Commuting Computing

by George Runkle, (M.ASCE), Project Engr.; Engineering Consulting Services, Ltd., Chantilly, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 6, Pg. 58-59

Document Type: Feature article


Portable computers come in many different shapes and sizes and boast many of the same features as desktop machines. Unlike desktop PCs, however, the key to getting the most use out of a portable is to select a machine with as few extra features as possible. Hard disks and gas plasma displays add weight and drain batteries, and faster processors show up on the price tag. The portable of choice for most engineers is a laptop. Most laptops run on rechargeable nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries that must be periodically deep cycled to ensure optimum performance. The display or monitor is another important consideration. Choose a machine with a backlit display. Using a nonbacklit LCD display requires nearly perfect lighting conditions, which are hard to come by in the field. For maximum portability, choose a laptop without a hard disk drive. Many laptops have static RAM that can be configured like a hard disk. Laptops can run much of the same software that desktop machines can, but because of limited memory, users must be willing to give up some of the features of large, dedicated packages. Integrated packages that combine word processing, spreadsheet and database applications are a good option for laptop users.

Subject Headings: Commute | Computing in civil engineering

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