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What I Use

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Updated December 2017 – Updated laptop, tablet, media players, backup, and podcasts.

Mike's DeskIf 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.


Apple MacBook Pro (early 2015). After dealing with way too many PC/Windows related issues on a seemingly constant basis, I decide to switch to Mac for my primary computer. It’s been over a year, and I’m happy with my decision. Macs are not perfect, but they are more predictable. And that makes them more dependable.

Apple MacBook Air (mid-2012). I really like this computer. It’s terrific. It’s light, sturdy, and travels exceptionally well. As I write this at the end of 2017, this laptop is holding up like a champ running macOS Sierra.

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 pretty well for writing and sketching.


Apple iPad Pro 10.5 (2017). I bought this along with an Apple Pencil mainly for drawing. I’d been waiting for technology to allow for a smooth drawing experience, and I have tried a few solutions only to be disappointed. The iPad Pro and Pencil met and exceeded my expectations, especially for palm rejection. It’s nearly perfect. And that helps for note taking, too.

For drawing and sketching, I prefer Procreate. For notes, I like Microsoft OneNote.


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.


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 4K. It took a while for Apple to get to 4K and HDR, but their solution is solid. The remote is odd, but it’s not the disaster I’ve seen reported in other reviews. One nice thing about its setup: I can use the remote to control volume on my Bose sound bar. Not expected but much appreciated.


Apple TimeMachine. It’s built into macOS, and it’s a solid solution for backup and digging out previous versions of files.

BackBlaze. Nowadays, you need to have more than remote file sync, you need a full backup service with versioning. BackBlaze offers what I need at a reasonable cost.


I use Downcast for iOS to subscribe and listen to audio and video podcasts.

Daily Tech News Show – Host Tom Merritt is the 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. The talented Sarah Lane recently joined as co-host.

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?

Lore – Macabre and engaging. Aaron Manhke produces a well researched and thought provoking podcast about the roots of mankind’s dark psyche.

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