Once upon a time laptops were large, bulky and potentially useful as an alternative to carrying bricks in a rucksack for weight training. Enter, the netbook. These lighter devices capable of running various operating systems including Windows enabled us to now carry our work with us without back ache. Unfortunately most netbooks could not cope with the large and bloated operating system that is Windows and would struggle to run two programs at once without significantly heating up your lap and irritating your ears with whirring cooling fans. Netbooks have largely been replaced with ultrabooks with improved processor architectures, better construction (ie made from lighter materials) and solid state hard drives (etc) allowing lightweight laptops which actually work as well as desktop towers for basic applications.
However like many mid-technology changes (rememberer the mini disc?) what can one do with an old netbook? We could make use of some of these in the lab and run more customisable and useful operating systems such as linux. This could then be used to monitor and control some of the projects in the lab. Whilst old desktop computers are useful, they are fairly hefty and due to limited space, smaller devices such as netbooks would be preferred for automating laboratory experiments. If you had an old one that you don’t use I could make use of it, send me a message on twitter, contact me using the contact me form etc.