"Do you know anything about computers?"
…majoring in Information Systems and spending 10+ years working in IT, I better hope I do. So being the geek I am, one thing I like to do at the beginning of the year is to take inventory of all the technology I use, which unfortunately is a daunting task (I know, I’m lame). So for the first part of this check, I’ll account for all the computers, devices, and apps in my arsenal. I might get a little overboard with this, so bear with me if you dare.
First, the computers:
1) The Desktop - Custom-built Hackintosh running OSX Snow Leopard
I could’ve survived on a Windows 7 desktop but it was a piece of crap software called iTunes that made me give this geeky setup a shot. Anything I like to use on Windows works just as well on a Mac with the exception of Microsoft Office. Building a hackintosh isn’t for the faint at heart since u need the right motherboard and graphics card for it all to work right. But it’s so satisfying once you get it up and running. The only thing that annoys me is that damn rainbow wheel that comes up and makes you more impatient.
2) The Laptop - Acer Aspire TimelineX 5820T-6401 running Windows 7
I’m eventually gonna get a Macbook Pro but a powerful Windows 7 laptop on the cheap can suffice for most work-related needs. As much as I like OSX on my desktop, I don’t have gripes with Windows 7. So if you want to be economical, go for a Windows 7 machine; similar spec’d machines tend to come out 2x cheaper.
3) The Server - Custom-built machine running Ubuntu
I need a main machine for my insanely huge music collection, all my downloads, and a bunch of automated services. So whenever you need a machine that needs to be constantly running, building a Linux server is the way to go.
4) The Extra Desktop - Custom-built machine dual-booting Windows 7 & PinguyOS
Right now, this machine isn’t being utilized. But when I do get a Macbook Pro, the hackintosh experiment will probably end and this computer will stop retaining dust. I’ve been unhappy with Linux distos recently due to convolutedness of desktop environments and the instability of network drivers. For some reason, web browsing isn’t perfect to me which makes me hold back on it as a consistent desktop OS. I’ll give the customizable ArchLinux a chance to prove me wrong, but you can’t go wrong with the stability of OSX or Windows 7.
5) The Netbook - Asus Eee PC 1005HAB running Jolicloud
I really have no use for this and may just end giving this to my family in the Philippines. But if you want it for a hundred bucks, give me a holla.
Second, the devices:
1) The Phone - Rooted HTC Evo 4G Android on Sprint
My issues with smartphones has always been battery life, so I had to get an extended battery just to save to make this one bearable. I’ll wait another year to decide if I want a iPhone but so far I’ve been happy with the ability of my phone. I don’t knock on the iPhone because it’s a stable device. But if you are willing to test the limits of what a phone can do, then an Android, especially a rooted one, can take you to new worlds.
2) The Walkman - iPod Touch 4G (32GB)
It’s a good music machine for my workout. It works well with my iHome device thanks additionally to Wi-Fi sync. It’s good to have traveling around the Greater New York City Area. Besides that, it’s just a music machine. Everthing else, I can just do on my phone.
3) The Other Walkman - iPod Classic 6G (80GB)
I have a huge music collection, so this is a good device to have on hand if you are away from your collection for an extended time. Besides that and connecting to my xbox, it doesn’t do all that much for me.
4) The Streaming Media Player - WD TV Live HD
For a while I was relying on my xbox to stream video to my TV. But transcoding .mkv files became a hassle. With my WD player, I don’t have to care what format my files are in and they all (even ISO files) just play flawlessly.
5) The Gaming Machine - Xbox 360 with Kinect
Unfortunately, the last video game I really played was Portal 2. I had an XBox Live subscription but I was only using it for ESPN3 and Netflix. And since i can get Netflix on my media player for no charge, I cancelled my XBox Live subscription. Hopefully setting up the Kinect will bring some life back to it.
6) The Reader - Amazon Kindle
It’s a great reading device; my only problem, I really should read more.
