Apple Quack got a discussion going on Twitter recently, regarding the core Mac applications she uses to keep her busy medicine/research/parenting life on track. Symtym then expanded the discussion to include hardware and practices/habits he uses as an ER MD and attorney. Walter Jessen at Highlight Health 2.0 chimed in with some of the specialty applications he uses as a genetic researcher. At first, I didn't think I was techie enough to enter into the discussion, but I found myself drawn back to these posts over and over, and this led me to take the following inventory of my own Mac app usage, hardware, peripherals, and practices. Tongue-in-cheek, I'm calling this overview of my techie persona "Web 1.69" because I'm definitely a few points short of a full-fledged Web 2.0 user, and even my current forays into the world of tech are a few points short of optimal. But I'm trying, you gotta give me credit for that.
A few elements of my life and tech needs:
- The major towns in Rural County are wired, but many of my colleagues/coworkers haven't integrated Internet based apps into their daily lives, so even if I have, it is a struggle to get the process to be as effective as I'd like it to be.
- Rural has only one fiber optic cable bringing broadband access in the county. This cable has been disrupted four times in the past 15 months, resulting in cell/Internet outages. Plans are in place to install a second, redundant cable, but this is probably another year away. I avoid relying on Web-based apps because of the frailty of access in my community.
- Major computer uses: word processing, project management, task management, group scheduling, basic spreadsheets for financial reports, general life management.
- Major Web uses: CME, reference for clinical questions, life management (online banking, shopping, socializaing), blog.
- My work schedule is different every day. I work at two different clinics and one hospital, and when I'm at the hospital I might be working days or nights, for OB and/or hospitalist. What this means is I often don't know how long I'm going to be stuck someplace so my system needs to be mobile.
On that note, we'll begin.
1. Core devices
- Macbook 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo, running OS 10.5.4
- 16 GB G3 iPhone (white)
- AirPort for home network. I'm still using the old base station, the one that looks like a steamed Chinese dim-sum roll.
- Browser: FireFox, Safari on iPhone
- Word Processing: Word (for business/professional docs), Circus Ponies Notebook (blog posts), Scrivener (larger writing projects)
- Spreadsheets: Excel--it's hard to get away from Excel. I've been using it for years.
- Calendar: iCal, sync to iPhone via MobileMe
- Productivity: OmniFocus--syncs between MacBook and iPhone via MobileMe, Sciral Consistency
- PDF Management: Yep (supports TWAIN; use for scan-and-store documents like tax reciepts), Evernote (for web downloads and things I want to carry on iPhone), Adobe Acrobat Pro (haven't played with this much), FineReader (to create searchable PDFs)
- Twitter clients: TweetDeck, Twhirl
- Photo management and editing: iPhoto, PhotoShop Elements, Flickr Uploader
- Music/Sound: iTunes, GarageBand, EasyWMA (convert .wma to .mp3 format)
- Video: QuickTime Player, iDVD, iMovie, HandBrake (video format converter)
- Desktop management: Spaces. This has helped me maximize productivity on a 15-inch laptop screen. I'm using eleven spaces at the moment: info (iCal, Address Book), productivity (OmniFocus, Consistency), PDF managment, web, chat (TweetDeck), writing, sound/music, photo, video, spreadsheets, JungleDisk uploads.
3. Web-Based applications
- Email: Gmail. Stopped using Mail.app in favor of keeping everything on Gmail, which is great.
- Calendar: Up until very recently, I was using Google Calendar to schedule OB and hospitalist coverage, but have since switched to iCal/MobileMe.
- RSS Aggregator: Google Reader. Works for me.
- Word Processing: Google Docs. I don't rely on this for most word-processing, but it has been a lifesaver to help cross platforms.
- Printer: HP Deskjet 460WBT Mobile Printer with Bluetooth connectivity via CompactFlash slot (portable inkjet printer, wireless, battery or AC powered), Epson PictureMate photo printer.
- Scanners: Pentax DS600 portable scanner, Canon CanoScan 4400F color image scanner (flatbed, for visual journaling and collage projects), and Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M instant PDF sheet-fed scanner.
- iPods: I have a silver 80GB Classic, which filled up rapidly when I realized I enjoy watching videos in tiny format when I'm on call, and therefore added a 160GB Classic--also silver--for video specifically. The 80GB unit is used for music, podcasts, and audiobooks.
