How My Desktop Follows Me

In my last post, I mentioned that I have been transitioning out of a single machine mindset into having everything at hand with terminals where I go. I have largely stuck with it for the last month and a half, and it works very well. My backpack is oddly out of balance now that I’m mostly carrying around little items like my iPod Touch without the monster.

In any case, I promised a follow-up post where I discuss how I’m managing to do it. Here’s the list of computing tasks and needs that I have and the services that have me covered:

  1. stickies, random text documents, and other notes: Evernote. Until recently, I was very dependent on the stickies on my computer. It had my todo list, various details of interest, important addresses, and anything else I needed off-hand. I couldn’t survive without it. As evidence, when my motherboard got fried and I didn’t have a computer for a few days, the most important thing I needed to get off my external backup was my stickies: all other documents, music, code, etc were secondary. Beyond that, my “Documents” folder on my computer was also largely random notes and lists. All of these transferred cleanly into notes in Evernote, which syncs these to the cloud and offers desktop, mobile, and web integration. Now, without my stickies, I can’t live without it.
  2. music, podcasts: Pandora, Spotify, iTunes syncing. There are too many good services online nowadays to stream music, and since their libraries are mostly bigger and better than mine, it works. Podcasts are still dependent on having my one iTunes account on my machine to keep track of which ones I have listened to, but since I can sync it to my iPod, they’re with me everywhere. Recently, I put a pair of speakers in my kitchen and have been listening to podcasts while doing dishes and cooking. So, this is even more portable than the setup I was fixed in before.
  3. movies/media: Netflix. I never did have many movies or TV shows, so netflix streaming is another improvement. I like to think it’s not completely down the drain paying for the service, since it is saving me from buying another season of 30 Rock¬†on DVD every year.
  4. documents: Dropbox. But to be honest, I don’t really use documents anymore and haven’t really used dropbox. Weird.
  5. bookmarks: Chrome syncing. Without this, I could have never made the switch, but between the computers I use regularly, I’m largely in exactly the same state since I spend so much time in the browser. This, along with Google+ (as discussed here), stopped my delicious usage almost entirely. Instead, I can keep a “To Read” folder on my bookmarks toolbar and leaves interesting but long sites in there.
  6. calendar: iCal. Someday, I might switch to Google Calendar, but since it syncs up to my iPod, this has worked out fine.
  7. email: gmail. I haven’t used a desktop mail client since getting my gmail account 7 years ago.
  8. video games: no solution needed. My games are only on my home machine, but that’s fine. I don’t need them anywhere else anyways. This also happens to be the only thing that I do that requires my computer to have any juice whatsoever. Since I usually manage to keep the number of open browser tabs relatively low, everything else runs fine and could on much less hardware.
  9. software development: ssh. I don’t do any development on my local machine: everything I do is on servers that I log into.
  10. homework: none. This largely sits on my home machine since this is where I do my homework, though I could just as easily copy them into my dropbox folder. The only downside would be that I wouldn’t have them appear on my desktop, so this is probably another relic.

Even for all these changes, however, I actually have been moving my computer pretty regularly. In my school year housing, my room and the common room are separate, so I end up carrying my computer downstairs to plug it into the TV whenever I want to stream any movies or sports games.

I don’t necessarily have any problems or need my life more fragmented, but let me know if you have any suggestions for other services that might be useful. I’m definitely interested to hear how others have transitioned with more cloud services or have compelling reasons for not changing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *