I handed it off to the appropriate internal technical support team. Unfortunately the loaner laptops were all in use. I had three options.
- Use my own laptop until my work laptop was fixed
- Demand a new laptop without knowing if my current laptop is fixable
- Go without a laptop until mine is fixed
Option 3 doesn’t work. I travel too much to go without a laptop. Mobile devices are a gray area, but I shudder to think about editing my budget spreadsheets in an iPad.
Option 2 is within the realm of possibility, but I don’t know what I would take to replace my X301. It doesn’t have the biggest RAM footprint or a current CPU or even competitive graphics. It does have a good display and good battery life and it is light. I’m not due for another laptop until 2013. The longer I can wait the better the hardware will be.
Option 1 is workable. There is only one problem: my laptop is an Apple MacBook Air (late 2011).
My European colleagues can use Apple products. My Asia Pacific colleagues can as well. In the Americas it is a different story. I’ve written about this before.
Nevertheless, things came to a head. I could adhere to the unwritten policy or I could keep working. I chose the latter.
So far the only folks that even care are those in my organisation that would like an Apple option and our VP. I hung a sign on my laptop while using it that told folks: “Don’t Get Your Hopes Up: This is Temporary” for the VP’s benefit. She laughed but also asked how it was working for me.
I told her it’s working well.
The thing is, it’s actually working better than I expected. Here’s why and how.
First, I have a corporate copy of Windows 7 x64 Enterprise running in a Parallels 7 Desktop session. It is on the Active Directory (AD) domain. All of my business applications, even those I could run in OS X, run in the VM. I use Coherence mode to better integrate the Windows apps. It works really well for me.
For the network I carry a USB to 100MB Ethernet adaptor. I assign it to the VM only and use guest wireless access for the MBA. If physical ethernet isn’t available I will fire up a VPN from the VM guest to get it on-line. I can use a USB wireless adaptor as well if I want.
As my team manages the VPN environment, it is a good idea for me to drink our own champagne (as it were). As the head of IT security, the separation of work from personal in a functional way is a powerful example.
I expanded my environment with an Ubuntu guest VM for some GNU and F/OSS tools not available for native Windows for work. I added some of the tools in the MBA via MacPorts just in case.
The other stuff? Being on the domain means links I open in the email client open in IE 9. I can view and edit MS Visio and Project files that can’t be opened in OS X without expensive third-party software using software licenses already assigned to me. I can be permissive and allow opening of files in either environment. I can be restrictive and allow opening files only in one environment.
From the user experience angle, after logging into the VM guest I don’t think much about it. It works really well.