Every profession needs a toolkit, including bloggers and developers. Here is my hardware toolkit:
I built my own desktop out of off the shelf parts with good performance and lots of space. I actually do more gaming and stuff like that from this machine, though I do development work as well.
Working on a desktop is more comfortable since you can lean back on a chair and you have plenty of desk space to work with. It’s also the least expensive as you don’t care about portability and you can build something that matches $3000+ laptops for only $1000.
I never would have considered myself a Mac user in the past, but the battery of my previous laptop was dead. It still worked fine when plugged in, but I needed something that would be portable, as well as something a bit newer, so I have since given my laptop to charity and I decided to go for the Mac Air.
Why a Mac Air and not another cheap Dell or something like that? Even though the Air has had more of a hit to my balance sheet, There were a few reasons. Maybe Steve Jobs‘ passion has finally won me over into the dark side. 😉
Here are five things I like about the Mac Air:
- Light & portable. The Mac Air only weights a couple of pounds and it is very thin. This makes it easy to carry around.
- Mac OS-X means I can develop for iPhone without worrying about TOS violations or hacks. I am not planning to actually develop anything this instant, but I would like to learn more.
- Silent! Nothing annoys me more than a laptop with a loud fan spinning all of the time.
- Long battery life. Even when brand new my previous laptop only gave two and a half hours tops. The Mac Air can give up to 8 hours depending on what I’m doing. I’m not always next to a plug so this helps out a lot.
- Solid state drive (SSD)! This makes an unbelievable difference in terms of performance. Overall storage space is limited at 128GB, but for what I’m doing with the laptop that is still plenty. The added speed is a huge advantage, and during normal use this laptop feels as fast as my much more powerful desktop.
Surprisingly enough, the 13″ model has not proven cramped even for my large hands, though that is partly due to my forcing myself to learn to touch-type the correct way.
When I’m not using the laptop, I’ll use my phone to catch up on emails and blog posts. Replying to comments from a phone is a bit painful, but short replies to emails and starring stuff I’d like to follow up on later works out fine.
A quick session of Angry Birds or Train Conductor 2 helps to break up the day a bit, too. For more “studious” reasons, I even have a Chinese dictionary that helps me a lot when I’m in my Mandarin courses and trying to figure something out.
Pen & paper
Yes, the low-tech world is still important, even to a developer/blogger. 😉 I use paper all of the time to keep track of quick notes and make todo lists, as well as scheme out stuff that I am thinking about, but don’t yet have in concrete-enough terms to put into words. This is especially helpful when I’m working out how to solve a problem.
Backup & sync
With all of these tools, it’s important to keep regular backups. Thanks to the suggestions of Miss T from Prairie Eco-Thrifter, I am now using Crashplan and I backup both to their cloud and to my girlfriend’s laptop.
I also use Dropbox to keep my files in sync between two machines. I don’t sync everything — only the stuff I actually need in both places. I also use Truecrypt to protect my files from theft, and it works out well so long as I remember to close the volume on my desktop before opening it on the laptop, and vice-versa.
What tools do you use to get your work done? These expenses can add up, but I find it’s better to pay a bit more and get the quality you need to do your work efficiently and effectively. This can actually help you to cut expenses in the end.