Laptop Required: Teaching Online While Mobile

It was not terribly long ago that I had almost completely rid myself of carrying a laptop. I was able to keep a desktop at home, a desktop at work, and a tablet for those times I was traveling and really needed to get online for something more involved than checking my phone.

laptop on tableHowever, that was then, and teaching online courses has tethered me to a laptop far more than being a sysadmin ever did. My dream of whittling my bag down to a tablet and various other small materials is essentially dead. Current online teaching platforms require a laptop to be effective while doing some of even the most mundane of tasks.

This is not a real complaint, more of an observation about how our tools are dictated by the platforms and the assumptions developers make. While my students could effectively handle most of their course from a mobile device (and I have in mind to work toward making the courses I have complete control over as mobile friendly as possible), the teaching experience still requires access to at least a laptop, and often a desktop with multiple monitors.

When Steve Jobs spoke about the stratification of computing into different categories (traditional PCs as trucks, tablets as cars, etc.), I thought the metaphor was apt, but I hoped to be able to stick myself into a car when it came to mobile computing.

Instead, I now carry a crossover in my bag so that I might be able to get work done even when I am away from one of my desks. While it works well, part of me wishes I could still stick with just a hatchback.

Pi-hole in the future

Today I ordered what is needed to implement a Pi-hole instance in my home. A friend of mine showed me some graphs from his instance and I have been curious about monitoring what is happening on my home network for a while. So I have a Raspberry Pi 3 with a case and power supply coming soon which I will setup as the DNS server at home and then I will see how it goes.

This is also the first Raspberry Pi I will have in my home. We have been suing them for a while at work for various things, but now I have opened the flood gates to running additional software at home. It will be an interesting experience.

Subscription Apps, Default Apps, and Cloud Services

1Password has received some negative press because of their push for more users to switch from purchasing the app outright to a subscription model and the use of their own syncing service. They have responded on Twitter in this fashion to see of the complaints:

On a recent episode of Accidental Tech Podcast, the hosts talked at length about some of the issues around this push from 1Password (and others) and, overall, are sympathetic to the needs of software developers for recurring revenue but are a little bit sour to the push toward more cloud services from software development partners. Panic, makers of Transit (my favorite SFTP and more software), has their own sync service and so does The Omni Group.

However, this proliferation of cloud sync services along with the continued push to never own software but need to continually pay a subscription has me rethinking some of the applications I use on a daily basis.

For one thing, I have an adverse reaction to paying a subscription for things. It doesn’t need to make sense, but I hesitate every time I am asking to pay, via a subscription, for a piece of software (even one I use often). I’m far more likely to search out alternatives at that point.

Another issue is that paying a subscription, especially to another vendor, requires maintaining correct payment information over time. When my credit card expires, I need to find all of the places I have used that card and update it. If I want to change my banking provider, then I need to search out all of those areas as well.

I pay Apple for iCloud storage and an Apple Music subscription. I pay Netflix for entertainment. I pay a VPS provider for my virtual server. After that, I pay for a lot of software but I pay once, use the software, and then purchase the next version the next time I am asked to pay. It is a one time purchase. I don’t need to maintain payment information. It is simple, low maintenance, and understandable.

I have the feeling we will continue to see more software vendors moving to subscriptions models (or trying it out), and so it has me looking hard and long at utilizing built-in apps on my Apple devices. Reminders, Notes, and some others might have a more prominent places in my life especially with the ability to lock Notes, I might be able to move off of 1Password if it ever comes to that point.

Moving from OmniFocus to Reminders would be more of a challenge.

1 Timothy 1

I do not think I was quite aware of how much good, actionable insight the first chapter of 1 Timothy (CSB) contained. Passage after passage is succinct, but infinitely applicable to all types of ministry, personal or otherwise.

The two epistles to Timothy are books I spent more time with when I was actively preparing for ministry as a teacher, but perhaps they are two books I should spend more time with in order to gain some perspective on what it means to be a leader within the church as well.

Day One Goes Premium

Day One Goes Premium by Day One

This week we’re releasing the Day One Premium subscription service. It includes the ability to create more than ten journals and access all future premium features.

While I do not use more than 10 journals, this sounds like a warning that new features are going to be effectively hidden behind a pay wall. I have enjoyed using Day One, but only as a simple place to write personal thoughts.

I can do that same in many other applications and plan to do so. First place for me to look is Notes.app.