Hardware Tech I'm Using, January 2024 Edition

At the start of each year, I generally take a look around to see how I feel about the technology I’m using — to see if it fits my needs for day–to–day work and the volunteering and so on I do. While I remain an unrepentant Apple fanboy, this time I’ve tweaked (in some cases changing back) what I’m using as I go into 2024.

In summary:

So today, 11th January, I took my iPad Mini into the Apple Store for an eyewateringly expensive screen repair; a plant pot had dropped it and cracked the screen back early last year. I had replaced it in a fit of “Maybe this will work better for me?” with one of last year’s new iPad Airs. This was not a success.

What I’m always looking for is to carry fewer devices and less weight. So my line of reasoning was that a single competent iPad with a decent–sized screen, plus a case with a keyboard, would replace the need to carry both my laptop and my iPad Mini. Especally when iPadOS 16 introduced clever new ways of working, such as Stage Manager.

I tried. I gave it a serious go. I was wrong.

iPad Air vs iPad Mini plus Macbook Air

Two things were the issue. The primary one is that I just don’t get along with multi–tasking in iPadOS: be that the traditional split–window approach, or Stage Manager. It’s close: but the inflexibility of how and where windows are put just throws me out of the experience. Perhaps I’m too used to the (to me) 36–year–old ability to overlay windows however I want. In saying that though, I see plenty people now who set everything to fullscreen and just tab between them, or tile them.

Secondly: weight. A decent battery–powered keyboard case doubled the weight of the iPad Air; which took it into the range of the weight of Macbook Air plus iPad Mini closely enough that I couldn’t feel the difference when I was carrying them. And because of that weight, I couldn’t use the keyboard case all of the time: so a second lightwight cases was ordered. That mean faffing around changing them and so on.

(I could have bought the four times the price Apple Folio Keyboard but just couldn’t justify the cost.)

So there’s that one. Back to the iPad Mini ASAP.

Macbook Air M1

Shortly on this. It’s still by far the best laptop I have ever bought. I bought the 16Gb version and I’ve never seen it get close to needing that amount of memory. I should write about how the “8Gb is not enough!” crowd were and still are (with certain power–user exceptions) plainly wrong.

I blew up one of the two USB-C ports somehow. I honestly don’t know how. But it has two ports and I only ever use one. So I’m still OK there. Completely screwed the resale value, though. Given that and the iPad Mini, it might be time for me to get accidental damage cover on my contents insurance.

Rocketbook Everlast Core notepads and Frixion Pens

I backed these on Kickstarter some six years ago and they’re still in daily use five and a half years later. I can’t think how much paper I have saved.

Last year, because of the increase complexity in my social life needing noting and organising, I bought a whole heap of different–coloured Pilot Frixion pens. And a pencilcase. Or two. I feel like a schoolboy again!

Predictions for the next year

Possible: I might replace the laptop. I don’t need to, but courtesy of Farah Mendlesohn I recently saw how the new model looks and feels and it’s tempting.

Less likely: a new iPad Mini. Not after the money I’ve just spent on the existing one.

Even less likely: more Pilot Frixion pen colours. Unless they bring out more colours, that is!