Computer Tech 2019

Computer Tech 2019
Most of my computer stuff now fitting easily on one small desk.  The smartphone is heavily involved in taking the picture so couldn’t attend this tech party

When I designed my first web site way back before 2003 to be launched that year I envisioned four primary elements would form the layout – Ideas, Opinions, Personal and Writing.  Within the personal section I wanted to tell all a bit about myself and also to include details of my computer set up.  I wanted this because at the time I imagined a fair percentage who were surfing at the time may share similar interests to me and would appreciate information on how I operated my technology.  As a result since October 2003 I have included details of my computer hardware, software and web use.  You can see these unaltered articles posted by me in this WordPress site on 19 October 2017.

I created an update to my computer story in March 2010, which is now nearly a decade ago so I thought it timely to provide another round up of my tech.  You can see my 2010 update in this WordPress site on 3 August 2018.

When I left off in 2010 I had just started to work myself into the Applesphere.  My main computer was a Mac Mini viewed on an Apple Cinema Display.  I also had an Apple MacBook whilst I waited patiently for the rumoured iPad which hadn’t materialised but sneakily came out just a month after I posted my article.

I also had a couple of Windows based laptops.  My ageing, noisy, overclocked Novatech lap top and a tiny new Dell Mini netbook primarily for servicing my HiFi processor.

Apple’s iPhones were becoming more common and I noted in 2010 that I was on my third one and I have listed a full schedule of those I owned below.

Other accessories included an Iomega MiniMax MMHD 500Gb USB/Firewire 400 back up drive running Time Machine, a Logitech QuickCam Fusion web camera, a Hewlett Packard HP Photosmart C6180 All-in-one WiFi full colour printer/photocopier/facsimile machine, a 2009 BT HomeHub 2 WiFi N router, a Bose Companion 5 Series 2 sound system with stereo speakers and Subwoofer, a first edition 2008, 160Gb Apple TV plus an iPod Classic.

Since these heady days of multiple devices I have greatly simplified my set up which is now fully suited to remote working and have subsequently sold off or given away everything I had previously listed.  Now it is just one lap top with a few accessories, an all-in-one device, a smartphone and router.

Hardware

My current laptop is again an Apple product.  I have not deserted the brand but did upgrade.  As advised in March 2010 I was considering an iMac but never went down this route.  I really liked my white, unibody MacBook and appreciated the simplicity of using just a single, portable working device which suited my changing lifestyle.  I did try a couple of iPads along the way, a 64Gb black WiFi, 3G enabled iPad 2 in November 2011 and a 128Gb space grey WiFi, 3G enabled iPad Air 2 in November 2014 but none could be considered a true laptop replacement.  Data and software back up to anywhere but the cloud was too difficult, my old file system comprising sometimes deprecated file extensions couldn’t be handled, I wasn’t able to natively title and sort my growing photograph collection and web coding was awkward to do in the way I wanted too, which is simply.  So in the absence of suiting these critical criteria I purchased a proper, full power, old style lap top in November 2014.

I choose a new MacBook Pro, a late 2014 Retina 15″ model with a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7, 16Gb 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, an Intel Iris Pro 1536Mb video graphics card and a 1Tb Flash hard drive.  This was a standard selectable Apple configuration and I haven’t modified it in any way.  And as you are dying to know it cost me £3.60. Short of £2,400.

MacBook and Pro on desk
My trusty old MacBook hooked up to the new MacBook Pro.  Some time later the Pro was fully impregnated with the guts from the willing donor

The alleged lack of connections didn’t concern me as the world was moving in a WiFi interconnected way but I was concerned about reliance on huge operating system updates over the air and the ability to play and record to disk media such as CD and DVD so I also purchased an Apple DVD Rewriter, a USB Super Drive, for £65, which has since rarely been connected.

I intended to use the laptop in a place where it could suffer potential loss so needed a way to secure it to some infrastructure in a room.  The MacBook Pro didn’t have a Kensington Lock slot, the standard in computer security, so I had to find a way to provide this kind of protection myself.  I discovered the solution in a LandingZone Dock Express, model LZ3015AL, similar models of which are currently on sale, new for $99.  This MacBook Pro accessory clamps into opposing connectors either side of the laptop edge and locks into place, protecting the removable base plate whilst providing substitute connectors and crucially a Kensington Lock slot.

