You’re going to think I’ve completely left the reservation on this one.
I’m talking…speed. Pure unadulterated speed.
You need speed to maximize productivity and minimize frustration. Sorting through hundreds or perhaps thousands of Web pages, per day, to find company specific information or possible job leads is challenging in itself. The last thing you need is to have to sit and wait for your dumb computer to do something or update a page from the Internet.
The notebook is the heart of your job search computing hardware, and you should get your hands on absolutely the fastest one you can buy. For example, I browsed through a name-brand, big-box on-line store and found an ASUS U31SD-XH51, 13.3”, Intel Core i5 clocked at 2.40 GHz, with 4 GB of RAM (upgradeable to 8 GB), and a 500 GB (7200 RPM) disk. The price: about $770. It also has an Nvidia graphics card with 1 GB of dedicated video RAM.
This model reflects a reasonable balance of performance versus price. Amortize that cost over a year and with tax, that’s a rather paltry $2.25 per day. I think that’s probably within most people’s budgets. A notebook like that will easily last you 2-3 years, if treated right. All my ASUS gear has been reliable and fast, with absolutely no problems.
I’m also a big fan of Xubuntu Linux with the lightweight XFCE desktop. I use the 64-bit, multi-core version, which would work great on any late model Core i5 or i7 notebook. Don’t forget to install a processor governor program, so you can turn the thing up to full throttle when you’re really busy and need to get things done.
Don’t even tell me you are trying to find a job using dial-up Internet. Professionals require residential cable, DSL, and/or WiFi connection for Internet access. My name-brand cable service is good for about 10 Mb/s download and 1 Mb/s upload at about $50 per month. If you can afford some of the fancy 40Mb/s lines, go for it. Hey, speaking of speed, did you know that Chattanooga Tennessee has gigabit Ethernet, for both residential and business. They are actively trying to pull in new businesses, entrepreneurs, and VC firms to make the city a tech mecca.
Another place you can pick up precious seconds is right there in your wireless router. Disable service to 802.11b devices. You probably only have either 802.11g or n devices now anyway. My TrendNet TEW-452BRP has a mode called Super G with Turbo. I enabled that setting and reduced my page loading time by about 30%.
Have you thought about investing in a laser printer? I bought an HP LaserJet Professional P1606dn monochrome printer for about $210, last year. The thing spits out 26 sharp, crisp, laser-quality pages per minute and has a built-in wired Ethernet connection. There’s no reason NOT to buy a laser printer, at that price. And, remember, everybody expects a laser printed hard copy of your resume when you hand it to them in an interview.
Lastly, I use the fastest browser on the market, Google Chrome. This Internet browser has a minimalist toolbar and displays most pages instantly.
I’ve noticed everything slows down considerably when I venture off away from home, to a Starbucks or Panera Bread. Of course, there are usually 30 other laptops sitting around connected to those networks. Admittedly, you just have to get out of the house occasionally, to keep you sanity. If things get really bogged down at the coffee shop, you can always whip out your cutting-edge smart phone and browse the Web on 4G.
So let’s wrap up today’s training with a challenge.
What hardware, operating system, software, and network tweaks do you use to maximize your hardware speed? Surely, there are a few experts in our readership, who’d like to show their high-performance chops and offer up some cool speed secrets.
Put your suggestions in the comments or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll use them in a future story.
Also, don’t forget to add your 2-bits, in the Mobile Development discussion forums.