the blinder workstation (or, the poor man's macbook air)

September 2, 2008 | Leave a comment

This is part of an ongoing series called Blinders where I explore some of the ways I streamline my computer workflows to minimize distractions.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the old 12″ G4 PowerBook. (That’s a guilt-free way of saying that I coveted one every time I saw one in the wild.) It’s thicker and heavier, but it’s the poor man’s version of the MacBook Air.

Earlier this year, I spied an original 867 mHz 12″ Powerbook on Craigslist at a price that was too good to be true. Of course, this served to remind me that the old G3 iBook used by our kids for educational purposes (wink) was much too slow. The iBook found it’s way to ebay, and the PowerBook found it’s way to a new home…our home.

I can look you in the eye and tell you that this little gem gets used more by our kids than it does by me. But, I admit I had some other ideas for it from the start. What could it be like, I wondered, to have a smaller laptop that I could use when I needed to hunker down and focus?

So it wouldn’t conflict with what my kids do, I created another account on this blinder workstation and set it up with a few essentials for a distraction free experience:

  • Pages, Scrivener, Ecto, OmniFocus, and Yojimbo — If I’m going to be in a reflective or in a content creation mode these are my essential programs for taking notes and writing.
  • MobileMe — Besides the standard features of syncing my calendar and address book, MobileMe also syncs Yojimbo and OmniFocus, both of which are important in my workflow.
  • SugarSync — SugarSync is what made this possible. It syncs selected files or folders between computers. While I don’t want, or need, all of my documents on the PowerBook, with SugarSync I’ve been able to have available what I do need. 10gb of storage sets me back $2.49/month, and I get hassle free access to docs and a little extra backup.
  • Most important might be the things I didn’t install or set up: Growl, Twitterific, NetNewsWire, iChat accounts, or Firefox bookmarks.

If you don’t have kids to use as an excuse to buy another laptop, you could do something similar by creating another user account on your laptop with only the essentials. Or you could just be more disciplined than I am when it comes to distractions. But then you wouldn’t have a reason to get a 12″ PowerBook…or a MacBook Air.

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