As the hard drive on the MacBook Pro was 1Tb and my Iomega MiniMax was only 500Gb I also had to upgrade my local back up drive.  I wanted greater portability and the option to have two solid state drives so one could be stored away remotely and each could be swapped regularly to ensure the most reliance in case of major theft or failure.  I chose the bright orange, rubber encased LaCie Rugged 3.0 Thunderbolt 2Tb flash drive and purchased two at a price of just under £200 each.  I also bought a lightweight My Passport Ultra 500Gb back up drive, for about £60 and used this to make a further copy of my photographs and videos which hold the greatest digital sentimentality.

The only mouse I now have is my Logitech V450 Laser Cordless Mouse which I purchased in 2007 but failed miserably to mention in 2010.  I purchased this mouse to be a portable input device, small enough to pack into a rucksack with the laptops I took to work but I don’t tend to bother with it as I find the MacBook Pro’s large trackpad sufficient for most of my needs.

HP Envy 110 Printer
The remarkably beautiful HP Envy 110 all in one printer, copier etc., etc., just before it was sold

My Hewlett Packard Photosmart printer/copier/scanner/etc device was getting old and I wanted a WiFi model so in May 2012 upgraded to a very smart looking HP Envy 110 D411a printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc which cost a whopping £175.  Although sleek and beautiful it eventually needed new inks so naturally I bought a new printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc/etc.  Sadly these days buying a whole new printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc/etc/etc is now a cheaper option than ink replacement.  It is an Epson Expression Photo XP-760 printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc/etc/etc/etc which I got for £98 [new obvs], in October 2017.

And to complete my hardware set up my Wifi source also had to be addressed.  For a while I was reliant on using a commercial over the air source which at first only provided about 0.1-0.5 Mbps.  Over a couple of years it increased to a more reasonable 5-6 Mbps but I changed tack, invested in my own mobile router, a Huawei HomeFi B311s-220 and now get around 10-12 Mbps from a 3 SIM, just shy of 4K streaming.

I no longer own any Windows equipment nor use any emulator.

Software and Web

8 cores and GPU running
The MacBook Pro running at near full speed during a video conversion process.  Note the near full capacity of the 8 cores [4 core hyper-threaded] and GPU

As I am now solely reliant on Apple devices I naturally err toward Apple software, the latest operating system being MacOS Catalina version 10.15.2.  My pattern is to always update to the latest formally issued, non Beta version of any OS X since I purchased my first MacMini and have never had a problem.

I also always favour Apple supplied software applications and programs such as Books, iMovie, Music, Mail, Maps, Notes, Numbers, Pages, Photos and Safari, all in their latest guise.

Web site coding is now handled within Apple’s Xcode with uploading to the cloud via FTP within a non Apple product, Filezilla [ver 3.46 currently] up to my web hosting service provided by UK2.

Mobile Smartphones

When I reported in 2010 I mentioned that I had been through a slew of Apple iPhones and this trend has continued until this day.

Prior to 2010 they were an 8Gb [original] iPhone in February 2008, a 16Gb 2.5G iPhone in July 2008 and a [replacement] 16Gb iPhone 3G the next month.

In 2010 I upgraded to a 32Gb iPhone 4, in October 2011 I chose a 64Gb iPhone 4S, in October 2014 I went for a 128Gb iPhone 6 Plus and my latest choice, from November 2017 is a 256Gb iPhone X.

You can see a pattern of purchasing the largest capacity version available, which I did to attempt to chase a dream of fully storing high quality versions of my photographs.  You can see that my ‘phone updates originally occurred around once a year but slowed to replacements every three years as the technical abilities of these smartphones matured.  So I expect my next one to be the iPhone 12S with around 500Gb.  Not that such a large storage is needed as I currently use around 200Gb of my 256Gb capacity including now being able to store all my photos and filmed videos at full resolution on the device.

