My Technology : Point in Time

The other day I was reflecting on the multitude of technological tools and services I use in the course of my day to day life. Some that seem vital to me today (e.g. Gmail) didn’t even exist a few years ago, while others that were so important to my life in the past (e.g. Usenet) I haven’t with bothered with for ages.

I thought it might be interesting to record what tools I currently use and how I use them. Ideally I could update it every year or so and thereby create a personal technological timeline.

And my first thought on looking at it? “Gosh that’s a long list.”

Tools

I do nearly everything through the following two pieces of hardware:

  • A work-supplied HP 2510 subnotebook is used both at work and at home. It’s small and light (12″ screen, 1.4kg), but gets plugged into a 24″ screen at work. Currently running Windows 7 beta. I like it but want it to be lighter, get more than six hours battery life, and to have a keyboard backlight.
  • An Apple iPhone 3G for portable voice, text and internet. Jailbroken to allow the use of software not approved by Apple. Favourite applications are Tweetie (Twitter client), LimeChat (IRC client), Scrabble, Quordy, email, web-browsing and Weather NZ. Stanza and Bookshelf are used to read e-books.

Data Storage

  • All of my information is stored on a Dlink DNS-323 home NAS system with two 500GB drives (mirrored for total 500GB storage).
  • This then gets backed up each month to an external USB-connected hard drive and stored at work.
  • I’m not currently using an internet-based storage but I expect to be doing so soon.

Personal Communication

  • Google Mail (wih my own domain thomasbeagle.net) for email. I use the web interface, and also occasionally check it on my iPhone too. I keep my work and personal mail completely separate.
  • IRC for general chatting (MIRC on the PC, LimeChat on the iPhone).
  • MSN for instant messaging with Kim at work (using the Pidgin client on the PC).
  • The very occasional phone call on the iPhone. No other voice calling although I have used Skype in the past.
  • SMS text messages sent on the iPhone.

Self Organisation

The most important thing about these is that they have both web and iPhone interfaces.

  • Google Calendar for scheduling.
  • Zenbe Lists for to-do list management.
  • Personal contacts are stored in Google mail.
  • SplashID for secure password storage (PC client instead of web as I’m not sure I like the idea of storing my passwords online).

Documents and Photos

  • Windows Live Photo Gallery is used to organise and tag photos.
  • Photos are published to friends using Flickr. Live Photo Gallery uploads to Flickr from the PC, while Darkslide is used on the iPhone.
  • Other documents and information are stored on the NAS in a hierarchical file system.

Social Networking

  • LiveJournal for personal/social journalling. However, its popularity is dropping.
  • My own hosted WordPress blog at thomasbeagle.net for publishing more serious material when I get the urge.
  • Twitter for microblogging (also automatically updates my status on Facebook) accessed via the web interface on the PC and with Tweetie on the iPhone.
  • Facebook just because everyone else does (and it has a great Scrabble game).

Information Sources

  • Google is used to find everything.
  • Google Reader makes a good RSS reader to aggregate content/articles from multiple sites. It also works quite well on the iPhone.
  • Wikipedia is the first point of call when looking for information about something.
  • The only news sites I read directly are stuff.co.nz and nzherald.co.nz, everything else is aggregated or pointed to from elsewhere.
  • Digg.com is my main “find interesting things happening on the net” site.

Media

Unlike many people I know, I’m not much of a collector.

  • Music is downloaded from emusic.com (US$10/month for 30 tracks) or acquired from friends.
  • Movies come from the DVD store (although I guess I could download them if I wanted to).
  • The very occasional TV program I watch is downloaded for me by Kim.
  • Everything gets played on one of two original Microsoft Xboxes (lounge and bedroom), hacked and running the Xbox Media Centre. All content is stored on the NAS.
  • The car has a Pioneer car stereo with a donated iPod (20GB) connected.
  • E-books are acquired from friends and then read on the iPhone using Stanza or Bookshelf.

Gaming

  • We have an Xbox 360 hooked up to a 37″ flatscreen LCD TV. Favourite games include Forza Racing, Settlers of Catan, and Zuma.
  • The iPhone gets used for casual gaming a bit. Scrabble is good, so is Peggle and Quordy.

Infrastructure

  • The home network is connected to the internet via 10Mbs/2Mbs cable. It is routed around the house via 802.11n wireless networking + cables.
  • We have an old PC running pfsense (FreeBSD-based router) as an internet firewall/router.
  • Everything else is a mixture of ethernet (gigabit backbone, 100Mb offshoots) and 802.11n wireless. This includes an AP acting as wireless-wired bridge (WAG54G with DD-WRT) to get content to the bedroom media player.
  • We get our internet through TelstraClear cable. 80GB of traffic at 10Mb/sec (in theory) for $150/month.

Specifications

And just to record some of the specifications for future amusement (“I can’t believe it was that small/slow/big/expensive!”):

HP 2510p Subnotebook

Core 2 Duo ULV 1.4GHz
2GB memory
120GB 1.8″ disk
1280×800 12″ screen
DVD writer
802.11n wireless
Gigabit ethernet
Bluetooth
6 hour battery life
Weight 1.4kg
Cost roughly $3k wholesale

When at work, also connected to a Dell 24″ LCD monitor and has a bluetooth mouse

Apple iPhone 3G

8GB storage
GPRS and UMTS
802.11g wireless
Vodafone calling plan at $80 month for 120 minutes voice, 500 texts, 250MB data.

1 Response to “My Technology : Point in Time”

  1. 1Joel on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:55 am:

    Neat idea, as a retrospective it’d be quite interesting to look back on… so I may have to copy you – while linking to the appropriate bits that are shared due to living in the same house ;-)