Who am I and what do I do?
I am an unashamed geek, co-hosting a technology podcast called DigitalOutbox. Give it a try, especially if you are in the UK as we focus on tech stories affecting the UK…and tend to stay away from rumours unlike soooo many other tech podcasts out there..
Technology, gadgets and gaming are some of my main interests alongside the usual suspects and in the last few years I’ve been trying to lose weight and gain a bit of fitness. Health issues have impacted over the last year but I like to get out and run or walk a few times a week in all weathers, especially winter. Nothing beats a run on a freezing cold morning.
Where else can I be found?
I love The Setup which is a great site which details the technology and software that people use to get their job done, so much so that I’ve copied the format below. Enjoy.
What hardware do I use?
At work I use an HP Elitebook 840 laptop alongside an 2 Dell widescreen monitors to give me a three screen setup. The laptop is pretty good and gets the job done…mostly. Still on Windows 7 although 10 coming soon. Mobile needs are met by an iPhone 6s Plus and some pretty clunky software from Blackberry buts it’s a big step forward compared to the old Nokia I was used to.
At home I primarily I use a 2011 27″ Apple iMac along with an ASUS PB278Q 27″ monitor. The iMac is my second Apple desktop and never really misses a beat for the type of work I throw at it. I only added the second monitor after a couple of years and really appreciate the extra room. This gives me an overall desktop of 5120 x 1440 and I appreciate and use every pixel. The iMac has an SSD and the difference to boot times, app launch times and overall snappiness means I will never buy a device without an SSD or flash drives in the future. While I use and like the Apple Trackpad I have never liked any of the Apple mice that I’ve tried. Golden rule – buy a Logitech. Also, don’t buy a Drobo. I did and regret it – expensive and proprietary.
For storage I use a Synology DS415+ which has been excellent. Filled with 4 4TB drives I’;ve got plenty of storage, redundancy and is excellent for cloning files from the cloud, backing up my Mac’s and housing my Plex library.
My mobile needs are met by a number of devices which are increasingly overlapping in their capabilities. I use a 2012 13″ Apple Macbook Air which I love. Fast, light and does everything I need of it. I have a 64GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air which is getting slightly old in the tooth. I’ve resisted upgrading to any of the iPad Pro’s but 2016 could see me consolidate MacBook Air and iPad and just have one. Finally I have a 128GB iPhone 7, black of course. It goes everywhere with me, it’s so fast and the camera with image stabilisation is very impressive. I also use an Apple Watch Series 1 which is much more usable with watchOS 3.
For podcasting I use a Rode Podcaster which is a nice USB microphone although I’ve had to add a pop filter to help with the audio quality.
For 5 years I had a Canon DSLR but in August 2015 I bought a Fuji X-T1 and have never looked back. I recently bought the Fuji X-T2 and now have four lenses. The XF16mmF1.4 (most used lens), the XF56mmF1.2 R (so good), the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR and finally the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR (the beast). The Fuji camera and lenses are fantastic. Easy to use but so much flexibility.
For the last year I’ve had a Phantom 3 Professional drone from DJI. It’s a great product but it’s size is limiting as well as the constant nag that people mistrust drones. One of the smaller drones from GoPro or DJI could be the next best thing for me. I’ve also got a Sonus system around the house and recently picked up some Philips Hue lights which are so good.
And what software?
On the Mac I use Sublime Text 2 for writing, scripting and initial note taking. Safari is now my goto browser. No need of rFlash, Chrome is now a bit of a hog and the syncing of bookmarks and open tabs across the Mac platform via iCloud is a winner. Tweetbot is the only way to use Twitter. I use Dropbox to sync between Mac’s and iOS and have moved my document store to Dropbox as it’s reliable and offers a simple version history when required. I use SuperDuper! to create fully bootable backups which has saved me more than once. I don’t use Time Machine – doesn’t really fit my workflow and I don’t trust it.
Evernote has been ditched and now use Apple Notes to store text, pdf’s, notes, idea’s – anything. I use iTunes and Apple Music but only for music. Podcasts are handled by Overcast but my main media manager and player is Plex. Such a great app and service.
I use NewsBlur combined with Readkit on the Mac to keep up with RSS feeds. Many talk about RSS being dead but it’s still an essential format for me helping to manage busy tech sites through to the infrequent bloggers that don’t tweet their latest posts. Pocket is my reading list, Pinboard is my link dump. I’m using Google Docs a lot, from my own documents to the podcast show notes. Gives 95% of what I need from an office tool and it’s available everywhere with great collaboration tools. I also love Fantastical as a front end to iCal.
On the Mac I’m also using 1Password to keep me secure, Todoist to keep me organised, Lightroom to manage my photographs, Sketch and Pixelmator when I need to noodle some graphics, journal in Day One, F.lux to save my eyes, Transmit to get files online, Transmission, Unison and Handbrake to help with my media library and finally Alfred to launch app’s and files – invaluable.
On iOS many of my day to day app’s are also mentioned in the Mac section but Instagram and Lightroom are must have’s along with Unread, Goodreader and Dark Sky. As for iOS games, Carcassonne and Words with Friends have been long term favourites but I do love endless runners and fast reaction games like Boson X, Super Hexagon and Impossible Road.
What would be my perfect, ultimate setup?
I love my setup although it could do with some simplification and modernisation. The Mac’s are getting on a bit so I can see 2017 being the year to replace the iMac and replace the Air and iPad with one device – an iPad or MacBook but not sure on which. That would also mean everything retina so a need for a new retina screen to go with the iMac. I’d also like to move to a 4k TV alongside the new consoles…and maybe dip my toe back into gaming PC’s so I can take advantage of a Vive or Oculus but only when the market settles down.
The big change I’d like is a step change in broadband upload speeds. As of the end of 2016 I have 200Mb down and 10Mb up. I’d much rather have equivalent down and up speeds. One day perhaps, one day.
What about this site?
I’ve ran this site on WordPress since July 2003. Previous to that was a three year stint using my own HTML skills and Movable Type (and yes the posts weren’t worth bringing over to the new site). I’ve used a variety of hosts over the years, currently with Dreamhost as they are quick enough, have features I need and I’m happy with the price.
Last updated September 2016.