18 June 2007

Waterfield Designs Laptop Luggage - The Best?

One of the pleasures of buying a new laptop is looking for new luggage to carry it in!

In my case, I need a versatile arrangement that gives my laptop protection when it's travelling with me on my Brompton bike. Occasionally, I might not have my bike, so need something a bit more businesslike. And then, there's the weekend trips. In short, I need something for every occasion.

Over 4 years ago, I bought a Waterfield Designs sleeve case for the 15" Titanium Powerbook. It has done great service and still looks as good as new. It was able to handle my slightly wider PowerbookG4 also, and so it has been used almost every day since. I got a few additions with the bag to handle other goodies too. I'm particularly pleased as to how the sleevecase has provided protection as I've ridden over bad roads around London. Apart from the quality and style, what has stood out for me with Waterfield was the initial buying experience. I got quick answers to my questions, and the most amazing thing was that after I ordered the stuff, it arrived less than 48 hours after I ordered it. That was San Francisco to London! Unbelievable.

So, while casting glances at other luggage, it was only natural I consider Waterfield Designs for my new MacBook Pro (17"). The range has been updated gradually over the years but still covers the same sort of needs. This time, I decided to add a flap to the sleevecase for those odd occasions I may just have the case and it's raining. I also got tempted by the combination deals, and decided that a Cozmo bag in addition to the sleevecase would provide a solution to every need. With this option, an extra gear pouch is included for free. With the current dollar/pound rate the whole package was pretty attractive - even with shipping, so I settled on that.

Again I got quick and clear answers to my questions. This time I took a slightly cheaper option on shipping (I still don't have the MacBook Pro). I still received the whole order in 3 days flat!

The verdict: Fantastic! These bags are really well made (they are made in San Francisco, not in some cheap labour country). They are well-thought-out with great details, and accents. They work well individually or in combination, and I know they will last. They are practical and protective, but also look great. If I need it, I also know I'll get great service. I can't recommend these guys highly enough. If you need laptop luggage, don't just look at the Apple Store.

Aside: The one frustration with packing my laptop is our stupid UK plug. It is so large in every dimension that it always causes something to bulge. Why can't someone invent a foldable UK plug whereby the prongs can fold away neatly for carrying?

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15 June 2007

Vista Marketshare

In my previous recent posts I've mentioned about my purchase of XP Pro for use on my about-to-be-delivered MacBook Pro.

I bought my copy at Amazon.co.uk and I thought I'd look at what was/wasn't selling on Amazon. I was amazed to see that XP Pro was indeed the top selling Microsoft OS on this site in 11th place (on all software titles). The first version of Vista was in 30th place. Only one other copy of Vista was in the top 50.

Wondering if this was a UK phenomenon, I popped over to the US Amazon site. Similar situation. This time, XP Home was in the top 25 at 15th place, and XP Pro somewhere in the 25-50 range. The first version of Vista was at 62.

I checked also at NewEgg a popular site for system builders, and it seems again that more people are buying XP than are buying Vista. Now some might argue the fact that Vista has so many versions dilutes it's position. But really there are also many versions of XP (Home/Pro, 32bit/64bit, OEM, Full,etc), and the gap in the position of XP and Vista is so significant that I do not believe that sum(copies of Vista) > sum(copies of XP).

I have always expected Vista to be a success, and I recognise that there is quite a difference in the PC world than the Mac world for doing upgrades etc. But to think that 6 months after the full introduction of Vista, when given the choice, more people are buying a 6 year old OS seems very strange indeed. That is a sad reflection on Microsoft's strategy and something that should cause them long-term worry. I know for sure that 6 months after Leopard is (eventually) released, the same will not be true on the Mac platform.

As a final aside, I did this check a day after Amazon.com had introduced a Leopard pre-order and was amazed to see Leopard in 1st place across ALL software, and Leopard family pack in 3rd place. Not only that, but even MacOS Tiger (10.4) was ahead of any copy of Vista (in 55th place)!

A visitor from outerspace would make a very different conclusion on the operating system market than is reality if presented with these figures. But, would they infer a more accurate view of the future?

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Why XP Pro over Vista?

In my previous post I discussed my purchase of XP Pro. Why not go for Vista, you may ask? Is it your dislike of the Redmond monopoly again getting in the way of rational decisions?

In fact, I came very close to purchasing Vista. I wanted to see what the very best Microsoft can do is like. I also felt that a more recent OS would be more secure (and also require fewer changes - I'm not sure how many security downloads my copy of XP Pro will require immediately after install).

But in the end, Vista would have required me setting aside at least 20GB of my laptop hard disk - something that I don't want to give up. (XP should take as little as 5GB comfortably).

In addition, Vista does not work well today as far as I can tell with Virtualisation applications - especially if you also want to use a bootcamp partition. Part of this comes down to the new activation requirements in Vista which are torturous. While legal under license terms to do Virtualisation + Bootcamp (as far as I can tell) with the higher end versions, it is not practical to do so today. Also, the virtualisation solutions do not support Aero yet, so I wouldn't have been getting the full Vista experience except in Bootcamp (and probably quite hard to change between the two).

Finally, Vista is more expensive than XP Pro, and for the amount of use it will get, is just not worth it for me. I would have probably got the Ultimate version (for business use and virtualisation), but not used most of the features.

Coming up - an observation on Vista take-up.

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I feel dirty...

Not because I haven't blogged for almost a month - though that, I should also be ashamed of - but, because I've just received delivery of my license for Microsoft XP Pro. Yes, you read that right.

But, do not worry, it's all in the best possible taste. I have ordered a 17" MacBook Pro and am expecting delivery next week. I will be running Windows XP on it both via BootCamp and via virtualisation. At this point, it looks like I'll be going down the VMWare Fusion route, rather than Parallels. I think VMWare is being aggressive in pricing, support and adding features as it comes from behind vs Parallels. We'll see.

I don't expect to use XP much, but I have some home automation components that haven't been updated since I stopped using an old Toshiba Libretto. My Virtual PC copies have never really worked on these items due to poor performance when doing serial operations.

I also wanted to have XP around to experiment a bit as well as to demonstrate to the great unwashed the flexibility of the Mac platform these days.

Looking back, I have bought a lot of Microsoft software over the years ranging from Multiplan, Excel/Word, followed of course by many copies of Office and Office X. I've also had Windows 95 and 98 via copies of Softwindows and Virtual PC. But these became poor when Mac OS X came along (I had to reboot into OS9 to get reasonable VPC performance).

Later this year I will undoubtedly purchase Office 2008 for Mac. I fully expect XP Pro and then Office 2008 to be the last Microsoft OS and Applications that I ever buy again.

Next up... Why XP Pro over Vista?

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