Thursday, 17 December 2020

Technology and me in 2020

 Every year or so, I write a little report on how my use of technology has changed.

This year has been, shall we say, different from preceding years - here's how things have changed since 2019.

The successes

The new laptop I bought back in 2019 continues to deliver as does the Thinkpad Yoga, which has turned out to be a useful second machine, even though I have not used it as extensively as I might have in a normal year. 

The same can be said of my old Thinkpad - adding a linux partition increased its usefulness during lockdown, but honestly I've not been using it as frequently as I might have been if Dow's Pharmacy documentation project was not in covid-limbo.

However, it's being on Windows 7 is increasingly a pain and I might look at upgrading it Windows 10 after all.

The undoubted success is my Huawei mediapad - excellent battery life, good screen, etc. I've ended up using it more than I expected and not just for viewing images of old documents - a genuinely useful purchase.

Hanging in there

My chromebook, which went end of life back in March 2019 continues to soldier on, even if it does grind a bit on occasions.

I'd probably have replaced it by now, but with lockdown, shortages and inflated prices it simply didn't make sense to do so while it still worked.

Likewise, I still have my 2011 vintage MacBook Air which still makes an excellent travel computer, especially since I replaced the battery. However, like the chromebook, it will have to be replaced sooner or later, probably by a lightweight Windows 10S machine.

While I took a load of old tablets to the recycling, I hung onto my various old netbooks and laptops that had linux installed on them. In time I need to rationalise the stable, but the time is not yet.

Despite my purchase of the Mediapad, the ipad mini and keyboard combo continues to grow in usefulness as a note taking machine, not that I've been anywhere much to take notes, but it's the ideal size to have on the sofa while reading something.

Domestic technology

2020 opened with smoke and bushfires, and the situation was so dire that I resorted to buying an air purifier. Apart from its slightly odd internet setup it worked well and did the job. So far, we havn't needed it this year, except for a weekend when the fire mangement people did some back burning.

Like everyone, we've watched a lot more TV this year, and our Fetch box with its extra channels and easy access to Netflix certainly eased the ennui of lockdown. Apart from some glitches in April at the start of lockdown, our network connection held up well through everything.

Sometimes I think that I'm the only person in Australia not to have used Zoom. Facetime yes, Skype yes, Zoom, no. However my partner in crime has made extensive use of it for everything from art workshops and life drawing to yoga classes, so much so that I ended up tracking down a good quality refurbished laptop for her principally for zoom sessions from her art studio and when lying on the loungeroom floor for online yoga.

Software and operating systems

It's still basically the Microsoft ecology. I've almost stopped using OS X totally, and even when I use my MacBook Air, I basically use it as if it was a highend chromebook, albeit one with a few extra editing tools installed.

Strangely, my use of linux came back a bit when I wanted to experiment with some things, including a half built omeka installation to showcase some of the Dow's project work. Half built because the second lockdown in Victoria caused me to lose momentum a bit and since then the Trust has invested in a new corporate repository and asset management solution.

I still haven't taken my old Inspiron to the disposal centre, I have xubuntu installed on it and sometimes the slightly larger screen comes in useful when playing with image editing software, much in the same way that my old hopelessly out of date 2008 vintage imac with its 21" screen can be incredibly useful when looking at digitised documents.

In the ideal world I might replace both of them with a decent refurbished desktop and dual screen solution, but for the moment I'll continue to make do ...