For mobile sound I used the out of the box wired EarPods for most of the last decade but am now using the wireless Apple AirPods, which are great for sound and safety in operation as a hands free device whilst driving.  I have tried the latest, wirelessly charging, noise cancelling AirPods Pro but remain unconvinced that their performance is worth the very high price of upgrading.

Binning The Tech

But what about my superseded, now no longer required tech.

As you will be aware from reading my Computers 2010 update [I presume you did] I take digital security seriously.  This is why I destroyed my Mac Mini and its hard drive.  However I felt guilty about doing the same to my MacBook, which still retained considerable value.  I twice cleaned the hard drive with a security wipe but did not want to sell the thing to an unknown source on an auction site.  Whilst most likely to be purchased by a grateful teenager who wanted to spend more time on their ass watching YouTube I couldn’t risk it being bought by a clever dick, Black Hat, cyberpunk who could unmask my security cleansing.  So I chose to donate it to a family member.

I had done something similar with my original Packard Bell desktop system which went to my brother-in-law.  He did eventually pass it on to his own father but I have no idea where it went after he died.  Maybe to that Black Hat?

My mother was given my old Dell lap top, which she didn’t get on with on the grounds she only played Solitaire so my father eventually used this.  Occasionally.  Over the years he had collected a number of lap tops and enjoyed the variety despite being unable to consistently remember his passwords and not really utilising any of his machines.  He also owned a ChromeBook and a separate netbook along with his ancient desktop system which he liked messing around with in both Windows and Linux.

All this confusion led to much requested tech support from me so I figured that I could offer him my MacBook, watch him get to love its powerful simplicity and consequently tech support from me would be greatly eased.  However an illogical opposition to Apple products meant he was determined to dislike it and so never used it.  I took it back.

I offered the MacBook to my brother who really needed an update to his old desktop system but sadly shares my father’s same illogical opposition to Apple products so turned it down.  It seemed I couldn’t get rid of my valued old friend.  But then I heard my nephew was struggling with an old Windows laptop he shared with his partner and needed a device to assist in his studies to become a Fireman.  He willingly accepted my offer of a free, high end Apple MacBook and has gratefully kept it since.

The Novatech was too old to be touted around like the MacBook and so I decided to risk selling it on the open market.  Any secure data on it had already been well superseded and it was primarily used for business work for most of its life.  I once again cleaned up the hard drives and sold it for £62 in November 2017.  Furthermore, it would not have looked so interesting to Mr Black Hat due to its age, specification and low value.

The Dell Mini 10 was also sold, in April 2012, for £121.  No major security wiping was necessary as it had only ever been used to put processor updates on my HiFi and if that software was interesting to anyone or a security risk to me I’ll eat my hat, which for the record is not Black.  I do intend to tell the full story of my HiFi system in a future blog update and will include details of why I needed this netbook and why it is now gone.  Contact me if you need this story sooner rather than later.

The Apple Cinema Display was no longer needed when I sold the Mac Minis so this had to go to a new home as well.  Due to its quality and being just three years old I got £350 for it in November 2010.  It was perfect and well worth the money to the lucky buyer.

Other accessories were also sold, for instance the Logitech webcam around the same time for just £16 and the stunning HP Envy 110 D411a for a pitiful £25 seven years later.

One item I could not sell was the Iomega MiniMax MMHD 500Gb back up drive.  Not that it wouldn’t find a market or fetch too little but that I was concerned that it had held too much personal data.  Although fully encrypted as a Time Machine back up I couldn’t guarantee that some smarty pants couldn’t unlock these bits and bytes so decided to destroy it instead.  I duly picked the case apart to get at the internals.

The case and mother-board proved low resistance to my assembled tools and were suitably destroyed allowing me to concentrate on the internal disk platters.  They were held together in some sort of clear glass moulding, the destruction of which I considered to be effortlessly simple.  However this glass like substance proved to be actually made out of unbreakabilium.  It successfully survived dropping onto hard surfaces, frenzied attacks with screwdrivers and a crow bar and even blows from a full size metal mallet with a three foot handle being swung against it whist it was precariously supported at a forty-five degree angle across two bricks.  I was fully impressed despite being exhausted from my efforts and furious at my predicament.

