I wanted to take a bit to write about some of the various workflows I use these days. Digital work flows. I’ve gotten things down to a pretty good flow overall, but it’s also a process that evolves overtime as needed.
It’s probably best to start with Devices I use or sort of use. Since a lot of everything else is essentially just connecting glue between these devices.
- Phone – my current phone is a Motorola G Stylus. Unfortunately the Stylus part got janked up and doesn’t want to fit back in the hole anymore. Not sure what happened there. It’s a phone, it runs Android, it does a lot of phone-y things. It’s my primary music player, it probably dies for photos with my camera.
- Camera – I have a pretty decent Pentax K-5 DSLR. I don’t use it as much as I used to, but I still use it quite a bit. It takes so much nicer photos than a phone ever will.
- Work Phone – I don’t really use it for anything besides receiving texts but I have a second phone for my job, it’s an iPhone 8, I think. the only purpose it has in my workflow is to reinforce that I really hate the Apple UI.
- Laptop – My laptop is an Acer Aspire E-5. There seems to be some variations of this model though because my son has the same laptop, but his has different specs. It’s an i5, it has 8GB of RAM, and GeForce 940 in it which makes it decent for playing games. It currently runs Windows, though I was triple-booting for a while with some Linux distros.
- Desktop – In early 2021, I mentioned getting a beefy gaming desktop. It’s a fancy glowing beasty machine with a 3070 graphics card for those sweet RTX visuals. I primarily use it for gaming.
- Old Desktop – I have my old desktop still connected along side my Gaming Desktop. It’s an older i5 processor, but it’s got a decent-ish 1080 GPU, and 24GB of RAM. I use it mostly for running Discord, Video Editing, and a few other projects. I think I set up a Plex server on it.
- NAS – I still use my old Synology NAS. It’s run very reliably for almost ten years now.
- Game Consoles – I don’t play a lot of games on consoles these days, though I recently went through and revamped my set up so a lot of my older retro consoles are connected to the TV. I don’t have anything too modern though. The list, though some are not hooked up are, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Colecovision, NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Mini, Dreamcast, Xbox 360, Xbox One (My son’s), Game Boy,Game Boy Advanced, a couple of different Nintendo DSes, a 3DS (which I use the most of these), a couple of Nintendo Wiis. I’ve also been using my Steam Link a bit lately, and have a not quite working PiGrrl Emulator handheld i need to finish.
- Raspberry Pis – I have several Pis going, but I’ll probably give them their own bit later. I really need to get my hands on a Pi4 at some point.
That’s a rough summary of the various tech I’m using at the moment,
Probably the core piece of “software” I use, but don’t use, the most, is One Drive. It’s the most “glue” of all the “glue”. I keep a few folders that I sync as needed between my two desktops, and the phone pushes some files to it, like photos. It makes it so much easier to get to files. Some examples of folders and syncs.
- Apps Folder – Currently syncing a bunch of no-install networking tools and folders for some 3D models I’ve made and work on sometimes with various programs.
- Blogs – A folder for blog-related files from Photoshop templates, to finished graphics, to a few text drafts (though these are mostly stored elsewhere)
- Code – Every piece of code I’ve ever written, sorted into folders by programming language and project. Eventually, I want to clean this up a bit and push more of it to Github.
- Documents – I’ve been slowly working on sorting a lot of older documents into here, but anything more recent is in here. It serves as both a backup and a way to keep them organized. Basically, this is everything I’ve ever written. Reviews, short stories, long stories, random bitchy shit about the world, random dream journals, dumb jokes, you name it, it’s here.
- Notes – I have a collection of notes sorted into various folders in this file. A LOT of them are screenshot notes, otherwise, they would be in a document somewhere. Notes for things to read, shows to watch, tech projects to do, etc, etc.
- Pictures – Primarily, this is “Screen Shots”. I have all of my devices that I take screenshots with set to dump here. I take a shitload of screenshots of games when I play, though I don’t really do anything with them. Fun fact! Back in the late 90s, I briefly started a Geocities website with game screenshots. Because even back then I took tons of screenshots and had a fancy video capture graphics card explicitly so I could snapshot console games. It also includes my phone’s camera roll sync and some folders of Affinity Photo/Photoshop files, and a small selection of nice Wallpapers, though I have a bigger repository elsewhere.
- Sync – A basic folder for misc files I want to have on demand. Things like avatars (for example, Professor Layton in various resolutions), the configuration for Synergy I use, some SSH Keys, and my Open VPN configs.
- Torrent Sync – A folder that syncs to a watch folder on my NAS so if I download a .tor file, I can toss it here and it will get downloaded.
A few folders that mostly just sync between my NAS and One Drive
- Backups – A backup of my “Family Photos”, “Family Videos” and “Important Family Documents”. I also keep a copy of this stuff on a hard drive in a static bag and a couple of USB keys I update annually in the fire safe. Remember, 3-2-1 Backups, 3 different versions, 2 different mediums, 1 off site.
