Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I Use: Chris Kenst's Gear @ Home

I really liked the Lifehacker series What We Use where Lifehacker's editors write about the hardware and software they use on a regular basis, so I thought I'd do it myself. Only I’ve split it up into two sections. What I Use: My Gear @ Home and What I Use: My Gear @ Work. They really are two separate and interesting places. At work I’m a software tester. At home, I’m a technology enthusiast, blogger, scuba diver and still a software tester!

Desktops & Laptops:

  • Dell Studio XPS 8000: My primary desktop sporting a Intel Core i7 2.8GHz processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 120GB SSD (as my primary drive), 1TB HD (as my secondary drive), 1GB Graphics card, memory card reader. I added a second graphics card to this machine a while ago so I could run my two Dell 19" flat panel monitor and at the time a 32" LCD TV. This is currently my main machine.
  • MacBook Air: I purchased a first generation MacBook Air from Apple's refurbished store more than a year ago. It has a 1.86GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a 128 GB Solid State Drive for ultimate portability. This machine has been my primary device for a while because I love how small and portable it is. Lately, however I've been phasing it out and moving back to my desktop and Google Chrome Notebook.  
  • Google CR-48 Chrome Notebook: I was one of the lucky ones to get a test laptop from Google. I've been using it off and on since it arrived months ago and I've probably reported 20 bugs already. It's not as stable as it could be and takes some getting used to but I love having free data access, even if it is only 100MB/month.
  • HP MediaSmart EX 485 Windows Home Server: This compact Windows Home Server is an awesome compliment to any home. It backs up all of my windows machines, gives me access to them anywhere using a free dynamic domain service, helps me stream music and movies to all my devices (both internally and externally) and makes it easy to slap in additional drives for RAID-like data protection. 
  • Small Dell server with Windows Server 2008 for software testing. It's running VMware Server on top of Windows but I'm thinking about re-purposing it as a VMware ESXi server because Windows takes up a lot of resources and this machine isn't very powerful. I like having old virtual machines of IE6, IE7, IE8, etc. 
  • Microsoft Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse 6000. I love the natural curved mouse.
  • MiniDV to RGB for MacBook Air
  • Gateway Leather Laptop bag 
  • A custom Tech Survival Kit: Flash Drive, Kindle Charger, miniDisplay to Network for the MBA, iPhone 4 ear buds, iPhone cable, Pen (not shown) and on the back side a USB memory card reader.
Phones, Tablets and Other Mobile Devices:
  • iPhone 4 with Speck pixel skin case.
  • Kindle 3 with leather case.
  • iPod Shuffle for the gym.
  • An original Zune. Syncs with the Zune Marketplace very easily and I subscribe to the Zune Marketplace for $15/month for unlimited music.
  • fitbit – Personal fitness tracker. This device is excellent for $100. I wear it all the time. 
Browser Setup
Main Browser: 

  • Don't have one. I use IE 9, FF 4.0 and Chrome (version 80?) almost evenly. I'm a software tester so all the bugs are in IE, Firefox has lot of good extensions and Chrome is super fast and has application shortcuts.

  • For Firefox: Firebug, tester tools.
Web Apps:

  • For use in both my Chrome Notebook and laptops.
Desktop Apps
Cross Platform:
  • Dropbox 
  • Handbrake, DVD43, VMware Workstation, Notepad ++, Paint.NET, Keepass, Zune Music software, Windows Live Writer, Calibre, etc.
Mac OS X: 
  • I don't really use Mac OS X for much. Maybe Terminal
Mobile Apps
  • Bing, Pandora, MediaSmart (for connecting to Home Server), Instapaper, Amazon Price Check, Nightstand, Mint, Netflix and too many others to list.

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