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Blog

How I Do What I Do

Thomas Whitley

I really enjoy reading about what others use to do what they do. Sam Harrelson has a great post on what he uses to do what he does here. So, for some while I have wanted to post about how I get things done on a day to day basis, from hardware perspective and a software perspective.

Hardware
Most of my computing is done from one computer, my laptop is a Dell Inspiron 640m. I used to use a laptop and a desktop, having the desktop for backup purposes and as a home “hub” of sorts, but that is no longer necessary. On my laptop I run Windows Vista (which I’m quite happy with) and just recently upgraded from 1GB of RAM to 2GB of RAM as well as from 120GB harddrive to a 320GB harddrive. I don’t use any other hardware with my computer, except an external harddrive. Mice, speakers, etc. just seem to get in the way and computing for me is all about being as portable as possible.

My printer is a Dell V305W. It isn’t fancy by any means, but it is All-In-One and it is wireless, which means I can print wirelessly from anywhere in my house without having to have a “base computer” to which the printer is hooked up. The added convenience and ability to have one less computer makes this a great tool for me.

Though I no longer use more than one computer, I use my 2nd generation 32GB iPod Touch with great regularity. The fact that it has wi-fi capabilities means that I can use it at home, at school (where I spend 3 days a week), and at the office. I check my e-mail on there, twitter from it, read feeds, check the weather, etc. Oh yeah, I also listen to a lot of music, and since I went with the 32GB I can actually fit it all on there.

Software
The software side of my computing is somewhat traditional in that I use Microsoft Office 2007 for everyday text, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. That is where the traditional nature of my computing experience stops, though.

The browser that I use exclusively is Google’s Chrome. The minimalist interface, along with it’s uber-impressive speed make it my favorite browser of all time. However, for those who know a bit more about browsers, tabbed browsing especially, in Chrome, each tab runs separate from the other tabs, so if one tab crashes, the whole browser doesn’t crash. Internet Explore, FireFox, Safari, etc. have still not caught on to how genius this is.

I use Evernote to remember. Evernote syncs across multiple platforms (for me web, desktop app, iPod Touch app) and easily lets me create quick text notes as reminders, lists, etc. or to take screen shots, etc. Further, Evernote is fully searchable (even searches text within images) so you don’t have to remember which note you put the web address for that couch you’ve been looking at.

I am a student working on my Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Religion, so the Bible is important to my work. For all of my Bible needs I use BibleWorks. It is extremely powerful with great search, an insane amount of translations (multiple languages as well), and great exegetical tools. It’s not as user-friendly as some other Bible software out there, but I do think it’s the most powerful. One word of caution, though, if you don’t really understand what a verb in the aorist tense means, this isn’t for you.

My picture manager and editor is Picasa. It isn’t the best picture editor in the world, but it is free and it is by Google, which means it’s super easy to upload to the web, to a blog, etc. and to access from anywhere.

I’ve been doing some podcasting lately (check out http://thinkng.fm) and use Skype to call Sam Harrelson while he records either through Skype or using Audacity.

I use DropBox and Live Mesh to sync files across the web and computers. Having access to all of my files no matter where I am is becoming increasingly important in my life.

For Twitter I use TweetDeck. It is the best application/client for Twitter I have seen yet. I would certainly not use Twitter like I do without it.

To keep everything organized I have a mac-style dock, ObjectDock. I also use Taskbar Shuffle to keep my windows in the order I like them in my taskbar, because I never open them in the order I want them, rather in the order I need them.

I use Google products for just about everything else. I use GMail for email. All of my e-mail addresses flow in and out of my main gmail account. This way i have everything in one place and am able to respond much quicker and be much more productive. I use Google Calendar as my calendar. It syncs with the native calendar on my iPod Touch as well as with my Outlook calendar (which I never open anymore, but it is the calendar that syncs with my Windows Mobile phone). Also, my wife and I can view each others’ calendars and have a good idea of what’s going on with the other when we attempt to schedule things.

I use Google Documents A LOT. I take notes for school in there as well as take quick notes. I back up Evernote with Google Docs and vice-versa a lot. Also, I can share documents with others and we can all collaborate and make changes to the document. For example, Sam Harrelson and I have a shared Google document that contains show notes for our podcast Thinking Baptists as well as ideas for future shows. I use Google Reader to keep up with all the news, blogs, etc. that I read on a regular basis. I prefer this over a desktop application for feed reading because with it all being on the web (in the cloud) it is constantly updated and changes are shown in real time.

My blog is a tumblr blog and I use Google Analytics to track stats for the site.

It is a lot, but it is how I get my work/play done on a regular basis. I hope this was somewhat enjoyable/informative for you. I had a blast putting it together.

How do you do what you do?