Posts Tagged ‘iPod’

What You Need In Your Next Computer: More Horsepower, Less Storage

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I recently bought a new computer system, primarily for work. I was surprised at how difficult a decision process it was, but I’m very happy with the end result.

My previous work and home machine was an early 2008 iMac. It’s been a workhorse, but I found myself dealing with long wait times for it to wake and free itself of whatever it was up to so that I could work. It served me well to work on at my desk, but it was also our home media server, hosting our nearly 20,000 song music library and a growing TV and movie collection, and over 30,000 digital photos (and the photos are of increasing size and resolution). Because of this it’s also the machine that we sync our iPhones, iPods, and iPad to.

Add to that the fact that sitting at that desk and working at that computer has been making my back and neck pain increasingly worse. I needed more power and more flexibility with how and where I work.

Here’s the problem boiled down: I needed a powerful machine I could move around AND I needed a home system that stayed put.

I’ll spare you the long process of considering virtually every combination of Macs, iOS devices, and even desk configurations and tell you how I ended up: I’m keeping the iMac, which I’ll soon rebuild to be only an iTunes/iPhoto repository and sync station and I bought a brand new Macbook Pro 13″ with Retina display.

And it is, without a doubt, the best Mac I’ve ever used.

It is wicked fast. Applications launch in barely a breath. I can switch between tasks with no lags or pausing. There have been no crashes or even frozen applications. And the Retina screen is a thing of glory.

But I hesitated to buy it. Why? Because of the very limited internal storage options.

For my entire computing life I have always operated by one rule: you can’t have enough storage. My first Mac, a Mac SE, had a 10 megabyte hard drive. The old iMac I just demoted has a 250 GB internal hard drive and I have two 1 terabyte external drives connected to it.

It was very difficult for me to envision having less than a terabyte of internal storage for my new machine.

But as I debated and discussed this problem with friends I realized this: I don’t need to carry everything with me all of the time. But I struggled with that idea. Could I really buy a new machine that I’d use for years with less storage than I’d had in my previous machine.  I asked everyone, even Apple Store sales associate (though it was clear that I’d been using Macs for longer than he’d been alive).

So I asked myself: What do I really need?

I need access to my stuff. I don’t have to carry it with me. Here was the list that I made: I use Dropbox for all of my work and current personal creative projects. Since I’m a writer, that means lots and lots of really small text files. I would not migrate my old iMac over to this new machine. I would only install the applications that I really need. That includes Microsoft Office, Final Draft, and Scrivener.

I selected the Macbook Pro with 120 gigabytes of flash memory.

And when I was done I still have over 90 gigabytes of available storage. That’s a very comfortable amount of space.

I can temporarily fill it with things if I choose to travel. I can bring over movies and music, then dump it all when I’m home. And by using iCloud and iTunes Match virtually all of my music is available to me anywhere I can get online.

By not worrying about massive storage, I could select a more powerful and faster machine. I like having lots of home storage, but I’m finally comfortable in having less in my portable devices. When I trade in my 1st generation iPad which has 64 gigabytes of storage I’m going to happily purchase one with just 16.

It may seem ridiculous, but I somehow feel lighter.

Tech Buying Tip #12: Wait Six Months

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

It is so exciting when new gadgets come out. Last year’s model now looks ugly and slow. The new one is so beautiful, fast, and feature-filled. The urge to buy now can be intense.

But if you buy now, immediately upon the release of this shiny new thing, you’ll risk some clear penalties. A swift and emotional purchase decision is often followed by an equal and opposite reaction: buyer’s remorse. That can take the joy out of any new purchase.

In addition, new things frequently have problems, bugs to iron out. By purchasing early you become part of the extended beta team and will be forced to deal with frustrations and performance issues.

If you wait, wait just six months, all of these things will go away. The initial problems will be identified and corrected. When you make the purchase it won’t be an impulse. It will be planned and considered and no remorse will follow.

And at the six month mark you’ll also be able to tell yourself this: “Why buy now? In just six more months there will be a new and better model!”

