It was around this time last year that I shared with you my tech setup and favourite tips. We’re doing it again all this week, and there are some lessons I had to learn the hard way. Here’s an update on the hardware, software and productivity tips that keep me going each day as Lifehacker Australia’s night editor.
I was basically living out of a suitcase for a little while last year. I slowly moved out of my old apartment that I was sharing with a friend and spent a few months back at home with my parents while my brother was overseas. I was also spending some nights at my boyfriend’s place. Then I had a huge fight with my folks and decided to move in with the boyfriend, which meant squeezing all of my tech gear into his little apartment. We’ve since moved into a bigger place together, but my belongings are still divided between my old apartment, my parents’ place and where I’m living now.
My main machine: I’ve still got my five-year-old iMac. I’ve lugged it to three different residences in the last 12 months, but I’ve lost some faith in it since the hard drive failed. I basically lost all evidence of the last five years of my life, including music, photos and important documents. I have an external hard drive with backups on it, but the latest one would be at least a year old, and it’s buried somewhere in my parents’ storage room. It’s my own fault that I got complacent with the regular backups, but I was still devastated. I cried for two days.
Apple said it would cost a few hundred to fix it, so I decided to replace the hard drive myself. My partner found a 500GB Western Digital hard drive for me that cost $79, and it took us about an hour to take out the old one and replace it with the new one. Moral of the story: backup, backup, backup!
My secondary machine: My partner has a MacBook Pro, which is about as old as my iMac. He let me use it when my iMac broke down, so now I’ve got my own Google Chrome profile on there ready to go if I happen to need it again.
Mice: I bought one for myself after my brother returned from overseas and claimed his Magic Mouse back. I tried using the Magic Trackpad first, but I just couldn’t get used to it. I was about 10 times slower on the trackpad than I was on a mouse, so I exchanged it at the Apple Store for a Magic Mouse. I use it at home on my iMac, while my trusty Logitech VX Revolution cordless mouse lives next to my work PC at Lifehacker Australia HQ.
Printers: I’ve had my Samsung ML-2010 laser printer since 2004, and the toner has only just run out. I think my mum paid $200 or so for it to help me out with my HSC assignments. It’s well and truly paid for itself over the years, and although it’s gonna cost more than a hundred bucks to replace the toner, I know that I probably won’t have to change it again for another eight years. The only printing I do these days is for discount coupons anyway.
Mobile phones: I’m the resident Android fangirl on the team. I ditched the HTC Desire I was using this time last year after being given a Motorola Atrix at a media event. It was good timing since I was just about done with the Desire’s shitty internal storage issues. Over the last year, I’ve tried out lots and lots of different Android smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC Velocity 4G, HTC Rhyme, HTC EVO 3D, LG Optimus 3D, HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation XL and more. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep any of them as they were only loaned to me for review.
So I’m stuck with the Motorola Atrix for now, but there’s nothing wrong with the phone, per se. It’s just getting a bit old. I love that the phone has a “vibrate only” alarm function, so I can get up at 4 in the morning without waking my partner. I’ve customised the look to match what I had on the Desire, more or less. A few of you were asking about that, so I’ve listed the on-screen setup in the comments. I’ve rooted it and played around with a few custom ROMS, including CyanogenMod, but it was taking up too much space, so I reverted back to the stock ROM a few months ago. Sometimes, you just gotta use a product the way the companies actually want you to use them.
I also have a HTC HD7 at work, but it’s purely for the purposes of finding Windows Phone 7 app deals for my daily App Deals roundup.
Portable battery: The DroidAX portable battery I reviewed back in January sits idle now that I don’t have a phone that sucks juice like there’s no tomorrow. It’s handy to have around though — I’ll definitely be taking it with me when I travel.
My current desktop wallpaper is a picture of Peppermint Grove Beach in Western Australia (above). I went there for a two-week holiday back in December, and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. If you ever need ideas for a relaxing getaway, I highly recommend the south-west region of Western Australia.
Nothing else has changed much by way of software. I still use Google Chrome as my browser of choice, whether I’m on Mac or PC. I’ve also convinced my friends and family to do the same. My parents are now using Chrome without even knowing it.
I still use Adblock, but I’ve ditched the Docs PDF/PowerPoint viewer since Google Chrome now comes with one built in. Feedly has undergone several major revisions since last year, and it seems they still haven’t made up their minds about its final look. There are a few bugs here and there, but it’s still my RSS reader of choice.
I’ve stopped using Delicious and started using Read It Later as well as LastPass. I basically use Read It Later to bookmark articles that I want to check out later, but never end up making time to do so. So my reading list kind of just keeps on growing. I’m a bit paranoid about LastPass security issues, but I’m slowly learning to just go with the flow. I know that it’ll prove itself useful one day, when I try to log in to a site that I haven’t used in years.
Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs are the only ones I use on a regular basis. I don’t even bother with Google+ anymore. No one in our team really used SalesForce Chatter, which Angus set up this time last year. In terms of collaboration, we just simply use email, Twitter. Around the time of our site redesign, we started using a project management app called Redmine to sort out technical issues.
The same as before, although on my Mac I now use the official Twitter desktop client. It’s not as useful as TweetDeck, but I hate Adobe Air applications, and it took up too much memory.
Since the Android Market improvements that came with Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and the introduction of the web-based Android Market, I’ve stopped using AppBrain for discovering Android apps. I feel like I already know of all the good ones, since I come across so many in my line of work. GO SMS is still my text messaging app of choice, and I’ve put a nice Ice Cream Sandwich style skin on it.
I’ve ditched NewsRob for Feedly’s Android app to read the news on the go. It’s got some nifty features, handy shortcuts, and it’s beautiful to boot.
My Favourite Tips
We’ve run lots of interesting and useful tips and tricks here over the last 12 months. Contrary to the Lifehacker philosophy, it doesn’t bother me that I’m not super-organised or super-tidy. Here are some of my favourites (in addition to the old ones):
Salary Negotiations: Don’t Be Tough, Be Honest
My partner is currently scouring the job market. I’ve told him to not be greedy and pointed him to this article.
How To Get Perks At Your Favourite Places
Some of the tips in this article I’ve been practising for a long time now, but there are some clever notes in there that not only help you get discounts, but also set you up for better relationships with people that are good to have around.
How Watching Movies Helped Me Learn Spanish
I first started doing this after ending up with episodes of Breaking Bad with hard-coded French subtitles. Now I watch everything with subtitles — it helps me learn new words and I’ll pick up a word that I might have missed because of a thick accent or aural distraction in the background.
I’m terrible with money, which is why I’ll read and attempt every budgeting tip that gets posted on Lifehacker Australia.