Using the Z88

It's 7:40 in the morning, and in our infinite wisdom we were up till gone 1:00 am last night, so I've got that brain numbing feeling you get when you've not had enough sleep. Having read some of the manual last night for the Z88 I decided it would be a good idea to change the batteries - it relies on the main batteries to keep the data in the RAM packs and although the manual states that a good set of 4 x AAs will keep memory for a year I have no idea of the state of the batteries that it came with.

Writing this enty on the Z88 also implies that I'll be able to get a serial cable working and indeed be able to find the parts in the first place!

I just had a good look at the display and initially thought the right hand size, after the 80 columns of text being displayed was corrupted, but actually what I am seeing is a one-pixel per character preview of what my page will look like. Neat! Reminds me of 'back in the day' (although there is no reason not to do it now) when working on unix systems via the X-Window System interface I would set builds off and define a 'tiny' font that produced one bit per character for the listing window so I could see how the build was progressing. After a while you tended to get an idea of where you were just by the formation of bits on the display.

The other advantage of the Z88 which is obvious right from the start is 'instant on'. You turn the machine on and off by pressing the SHIFT keys simultaneously. It takes you back exactly to what you were typing. Excellent. Instant on has never quite got there in standard laptops - I can set my X60 to sleep when the lid closes, and it comes back fairly quickly when I open the lid again, but it takes it's toll on battery life over the course of a day, so you lose the convenience of having to be near a power adapter. I'm tempted with the Z88 to see how many places I can make use of the 'instant on' facility over using a standard laptop.

Other observations. Whilst using the word processor, if you get to the end of the bottom line and keep on typing the display seems to be corrupted in that previous lines of text are still visible over the line you are typing, but then when you pause the display corrects itself. I'm guessing that the designers of the software decided that the extra computation required to rearrange the lines on the screen should not interrupt text enty, so they deferred it until you stopped typing. Another neat feature - I expect to see plenty of those in a machine designed by Sir Clive. Right, time to make tea.