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Notebooks, Netbooks & Tablets…Oh,My!

This post is inspired by the recent release of the HP Mini 5103. I’ve been carrying its predecessor since April, and meaning to share my recent experience with netbooks, especially in the light of the coming onslaught of tablets.

There are aspects of my working life that lands me squarely in the category of “Road Warrior.” Business has me visiting customers locations all over North America, and occasionally locations overseas. This very fact of my routine travel has dictated that I carry a laptop. Remember that my employers business is broadcast graphics equipment, so our laptops are on the more capable side of things…meaning more powerful, bigger & heavier. Recently our staff have started carrying “mobile workstations.”

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D.I.Y. Asterisk Appliances: A Question Of Scale

Selecting hardware appropriate for a particular Asterisk installation has been a topic of discussion ever since the emergence of Asterisk. This typically centers around choosing hardware to handle n users or x concurrent calls. Often the focus is on how to scale up to the greatest number of users for a given server. However, there can be different but related considerations as we consider ever smaller applications.

In various circles I’ve lately witnessed a minor spike in interest in small form factor Asterisk systems. I have found it curious to survey the various hardware platforms that people are considering when creating their own DIY Asterisk Appliances. To establish some perspective on this I recently posted my own history of using Asterisk my own little Asterisk retrospective.

There are quite a range of small computing platforms available to the enthusiast seeking to tinker with Asterisk. It seemed to me that an overview of such hardware and related resources would be helpful.


For my purposes I’ll only consider generic platforms suitable for a DIY project , not the commercially offered embedded Asterisk devices, of which there are many. These small host platforms tend to be in the $50-$300 range which makes them approachable for hobbyists, home users and some small businesses.

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A History Of Asterisk In My Home Office

I’ve recently been reflecting upon my history as an Asterisk user and the evolution of my preference for embedded systems (aka appliance) approach to Asterisk servers.

The path that I’ve followed is probably typical of a lot of people in many ways. Perhaps by sharing my experience I can help some people avoid some of the problems that I have faced, and understand how I arrived at my personal definition of an “Asterisk Appliance.”

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Deal Alert: HP Mini 5101 & 5102 Netbooks from $297!

The HP mini 5102 has only been shipping for a few months. I’ve only had mine for about a month. Even so deals are starting to show up.

These corporate class netbooks are head & shoulders better than the consumer offerings you’ll see at retailers. Today’s email list of overstock and refurbished systems from the HP SMB Outlet includes 20 different configurations of the 5101 & 5102…starting from only $297!

The SMB Outlet even have a number of systems that are not the Smart Buy configurations.The Smart Buy configs are kinda bland, but faster to ship. To get the more interesting options you had to order a custom configuration and have it made to order. This is why it took three weeks to get delivery of mine…and it cost just shy of $800.

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There’s an App For That: But Why?

As I’ve been using the new HP 5102 netbook these past few weeks I’ve been surprised at just how much I am able to accomplish with very few applications loaded to the machine. I have DropBox, Seemsic Desktop and FireFox loaded, also ThumbsPlus for managing images…and that’s about it. Even so I’m spending a lot of very productive time with this little machine, mostly reading (Google Reader) and writing (Google Docs & WordPress.)

So much of what I do these days is “in the cloud.” Actually, I suspect that “in the cloud” is a mischaracterization of things. Let’s just say that they’re based upon web services as opposed to locally installed applications. I suspect that the same could be said of many iPad users.

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