What We Use: Elly Hart's Tech Essentials

All this week, Lifehacker staff in Australia and the US are sharing the key technology we use to make our lives and this site happen. As Lifehacker Australia's night editor, I've got a specific but simple hardware and software setup that gets me through each day.

HARDWARE

Desktops

My main machine: I've had my Intel Core 2 Duo iMac for five years now, and it runs just as beautifully as the day I bought it. iMacs today come with 4GB of RAM, but mine only came with two, so I bought an extra two from a third party and installed it before I even turned on my iMac. My secondary machine: If I had a MacBook Pro, I would take it to work with me and not have to deal with the work PC, which is noticeably slower and annoys me by constantly requesting for permission to do little things. I'm currently saving up to buy a laptop so I can work on the train on my way to the office. I also want the freedom to work where I want, when I want. Like in the air-conditioned living room on a 40C day.

Accessories

Logitech VX Revolution cordless laser mouse: I've had this mouse for as long as I can remember. It's ambidextrous and fits really well in my small hands. I take it with me to work, and on the days that I forget, I feel like I've left part of my brain. Apple Magic Mouse: In recent months, I've been leaving my Logitech mouse at work and using my brother's Magic Mouse while he's overseas. I like it so much that I'll probably get one with my next computer. The relatively flat design took a while for my hands to get used to, but I love the multitouch gestures.

Mobile Devices

HTC Desire: I was one of 25 to win this phone as part of Telstra's Social Review back in May 2010. I wasn't crazy about it at first, but after I rooted it and replaced HTC Sense with the CyanogenMod ROM (and deleted all of Telstra's bloatware), it quickly replaced my Nokia E71. I recently dumped my Vodafone SIM for a Telstra Prepaid Cap+ SIM, and I'm still asking myself why I didn't do it sooner.

Canon Powershot SX210 IS: I got this for a steal earlier this year. It retails for $499, but JB Hi-Fi was selling it for $288, and with a $200 gift card, I only paid $88 from my own pocket. It's a high-end "prosumer" point-and-shoot with 14x optical zoom and the best image stabilisation you'll find on a compact camera.

Desk & Office Essentials

Like Angus, I keep my desktop simple because I don't see it often with windows maximised. I only change my wallpaper if I happen to stumble across something I like. I have a bit of an obsession with maps, and my current desktop wallpaper reflects that:

Typographic World Map by vladstudio

SOFTWARE

Chrome: I was a diehard Firefox user until late last year. I quickly ran out of patience as it got slower and dragged down my entire machine at work. I was reluctant to switch because there was one extension that I really needed that wasn't available on Chrome, but it eventually became a no-brainer, and I haven't looked back.

Extensions

Adblock: My boss would probably give me shit for it, because I wouldn't have a job without the ads you see here, but when you're refreshing pages as often as I do, it becomes nothing short of necessary. Delicious: I don't use it as much these days, especially since they almost shut down, but I keep it around to bookmark sites that I may find useful later on. Docs PDF/PowerPoint viewer: Another essential. Opening up documents that you may only see once without downloading them makes so much sense. Feedly: The best-looking RSS reader around.

Web Apps Aside from Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs, which I have bookmarked for one-click access, there isn't a lot that I rely upon heavily. Every Time Zone, which is by far the quickest and easiest way to convert times, is one of the few must-haves, and Instapaper is awesome on two levels: being able to save articles I want to read later with a single click, and being able to read saved articles in a stripped-down text format. Excellent on a phone where you don't want to load bandwith-heavy pages. Angus recently sent our whole team a link to SalesForce Chatter. It looks like a promising collaboration tool and I'm keen to see it take off.

Desktop Apps

Evernote: This is absolutely essential to my job, since I keep all my drafts and frequently used HTML text here. Dropbox: Images and client notes for advertorials go in here, so I can access them easily from either work or home. TweetDeck: I wish it was better at showing me what tweet someone is replying to, but it's a comprehensive solution and one of my must-have apps whether at work or play. iTunes: I hate its clunky interface, but it's the only way I can find out if an app is available here in Australia, and at what price.

