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What I Use

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Updated January 2017 – Updated computer and podcasts.

Mike's Desk

If you’re going to read a blog in which the author goes on and on about living better with the tech you own, then it’s reasonable to think you’re curious about the tech that author uses. This page will give you a clue.

Desktop Computer

I’m no longer using a desktop computer.

Laptop

Apple MacBook Pro (early 2015) After dealing with way to many PC/Windows related issues on a seemingly constant basis, I decide to switch to Mac for my primary computer. At least for a while.

Apple MacBook Air (mid-2012). I really like this computer. It’s terrific. It’s light, sturdy, and travels exceptionally well.

HP Spectre x360. It’s a premium Windows computer with a vibrant touchscreen. It’s nearly the same as the MacBook Air, but it weighs just a tad more. I also bought a Dell Active Stylus and it works great for writing and sketching.

Tablet

I no longer use a tablet device. My iPhone 6s Plus does a fine job.

eReader

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Gen). This eReader is terrific. The touch controls are intuitive and the screen is crisp and clean. The glow of the screen is pleasant since it does not shine into your eyes like an LCD screen. I really like that you don’t have to turn the screen glow on and off. It’s just on. And the battery life is measured in weeks, and I use it about an hour or so per day. The WhisperSync technology synchronizes where you left off reading to all your other Kindle devices and apps. It also can synchronize between Kindle and Audible books that support the feature. So you can listen during your commute and read when you get home.

Phones

Apple iPhone 6s Plus. Previously, I had assumed that I would never want a behemoth phone with large screen and clumsy form factor. Well, I was wrong. This large-screen phone is great. And the additional features that iOS offers the Plus models of the iPhone are really useful. The two-pane email and Messages interface make managing these things a breeze. The Touch ID is borderline too fast. I can never see the lockscreen notifications, so I’m training myself to turn on the screen with a finger that’s not programmed into Touch ID. And the camera takes beautiful photos and videos.

MP3/Media Players

Apple TV (3rd Gen) . While it offers fewer apps and channels than, say, Roku, the Apple TV streams my iTunes collection without setting and maintaining some weird configuration (DLNA is voodoo magic). I can also use AirPlay to stream content from my iPhone, iPod, and MacBook Air to the TV just by tapping or clicking a button.

Backup

I have developed a two phase approach to data backup. I use Office 365 mainly to have unlimited access to OneDrive. This synchronization service is not perfect, but it works very well for me. I have my primary computer set to backup my entire data collection. This includes pictures, movies, music, and documents. Then I have subsets of this collection syncing to my MacBook Air and HP Spectre x360. It’s very handy. When I need the files, they’re just there.

I also use an Seagate Slim external hard drive. Its 2TB capacity holds everything I have. Your mileage may vary. I backup my OneDrive collection using the Seagate backup software about once per week. Then I store the drive in a fire resistant safe. I actually added this second layer of protection when a family member ended up with ransomware that maliciously encrypted that computer’s data. And then that data synced up to OneDrive. So OneDrive didn’t save the day. Granted, OneDrive is not designed as a backup service. Lesson learned, and I sleep a lot better at night.

Podcasts

Daily Tech News Show – Host Tom Merritt is the most King of Tech News Podcasting. He’s smooth, clear, and oozes integrity. He has hosted many tech podcasts for other organizations (TechTV, Cnet, and TWiT), and now manages his own productions.

Windows Weekly – Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott are the undisputed gurus on all things Microsoft from consumer to enterprise topics, and they’re both on this weekly netcast with Leo Laporte.

Security Now – Host Steve Gibson discusses advanced tech security topics in a way anyone can understand each week. You need to listen to him!

Apple Byte – Cnet’s Brian Tong hosts a quirky, weekly Apple-centric show. I like it because Tong will celebrate and criticize as appropriate.

Joel Osteen Podcast – I’m no bible-thumper, and I don’t get hypnotized by people who claim to represent God. But this guy shares a decent sermon, and we can all use a little spirituality, right?

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