No Apple Netbook Yet? Hack Your Own MacBook 'Cloud'

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So I'm pretty excited about today's post. Dan Nystedt says Apple doesn't get netbooks. Probably true, but I think Apple should skip to cloudbooks. Last week I set myself up with a bad, bad new $200 MacBook Cloud. Sound too good to be true? It is indeed hard fact. More importantly, I'm going to share the secret sauce so you can get yourself one of these fabulous devices.

So what's a cloudbook? A notebook optimized for using cloud services, of course.

[ Read Dan Nystedt's post on why Apple may miss out on the biggest device trend since the smartphone because, absent Steve Jobs, other execs don't seem to grasp future product trends ]

For me, this started when a buddy showed me his Hacintosh. He had picked up a used, non-Apple laptop for about $300 and installed Mac OS X on it. If you're an Apple fan or a Darwin project participant, you're well aware of this possibility. The Gizmodo guys upped the stakes in February when they hackintoshed a Dell Mini 9 into what they called "the Ultimate OS X Netbook."

For the record, the instructions they posted absolutely rock, and it's incredibly easy to create one of these yourself. I love my Gizmodo peeps, but may I be so bold as to suggest a small improvement: Why stop with a netbook when you could have a MacBook Cloud? I didn't think it would be too hard to take this hack to the next level by taking advantage of some cloud services.

I grabbed a Dell Mini 9 off a friend and got to work. No rocket science involved. A couple of add-ons later, I had a sweet little machine that I'm happier with than any computer I've ever owned. I had a little jolt of inspiration when I saw my buddy's Mini 9 running Mac OS X. Why not finally use that silly MobileMe cloud-synchronization account I bought from Apple? Seriously, I like being able to share contacts across my machines, but outside of that the service was damn near useless. My idea was to modify the OS to send only safe files to (MobileMe's address). I travel a lot and sometimes go to some pretty sketchy places, so I figured a cloudbook that cost me $200 and is incapable of saving personal data to its local hard drive would be the ultimate travel solution.

Think about that. You're traveling with your new MacBook Cloud, which potentially cost less than your cell phone, and your machine is lost/stolen/missing/whatever. Are you worrying about the sensitive data you're working on? Nope. Your data is still safe and accessible. Are you upset about the 200 bones? Probably, but that number pales in comparison to most business notebooks and isn't even in the same ballpark with losing your secret plans for world domination. Are you worried about someone hacking your password? Not even. Just log into your account and change the password. Ta-da! You've now taken a potentially disastrous experience and eliminated all the risk for $200. You wouldn't even break a sweat if customs confiscated it on your way back into the country.

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