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Very low power personal computing, a thread 

Thinking about what would be a happy combination of devices and computers for a really useful (and also fun, this is important too) person computing setup geared towards maximum utility and minimum computer/energy requirements. Clearly this is somewhat inspired by my recently renewed interest in PDAs. PDAs were way up the charts of utility/resources ratio.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

They also allowed for asynchronous communication with the periodic syncing concept which I think is a really good compromise of connectivity and limiting energy needs.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

Paired with a very low powered arm SBC board server or maybe even something less powerful. Maybe it could even be intermittently powered to further reduce the energy needs of that device. Or maybe a low powered SBC that doubles as a desktop computer to reduce your overall number of devices and thus energy usage.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

My Odroid HC2 servers are pretty low powered but I think there are other options that would be even less power hungry. Of course the least power hungry personal computing setup is achieved by really limiting your overall devices to the minimum needed. Not have dozens of low power devices. I struggle with this concept because I'm a huge geek.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

There is also no single answer to this thought experiment. We all have different needs/wants from a personal computing environment.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@kelbot HC2 is good... gonna be hard to beat that power consumption as long as you are not using spinning rust.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@thegibson True. Not having a fan running constantly helps too. It's probably one of the lowest power and modern/powerful enough to cover most anyone's personal needs.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@kelbot I love mine.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@thegibson Me too! They've been super reliable and silent workhorses.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@thegibson The stacking is an awesome design too. I was kind of sad they went away from that with the HC4.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@kelbot Another alternative or angle is: Use a given power budget, say a battery charge (recharging through solar power).

How far do you need to get with a day's worth of sunlight?

Can you adapt to the supply? Does your UI degrade in a meaningful way to use less power?

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@kelbot

Kobo e-ink readers have really long battery life and (some anyway) can be hacked to run Linux. Add a keyboard to the USB port and put them on opposite sides of a folding case and you'd have a big-pocket-sized computer.

You'd probably need to run it in console mode but that's arguably a feature.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@suetanvil @kelbot I wonder whether trying to recreate something like the Tandy Portable 100 (which ran DOS with very low power requirements — literally AA’s) is a good goal. I have an old Quickpad that was used in schools for touch typing / word processing classes. Can’t run software itself but can beam documents over IR. Keyboard is nice and almost full sized. Hacking in an ARM CPU and eink display would be neat.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@suetanvil @kelbot along these lines, I am reminded of clockworkpi.com/ but I prefer lisperaticomputers.com/ . And I still want an eink screen even if it is slow. I usually think slower than I need a text console to update anyways.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@mathiasx @kelbot

I hadn't heard about the Lisperati before; thanks for the link.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@mathiasx @kelbot

I have a Tandy 100, actually. When I used it decades back as a portable word processor, I got weeks of use out of one set of disposable batteries.

The modem port also functions as an RS-232 interface and the device itself has a built-in terminal emulator so it should be relatively straightforward to use as the console for an ARM SBC.

There's probably enough space in the case for a Pi0, modern battery and glue hardware.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@kelbot i know this is a really vanilla response .. buit i would say get a mid range laptop peak power from the wall is gona be like 30 wats OTB and you can then optimise that with stuff like power save settings, undervolting (if you can) , if your in an off grid situation you can also look at powering it directly from a 12v line or a boost circuit too to further improve your efficiency

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@swordsie That could be a good way to go if a laptop is your preferred method of personal computing. There are lots of ways to go about a low power personal computing setup. Going for a used but somewhat modern and low power laptop would be a good way. Avoiding the energy and resource extraction of producing new laptops.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@kelbot I need to get an earier serial based palm that works with my omnibook.

Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@kelbot What sorts of programs do you tend to want to write? I've been reflecting on what sorts of things computers are actually good for, and have a hard time coming up with examples. So I'm curious what utility looks like to you.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@akkartik I think about this a lot 😁 @kelbot

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@requiem @kelbot Here's what I came up with after I wrote my question (which for some reason didn't come together in the weeks before):

- Look up human information. Wikipedia. Textbooks. Charts. Howto videos.
- Consume art. Music. Movies.
- Talk to people without regard to geography.
- Ways to slice and dice all of the above (since it's a lot of stuff)
- Create things for others to consume.

re: Very low power personal computing, a thread 

@akkartik @requiem That is a pretty good list IMO! I would add a few more things.

-Games of all sorts
-Organization (calendar, contacts, task lists...)
-News

I hesitate to list this next one.

-Socializing

Computers CAN be a great way of socializing even though common ways of doing that these days are terrible. I'm thinking marginalized people and niche communities where a real local community may not exist.

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