I had to find a way to hide this perfectly undamaged drive from future prying eyes and concocted a plan to drop it in a deep river crossing.  I imagine it is now roaming the seas balanced precariously on the back of an enormous crab and I am relying on that crab to be the final protector of my data.

A neat thought that my 2019 set up is now truly mobile.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Computers section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 18 Dec 2019
Version 5.281 17 Dec 2019 [First Publication]
The first photograph shows my computer tech set up in one place, taken in December 2019.  The image includes the MacBook Pro, a USB Superdrive, orange clad portable drive, a smaller red external drive, a Joby Gorillapod adjustable tripod, a Logitech mouse and a small external USB drive in front of the laptop.  On the desk to the left is the Epson XP-760 printer and Huawei router
The second image shows my unibodied MacBook linked to my new MacBook Pro Retina 15″ during the process of transferring data from one machine to the other on 26 November 14, as taken by the me
The image of the printer is my HP Envy 110 all-in-one WiFi device, shown in a standby state.  The photograph implies the panels are mismatched but this wasn’t so apparent in real life.  The photograph was taken by me on 8 October 17
The final image shows a screenshot from my MacBook Pro during an intense workout for the CPU processor cores.  The Activity Monitor indicates 8 cores in operation but in reality the computer has four cores each hyper-threaded.  Note also that the NVIDIA graphics card is also in full use for the intense mathematical computations required.  The screenshot was grabbed on 5 October 2018 by the author
The LandingZone dock can be found at https://landingzone.net/products/macbook-docks/for-the-macbook-pro/#products-macbook-pro-description

Home Work

A MyDiary article from 27 Nov 2009

Today I am working from home.  No, really, I’m at home and working.  I’m not just messing about on my computer.  It’s real work.

I know it’s work because I have to open an Excel spreadsheet.  As usual, it is a complex, multi-formatted workbook with SUBTOTAL functions and my Mac’s pretty little spreadsheet, Numbers, does not seem to support these professional tools.

As a result I have had to install Sun’s VirtualBox which will allow me to load in my copy of Windows XP and the MS Office package on to my Mac.

I really do not want to do this, other than for the fascination, as it will be like fitting a Kia sunroof with ill fitting lock into my Jaguar.

The process involves adding Sun’s VirtualBox, Microsoft’s XP, the XP SP2 disc, MS Office 97 Suite [I can’t afford the extortionately priced upgrade, alright], adding AVG virus protection, then running several dozen Windows Updates, each of which wants to have its very own restart.

I will then be able to fire up the Excel sheet.

All of which is very time consuming and will mean I won’t be finishing early today.

Despite working from home.

Which I am.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog , Software and Worker sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 19 Jul 2018
First published on 27 Nov 2009

Computers October 2003

 

Click, whirr, wait… Tah-Dah! You have arrived at the vinceunlimited Computers page.

This is the version you would have seen had you visited [my website] in October 2003, albeit without all the fancy HTML5 stuff all around the tops and edges.

So, welcome to the 2003 computer pages of vinceunlimited in the days of Pentium PCs and Windows 95/XP.  Here you will find out all about my floppies, bits and ram.

There is a general computers section, one for hardware, one for software and one about the use of the web.  It was all very up to date at the time.

Author: Vince Poynter
From my website Version 5.009 dated 19 Oct 2017


Computers

A section for the nerds – Details of my hard and soft ware

Computer set up on classic desk showing Packard Bell tower case, Taxan CRT monitor, Canon Bubblejet printer, twin speakers and joystick
Early computer Setup circa 2003

Hard section – My computers, printer etc.  Technical details so you can swoon with envy or laugh helplessly at the sheer out-datedness of it all.  It was all cutting edge once, now it couldn’t cut mustard

Soft section – Programmes I use and abuse, for work and play.  Well, the licenced ones anyway.  Doesn’t include tips on reconfiguring Lara Croft in topless mode.  Pity

Web section – No, not a home for arachnids. Details of [the website].  The software which I used and which design house I employed (you believe that?)