Mobile Apps

Appbrain App Market: It's not as reliable as Google's Android Market app, but it's got a lot more features and I use it in conjunction with the web app. I also use it with Fast Web Installer, which allows me to install apps directly from the web to my phone, but I'll probably ditch it for Google's new web-based solution. GO SMS: A better alternative to Android's default text messaging app. Miren Browser: Much better than Android's somewhat anaemic stock browser. NewsRob: So I can read my RSS feed items on the go. I've tried them all, but this one is more reliable at syncing up with my Google Reader items than Google's official app. Youlu Address Book: I use this over Android's default phonebook application. It's better looking and you can scroll through contacts quickly like you do on an iPhone. ADWLauncher Ex: Best homescreen replacement around, in my opinion, it beats Lifehacker favourite LauncherPro. Extended Controls: Minimalistic widget that lets me quickly switch between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

TIPS & TRICKS CLOSEST TO MY HEART

Set Google Chrome to Australian spelling: This setting isn't available from Chrome on Mac, annoyingly enough, but on my work PC, I turn on the Australian spelling option. When you spend as much as I do proofreading and editing US content, it helps a lot.

How to set up keyword bookmarks: Angus showed me how to do this when I first started at Allure Media, and it's been a godsend. Being able to search for a URL on Lifehacker Australia using Google makes a huge difference in a job like mine where timeliness is a priority.


Comments

    Having used Google for countless years it was only until reading your article that I have changed to Australian spelling.

    My Desire is rooted with Oxygen but I am curious to know if you find Cyanogen stable?

    My copy of Chrome ( which is from the Dev tree, so the stable might not) on OS X has an australian dictionary. Thanks for pointing it out! I had been using the American version. Now color is wrong and colour is correct. Excellent.

    I think many of the more tech savvy "power users" of Firefox are beginning to make the switch to Chrome in greater numbers now with better functionality and popular extensions now available.

    I tried Chrome about 6 months ago, annoyed with the increasing slowness of Firefox. I quickly returned, frustrated with Chromes instability with various extensions installed and its inability to replicate other functions allowed in Firefox by extensions.

    After regrettably installing one of the Firefox 4 betas and finding it just as slow and buggy, I made the plunge to Chrome - and have found it a much cleaner and faster browsing experience. There is still a few aspects of Firefox and my old extensions that I miss however.

    I tried out a couple of the recommended Android apps in this article, didn't have much joy though.

    Miren Browser: Looks slick, but I didn't find it near as functional as Dolphin Browser HD. Plus some of Miren's in-app dialogues seemed to be in Chinese.

    Youlu Address Book: Besides a bright and fresh interface, it seems almost functional identical to the address book included in CyanogenMod. Plus I couldn't seem to find a way to stop it pointing to Youlu's own SMS client (which installed automatically along with the address book).

    Extended Controls: Power Control in CyanogenMod does 3G/WiFi toggle, and much more (can even automatically en/dis-able sync, 3G, data, wifi which switched, or plug/unplugged from a charger). Main downside is you're stuck with a 4x1 sized widget.

    Wow, after typing all that I just realised I'm pretty desperate to avoid actually working this afternoon.

    Dropbox appears to be something of a favourite with Lifehacker staff. I have not taken the plunge yet however I do use 4Shared and ADrive. I also use Tonido and NetDrive to connect to my home computer remotely.

    In relation to Dropbox I would be interested to hear Liefhacker's view on the following article regarding Dropbox security.

    http://tgfblogged.blogspot.com/2010/06/dropbox-has-issue-with-way-it-handles.html

    Does anyone know what home screen, or themes, or what I need to do to make my android look like that screenshot?

    The beautiful black and white minimalist affair...

      Elly would obviously be the best one to answer this, but I know she's said elsewhere she's running CyanogenMod as her ROM, and is using ADW Launcher.

      The clock and date widget look a lot like Minimalistic Text widget.

      The power control strip looks like its CyanogenMod's standard Power Control widget.

      Text launcher buttons (I would hazard a educated guess) are an ADW Launcher theme, but no idea which one.

        Elly has Mondays off, but I'm sure she'll confirm the accuracy or otherwise of your guesses tomorrow.

      well, Elly? :p

      (thanks Sam, but I couldnt tweak them to look like Elly's...)

    Hey Jonathan,

    I'm running CyanogenMod for HTC Desire (vanilla, no Sense). I'm not using any particular theme - I just picked the widgets and icons that fit with the minimalist theme I wanted to create.

    The homescreen app I'm using is ADWLauncher EX.

    Widgets: Extended Controls, Pure Calendar Widget, Pure Messenger Widget (I didn't put up a screenshot of it), TxWthrSmall and System Info Widget.

    I'm using a live wallpaper called wp clock full (there's also a free version with less customisation options).

    The round MetroStation icons I found on Deviant Art. And the text icons in the dock I think I also pulled from DeviantArt, but I forget where I put the link - I'll let you know :)

    All of these you can find on Android Market or I've linked to them.

    Let me know how you go. I'd love to see how you put yours together :)

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