Currently Using - September 2020

On this page there’s just a bit on what electronic devices / equipment / software I’m running right now. It’s all to meet requirements and geared towards value for money.

What’s New in September 2020?

Only one change really - I upgraded my 3.4yr old Moto G5Plus smartphone to a Google Pixel 4a. With well over 3 years between them, there’s obviously a large performance difference and functionality gap. Also, the Pixel has a larger screen in a smaller body. I’ll be keeping the Moto around though as a backup phone for trips and for out on the bike, just in case!

Hardware

Dell XPS 13 (9360)

The family laptop since May 2018, and a nice and somewhat child resistant metal laptop at that. (Core i5-8250U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, UHD 620 graphics, Windows 10 Home)

Windows PC

My Frankenstein’s monster of a Windows box is mainly for audio and video editing, encoding, gaming and some work, and generally gets updated piecemeal.

Archive Server

Another self built machine mainly harking back to May 2013, and used for archiving files and media, running the linux.

  • CPU: AMD A6-5400K (May 2013), with a Scythe Shuriken B cooler (May 2015)
  • RAM: 8GB Corsair XMS3 (May 2013)
  • Mobo: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4M (May 2013)
  • Graphics: On CPU (headless)
  • PSU: Antec Earthwatts 450 Platinum PSU (May 2013)
  • Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (May 2013) with Scythe Flex 140 fan.
  • Discs: Samsung 840 120GB SSD for OS, 2 x 4TB Western Digital Reds (September 2016 & September 2018) for personal data & 2 x 8TB Seagate Barracudas (November & December 2019) for media backups.
  • OS: Xubuntu 18.04 LTS.

The Rest

2011 Apple MacMini I bumped the memory and stuck an SSD in it but it’s old, struggles with most things above 1080p with h264, but that’s still useful, so it’s hooked up to my old 24” monitor on a spare desk for study purposes and desktop stuff. CPU: Dual Core i5 2520M, Memory: 8GB, Graphics: AMD HD 6630M w/ 256MB, Drive: Crucial MX300 525GB SSD (Sept. 2016), MacOS: 10.13 High Sierra (2017)

2014 Thinkpad E440 I bought one of these in mid 2014, then it had a screen hinge failure in late 2018, so I rescued the SSD, RAM, battery and PSU, and in May 2020 bought an identical one on Yahoo Auctions which was cheap as the battery didn’t work, re-used my battery, upgraded the RAM, and it’s back running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. (Spec is an i3-4100M, 8GB RAM, SSD)

Software

Backups and the small amount of sync I do are both handled with SpiderOak, one of the more security focussed online backup services, since living in a wooden house in an earthquake zone does make me think about off-site backup quite a lot. Most of the things I do are text based, so I try to keep it simple, using as editors like Notepad++ for day to day, LibreOffice Writer, and RedNoteBook for journalling. Photo management is mainly via digiKam.

I keep passwords in a KeePassXC file, and sensitive documents in VeraCrypt files.

Video editing

I use BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve 16.x on the Windows desktop, and I tend to use both YouTube and Vimeo for video availability. I moved to LosslessCut for hacking away unneeded footage from my GoPro excursions.

Audio Editing

Since buying a proper microphone, I went for Reaper as a cheap but easy to understand DAW.

Hosting

This site is housed on some space at Pair Networks where I also keep some personal projects and experiments. All of my e-mail is run via my own domain names, using Pair again as a back-end with a side helping of GMail as a backup. There are free equivalents for email, and of course web-mail, but Pair works well, I can use alts for things easily, no ads in sight, and costs 6USD/month for the hosting and mail.

Gaming

I do a lot less gaming nowadays as I get my kids to do it instead. We currently have a Nintendo Switch and a PS4, which is mainly used as a HTPC. I play a few games through Steam/GOG on my desktop PC now and then.

The Audio and the Visual

I have a FujiFilm X-T200 (April 2020) with the kit 15-45mm lens and so far really enjoy it. I also bought a 23mm weather sealed prime lens.

It’s a different beast from my old Nikon D3200 dSLR which I bought in October 2012. That said, I’ll be keeping it around, with the 3 DX lenses I have (a 35mm prime, a 55-200mm telephoto and a used 18-55mm VR kit lens).

After years of abusing and finally selling my GoPro HeroHD 2, then a Hero 5 Black (also since sold), in December 2018 I received a GoPro 7 Black as a gift. I like to play with the GoPros on the snowboard, the bikes and at the beaches. I find it to be a great urban camera too and using with the family given its POV style, the kids can’t really break it. Well, they haven’t yet.

Of late I’ve indulged a long time interest in audio recording, and have invested in a Rode NT1 mic kit, a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface. I’ve been using this for family video voice overs and eventually for some YouTube voiceovers.

Gadgets

  • Google Pixel 4a ‘smartphone’ (June 2017).
  • Kindle PaperWhite 2015 (Sept. 2015).
  • Raspberry Pi’s of various generations running various OSs.
  • Arduino Uno and other electronics kit (2013 onwards).
  • Zoom H1 audio recorder.
  • Boling BL-P1 LED light panel, essentially so I didn’t appear as a silhouette in video conferences during a few months of working from home during the 2020 COVID19 pandemic (April 2020).