- Portable speakers: I have an old Altec Lansing folding speaker set I use around the house, and another Altec Lansing hockey puck speaker I take with me to the hospital and clinic so I can listen to jazz at work.
- Portable video: I just bought a Phillips portable DVD/mP3 player. This isn't something I would have ordinarily bought, but I found one steeply discounted and indulged myself.
- Digital Camera: these days I'm using a Canon PowerShot SD1000 which I bought for its compactness and good range of features. It fits in a jacket pocket or in a small purse very easily.
- Video Camera: I have a Flip Video Ultra Camcorder, which I thought I would be using for video blogging but this has not yet come to pass. Mostly I shoot video of my cats doing cute things, like sleeping.
- E-book reader: Last April I gave into the hype and bought a Kindle and have never regretted the expense. I'm one of life's great readers, the kind of person who has four or five books going at one time, but I can't carry all those books with me wherever I go. With the Kindle and a 2GB SD card, I can carry 20,000 titles around with me. Older titles are not well-represented on the Kindle yet, but there are more and more medical references being formatted for it all the time. Since buying it, I've doubled the number of recent titles I would usually have read during the same time. This is not to say I am anti-book; I love real books and have a house full of them. Unfortunately, I can't sit in this house all day and read them, so the Kindle is a great addition to my electronic mania.
- Offline: Western Digital 500GB external hard drive (not TimeMachined at this point because I'm using it to backup my old laptop as well as my current), Western Digital 250GB Passport drive, numerous thumb drives for files I have to use for hospitalist work.
- Online: basic work and creative files backed up to MobileMe; all my media files currently being transferred to Amazon S3 via JungleDisk.
7. Helpful bits and pieces
- USB SD card reader: useful for on-the-go photo uploading.
- 4-in-1 USB hub: for those times when things get crowded near your USB ports.
- Mini surge protector with 2 USB charging ports: I use this item almost every day to keep the iPhone charged.
8. Schlepping it all around: I know I tote a lot of stuff around. I've tried to correct this practice but I never have and I'm beginning to realize there are many other areas of self-improvement more deserving of my efforts.
- Tote Bag: this is the only bag I carry if I'm going to clinic and bypassing the hospital for the day. Its an Eagle Creek Getaway tote bag and it usually contains a few files and papers, the Kindle, the 80GB iPod, the Altec Lansing hockey puck speaker, the Canon PowerShot SD1000, a wallet and a pen/pencil case. Also Moleskine notebook, because I still use pen and paper. Call me a dinosaur.
- Rolling laptop case: I drag this along if I've got a night hospitalist shift or if I'm on my way to the hospital to cover OB. In those scenarios, I'm never sure if I'm going to be in the hospital for 2 hours or 30 hours, so I like to be equipped with my computer. I have a Skooba Roadwired Convertible Computer/Camera wheeled case. This is a moderately large rolling laptop case but the interior can be configured with velcro dividers to accommodate my portable printer if I want to bring it along. Extra pockets accommodate all the little bits and pieces in #7.
9. Miscellaneous web resources which have saved me from complete isolation and insanity in Rural.
- Amazon: I've been a devoted customer for many years. I do try to buy books from independent bookstores, but I have to admit it is easier to get most things from Amazon, including teapots, iPods, skillets, pressure canners, and a number of items which have become necessities since moving away from the city. I spend $79/year for their Prime membership, which means any order I place on a weekday arrives two business days later--for free--and anything I'm desperate to have will arrive in 24 hours if I pay another $3.99. This is a massive indulgence but helps me feel less trapped, especially during long rainy winter months.
- ABEbooks: I have a number of interests which require access to out-of-print books. If I can't find a title through an Amazon reseller, I search ABEbooks.
- UpToDate: I learned to rely on UpToDate during residency and even now there are few days that go boy without my logging on to figure out how to work up an odd presentation or manage a complicated patient on the wards. Last time I renewed for two years; next time, if I can scrape the money up front, I might renew for longer. I keep the CDRom disks on hand in case Rural's broadband goes down.
And that's my tech status at this point in my life in Rural. The majority of what I've listed above is relatively new to me--obtained or learned/integrated in the past 3-4 months. I'm sure my usage will evolve but I'm rather pleased at my geekification so far. I won't comment on practices, because Symtym's post summarized my goals so nicely.
If I can reveal my inner geek, so can you--what are your core apps, devices, and practices?