Hardware

The hard page of vinceunlimited – Computerspeak, I’m afraid

Welcome to the hard page, part of the computer section within vinceunlimited.  Information provided for the purposes of cyberjerks and thieves.

Desktop system

Packard Bell Pulsar 23 tower case (taking up too much room on my desk) with Intel Pentium MMX233Mhz (slow now) running on 64Mb RAM (32Mb SDRAM plus 32Mb SIMM upgrade) and 2Mb standard video RAM boosted with an Orchid Righteous 3DII 12Mb ATI Rage II+ 3d acceleration card.  Storage is a (used to be gigantic – but not any more) 4.3Gb hard drive (no room for those video files) and outside access is via a 56k modem through Freeserve (connecting at about 33k usually).  I still run Microsoft Windows 95 (not 98, 98SE, 2000, ME or XP I hear you enquire) and display on my 17″ Taxan monitor (cost £500 new, now standard fare) with audio supplied through dual speakers and a Yamaha sub-woofer (booooom).

Laptop

A Novatech laptop opened and showing various opened windows
The Novatech Soprano Laptop

A custom Novatech Soprano laptop (heavy for a portable, more of a movable) with super fast 3.07GHz Intel Pentium 4 running on 512Mb RAM. Storage is a (gigantic – for now) 60Gb hard drive and the world is accessed via the built in 56k modem through Freeserve (25-44k, why the difference?).  I run Microsoft XP Professional and display on the built-in 64Mb 15″ TFT LCD.  Audio is supplied by two small shrill insects inside somewhere that like to go bleep very loudly at times.

Printer

Canon Bubblejet (say no more).


Software

The Soft Page of vinceunlimited – The underbelly of my computer

Welcome to the soft page, not that this page is softer than any of the others – flexiscreeens haven’t yet hit the streets – unless you know better.

As with the ‘hard’ page this is designed for all the nerds to discover what I like to use to ease me through the exciting world of computing, software wise.

Willy Gates has my vote as far as usable programmes go.  His pricing policy is questionable, as is the constant redevelopment of ideas.  I have no problem with him making trillions as his products have revolutionised the way we work together but he could be fairer to legitimate users.

And the policy of constantly re-inventing basic necessities (Yes, I’m talking Windows here) seems a touch greedy.  No wonder so many turn to piracy.  Why do the class leading products, with their international markets, sold in hundreds of thousands of units sell for the highest prices?  Ship ’em out cheaper Billy Boy and we’ll all buy legitimately in their millions and so make you even richer.  I know you could do with the extra cash.

Screenshot of laptop running multiple Windows in Windows XP
Windows XP

The operating systems I use is good old Microsoft Windows 95 on my home desktop and XP on my work laptop.  This conveniently hides the OS in the background and I rarely venture into white on black screens these days.  The 450mB ramquirement and 10 minutes to start up are a pain.

The big M (no, not McDonalds) also do well on applications. I learnt spreadsheets on Lotus 123 and early on supported this application along with the other excellent programmes they produced, particularly Organiser.  The Lotus look is generally superior to Microtosh but the mighty Gates stronghold is more and more eclipsing the user base.  In all I don’t think this will be a problem as compatibility is paramount in the new technology of computing.  Make it work, make it compatible – backwards and forwards and make it cheap.  That’s all we ask for.

And improve email programmes too.  I’ve not yet used one that isn’t total pants.

As for Apple Macintosh?  What’s the point?  I thought their skins were waterproof.  On a more serious note though, congratulations must go to Apple for pushing the boundaries of technology design.

Now what about PC software?  When will we see true user friendliness in GUI’s guys?  And I don’t necessarily mean a virtual office layout with a point and click ‘photo facsimile’ of an office desk.  That’s the real world.  We’re in an exciting new electronic medium here.  Let’s use new technology to work in a new world.  Lose the Qwerty keyboard and references to files.  This is electronic media.  Voice inputs, multi-dimensional applications, 3D visuals and neural partition storage is the way to go.  If you guys don’t come up with the quantum leap then I warn you, I will.

