Categories
Life Technology

My Response: How Many Devices Is Too Many?

While I may not be following the 100 Days To Offload, I am hoping to get back into writing on this blog a little bit more in the future. Luckily, Kev Quirk over at https://kevq.uk IS posting every day and one of his recent posts caught my attention: How Many Devices Is Too Many? This post is my own response to that topic.

I have been spending more time working from home recently and so I have also been splitting my work across an increasing number of devices. On a given day, when I both work from home and on campus, I may use any combination of the following devices:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T495
  • Apple 12″ MacBook
  • Apple 9.7″ iPad Pro
  • Apple iPhone 11
  • Apple Mac mini
  • Apple 13″ Retina MacBook Pro
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 7
  • Intel NUC
  • Kindle Paperwhite

That does not include accessories and other smart devices (Apple HomePod) or any devices my wife or kids use during a given day either. Needless to say, I have a goodly number of devices sitting around and I move between any number of them fairly consistently.

I also have started to feel the weight of having all of these devices around. It is almost too much. Some tasks can only be done on certain devices and if I don’t have it nearby, then I need to go find it. In some cases the platform differences mean I spend more time thinking about how I might accomplish a task instead of doing it.

Recently I have started testing a Thunderbolt 3 docking station from Plugable with my ThinkPad Carbon X1 and it has worked pretty well. The hope is that in the future I can eliminate entire swaths of devices and consolidate down to just a few. However, which platform do I ultimately end up using? I am truly torn at the moment.

So … how many? I think I’m past that limit but I am unsure of exactly where I am going to fall in the near future. What I do know is that at the current number I am spending more time thinking about doing work and not the needed time actually getting down to do it. At this point, where the tools are getting in the way, it is time to start making some difficult decisions.

Categories
Education Life Technology

Between Two Worlds

I have been spending too much time thinking about digital platforms again. It breaks down into two choices at the moment:

  • Continue working in Apple’s ecosystem for much of my personal and professional life
  • Work to move as much as possible to open source and free software alternatives which may include self-hosting a number of items

I have been able to work with a new ThinkPad T495 over the past months and there is a lot that I like about the machine. While it may be a little larger for a daily-carry device, it is quick, has some paths for upgrading, and is rugged enough to serve day-to-day. If I were going to continue trying to move more and more of my work to open source alternatives, I would probably look at a ThinkPad Carbon X1 as my personal device as the slightly smaller footprint coupled with being around 27% lighter would make a difference.

However, what is holding me back isn’t the device nor is it even the operating system (with openSUSE Tumbleweed continuing to receive updates and serve quite ably) … it is the available software in the community along with the seamlessness of mobile workflows.

This is felt most acutely when it comes to task/todo managers, at least for me. I have been suing OmniFocus for the past 5+ years on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS and it has served me very well. There are a lot of fiddly buttons and options to play around with, but I have fallen into a pretty simple way of handling recurring and then one-off items along with keeping track of different projects or contexts.

However, I have yet to find an equivalent application or option that will work between a Linux distro and any mobile operating system. Of course this is complicated by my want for a competent desktop application. I have looked at Todo.txt a little bit but the need for additional plugins to add recurring tasks and other features included with OmniFocus and the lack of a competent mobile app turns me off from that.

That is just the tip of the iceberg and so I am caught, in a sense, in the Apple ecosystem for the time being as I work to consider what options I may have in the future.

Digital ecosystems are complicated.

Categories
Business Life Technology

Goodbye Jony

Apple announced that Chief Design Officer Jony Ive is going to be stepping away from the company later this year to form an independent design company.

I have been a fan and user of Apple devices during the Jony Ive era and it will be interesting to see what happens from this point forward for Apple, and for Jony as well. Steve Jobs’ death was a major shift for the company and this will be seen as the same, but I feel this has been coming for a while.

If you want to read up on some good thoughts, head over to Daring Fireball to read Jony Ive is Leaving Apple and listen to the last episode of The Talk Show: ‘A Bit Too Thin’.

Thanks Jony for the work. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the devices you had a hand in.

Categories
Business Technology

Apple’s Terrible No Good Very Bad Earnings Warning

Apple’s Terrible No Good Very Bad Earnings Warning by John Gruber

The other factor is that the modern — that is to say post-iPhone — smartphone market is 11 years old. It’s maturing, and in a mature market people replace devices less frequently.

I have a lot more thoughts on the bad downgrade to the coming quarter that Apple just announced, but my thoughts are not that important nor interesting. However, the anecdotes that I see bear out what Gruber states above: people do not upgrade nearly as often anymore. Coupled with he rise of the discount carriers in the USA and Apple not really having a phone to compete at the lowest levels and you are going to continue to see bouncing sales.

It is possible that Apple’s revenues are going to flatten out quite a bit. You will not see as high of highs, but the coming quarters will be even more interesting from the perspective of what iPhones sales are going to look like going forward.

There are, obviously, options for Apple to drum up sales numbers but the better question is what this new, hopefully humbler, Apple is going to look like going forward.

Categories
Business Life Technology

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 there is a site that provides information their website provides what’s needed. 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.