Hot and Sandy

Travel writing, pictures and stuff for people I know. Quite a lot of cycling talk, and some semi-controlled ranting. Hiking, outdoor and two-wheeled stuff, perhaps a little computing when it's worth talking about. Meandering thoughts.

Friday, January 16

UMPC Setup

There are some minor problems and irritations with ultra-mobile computing. The first and most obvious is the need and desire to make the machine as physically small as possible, while retaining all of the functionality of a full-size notebook. For manufacturers this is a lose-lose. Either they go for the mini approach and get slated for not including nice-to-haves like a 3G modem, or they go full-featured and lose out in the portability stakes.

The same compromises exist in operating systems. On the one hand, it's the path-of-least-resistance kind of convenient working in the ubiquitous MS environment, with old favourites falling easily to hand. The security issues, brand / company dependency and constant calls to the mother ship are such a part of modern corporate computing that they have become background. The things that as a new user would make you say "no wait – that can't be right!" are just the way things are.

My strategies in this context is simple.

1. Use the professional version of the OS; you get more security, more options and often more stability. This is because OS sppliers make the bulk of their cash supporting corporate sites and corporate IT guys.

2. Do the advanced install, although it's always a pain. Deselect the stuff you don't want or it will be hard to remove later. Be picky and go into the fine details of each option. Some people might love the windows games and some might need DUN support. Not me!

3. Kill trivia stone dead. Get TweakUI for Windows, and equivalent apps for other OS (Tinker-tool and __Cache Cleaner for OS X, gTweakUI for Gnome Linux) and get rid of colours, fades, animations and fussy window adornments. This includes making the Windows start menu classic mode with small icons and sorting enabled.

4. Finally, authorise all downloads and security patches manually. Although it's worth keeping up to date over broadband, you still want to keep an eye on what's happening. Check the prefs of new applications as well- some will call back for updates by default. On OS X it's worth googling Little Snitch.

5. Even more finally- it's very rare to have to pay for a firewall –either set up the one in your router properly or use the one in the OS. The Windows, Linux and OS X ones are pretty idiot-proof if you google the functions of a firewall first. It's also worth getting a multi-platform and low profile anti-virus app. Personally I like Sophos because it's unintrusive and autonomous. AVG is also very popular and free. Norton, Symantec and Panda are (in my personal experience) big bright boxes containing inefficient and intrusive solutions.

I think that's plenty for now.

This is the result of some Xmas ponderings. It's incomplete and only my opinion.


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