With another week comes another entry in our new "What We Use" series. This time it's my turn. I may not have an eternal turtle or a crazy-sophisticated head razor, but the fourth time's a charm, right? Here's a rundown of the hardware, software, and miscellaneous whatnots that help me do what I do.
Unlike my colleagues, I rely primarily on my laptop. Having found myself either in class or overseas during the past four years, re-upping my old desktop build was neither cost-effective nor practical, so I opted for a beefy laptop solution. Currently I'm running a Sony Vaio S with 8GB RAM, an Intel i5-2439M at 2.4GHz, and a 15.5" 1920x1080 screen. While David's had some issues with his own Vaio, I've absolutely loved mine so far.
It handles all my photo and graphical management/editing needs, some light gaming, and just about anything else I've thrown at it. The body is plastic, but still beautiful and slim, and it fits snugly and securely in my bag without issue.
The real story with my Vaio, though, is what I actually do with it.
Adobe's Creative Suite is undoubtedly at the heart of my computing usage pattern. Photoshop is almost always open just in case I need to tweak a photo or put together a quick illustration. Likewise, Lightroom spends a lot of time on the burner, with a library of photos waiting to be sorted, culled, and exported.
Otherwise, I rely on Chrome, Firefox, Gtalk's desktop client, and a few other pieces of software for my daily "work," and I've got Eclipse docked for some occasional dalliances with Android development.
Tablets: Nexus 7
I put the Nexus 7 at the top of my "tablets" list because it is far and away the tablet I use most on a daily basis. "What do you use it for?" I can almost hear you wondering. The Nexus 7 is my go-to for games, web browsing, and some light social media. I'm not of the mind that tablets are great tools for true productivity, so you won't find a lot of documents on my Nexus 7, but I do keep SpringPad, Google Drive, and Dropbox handy just in case.
If you're wondering, that case is from Boxwave and modeled after the classic manila envelope. It's a sleeve that's not too expensive, and while I'm not sure exactly how durable it will prove to be, it looks great and does the job. (Those interested can find it at Amazon here.)
Galaxy Tab 10.1
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was my first experience with Android tablets. I was ready and willing to accept the idea of an Android tablet with open arms, and honestly have had a great experience with the 10.1. When in school, I frequently used it for quick notes, on-the-fly research, and covert Facebooking, but after class I used it for Netflix, gaming, and reading.
Of course, all of that is in the past tense since I picked up the Nexus 7. The 7 is smaller and easier to manage, making it perfect for reading (and, tangentially, making impulse buying decisions in the Kindle Store), and easier to carry around.
When I do take my Tab on the go, it's in Samsung's leather sleeve. Again, I got this not because it's a fantastic sleeve or protector for the Tab, but because it looks nice, and does enough of the job to make it an appealing product in my mind.
Phone: HTC Evo 4G LTE
Readers may already have a good idea what I think about Sense on the Evo LTE, but after moving past that, the device itself isn't half bad. It's got a fantastic display, a battery that's done well for me so far, and the power to do what I expect it to. That being said, I'm on the edge of my seat as much as the next person in anticipating the new Nexus, whatever it may be.
Camera: Nikon D200 (And Friends)
Currently, I shoot primarily with a Nikon D200. It's a workhorse DSLR that's been around for a fair amount of time, and it's still helping me get the job done as well as ever. I won't say I haven't eyed the D4 or even the D3s recently (I've secretly yearned for a Hasselblad/Leaf setup), and for special assignments I may rent out a more powerful body, but for most of what I do now, the D200 is great. I pair the D200 on most days with the MB-D200 battery grip and Nikon's 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR lens.
The 18-200 VR is, like my current body of choice, a workhorse lens. When I need to do specific studio assignments, I might opt for something else, but for shooting events, travel shots, or other casual things (including many of this post's photos), the 18-200 VR does a great job, especially with its ability to focus from a relatively short distance and provide the same limited depth of field you'd expect from a larger aperture lens with the right lighting.
There are only a few apps beside the standard Chrome, Gmail, Dropbox, etc. retinue that I really use on a daily basis, and out of those, only a few are worth really taking a close look at. I'll try to keep this section brief.
