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Essential Technology

by vmbrasseur on August 10th, 2010

There are some bits of technology that I’ve come to rely on more than I’d care to admit. Some are there to help simplify my life, some just because they’re wicked cool…

  • My MacBook. Measuring a mere 13″, this is the most vital item I own right now. I admit I was conflicted when I first purchased it. You see, before this machine I had been running Linux exclusively (both at work and at home) for over eight years. I can’t recall what finally pushed me over to the Mac side of the fence but it’s a decision I’ve never regretted. I still run Linux at work and on my home server but it’s my MacBook which is my go-to machine. It travels with me most everywhere and has never let me down. In 2009 I got the flu and spent a week on the couch recuperating and watching movies. At the end of the week I recognized that most of the movies were watched on my MacBook rather than the TV/DVD player in the corner so I got rid of both and opened up a lot of space in my living room. Entertainment center, communication hub, library, mobile office… This machine is vital to my existence. That said, it’s still disposable because of…
  • Dropbox. Dropbox is a service which gives you at least 2GB of free space in the cloud. Files placed here can be accessed either from the Dropbox website or from any other computer where you install their application. It integrates perfectly into your operating system (I use it on Linux, Mac and–on one machine at the office–on Windows), looking and acting exactly like any other folder/directory. All important files on my MacBook are saved either to my Dropbox or to my home server, meaning that if my MacBook were suddenly to die tomorrow I lose nothing but easily-replaced hardware. I’m so satisfied with this service that I recommend Dropbox to everyone I know (sign up via that link and I’ll get another .25GB free…just sayin’…).
  • RememberTheMilk.com (aka RTM) is my go to reminder system. Someone suggests a book I need to read? Drop it into RTM. Deliverables from a meeting? RTM. Projects I want to work on some day? RTM. Blog post ideas? RTM. It manages to do everything I need while still being simple and, thanks to the iPhone app, it’s available everywhere I am. This web app runs my life. With it at my side there’s nothing I can’t do. The only two flaws with it are self-inflicted. #1: You must remember to enter everything into it. If you don’t then you will forget that thing. #2: You must remember to check RTM. If you don’t it’s doubtful it’ll do you any good at all.
  • I can hide it no more. I have to come out of the closet: I have an unnatural love for my iPhone 4. Yes, I adore this tiny machine with a passion that burns like a Norwegian in the Bahamas. Owning an iPhone has changed several of my behaviors. I no longer look up maps in advance (or worry much about getting lost). I’ve switched most of my personal email to my Gmail account. I now carry headphones with me wherever I go and never lack for a personal soundtrack. It. Is Awesome. That said, it is a guilty pleasure for me. As someone who espouses The Open Source Way it is hypocritical of me to own (let alone adore) such a closed platform as the iPhone but I just can’t help myself. Android, you’re nice and all but the iPhone is nice and dead sexy to boot. Hard to top that.
  • My Kobo eReader arrived only a week ago and it’s already become an essential part of my life. Why the Kobo? No frills, just reading. I don’t need 3G and wifi and touch screens and keyboards. I just need to load up an e-ink reader with some books and read them. The Kobo does this perfectly. It’s light, it has plenty of space (so far 😉 ), it’s comfortable to handle and to stare at for hours. This device is allowing me to rid my house of dozens of books that have been sitting here, unread for years and taking up space. Don’t get me wrong: I still love real solid meatspace books but I won’t allow myself to buy them anymore as they just take up space. Now, with Kobo, I can once again accumulate books to my heart’s desire.

If I had to pick only one of these things though, it would be the MacBook. It’s my desert island technology (assuming that island has some rock solid wifi…).

From → Simplification

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