A new mobile lab is being delivered

by Scott Lowe [Published on 24 June 2012 / Last Updated on 24 June 2012]

Since leaving my full-time job to become a full-time independent consultant and author, my need to remain tethered to my lab resources while on the move has risen considerably.  I tend to work on many different projects at once.  Sometimes, I’m replicating a client issue in my lab and other times, I’m building out a lab environment for an article series I’m writing or for a TrainSignal training course I’m developing.  With all of this, my lab environment becomes a critical resource. Since last December, I’ve been using a MacBook Air 13.3” as my primary traveling machine and, for the most part, it’s been fantastic.  But, it does have some shortcomings: Max of 4 GB of RAM.  Apple just released new Airs that go up to 8 GB, but mine tops out at 4 GB. 1440 x 900 screen.  This is generally ok, but for remote sessions, it a bit slim in the vertical resolution when you take into account menu bars and such. Dual core only.  I tend to run both Windows 7 and Windows 8 in virtual machines on my Mac for other projects.  Dual core and 4 GB of RAM doesn’t cut it at all. I also have a lab at home that consists of three physical servers.  I use LogMeIn Ignition on my Mac to connect to these systems remotely.  In most places I go, I have an Internet connection that is more than sufficient, so this works extremely well. But, my Air needs attention.  I could have gone with a slightly larger Windows machine, but I will be honest: As hardcore a Windows guy as I’ve been in the past, I’ve become a Mac guy when it comes to my mobile computing

Since leaving my full-time job to become a full-time independent consultant and author, my need to remain tethered to my lab resources while on the move has risen considerably.  I tend to work on many different projects at once.  Sometimes, I’m replicating a client issue in my lab and other times, I’m building out a lab environment for an article series I’m writing or for a TrainSignal training course I’m developing.  With all of this, my lab environment becomes a critical resource.

Since last December, I’ve been using a MacBook Air 13.3” as my primary traveling machine and, for the most part, it’s been fantastic.  But, it does have some shortcomings:

  • Max of 4 GB of RAM.  Apple just released new Airs that go up to 8 GB, but mine tops out at 4 GB.
  • 1440 x 900 screen.  This is generally ok, but for remote sessions, it a bit slim in the vertical resolution when you take into account menu bars and such.
  • Dual core only.  I tend to run both Windows 7 and Windows 8 in virtual machines on my Mac for other projects.  Dual core and 4 GB of RAM doesn’t cut it at all.

I also have a lab at home that consists of three physical servers.  I use LogMeIn Ignition on my Mac to connect to these systems remotely.  In most places I go, I have an Internet connection that is more than sufficient, so this works extremely well.

But, my Air needs attention.  I could have gone with a slightly larger Windows machine, but I will be honest: As hardcore a Windows guy as I’ve been in the past, I’ve become a Mac guy when it comes to my mobile computing device of choice.  My desktop at home is a Windows machine; I don’t want or need a Mac Pro in my home office.  To replace my Air, I ordered one of Apple’s new MacBook Pro Retina machines.  With 15” of screen real estate, it will be perfectly sized to my needs and with a 2880 x 1800 resolution max, there will always be plenty of pixels.  Further, with 16 GB of RAM and a quad core processor, I won’t have any trouble running the number of local virtual machines that I need.

Why Mac?  Honestly, I love the hardware.  It just… works.  The huge touchpad was the first thing I fell in love with, but I also like the keyboard and the quality of the hardware in general.  It’s not about Mac OS X, although I obviously use it quite a lot, but the thought that goes into building a machine that works for the user.

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