Back in May 2011 I put together a 9-minute screencast showing how I used a (previous work’s) MacBook Pro. That proved reasonably popular with over 18,000 views on YouTube and plenty of comments here. Happily, Stephen Downes picked up on it and shared the way he works.
I thought it was time for an update, not least because I now work for a different organisation and do so from home. I can’t promise that the video screencast above is a comprehensive overview of everything I do, but it reflects what I’m up to right now! Thanks to colleague Laura Hilliger for giving me a nudge to do this. 🙂
Tip: crank the video quality up to 720p and click the arrows to the bottom-right of the embedded YouTube video to go fullscreen!
We have consistently voted for hardware that’s thinner rather than upgradeable. But we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Our purchasing decisions are telling Apple that we’re happy to buy computers and watch them die on schedule. When we choose a short-lived laptop over a more robust model that’s a quarter of an inch thicker, what does that say about our values?
Every time we buy a locked down product containing a non-replaceable battery with a finite cycle count, we’re voicing our opinion on how long our things should last. But is it an informed decision? When you buy something, how often do you really step back and ask how long it should last? If we want long-lasting products that retain their value, we have to support products that do so.
Today, we choose. If we choose the Retina display over the existing MacBook Pro, the next generation of Mac laptops will likely be less repairable still. When that happens, we won’t be able to blame Apple. We’ll have to blame ourselves.
This is less about Apple and hardware and more about a consumerist, short-term attitude that over-privileges form over function. And, of course, this applies to the Open Web too.
On the basis of I’d be rather interested if other people I know did this, here’s a 9-minute ramble through how I’ve got my MacBook Pro set up – including apps and web services I use. If there’s anything you see in the screencast that I forgot to mention explicitly, please do ask in the comments below.
There’s one thing I forgot to mention: I don’t use the ‘tapping’ feature on laptop trackpads as it drives me mad. That causes problems for others when they use my machines…
Tip: click the arrows to the bottom-right of the embedded YouTube video to go fullscreen!
Once a year, for a period of nine weeks, my wife appears to be a chronological year older than me. It was her 30th birthday on Thursday, for which I bought her 29 presents and took her to Jesmond Dene House Hotel for afternoon tea. I took yesterday off work as well and, in fact, with some organisation around mLearn 2010, am managing not to return to the office until Tuesday 25th!
Restructuring my thesis
Whilst my original target of submitting my Ed.D. thesis on 1st January 2011 (the earliest date I’m allowed) now looks less likely, I have written more than half of it now. High time, therefore, to be firming up a title and a structure. More on that over the weekend.
Fixing my Mac
I’ve had all manner of problems with my MacBook Pro recently. It’s a work machine and IT services at Northumbria University couldn’t sort it. Taking it to the Apple Store they recommended a reinstall over the top of the existing operating system. Seems to have done the trick (fingers crossed!)
I very rarely get shouty-shouty, stampy-stampy angry any more. I’m far too civilised and philosophical for that. On the other hand, if something was going to tip me over the edge it would be the Browne Review of Higher Education. For those under a rock in the UK or international readers, some of the recommendations:
Removal of cap on fees
Students since 1998 should pay ‘real’ interest fees on their student loans
Public money to be targeted at STEM, Business and MFL
I could write several essays on this, but I’ll have to be satisficed by observing that, overall, the recommendations would make it less likely that my offspring attend university, whilst my subjects (Philosophy, History, Education) would be marginalised. Oh, and that £16,000 loan I took out to pay for my tuition? That which the Student Loans Company reckon I’ve still got over £15,000 left after 8 years of repayments? That would be increased. I think they call that changing the contract after signing. Bar. Stewards. 🙁
I’ve interviewed more people for the JISC mobile and wireless technologies review I’m undertaking and had my first appraisal on Thursday. The latter was more of a chat – a positive one showing I’m valued. I’m now 25% through my 2-year contract at JISC infoNet in an uncertain economic climate.
What next? Who knows! I’m happy in my current role and not concerned in the slightest about my future prospects. I’ve long since stopped even pretending that I know where my career’s heading – apart from going with what interests me and keeping my family financially secure, of course.
Disillusioned with corporate e-learning
The Oxford E-Learning ‘Debate’ was largely a waste of time. I’ve explained why on my conference blog here.
Realising the importance of community
I voted Liberal in the General Election, mainly in protest against the quite frankly dangerous Michael Gove. That didn’t work. Still, at least the Conservatives’ Big Society gambit seems to offer more than just swingeing cuts. Community is important. That’s why Hannah’s volunteering at the local fair on tomorrow and I’m joining the PTA at my son’s school next week.
Frustrated with my MacBook Pro
The thing I’ve loved about using a Mac every day since 2006 is that it’s usually a frustration-free experience. No crashing. No viruses. No constant maintenance. For some reason, almost every application seems to now crash on my MacBook Pro and it looks like I’m going to have to do a Windows-like reinstall. Let’s just hope it’s not going to turn into a bi-monthly thing (as it was when I used PCs…)
I spent Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday at the Thinking Digital Conference, recording my thoughts about it here (I haven’t quite finished yet!) It was an awesome event, seemingly expensive but for the quality of ideas and knowledge I went away with, fully worth it!
Rationalising the work/private divide
It’s a tricky one, but I’m trying to get my head around my work interests and personal interests occupying the same space. It’s always been the case, but just a whole lot more obvious (with attendant consequences) in my current role.
Finishing off my first journal article
I’m going to be submitting my very first journal article on the ambiguity of ‘digital literacy’ soon. I’m sending it to my thesis supervisor this weekend to see if he can put his name to it at joint author…
Not selling our house
We’ve decided to take our house off the market. The thought of downsizing, even if transport links are better in Whitley Bay (where we planned to move), didn’t exactly inspire us. Looking around some houses there last weekend sealed the decision.
Selling my MacBook Pro
I decided to sell my 15-inch MacBook Pro this week, along with some other technology stuff I don’t really use or need. Interestingly I’m finding that – as Stammy noted recently – social media such as Twitter can be as good as eBay for selling tech stuff.
Woe is me. It’s my 28th birthday today and, for the third year running I’m ill. Last year I still went out for a meal, could taste nothing, and had a thoroughly miserable time. This year I’m staying in bed. 🙁
To add to my woes, I’ve been re-reading what certain characters from history managed to achieve in their 28th year of existence. Here’s a flavour:
Sold our house just before the full effects of the eceonomic slowdown hit home and moved into a rented property on a farm in semi-rural isolation.
Not quite in the same league! I am, however, considering writing a book. It won’t be ‘available in all good bookshops’. In fact, it won’t be available in bad ones either! Like Doug Johnson and others have done, I’m considering using Lulu.com to make my proposed book freely downloadable and available to purchase in paper format for a reasonable fee.
Technology wise, I upgraded in the last few weeks from a Macbook to a Macbook Pro, went through several netbooks (Asus Eee 701 -> modded OSX-powered Advent 4211 -> Asus Eee 1000), bought an iPhone, returned it, and then finally changed my Nokia N95 for an iPhone 3G 16GB, and bought a wonderful digital SLR camera in the shape of the Canon EOS 1000D.
What are my plans for my 29th year on earth? Hmmm… I’ll limit myself to three:
Apply for and obtain a job that means my wife, Hannah, doesn’t have to work.
Write half my Ed.D. thesis around the concept of digital literacies.
Start a new project – either through Folens or independently that brings together some of the ideas Nick Dennis and I have been discussing. 🙂