My PyCon talk explodes, and I buy an Eee PC

By Christopher Allan Webber on Wed 19 March 2008

I decided after all to give that lightning talk on PyStage at PyCon. I planned on using the same talk I did at ChiPy, just significantly shorter. I did not plan on a key getting stuck on my keyboard halfway through the talk, essentially grinding it to a halt.

Well, a number of people told me that I recovered really well by turning it into a humorous situation. I ended up smacking the heck out of my old T23 Thinkpad trying to find which key was stuck. Heck, it might have been for the best, for at least it ended up forcing me to finish my talk in a reasonable amount of time. I'm actually looking forward to seeing the video of it go up on YouTube: that way I'll have one video where I did really well and where the concept was well received, and another where I'm literally pounding the keyboard with my fist to humorous effect. Too bad the former was in front of the 60 or so people at ChiPy and the latter was in front of the 1000 or so people at PyCon.

Even so, the whole situation was embarrassing, and built upon a number of other frustrations I've had with that laptop: broken wireless and a video card for which I haven't been able to figure out how to get direct rendering with OpenGL. These things have made a number of frustrations for me, particularly at nerd events like ChiPy, PyCon, or even while sprinting at PyWeek, and in an impulsive moment I made a significant financial decision (without consulting my fiance): I bought an Eee PC.

There were a lot of people with these things at PyCon, and I found them appealing to me on a number of different levels:

  • Cost: Pre tax and shipping, it was only $350
  • Portability: It's incredibly tiny and cute, and easy to carry around.
  • Functionality: Despite being so small, it still has a fully functional (albeit tiny) keyboard.
  • Power: It's strong enough to be able to play some reasonably impressive games. I won't be using it for that, but if it's powerful enough for that, it should be able to handle PyGame, Pyglet and SuperTux development.
  • Freedom: It ships with GNU/Linux off the bat, albeit with a shitty distribution. That's okay, it's able to run the distros I like.

I've been interested in a super small computer with working wireless for a long time. I don't really need or want a laptop that can replace my desktop, as I enjoy doing most of my work on a machine that's persistently on. This is why I've invested money into the old Zaurus I bought several years ago. Unfortunately, I never got the networking on it working well (that might have been partly due to my inexperience with networking at the time) and thus was never able to get the environment to the state that I wanted it in. Also, the keyboard on it was fairly decent for what it was, but it wasn't a real keyboard. This thing has a real keyboard.

The only thing I feel bad about with purchasing this device is that I feel like it distracts from the One Laptop Per Child project. Unfortunately, neither the Give One Get One nor the developer programs are running right now, so I don't think its possible for me to get ahold of one before Flourish.

There's also a possibility that I won't end up achieving what I want with it, but I'm quite optimistic. If nothing else, at least I'll be able to finally have a machine with working wireless access, which seems pretty critical for a geek in modern society.

In the meanwhile I'm refreshing the UPS shipping page constantly. It's scheduled to arrive tomorrow, which is almost a shame because we're off of work tomorrow and I had it ship to the office. Well, maybe I can drive to the UPS store myself to pick it up, because honestly tomorrow can't come soon enough.