needed to do was to get a proper keyboard for the tablet (which I’m going to talk about next) and to setup the remote connection to the lowest quality to maintain speed and reduce data usages.