Tech: What I Use at Home and on the Road

As the local tech nerd, I get asked fairly often what tech I use, locally and when on the road.  The list changes with time, and here is the list as of the end of 2012.

Desktop Computer


I use a 2011 iMac as my desktop, where most of my computing is done.  I have a second 2011 iMac that doubles as both a backup drive and a second monitor, when I need to Command F2 my way into some dual monitor goodness.  I looked at the new iMacs, but there’s nothing compelling enough about them to force me to upgrade.  I also like having the built-in DVD drive.  DVDs are sort of like the police.   You don’t think much about them until you need them, and when you need them you usually need them badly.


I absolutely love my magic trackpad.  I like having a number pad, so I use the usb Apple keyboard in lieu of the wireless one.  I still find the Apple keyboards a little small.

Hey, there’s my cuz and my favorite game of all time, in the same video

I started out on a Mac, went to Windows for many years, then ended up back on a Mac.  With the arrival of Lion/Mountain Lion, I can say this without reservation: there is simply no reason for the typical computer user to use anything other than a Mac.  They are not perfect (I just had to do a clean OS install on my second iMac to fix a target mode issue I was having), but they are as close to perfect as a computer can be.


I use a 2011 13 inch MacBook Air as my only laptop.  I was afraid 13 inches would seem too small, but it doesn’t.  It’s light, fast and powerful.  Cassidy has a newish MacBook Pro, and while it’s nice, there’s nothing it can do that my little Air can’t. I may upgrade in a year or two, but again there’s nothing about my laptop that feels old.


ipadminiI have a next to last generation iPad that I use for general tablet stuff and a new iPad Mini that serves as my bedside Kindle replacement.  I find that I don’t use the full size iPad very often when at home.  I use it more when on the road.  I use the iPad Mini every night to play Words with Friends and Draw Something, and to read a little.  It never leaves my bedside, but it is indispensable.

Yes, I tried an Android tablet.  It sucked.  Sorry.  The amazing part was how bad Gmail was on it.  I’m sure they have gotten better, but the fact that you never know when and if your device will be upgraded and to what, is a deal stopper for me.  I also tried a Surface RT.  It’s not really useable in its current state, but as I noted in the earlier post, the Surface Pro is going to be a player in the tablet space.


I use an iPhone 5 every day, all day long.  It’s the first phone-like device that has felt like a pocket computer to me.  I can’t really say why.  It just does.



I use my iPhone 5 for lots of day to day stuff, but make no mistake- its camera is not on par with most dedicated cameras.  I get a lot of blur.  I have a Canon EOS 60D, which I should use a lot more than I do.  It takes phenomenal photos and videos, but it is big.  Big, I tell you.  For videos, I still use my trusty Sony HDR-CX360V.  It works great with iMovie and takes good video.


I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M.  But the Mac software is not even close to as good as the Windows version.  So I’m still looking for a good scanning platform.  I tried iDocument, but didn’t like it.  I think we are still waiting on the killer Mac scanning solution.


I use a ton of software on a regular basis.  Here’s a run down of the stuff I use the most.

Documents: Office for Mac.  Google Docs is better than it used to be, but not good enough for business use.  I’ve never used the Apple apps, nor has anyone else I trade documents with regularly.

Photos: Instagram (with uploads to Flickr, which is my primary online photo repository); iPhoto, which is reason enough to switch to a Mac.  Photoshop, to make logos and whatnot.

Videos: iMovie, even more than Final Cut Pro, which is supposedly so much more powerful; YouTube has become my only online repository.

Notes: Evernote.  There is no substitute.

Music:  Spotify mostly.  Google Music would be great but for the 20,000 song limit.  iTunes still sucks, just not as much.  VLC is awesome for playing local files.  I listen to on the web.

Blogging:  The WordPress web app, and sometimes the iPhone one.  I had to abandon Live Writer when I deleted Parallels.  I use BBEdit when doing html.

Zipping and unzipping: I use StuffIt.

FTP: I don’t use it much now that I’ve moved to WordPress.Com, but FileZilla is the best FTP app I’ve found.

Cloud: Dropbox (you and I each get free space if you sign up via this link) and Box.  I dumped SugarSync in favor of a local backup via a Time Capsule.  I dumped Google Drive as too kludgy.  In fact, I really dislike Google Drive.  I use, but don’t really understand, iCloud.  Apple has not done a good job explaining how awesome it is, if it is.

That’s what I use.  Do you have better ideas?  I’m all ears.

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