I did about 6 solid hours of work today. This is unheard of for me for a Sunday. And I might have been able to squeeze in another hour if it wasn't for...
My misbehaving laptop. Remember this story? Today it froze three times, two of them happening in a row. I was afraid for a moment that it was indeed dead, that the class notes I had been working on (and saving often) would be irretrievable and that I would have to redo them from memory. Luckily, I did get it to restart, finally, and the first thing I did was MAKE A BACKUP. Just in case.
In addition to the weird freezing issues, it's also starting to not play nice with the programs I use most often. Mainly email. I use Thunderbird, and thought the problems I was having were server issues, but now I'm not so sure.
I think it's time to bite the bullet and get a new laptop...which means I finally have to decide: Windows or Mac?? (Rest assured that I will consider all the helpful comments from the last post on this issue!) It seems like it will come down to whether I want to dual-boot Linux and Windows, or spend a bit extra for the Mac and have all the Unix-y stuff alongside the nice intuitive interface.
I feel a bit bad, abandoning Linux on the laptop. I've had a Linux laptop of one kind or another for about 8 years now. I did it at first because I was using Linux on my home desktop system and at work and liked it, and wanted to see if it could run on the laptop. At the time, it was still not the prettiest nor easiest thing in the world to use, but I thought that it showed promise. "Just wait a few years, and this will be great!" I thought. And Linux has come a long way since then.
But part of me is sick and tired of wrestling with it to make it do...well, almost anything on my laptop. It took herculean effort to get my wireless card to work with more than one wireless network, and even now, it doesn't work perfectly. (For instance, I have to completely obliterate my "home" profile, including the encryption keys, if I want to use my machine on a wireless network away from home. It took me almost 2 years to figure that one out.) And I still remember the conference I went to last year, where the laptop *completely died* while I was trying to get it to connect to the hotel's network on the first day. (By some miracle, we got it to start back up once I returned, thank god!) There are certain pieces of software that I would really like to use---some of them relevant to my research, no less---that I cannot for the life of me install. Now, I'm no dummy, and I am very stubborn, so believe me when I say that I've tried. I'd rather spend my time and energy wrestling with research problems, not with my laptop!
I realize that switching systems is not going to solve all of my problems. I will still no doubt have problems installing software, or getting certain things to work. But my hope is that the day-to-day things, like connecting to wireless networks, accessing audio and video (don't get me started on how poorly Linux does on this), checking email, and so on, are easier with either the Mac or PC laptop, and not such a colossal struggle. It will seem like a luxury to start up my laptop and have things *just work* from the outset!
The timing on this is not so good either: this is a busy week, made busier by guests coming in mid-week. But I will have to make time, because I really don't know how much longer I can keep this laptop going before it just stops altogether.