Life at 800MHz

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2022-01-13 23:00:09

We’ve been using a Sony Vaio VGN-P588E for the past few months as our primary personal laptop. This thing’s great; it’s got a small but not uncomfortable keyboard. It’s got a trackpoint, which we absolutely need to keep our hands healthy. Crucially, it’s only 1.5 pounds. We’re disabled in a way that means we’ve got to care about every bit of weight we add to our bag when we leave home, so that’s a big deal! One catch: the Intel Atom inside hits a peak speed of 1.33GHz, with a normal speed of 800MHz under most thermal conditions. Oh yeah and there’s only 2GB of DDR2. Aaaaand it’s a 32 bit processor too did I say one catch I meant three. Let’s talk about life in the slow lane.

So this thing’s main job is to help us stay off our phone, since touch screens are the hardest on the health of our hands. To do that, it’s got to be able to handle chatting with people, email, media, and light web browsing. Does it work? Actually, yes! Sometimes we have to exercise a bit of patient, but overall it handles anything we need it to handle day to day. Communications, logistics, youtube, shopping, social media, it all works! Social media is probably the worst experience out of everything, but that’s not such a bad thing since it keeps us off of it a lot of the time. We’ve even been doing some light editing work in Audacity on an album we’ve got in the works.

The modern web is definitely rather hostile to a computer this slow though, and our experiences online involve a lot of loading time. Informational sites are usually fine as long as javascript is off. (Shoutout to btw for offering a rust crate database that actually works without javascript. We have no idea what thinks it makes sense to require javascript to look up packages but here we are.) Interactive sites require some patience but are usually fine, and nothing ever outright crashes. Social media sites are the only things that dip into the realm of “genuinely unusable” on the regular, and streaming services are basically entirely out of the question.

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