Best Setup?

What would my ideal setup look like at the moment?

I have no idea.

I like having a desktop because I worry less about things breaking and can just set things up and forget about it. I have a keyboard, mouse, and speakers ready to go whenever I might need them without having to fuss around with either cables or a docking station.

On the other hand, I like being able to take everything that I am working on with me wherever I am going. Even those things I don’t want to toss into a cloud storage provider’s folder … which can be a few things. I also can set up my development environment and not worry about syncing any changes around. I’m lazy, setting things up take time and settings things up to sync takes time too.

I’ll admit that I also like to have one machine follow me around because I can get attached to technology quite easily. Is that a good thing? Probably not, but it does affect the decisions I make on what to purchase.

Using my Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with a docking station, even just a little bit, has opened my eyes to what is possible when you can have a simple plug-and-work situation with a portable computer. A docking station makes getting started super simple and allows me to not even worry about hooking up additional items. I just set the ThinkPad in the dock and begin working once openSUSE has worked out the settings. It is extremely slick.

While I do not expect Apple to adopt a docking station port like the ThinkPad has, Thunderbolt provides some of the benefits with a single cable to either a Thunderbolt Display or a Thunderbolt dock. Eliminating the need to connect a USB cable, Ethernet cable, Thunderbolt cable, and audio cable and instead just hooking up power and a Thunderbolt cable is a definite win.

I like openSUSE a lot (I think I can safely say that it is currently my favorite distro), but my heart still belongs to OS X, even if my head tries to convince me otherwise. It is cemented even more by the fact that Apple still makes the best overall computers for me. I’m the most comfortable with them, and the mental loops I can work myself into trying to decide on new hardware + software is not worth switching to anything else full-time.

The decision is made easier by the dearth of excellent native software available for desktop Linux. Server Linux is left out here because Linux is the king of the server (as far as I am concerned). OS X has a ton of high-quality native software and many of them with companion apps on iOS. It makes the experience of moving between mobile and desktop a lot easier. With what was announced at WWDC, I think we are going to see even more moving in that direction.

When the rubber hits the road, this is what my mind has settled on for the moment:

  • An 11″ MacBook Air or (PLEASE APPLE PLEASE) 12″ MacBook Air, not even maxed out or anything, but adequate to handle the computing needs of me from day-to-day. With Apple moving all of my photos to iCloud in Fall 2014 and iTunes Match already keeping my music safe for me, it will mean I have a lesser need for large amounts of storage with me at all times.
  • A Thunderbolt dock of some sort both at home and at work. It will also entail a power adapter so that I would hook up the two cables and then get to work. It would allow me to keep my mouse and keyboard, Ethernet cable, external hard drives, and sound hooked up without needing to worry about hooking up an individual cable for each thing.
  • A single 27″ monitor in each location. I’d give up my multi-screen layout for a single large monitor. ASUS has some models I might look at to accomplish this.

I have no idea what my iOS load out is going to look like after the Fall since the inclusion of larger-screen iPhones might make me rethink the iPad’s role for me. This change to a MacBook Air would also move the current Mac mini to a server role since I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into OS X Server 4.

Of course, this will all change tomorrow so feel free to ignore it.

2 replies on “Best Setup?”

Here you go – The Henge MacBook Air vertical dock: Actually – MacWorld’s review of Thunderbolt docs in February gave the recommendation to a dock by Belkin but I like the look of the Henge dock.

Also, as far as non-Apple displays go, we got Kylie a Planar PXL2790MW 27″. Besides the bezel color it’s a great match for her iMac. Color took a little adjustment but it’s a very solid monitor.

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