In all likelihood, I will be applying this year for an NSF postdoc at the University of British Columbia under Izabella Laba starting Fall 2011. We’re interested in the same problems, and I’ve never been anyplace with better food. The weather is nice – the only thing that could make it more ideal is if jazz clubs started opening up there spontaneously. Of course I’ll be making more applications to more places to work with more people I’d like to work with.

I have two out of three letters of reference lined up, but I still need suggestions for a third. If there’s anyone who’s more familiar with my work than I may realize who would be a good choice, please let me know. I have some ideas, but it’s not an obvious decision yet.

I’m thinking about getting a new laptop or netbook. (PC only, see number 9.) I’d have this discussion on Facebook, but initial posts are limited to something ridiculous like 400 characters. Fermat would’ve had a blast.
Anyway, here’s what I’m looking for, roughly:
1. Something that actually runs for 8 hours on battery power in real life for years without it going bad because you plugged it in at 80% a few times is more or less what I’m after.
2. Something that doesn’t lock up for 30 seconds at a time would be great. This rules out almost every computer I’ve ever dealt with, but I’d like to make this mandatory anyway.
3. Wireless is mandatory but pretty much a given feature of any new laptop or netbook anyway.
4. It shouldn’t come bundled with stupid harassware and extraneous garbage that you can never truly uninstall. (Before my HP Pavillion broke recently, the Welcome Center had a purely cosmetic checkbox labeled “launch Welcome Center at startup. This computer also failed at (2), and by the time it finally broke, the battery failed at (1) so miserably that about all the battery could handle was keeping my computer alive just barely long enough to plug the computer in again if it happened to get unplugged.)
5. And it shouldn’t be a pain to get the drivers updated or whatever to do what they’re supposed to.
6. A DVD/CD drive would be nice, but I could do without. (I recently found out that often a laptop with no internal CD drive is called a “netbook”, but this doesn’t seem to be a strict rule. I’ve seen “laptops” with no CD drive, but I haven’t seen netbooks with CD drives, so I don’t know what’s up with that.)
7. Lightweight would be good. I can still see fairly well still, but I don’t want to lose resolution. I guess 1024 x whatever on a 10′ or 11′ screen would probably be fine. Something with great battery life is probably lightweight already.
8. Money… If the mandatories (1-4) are covered, then a small hit in the RAM and/orĀ  hard drive and/or processor department(s) would probably be an acceptable way of saving 500-1000 dollars compared to something else.
9. I’m not getting an Apple. If your laptops usually come with a single giant left-click button that looks like a spacebar, then you’re a clown. I’m sure there are ways of getting an Apple and getting around this, but it’s such a conspicuous default that I imagine that this kind of foolishness would come up later in other places I haven’t thought to look yet, and I’m not ready for the devil I don’t know just yet.

The Sony Vaio X, for example, satisfies all of this and then some (minus the CD drive), but is kind of pricey. It also has a built-in camera and microphone, which might be great, but I don’t know how often I’d use it in practice. And the Vaio W loses the camera and GPS and other stuff and more or less looks like (8). But the battery life of the W is advertised as 7 or 8 depending on settings, which probably means after 6 months it’ll be more like 3 to 5 hours, and then I’d be sad, so I’m thinking no.

Alright, discuss.