I spent the day at a conference sponsored by our SIS developer. The food was excellent, which is always a solid barometer for conference success and I learned that I've forgotten too much java (X2's Aspen SIS largely uses java to interact with the relational database that sits on its back end) and really need to get back into programming this summer.
What's more interesting, however, was the participants' reactions to an Asus Eee PC that one of the other attendees brought with her. It was one of their 4GB matte black models with the 7" screen and was running Linux. From the moment she broke it out to check her email during the morning's keynote address to the time we wrapped up in the afternoon, it was being passed from person to person, as they all used it to check their own emails, view presentations, and access their student data.
It wasn't as if we didn't all have laptops. Laptopless attendees were about as common as McCain supporters in Portland. However, this little netbook was so subtle, none of us minded breaking it out during the various sessions. She just pulled it out of her purse and passed it around.
In between sessions, it generated its share of curiosity (I was actually surprised at how few of those at the conference seemed to understand where the netbook market was heading), but mostly was seen as a brilliant compromise between the plentiful Blackberries and the full-sized laptops that most of us brought.
I asked her what she thought of the mininotebook and she exclaimed that she loved it. Her only niggle was the size of the keyboard ("Have you seen the new HP minilaptop?" she asked with a geeky grin), but she noted that she was certainly used to it and had found that most of her colleagues were accustomed to the keyboard as well. The keyboard was a small price to pay for inexpensive, highly portable computing.
If anyone out there is wondering what to get me for Father's Day, I'll take an Eee. In black, please. With Linux. Just the 7" screen is fine; I'm not picky.