And Why Blog then?
Marcus and Agata maintain a daily blog. It already goes into not just technical arenas, but personal & philosophical, and of course areas of religious detail.
It is our small record of our journey through life and how on a day to day basis we try to untangle complexity and also make our world and the wider environment just slightly better and more interesting.
So then, of course we would like to reflect on 2015 and in this posting the technologies that streamlined and changed our lives in 2015. Since we are both Engineers by training, and just a little OCD (and obviously in a nice way) you can leverage our 2015 experiences well into 2016, probably at lower cost, and knowing that we fully tested anything and everything to exhaustion.
Slight software bugs aside (Bluetooth is not yet working on my Windows 2016 TP4 installation), Bluetooth in 2015 is now pretty much rock solid.
Wired headphones are now only for emergency usage and detaching the lead gives you great flexibility whilst performing sports. On a ski slope your Smartphone is tucked away somewhere safe and protected. Yet, using the controls on your Bluetooth headset you can stop, pause or change your music at will. On a Marathon you can keep that music player hidden and not have to worry about cords tangling, or getting the player ruined with rain ingress.
The next iPhone (7) is rumored to have removed the headphone jack, yes it is time.
2015 Bluetooth mentions
Sony A7 Camera
The Sony A7 has totally transformed the way we approach quality photography. Fitted with a non zoom (fixed focal Sony Zeiss) lens it makes this full frame camera smaller than ANY other DSLR on the market.
The camera inspires confidence. I often end up just taking the one shot, because experience tells me it's going to come out perfectly.
The Internet is now critically important to us. All our Music, News, Television is delivered via the Internet. We use it for all our Telephone and Video Calls. Almost all of our goods except for food our ordered over the Internet.
Every time we step into a new Country, normally our first dash is to a Telecoms shop that we previously researched to find a Pay as You Go SIM for local, reasonably priced Mobile Internet.
So, at home we have not one but 2 Unlimited Internet plans, because, of course, one always needs a Backup.
Unlimited Speed Internet
In early 2015 we had been on an older Swisscom tariff when I noticed that we could go to a higher speed package for a smaller cost. We said yes, but the upgrade was not a smooth one. Due to a Swisscom software error the TV signal was downgraded on the new TV internet box that came with the upgraded Internet service. So we asked to 'back out' our upgrade until it was fixed. But since our original package was now now obsolete they 'downgraded' us to a very slow Internet connection. So initially our upgrade turned into a downgrade :-(
2 months later the TV problem was fixed and we reconsidered our upgrade. Although we had initially wanted to save money, instead we ended up going for the very fastest Gigabit Swisscom package, at an even higher cost than original. We reflected that our use of the Internet is so prolific that the extra cost was going to be worth it.
And whilst we are usually limited by slow speed servers, just occasionally we get really busy.
Additionally our Internationally prolifically used Web Server can now run without any speed limiting, because just let anybody try and max out our upload connection. I'd like to see it!
Garmin 920XT watch
(Apple screws up)
As budding Athletes, Marcus and Agata monitor all runs and sporting activities and track whether we are getting faster and more proficient. 2015 was then somewhat of a monitoring disappointment. Why?
Basically because Apple screwed up the Apple Watch. It was my firm belief that the Apple Watch would be enough of a success to force the existing SmartWatch manufacturers like Garmin, TomTom, Polar to up their game. But success was 'only' average and the established manufacturers stood mostly still.
The public still don't regard the Apple Watch as a killer product and to any serious or even mildly serious athlete a smartwatch without a GPS is a j-o-k-e.
So Marcus has hung onto his Garmin 920XT and Agata to her Fenix 3 watch.
I much prefer the 920XT since it has the ability to record over a 10 hour race (like the Fenix 3), but it's lighter and a comfortable 24x7 wearable watch. To delicate marcus :-) the Fenix 3 is too heavy and bulky for continuous wear.
Fujitsu IX 500 Scanner
Large parts of our life are spent scanning documents. In fact every document, receipt and magazine article. Well, even our Christmas cards are scanned.
We had heavily previously invested in an expensive Samsung multi function printer scanner, but the scanner part has let us down and so the Fujitsu replacement was welcome.
It turns out to be a joy to use. It is fast, efficient, never jams, can scan 200 hundred page+ documents into one file effortlessly, and drum roll ... is able to create a searchable .PDF file.
Searchable is something we did with our gen -2 scanner, was lost with Samsung and is not back with Fujitsu IX500. To restate, searchable pdf's enable you to search thru your document contents say using an OSX search or via Google Drive. It is just incredible.
Windows 10 is bloody great. There I said it! For a mobile Operating System I would not use anything else on my laptop. It provides me with a 64 bit Operating System, with Application Compatibility reaching back into the annals of Microsoft time, and crucially it support my Touch Screen laptop, and a large variety of hardware. Also it supports Modern Apps (which I never liked), but now they need not be full-screen, something that was always ... well ridiculous on .. Windows.
Whilst I do use Linux and OSX extensively, and I probably use them each for more hours per week than nearly any fanboy reading this post and tutting loudly: But my most familiar experience is still with Microsoft, after all I first used and programmed them in 1976, and it's good to stay in touch with my IT roots.
Note: that for a Power User, and Static Workstation platform I would instead recommend Windows 2012 R2 server and in 2016 I would point to 2016 Server. And I'd use VMware virtualisation (not ESX) to run all my various guest Operating Systems from Remix, to Centos, to PClinuxOS, to Ubuntu,
OnePlus One & Nexus 5
In general, Smartphones in 2015 have been what many people regard as their primary computing device. For Marcus and Agata we are a little different. We use a multi display, multi OS server, and, an iPad / Apple OSX computer respectively.
We do of course love our Smartphones and they are invaluable whilst we are not at home, but as homeboys (and girls) we are frequently home, and thus not smart-phoning as much of the time.
Regardless, I am so so so happy with my resolute don't buy a new Smartphone in 2015 stance. Both my principal phone are now on Android 6 and I'm loving the applications and the base level features that Google and Cyanogenmod (for the Oneplus) provide me.
8TB Hard Disk
Marcus moved to his first 8TB hard disk in 2015 and for future data requirements it is still the most cost efficient storage size (assuming you go for the Seagate Archive drive).
Aeropress and Coffee
Aeropress makes an excellent cup off coffee simply and economically. Since all it needs is a kettle and ground coffee it is also used extensively when we are travelling in our Motorhome where there is no guaranteed 240V mains electricity.
We twice tried to upgrade and replace our Philips HR 2752 juicer, but it is back because it's simply better. Aside from the technicalities we'd like to stress our continued change in diet and lifestyle.
- No fizzy drinks, except water
- No shop purchased juices, even 'freshly squeezed'
- Only home squeezed fruit juice
- Usually grapefruit and oranges, with pomegranates if pricing offers allow.
The PDF archive
For posterity and the smallest amount of Paranoia, in case Google disappears, we make .pdf files of blog posts. And of course they are here for 2015
So that Uncle Google can find everything I am pasting in the HTML here