Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Tablet Challenge

Prototype Netbook CC-SA Cathy Malmrose
How much do you love your laptop / tablet / main computing device?

Right now I'm snuggled up with my laptop, purposefully blocking the fan to create warmth. My laptop is a netbook prototype that I've beat up in many durability tests. This little slab of machinery is core, vital, crucial, central to my life. (Photo is me trying to sleep on airport floor during a too-long layover. Feel free to steal my travel bag with passport & money but my laptop is protected in my arms during sleep. Not rational, I know.)

I am a bit nervous to announce that I will be doing a Tablet Challenge, giving up my laptop for a month and using a tablet exclusively. In the morning I will tuck my laptop away in a safe spot and if I need something off it that's not already in the cloud, I'll have my sponsor, er, my husband get it for me.

It's the first time in a long time that I haven't been able to swap the hard drive to make the switch to a new machine.

CC - Share Alike, by André Karwath aka Aka
I am nervous because any type of change is scary. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Sapolsky, a Stanford biologist explains the physiological reaction to stress. Letting go of my laptop will be stressful. I would be kidding myself to say that changing from a lifetime of using little laptops to an entirely different device would be easy.

Why am I doing it?

1. Because I can't list something on our website or that I haven't used extensively myself (or had a family member use, such as my teenager using the Chimera). I need to see it in action. I need to rely on it in order to accurately judge it's value to people who ask about it.

2. Because I need to help bridge the gap between the ultra geeky R&D people and the people I meet who can't find the On button. No offense to people who can't find the On button. There's no shame in having spent your life focusing on areas other than technology. It would be a boring world if we were all geeks. To clarify: Ultra-geeks understand the value of a rooted, open bootloader tablet. My job is to communicate why that's important to people who don't know what an open bootloader is.

ZaTab on Fridge, CC-Share Alike Hadley Rich
3. Because I've met so many smart people who love their tablets so much that their eyes light up when they talk about them.

4. If I know the tablet on a personal level, I can better advise schools how to implement their use in classrooms or libraries how to use it as easy-install catalog machines on the end of bookshelves throughout libraries.

And without personally using it, I surely won't be able to figure out what Hadley Rich of NiceGear was doing when he mounted his ZaTab on his refrigerator. Just seeing that picture made me want to go cook something yummy.

During this challenge, I will be doing videos about the tablet: the good, the bad, and the inbetween. When we have exhausted topics about functionality, we can start doing side-by-side testing with tablets and other devices.

The goal -- what type of machine helps me lead a full, rich life? What reduces my workload and increases enjoyment?

Isn't that what technology is all about?

ZaTab prepped for The Tablet Challenge, Creative Commons Share Alike, Cathy Malmrose


  1. I've just seen KDE Plasma Active on a tablet at FISL. it's awesome. It would be so nice if ZaTab would come with it installed.

  2. This is such a great thing. It's being worked on by various devs, but no eta.

    1. Hi Cathy,

      I bought a ZaTab and played with it.

      At the moment I look around to put a "standard Linux" on it.. unfamiliarity with ARM hampers me a bit.

      I have some leads (e.g. a Linux kernel found at but not a proper picture yet..

      Is it possible ro share some information related to the KDE work, how to set up Linux etc., and test what your devs are doing?

      (Melbourne, Australia)

    2. Hey Peter,

      Great to hear from someone in Oz!

      The site has the latest information. Thanks for checking in there. There are also KDE devs on #zareason that are doing great things. Maybe check in there?