The Big Changes to My Tech Life in 2011

Every year, about this time, I get the urge to make changes to my computing life. It’s as if I struggle all year with problems that I don’t have time to fix, then when the holidays come along, I have a little extra time to change my life. Here are some of the things I’m changing for 2011.

MacBook Pro -> iMac. This was already done in October. My 1st generation Unibody MacBook Pro (Late 2008) with a C2D, just two cores and a slow hard disk just couldn’t keep up with all the multitasking and loads I was putting on it. Especially with Parallels. I was waiting on my computer far too often. So I sold it and acquired a new iMac with an i7, 8 GB RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. Now, the computer is no longer the bottleneck in my work flow, and I can work faster. It’s a joy. And I still have an older MacBook Pro from 2006 and an iPad if I have to travel.

Apple Mail -> Outlook 2011. I have never been happy with Apple Mail ever since I deemed it necessary to give up on Eudora back in 2006. Recently, I reviewed Outlook 2011 as part of the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 suite, and I liked it so much, I’ve decided to switch. But I’m not going to do it alone, and if all goes well, I’ll soon have an exciting announcement to make about that migration.


Safari -> Opera. I have also been taking a close look at the Opera 11 beta for a review, and I like what I see. I haven’t made a final decision, but what’s driving me is that I perceive Safari as a Bobby McFerrin type of browser: “Don’t worry, be happy.” Opera takes security, it seems to me, a little more seriously with respect to the interface with the user, and I like that. I also prefer the tab management in Opera 11.  So we’ll see how I feel after the full review.

Drag Thing -> PathFinder. There are about 20 core applications that I use daily in my workflow. In some cases, I need to be able to drag and drop graphics on them, but the Mac OS X dock became much too crowded for me. So I’ve created a very easy to see Drag Thing pad that showcases my favorite apps and allows that drag and drop. However, it does take up some room, and it’s awfully slow to launch even in the new iMac. So I’m thinking about an alternative. Maybe a special directory in PathFinder with icon view. I have PathFinder always open anyway. I’m still working on this.


Drag Thing

Magic Mouse -> Logitech Mouse. The Apple Magic Mouse is very cool and supports many of the new gestures. Like Jeff Gamet, I use it when I have a MacBook in my lap. However, for everyday use on the desktop, it doesn’t work so well for me. First, it’s too flat, so it doesn’t support my hand properly. I have a Logitech wireless mouse that fits my hand much better. Also, I hate it when I brush a finger sideways on the Magic Mouse and the screen scrolls sideways against my wishes. So I’ve switched back to my trusty Logitech V470 Cordless Laser Mouse.


Earbuds on iPhone -> Urbanear tanto. I use a very light pair of Sony headphones for Skype. But when I use my iPhone in my office, I need a headset with a mic. For awhile, I used an Aerial Chopper 2, but it was too heavy, and people on the other end complained about buzzing. I went back to the Apple earbuds, but I don’t exactly love them either. So I’m switching to the Urbanears tanto that has a microphone and can do double duty with Skype, cleaning up some of the wires on my desk.


Skype 2.8 -> Skype 5. I resisted this change, but finally decided that I didn’t like multiple windows scattered all over. Skype 5 takes some getting used to, but I like it because everything stays together in one Window. Functionally, I can’t find any difference in sound quality or app stability.

Incase Book Jacket -> NuGuard Shell for iPad. When I first bought my iPad, I thought that a book/folio-like cover was best because it would protect the iPad. Later, I found out that for around the home and home office, a cleaner, more minimalist case is better. After I reviewed the Newer Technology NuGuard Shell, I made the switch. I may be reviewing more cases like this one soon.


I am sure these are just some of the changes I’ll be making in 2011. As the technology changes, especially as we move to Mac OS X Lion, I expect even more drastic changes to my apps and workflow. What changes have you made for the better?