And finally, the apps:
Google Chrome - portable extensions make this the best of the web browsers
Firefox - for better memory management, performance and private browsing
Opera - mainly for Unite
Audacity - great for simple music file editing
Picasa - Google Photos manager
GIMP - viable alternative to Photoshop
uTorrent - torrents when it’s your last resort
Dropbox - great cloud service
Wunderlist - great to-do list app
Evernote - my web-based note-taker and web page archiver. Comes as a desktop or Chrome app
Google Earth - all for fun
NX Client - to connect to the desktop environment on my Linux server
Handbrake - for managing video files and ripping DVDs
Synergy - software-based mouse/keyboard sharing that works across all OS platforms
Skype - videoconferencing
VLC - video player
calibre - handy tool for the Kindle, works best on a server to automate news feed downloads to your Kindle but can be installed as a desktop app as well
LastPass - everyone should use a password manager
XMarks - simply so you can manage your bookmarks across multiple browsers and computers
Tweetdeck - simplifed social network management but only limited to Twitter and Facebook
Google Docs - Office on the cloud
ifttt (IFThisThenThat)- best resource to connect your social networking apps, so posting in one place will help you post everywhere
youtube to mp3 converter - does what the name suggests
Google Chrome Extensions:
AdBlock - it works, that’s all you need to know
FlashBlock - so yo don’t have to wait for annoying flash programming to load up
Hype Machine Downloader - not a public extension, but it helps me download songs off one of my favorite music sites, hypem.com
FindThatBand - great music-minded search tool
Webpage Screenshot - self-explanatory
SABConnect++ - to help manage my Usenet downloads
iTunes - a neccessary evil on your Mac machine.
Adium - chat service aggregator that works with Google, Facebook, AOL, and Skype
TextWrangler - a good, free text editor
Unarchiver - provides some more functionality that is needed when handling Archives
iTerm - I like working in a terminal and this is an upgrade to the standard console provided
Burn - good for disc burning.
Ninite - neccessary tool to install the must-have free apps on your Windows machine. This should be the first site you go to after you get a new Windows machine or reinstall the OS and Windows updates. Listed below are the ones I get for my Windows machine excluding anything I may have mentioned mentioned earlier:
Pidgin - chat service aggregator that works with Google, Facebook, AOL, and Skype
Runtimes (Flash, Java, .Net, Silverlight, Air, Shockwave)
Sumatra PDF - forget about Adobe Reader
PDFCreator - create PDFs for free
imgBurn - Good for disc burning.
CCleaner - neccesary system cleaner
Revo - use this as opposed to the standard uninstaller program
7-Zip - all archive formats are handled
FileZilla - file trnasfer
PuTTY - remote console
Notepad++ - a better text editor
Bonjour - if you don’t put Quicktime or iTunes on your machine, just get this to communicate with Macs on your network
Office/Visio - especially with Visio, alternatives are hard to find, unfortunately it ain’t cheap
MusicBee/WinAMP - good alternatives to iTunes on Windows
Linux desktop apps:
puddletag - music library management, used for managing my MP3 albums
ex falso - music file management, used for managing my MP3 track downloads
Double Commander - for some reason, Nautilus in GNOME doesn’t cut it for file management
amule - for eDonkey servers
terminator - a great all-purpose console
gnome-do - for Gnome users, a great launcher similar to Mac’s Quicksilver
Linux Server apps (besides the standard LAMP, samba, ssh):
ampache - to stream my music collection
NX - to setup connections to the desktop environment on my server
sabnzbdplus - for my usenet downloads
sickbeard - my personal DVR for downloading TV shows
Tweetdeck - works great with Twitter and Facebook
Battery Indicator - I like to see percentage numbers when I check my battery level
Google Voice - I’m on Sprint, which means you can intergrate Voice with your phone number at no extra xost
Wunderlist - A great to-do list app that works across all platforms (desktop or mobile)
SoundHound - preferred over Shazam, but you should have both just in case you need to find the name of that song
Barcode Scanner - to make use of all those QR Codes you see around
Flikie Wallpapers HD - good set of free Wallpapers for you phone
android-wireless-tether/android-wired tether (rooted) - two of the reasons you root your Android
Google Shopper / Amazon Mobile - gotta love doing price comparison when you are out and about browsing the stores
Tasker - the only Android app I paid for and it’s all worth it if you are into automating tasks on you’re Android
That’s the gist of all the little tech gadgets I have lingering around me. In part 2 of this Tech Inventory Check, I’ll be covering Social Networking apps.