If your current tech is functional, if it does what you need to do, then anything that you can tell yourself to delay a future purchase is a good idea. I can tell you from experience that you will enjoy a purchase that you make after waiting three years more than buying a new model every year.

More tips coming all this week.

Here’s the complete list of Tech Buying Tips.

Tech Buying Tip #11: Buy a 3rd Party Warranty For Mobile Devices

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

I’ve talked about extended warranties in a previous tip: What To Do About Extended Warranties.

Here’s something else to consider: the manufacturer’s warranty probably doesn’t provide the protection that you need, especially against dropping it, water damage, and other physical damage.

I’ve purchased both manufacturer’s warranties and third party warranties and on the whole I find better coverage through the 3rd party warranties. If you purchase your tech through a retail store they’ll often offer special warranties. Don’t automatically buy these, but consider them.

I’ve bought several from Squaretrade and found them reasonably priced and to offer good coverage, but we haven’t made any claims, so I can’t speak to their service. I think buying protection for any device that you carry, from laptops to tablets to phones, is a very good idea, and, if nothing else, it provides peace of mind.

You’re spending a lot of money on new gadgets. Protect your investment by spending a few more dollars so you can use them without fear.

More tips coming all this week.

Here’s the complete list of Tech Buying Tips.

Tech Buying Tip #10: Find A Home For Your Hand-Me-Downs

Monday, June 25th, 2012

It’s time for another round of Tech Buying Tips.

Today’s tip requires a bit of a conceptual shift. I’m going to ask you to think of your high tech gadgets as pets.

A pet is something that you form a relationship with and take responsibility for, until it dies (or you do). You feed it, keep it clean, happy, and healthy.

And if for some reason you can no longer care for it, you are responsible for finding it a good home.

It’s too easy to bring home the latest computer or mobile device and drop the old one in a drawer. When you do that you are essentially throwing it away. That’s a shame. If the older device is still functional, don’t toss it, find it a new owner.

I have done this many times. That old “Graphite” iMac that I had for years and found painfully slow compared to the new models was a delightful gift for my cousin’s kid. An old, now ugly (but once beautiful) iPod doesn’t need to go in the box of cables and connectors. Find a someone who will cherish it.

Yes, you can sell these items and I recommend checking their value, but when you’ve used something for years and gotten most of the retail value out of it, don’t completely discount its value to others. Pass it on and wish it well.

You’ll enjoy your new gadget even more when you have the satisfaction of seeing someone else enjoying your previous gadget, too.

More tips coming all this week.

Here’s the complete list of Tech Buying Tips.


Words Matter: Fanboy

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Using dismissive language is both lazy and repugnant. One of the worst recent examples of this practice is the word “fanboy” (also seen as “fanboi”).

I’m well acquainted with dismissive language and have had it used against me nearly all my life. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since the series originally aired (and yes, I’m old enough to have seen it when it originally aired on our black and white Zenith console TV). The term “Trekkie” was used to poke fun at fans like me and dismiss us as unimportant and out of the mainstream. I tried to claim that I was, instead, a “Trekker”, but like many others I came to embrace “Trekkie” in defiance of those who would dismiss me.

And like the Trekkie that I am, I became an Apple adopter early, too. For years I was dismissed as outside the mainstream of computing and technology. That I was a blind follower, a cultist. An Apple fanboy.

Turns out I was right on both counts. Star Trek is still wildly popular and is a major cultural and design influence (you probably carry a communicator in your pocket). And Apple is the most profitable and successful company on the planet. Apple and Apple products have helped me to build a rich career and being an Apple investor has helped to secure my financial future.

Fanboy indeed.

So yes, you can dismiss me by claiming that I and others are blind followers, fanboys. While you label me, your use of the term makes it easy for me to recognize you as someone close-minded and uninformed, as someone who can’t hold up their end of a debate. Name calling marks you as unworthy of my attention.

Words matter, and can cut both ways. Choose them wisely.


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