Technical background and current setup

I first learned about computers on a Radio ShackTRS-80 Model I. From there, I moved to a TRS-80 Model III with the astonishing memory capacity of 64K (no hard drive) and a green screen. I then forgot all about computers for a while…

Fast forward to 1998. I got back into computing with a PC running Windows 98 (oh my God, the pain), using a Cyrix chip, running at 233 MHz. I quickly learned that the more alternatives to Microsoft products I could use, the better off I was. Netscape Navigator, anyone?

When I got married my wife had just gotten rid of a Twentieth Anniversary Mac and purchased an iMac, Blue Dalmatian variety, with 64 MB of memory and a 20 GB hard drive, running OS 9. I quickly adapted to the Mac platform, and never looked back. I purchased a 12-inch iBook (late 2001) with a 30 GB hard drive and a G3 processor. Later, I partitioned the drive and set up a triple-boot system with OS 9, OS X, and Yellow Dog Linux 2.3. I wrote my senior thesis at UC Santa Barbara running Linux on it, writing in 1.0. Later we added to the family computer collection with a 14-inch G3 iBook, 40 GB drive, for my wife.

Currently, my primary computer at home is a 2008 MacBook Prorunning OS X Leopard with a 2.4-GHz Intel chip, 2 GB of RAM and a 200 GB hard drive. I have replaced the Finder for most purposes with Path Finder. I write using NeoOffice, a Mac port of the platform, and follow RSS feeds using Google Reader. My primary browser is Firefox, with numerous extensions; I also use Safari and Chrome. For several years, I ran my own-domain email using FastMail, but after a particularly egregious outage I switched to Tuffmail. Finally, I began switching my email over to Google Apps, and have achieved a measure of email nirvana.

My primary desktop computer is an Intel-based 20-inch iMac, 2.16-GHz Core 2 Duo chip, 250 GB hard drive and 2 GB of RAM, running the latest version of OS X Tiger (and soon to be upgraded to Snow Leopard). I use an Apple Wireless Keyboard, but I replaced the Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse with a Kensington Ci60 Optical Wireless Mouse (Apple makes great computers and lousy mice. Or mouses. Whatever.).

Other Devices I Use

iPod Mini, 2nd generation, blue, 6 GB version. Purchased refurbished from the Apple Store, and continues to work flawlessly.

Cowon iAudio X5L. An iPod alternative that doesn’t do Digital Rights Management (hurrah!), plays Ogg Vorbis files and is managed via a simple drag-and-drop interface. All this plus video capability, a built-in FM radio, and it’s usable as a USB mass storage device to boot. And then there’s the 35-hour battery life, which helps to make up for the fact that it looks like an East German MP3 player would have looked circa 1982, had such a thing existed then.:-)

LG Voyager (aka LG VX10000). Not really a smartphone, but a multimedia phone with external touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard when you open the flip (great for SMS and Twittering). At the time I bought it, this was as good as it got from Verizon without going to a BlackBerry and an expensive data plan.(This will likely change next month when Verizon releases the Motorola Droid with Android 2.0!) I'm currently using it as a conduit for Google Voice, a service about which I cannot say enough good things.

Amazon Kindle (Version 1). While it’s not perfect, I think the Kindle is the best e-book reader so far. Here’s why: unlimited free internet connectivity, paid for by Amazon . Once you’ve downloaded a book while sitting in an airport departure lounge, or read your Google Reader feeds on it, you’ll understand. Amazing.

Work computer: Dell Optiplex SX270, running Windows XP SP2, with 20-inch Dell LCD monitor, Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, and Microsoft optical mouse. A functional little box that the company bought--and, thankfully, maintains and secures. I wouldn't want the headache.