Yesterday was far smoother than Monday in Harvard Square, and I definitely collected my daily quota of cards. I would guess I am right on the edge of having enough cards to meet the goal of answering 1,000 questions in a week. That being said, working the Wheel installation from 10am to 6pm left me exhausted. So I crashed, but I’m up early today editing video before going out again to Harvard.
Now that I’ve gotten used to the camera, I’ve turned my attention to evaluating the HP Envy itself. After a few days of use, I can tell you… it is pretty sweet. The 13-inch version I have does have a smaller screen than I’m used to, but it’s lightweight and the form factor is elegant, very much Macintosh-like. I’d love to have a moment to buy an external monitor for the unit but I can tell a free moment is just not going to happen this week. I was wrong about the Internet plug. The Envy does actually come with a USB ethernet port. However, I really want that VGA or digital monitor jack. Plenty of people seem happy to bend their head down for hours but you’re supposed to have a monitor at eye-level as you’re comfortably sitting. That, of course is true of all laptops.
The computer is fast, fast enough that any task I throw at it, it can do immediately. I hate waiting! Editing video hasn’t been a problem, even on a small screen, and now that I’m “in the groove” with how to properly use the camera, I can chop out a good scene in 2-3 minutes, just what I need. The Keyboard is great as well. My IBM Lenovo Thinkpad has the keys all mashed together and it’s easy to mistype. My new HP Envy (which I’m going to have to give away on Sunday!) has space in-between the keys, the feel when you depress them is perfect and it’s really the first laptop keyboard that I’ve enjoyed using. I have big hands (I’m 6’4″) and typically I yearn for an external keyboard.
I can definitely vouch that Windows 7 is worth the upgrade from Vista. The best thing about it is that it’s simpler without being scrambling-how-everything-works simpler. And it boots quickly. I could really get used to not sitting idle for 5 minutes every time I launch the machine.
There are also only two USB ports, and I can tell the attitude is not to rob the unit of features, but to suggest that a laptop can come in many pieces. If I want more USB ports, I can buy a USB switch. If I want a DVD drive, I can carry it or not, and the HP Envy comes with one. This is unlike my Thinkpad or many other units that cram on the features. My Thinkpad has over 100 keys on its keyboard, 2 VGA monitor plugs (one on the docking station), and even a modem jack, for crikey’s sake. The Envy has only 82 keys. No wonder it’s easier to use. I’m sure there’s a way to access “scroll lock” if I really need it, but does it really have to be a separate button on a laptop this small? No.
So the idea of the HP Envy seems to be simplicity, another feature that makes it Macintosh-like, and it really seems to work! I’ll review the machine more later in the week.
It was a good day. My dad came out to help and we got more people than ever willing to go on video… I would say half rather than previously a third being brave enough. I recorded a question from a founder of the band “Boston”, a homeless man, a gaggle of schoolkids who all wanted to ask more than one question, a 6-year-old girl with so much energy she couldn’t stop jumping with excitement, and an 84-year-old World War II veteran who writes books and still wears his medal.
The most difficult part of the day was the end, as I was unable to drum up a volunteer to help me take down the installation. Most of it’s fairly lightweight, but the Wheel itself, an upright cylinder in two halves, is definitely a two-person job. So, I left it there overnight.
Of course, I’ve done that before. Wheel Questions was installed in Harvard Square 24-hours-a-day from June through October. But it was part of a huge canopy and installation that would be trouble to steal. Just the Wheel by itself… well, this morning I’m anxious to get out and discover that it’s still there.
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