Finally, why do games recreate what we do in life?  I agree with top class simulation programmes but let’s stretch the imagination and create wonderful new multi-dimensional worlds of true beauty – aurally and visually.  Let’s not go mad on nasal simulation though.  I fear this strand of technology may be abused!


Web

The Web Page of vinceunlimited – Home Spun Facts

Textedit extract from vinceunlimited html home web page
Sample HTML coding for version 1.00

You have reached the web page of vinceunlimited.  The details of the software used to create and uplift this web page to the great World Wide Web and onto your screen.

As this is my first effort at designing and producing a web site I decided to keep it simple using a widely available programme which would produce a product that was readable on the majority of the world’s computers, using minimum facilities.

From the outset I decided that content was far more important than fancy graphics and fonts although I hope to improve the general look and content in future releases and when more users have faster internet access.

A standard look is vital in creating visual consistency and will aid the reader in remembering the site.  And it saves me having to constantly invent styles.

If you like what you see, or can imagine what I could achieve with better facilities and want me to help you design your site – contact me.  My services are available.

Website Creation Software

I have used a standard version of Microsoft FrontPage Express, version 2.0  Although most has been code checked through HTML (ask your son) using Microsoft Notepad.  No other software was used.  Does it show?

FTP

I use Smart FTP.  Because it can be loaded free for private users.  And I’m not loaded.

ISP

I use Freeserve as an Internet Service Provider.  Free.  So give them a big hand.

Web server – Where this is stored

I use Web-Mania as an Web Server provider.  The price is reasonable so they come well recommended.

Web site conceived, designed, produced, checked and sent to you, by Vince.  So that’s me then.

Note about using MS Notepad originally added in Version 1.03 in Feb 2005
My ISP provider Freeserve were bought by Wanadoo in 2000 although I never knew this at the time of the article and was still using ‘Freeserve’ and my Freeserve email at the time of posting.  Orange purchased Wanadoo in 2006 and I noted the change to Wanadoo then Orange in my formal website vincepoynter.co.uk Version 1.02 in Jun 2006.  This was confirmed within Version 2.04 of vinceunlimited.co.uk/web around Dec 2006 where I noted that I had moved from Freeserve/Wanadoo/Orange to BT and now had 6mB of capacity [also noted in vincepoynter.co.uk/webcredit]
Version 1.04 Apr 2009 of vincepoynter.co.uk/webcredit noted that I changed FTP supplier from Smart FTP to another free service by Cyberduck


Future Computer

Crystal ball time

Welcome to the future.  Check out my computer specification of the future.  My guess [in October 2003] for year 148AV (anno. vincy).

Desktop system

AOF-serve Brooklyn 2020, carbon fibre micro case with AMD (touchy) ZZR series 38.9THz quadbus bio-platform, still running through 56k Dos, on 93Gb TAM (total access memory) and 222Mb standard video RAM boosted with a 4D-VR 12Gb acceleration card giving graphics from a 6789 x 2212 screen utilising 32 million and one colours.  They found another one!  Hurrah!

Storage is a bio-neural vector imaging carbofile store with immeasurable capacity pseudo-hard drive utilising aluminium organospheres.  Unfortunately, still no room for those video files.  Outside access is via a 4649M video-modem through we-will-actually-pay-YOU-fifty-eurodollars-serve.com  Still connecting at about 33k usually.

Software is Aircon, which is much better than Windows.

Audio is supplied through multi-phase ver. 6.947.34a displayed on a widescreen 73″ plasma projector SCD with Dolbyson Pro-logisense sensurround implant mini-speakers with built in giga-woofer (boooooooooooooooooooooooom!).

Watchtop

RolexPro Diamonte with Applechip processor and superlite mini-screen, glued to inside of contact lens.  Thought activated inputs.  Solar powered, with 11-month backup battery, developed by the Norwegians, unsurprisingly.

Printer

Still got my Canon Bubblejet, although I have now changed the ink cartridge.

Author: Vince Poynter

This is an extract from the vinceunlimited.co.uk/computer.htm website Version 5.009 dated 19 Oct 2017
These details were first published in the first version of the vinceunlimited website, Version 1.00 in Oct 2003
The images were first added in Version 5.009 19 Oct 2017