Saturday, 14 December 2019

2019 - what worked

For a long time I used to write a 'what worked' review of my personal use of technology in the preceding year.

Since I retired (almost exactly four years ago now) posting has been a little erratic with the last post being in August 2018, so I thought it was time for an update.

The success

I finally bought myself a new computer back in March and it's been an undoubted success, quick, fast, reliable - no comparison with my old Dell Inspiron

The not so much a success

My chromebook had gone end of life and my Macbook battery was seriously showing its age, so back in April I bought myself a second hand Yoga 11e. It's been a success as a second take to meetings laptop (yes I still go to meetings occasionally) but compared to my old Macbook Air it's still a bit on the heavy side. I don't regret the purchase, it's a useful versatile machine, but it's simply just not as light as my old Air, so much so that I've just paid out for a replacement battery for the air while I look for a sensible lightweight replacement

Hanging in there

The old Thinkpad X230 continues on as a useful workhorse, principally used for for family history work and for storing a second local copy of my work on Dow's Pharmacy. My coffee mediated disaster earlier this year taught me the value of having a second machine available as a backup.

While it's older, and is still Windows 7 based, the 500GB disk is big enough to store a local copy of  the family history database and associated documentation, as well as a second copy of the Dow's documentation.

Having a local copy has made it possible to get things done when I didn't have local access.

And of course coupling this with OneNote and Onedrive has of course meant that any new material saved locally is automatically uploaded as soon as the network becomes available.

This has also proved to be one of the problems with the Yoga - at 128GB its SSD is a little too small to comfortably store a copy of everything I've got on OneDrive.

My really old imac continues to be useful by dint of its large screen, which is ideal for viewing and transcribing scans of old documents, so while obviously there will come a time when it starts to suffer from software rot, everything is still at a recent enough version to be highly usable.

Not quite so useful

The iPad mini and keyboard combo I put together last year hasn't turned out to be quite as useful as I thought it would be.  I don't regret its purchase, its been incredibly useful on some occasions, but my work patterns have remained more computer focussed than I expected, hence my search for a light, versatile and cost effective windows machine. Currently it seems that you can have any two of these if you are on a budget, but not all three.

Other Changes

I've gone from using a Samsung Galaxy to an iPhone which has meant some changes in my work on the documentation project, mainly using a camera in place of the Samsung to take pictures of the artefacts.

Software and operating systems

Basically it's been Windows and the Microsoft ecology, with OS X and iOS playing aminor supporting role. While I still use Google docs for those living documents I have in docs, my use of the Google world has dropped right off since I made the change away from Android tablets and phones.

The other thing that's gone is my use of Linux. I always used to argue that software choice to a large extent dictates operating system choice and its true - my need for One Note and Evernote, not to mention OneDrive has forced me to abandon the use of linux in favour of windows.

Perversely, some of the genealogy software I use is designed to run on Linux, with the windows version being very much a follow on.

I've never got around to building a virtual machine to run it on - perhaps I should - to see how much better performance is. I have thought about converting my X230 to linux with the end of Windows 7 support next month, but the advantages of having a second machine to slot in are such I'll probably keep it windows until the end of the pharmacy documentation project.

That said I need to do something about getting rid of my old Inspiron. I havn't powered it up for about 9 months so I'm guessing that there's nothing on it I really need. Perhaps before I wipe it and take it to the eWaste disposal centre I'll stick linux on it and see how useful (or not) it is and how the genealogy software runs natively on an old machine ...

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