Amazon's Kindle app is one of my favorites. I got on board with the Kindle app early in my e-reading career, mainly for the quick, easy ability to find the books I wanted, discover new ones, and control my reading experience to an impressive degree. The Kindle Store is probably the place I make most of my impulse buys, especially because Kindle editions of books are often quite cheap.
I love being able to gesture to dim the screen, change between black-on-white, white-on-black, and sepia color schemes, and control the text size, margins, and even line spacing of each page.
SleepBot is a cool little alarm app that's both lightweight and useful, at least in an I've-always-wondered-what-my-sleep-patterns-are-like kind of way. Basically, you tell SleepBot when you go to sleep, and it knows when you wake up based on your reaction to an alarm you've set. It then provides handy tables and charts so you can track your sleep. Plus, it has helpful sleep tips, and can be set to ease you into the morning.
A few months ago, I had never heard of Springpad, but since Eric alerted me to its existence, I've discovered its brilliance. For those who don't know, Springpad is a great online collaboration tool, allowing users to create their own notebooks and compendiums of information, text, files, and images. The Android app is well-built and, while it isn't quite there, looks holo-esque. If you're looking for online collaboration and documentation with a great mobile app, I recommend Springpad highly.
- Astro File Manager – Astro is an alright file manager, good for quickly and easily navigating around your device's storage.
- Airdroid – Airdroid is an amazing solution for quickly controlling tons of your device's features from your computer over Wi-Fi. Sending messages, backing up apps, and browsing through storage are all a breeze.
- Barcode Scanner – Because QR codes are still cool, right?
- HipChat – The mobile app is horrendous, but when I need to be connected with the AP team on the go, this is my choice.
- Markers – Brilliantly simple doodling app that's more versatile than you may expect.
- Reddit is Fun – One of the best Reddit browsing apps available, and a great waster of time.
- Titanium Backup – A must-have for root users who find themselves frequently flashing ROMs but wanting to keep their apps and data safe.
- McPixel – A hilarious, unique game that finally made its way to Android recently.
- Dead Trigger – Probably my favorite of the zombie shooters.
- Jetpack Joyride – This game exceeded all expectations I had for a simple run-as-long-as-you-can game, and I continue to spend way too much time with it.
- Temple Run – The same goes for Temple Run – it's a notoriously popular game, but incredibly addictive.
- Rico – A far underrated jump-and-run game that has a great art style, simple gameplay dynamic, and plenty of challenging levels.
- Game Dev Story – An oldy but a goody – Game Dev Story has consumed many hours of my life.
- Rayman Jungle Run – An incredible recent addition to the Play Store that takes continuous-run games to a new level.
Bag: Fossil Estate City
The Estate City bag is another purchase I made based equally on grounds of utility and style. It's a great looking leather bag with a pocket that's perfectly sized for my Vaio and a handful of other compartments that keep everything I need neatly organized and reasonably safe. I also decided on this bag over others after my experience with one of Fossil's canvas backpacks that's been through the desert, tumbled down a mountain side, survived a few semesters of college, and is still in great shape.
For the sake of word economy, I won't go into too much detail about the minor things I carry around every day, but here's a quick list.
- Moleskine Ruled Notebook – I've had a strange love for tiny notebooks for as long as I can remember, and Moleskine provides the fix I need for jotting down quick ideas, photo notes, captions, and whatever else I just might need to know later.
- Pens/Markers – I can't very well jot down all my important thoughts without a litany of writing implements, can I?
- Business Cards – I'm not the kind of person to throw out a stack of business cards any time I walk into a room, but they've come in handy.
- Cheap Earbuds – To be candid, I'm no audiophile. The extent of my audio-specific vocabulary is "that sounds good," so almost any earbuds will do the job for me. Currently I'm using some inexpensive Philips jobbers that have a decent sound and aren't expensive enough for me to care what happens to them in my bag.
- Toshiba External HD – I bought this 1TB external HD a while back, which is why it looks a little worse for wear. It's been a reliable home to photo backups, movies, music, TV shows, and a few software backups too, and I keep it around just in case I need to be entertained.
That about wraps up what I use and carry on a daily basis. I've found that while I have an insatiable hunger for the latest and greatest gizmos, it continually ends up being the case that my tried and true solutions always rise back up to the top of usefulness in my daily life.
If you've got any questions or comments about my daily gear, leave a note below.