Suppose you find yourself in a hotel in the West's most dangerous country. It's the weekend, and you've managed not to become a homicide statistic, despite the fact that you've not been in the state long enough to legally qualifiy for the AK47 that you need to protect yourself (that takes a whole week). More importantly, there's no prospect of getting home alive or dead, since someone's seen fit to let off a volcano in Iceland.
You're sure that unprovoked discharge of lava and ash must be in violation of International Law. Didn't they sign some treaty a few years back in Iceland? You can't remember, but it might have been one of those VALT (Volcanic Arms Limitation Treaty) things. Or was it? You could really do with internet access to answer these vital questions.
In addition, one of the local TV channels is showing hours of "Law and Order SVU" in the evenings, and (never having seen Law and Order before) you want to find out who that rather nice looking Assistant DA is.
Yes, internet access would be really useful. But wait... the hotel has free wireless. And one of those shops you passed on the way to the gun store was selling cheap computers. A place called Best Buy. It was full of geeky looking types, so it must be okay. You only hope they won't make you wait a week to get one.
Half an hour later, you're back in the hotel room with your new acquisiton. Half an hour after that you've gone back to Best Buy to get some headphones. Another 30 minutes and you're watching the Aimilia Hour, and you're learning to stop worrying and love the volcano. Or at least to not feel quite so isolated.
This is the EEE PC 1005HA. It's got 1GB of memory, and a 160GB hard drive. It's a lot easier to lug around than either a full-sized laptop or a dictionary, and it would have cost me about £200, but I got it for zero Pounds, because they let me have it for 300 of their Monopoly style funny money. They originally said it was going to be even less than that, but then they added tax. They like doing that. You can't even get a burger at the advertised price. I'm sure that taxing burgers is violating some Constitutional Right or something.
It came with Windows XP. This meant that before I could get onto the internet to check if my plane was flying and send hilariously witty emails to various people (apparently Bee laughed so hard she had to buy a new pair of jeans), I had to decide whether I wanted to update my system, whether I wanted to sit through a sales pitch for IE (the only options are to watch it now or later), whether I wanted to delete unused icons from my desktop, and delete the stupid popup box that informed me I'd just plugged in headphones (like I had done it in my sleep or something and needed to be told).
Needless to say, as soon as I was back home, I installed Ubuntu. They do a "Netbook Remix", which is designed to make better use of the small screen. I wasn't sure I'd want this rather than the normal desktop environment, but it's really rather good.
Now, if you'll excuse me I've got rather a lot of Law and Order box sets to get through (I'm still only on 1990)...
No doubt you're wondering about that volcano treaty. And what the US Constitution has to say about burger taxation. I was going to look it up after I'd finished searching for Diane Neal pictures... And I'm still intending look it up when I've finished...