Doing more with less.

There's an App for that; Apple's App Store slogan from a couple of years ago is telling of the proliferation of small, task-oriented software program's. Apps that tend to do "one thing well". Finding the right tool for the right job these days presents endless options and as many opportunities and it's something the geek in me has been thinking about quite a lot recently.

I own five computers. Those are pieces of equipment that directly resemble the traditional notion of the personal computer in some way, and includes my iPhone. I have a Mac mini, a MacBook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone (all very fanboy, right?) and I keep an old spare Windows rig around for occasionally playing older games that have no Mac version because I'm far too stubborn to bootcamp my Mac or fumble around with WINE. So each of these machines has a purpose, though in some cases they share a purpose to some degree, and I've talked about this previously.

Computers used to be defined by the limitations of the hardware available but in recent years computers have become defined far more by their convenience of use. You don't need a big beige box on your desk anymore, a computer can take on a form that is most suitable for your task or at least a very favourable compromise. I used to have to browse the net at my desk, later I could do it with a laptop sat on the sofa and now I can recline with the iPad (or a Nexus 7, were I that way inclined) - probably as suitably ergonomic as an electronic device is ever likely to get for the task. I can still browse on my desktop machine but the reasons to do so have diminished. Similarly, I could sit on the sofa and browse the net on my phone but it's small screen is an impediment. Of course that small screen is a boon when I'm out of the house or want access immediately and have it in my pocket because it fits in there. Computing has become context sensitive in a very practical way.

Even the smallest of these machines is more powerful than the gaming PCs I was building for myself a decade ago - significantly so.

I've been contemplating lately that with so much computing power, and particularly so much portable computing power at my disposal that I could make better use of them in making life easy and being more productive. That isn't productive in my work - this is all personal hardware - but productive in my hobbies and interests.

There are plenty of things I am already doing: I'm an early adopter in general and have fully embraced the notion of cloud syncing - but there's a lot more I could be doing to make the most of all this expensive gadgetry. I haven't played much with automation, for which there are a lot of tools, and suspect that as my uses are personal this may be an avenue of limited possibilities. It's something I want to explore though. I'm also compulsively strict on software installs, and will attempt to make the most of the software I have where possible rather than installing something new for a particular task.

This is going to be a regular theme for posts in the coming months. As I experiment and try new things I'll write about them; probably not on a weekly basis as I don't expect to progress so quickly, but regularly enough to make a bit of a 'feature series'. There's a new version of iOS and OSX due in the next few months and the new features there should be an ideal opportunity to experiment with my setup and workflow, try out some new apps and revisit some software features that I'd previously considered but declined to use.


Continued Break