- Document Archive – My older personal documents, and non-text documents. Artwork, memes I have made, some random projects of various types, old homework, and random “web quiz banners”.
- eBooks – My entire non-kindle eBook library, sorted down by various criteria. I buy a lot of DRM-free books from Humble, and a few other places, and I’ve made DRM-free copies of my Nook Library and a lot of my Kindle Library.
- My Photos – I keep a separate sorted library of photos I have taken that mostly only I care about. A lot of toy photos, but some electronics and cars and selfies and junk like that.
One Drive serves a few purposes and could be exchanged for whatever online service really. It creates a backup, One Drive includes versioning and a “recycle bin”. It makes things easy to access from any device.
I use a fair amount of different software for a lot of activities, too much to list completely, but I figured it’s worth touching on some of the more common pieces of software. In general, my workflow has always centered on a sort of, base-level approach. That is, I don’t use a lot of built-in tools for organizing and sorting files, I keep everything organized on the base level in directories on the file system. It sort of makes everything universally compatible if I need or want to change a piece of software in my workflow.
- Affinity Photo – I used to primarily use Photoshop for the longest time for photo editing. I used Photoshop 5 for way too long, I switched to CS2 for a while. I have no interest in a subscription. I have tried GIMP, GIMP sucks. Sorry, if you are a fan, but it sucks. These days I use Affinity Photo mostly. It’s cross platform and it’s super affordable (often on sale at 50% off).
- Microsoft Office – Like Photoshop, I’ve shuffled between various versions of Office. My Office365 subscription includes Office, so I’m just using the up to date version there. Primarily, I use Excel, mostly for tracking my budget and other large tracking lists of data.
- Visual Studio Code – This is essentially a role previously filled by Notepad++. One thing I’ve been working on this year is getting a bit more “in tune” with modern coding practices. This is the subject for an entire blog post of it’s own, but part of this involves using VS Code more.
- Typora – What I’m typing in now. Part of my previously mentioned work on getting “in tune” with modern coding, involves learning to effectively use Markdown. Typora is a Markdown editor. This is also a topic that will get it’s own blog post, eventually.
- VLC Player – I’ve dabbled a bit with Foobar2000, but I still prefer VLC for playing audio. I use it on desktop and mobile.
- Firefox – I’ve written about it before, but I am not a fan of Chrome, and Edge is well… it’s ok, I use it occasionally, I use it at work, but I prefer Firefox. I’ve used Firefox for years on both desktop and mobile. I particularly love how I can sync everything between all devices. Also I can “Share to” another device, so when I find something I want to download or a how to I want to try later, while on mobile, I can toss it off to my desktop or laptop.
- One Note – I used Evernote since the Alpha, but they kind of kept adding too much to the software, then added restrictions on how many devices it worked with so I changed to One Note. I’m kind of phasing this out a bit, but I have not found a super great replacement yet. Maybe phasing out isn’t the right phrase, maybe just…. using it less.
- Windows Subsystem for Linux and Windows Terminal – I suppose WSL falls under the category of “Software”. I’ve used Linux a LOT. I’ve run with it as my only operating system before. In the end, I always end up coming back to Windows. I love Linux, but it just has too many little holes. WSL fixes this a LOT. I can have the functionality of Windows with the Command-Line of Linux, which is the primary thing I want from Linux anyway. I added “Windows terminal” here because the updated Windows Terminal is part of this flow. I love it a lot and use it all the time. You can have tabbed terminal sessions, and you can pre-configure quick launches for types of terminals and SSH sessions into separate tabs, it’s so slick.
- Games – I probably should mention games, generally. I have wholly accepted that I’m going to have to run several game launchers and whatnot on my machine. Primarily these days I stick to Steam, of course, and Epic. I’ve actually played more games on the Epic Launcher than Steam this year.
Where would the world be these days without phones and Apps?
- Podcasts – I used to use BeyondPod but it got a little flakey, so these days I use AntennaPod. It works, for the most part, I am not married to it though.
Reddit – I use BaconIt for Reddit. The interface is basic but it’s a thousand times better than the annoying official app. It has some nice multi-account features and the ability to filter on keywords and websites and whatnot. I use the Paid version of this app.I no longer use Reddit
- Authentication – Microsoft Authenticator. Here is your tip for the decade. Use Multifactor authentication on everything. Everything. Everything. Everything. You don’t have to worry about account breaches or even having super secure passwords with MFA. (PS you should still have good passwords).
- Password Management – I used to use LastPass, but like Evernote, it went to shit with limitations and priced itself too high. So I switched to Bitwarden. It’s the same idea, just different. It works fine. Heck, I find the auto-fill works better on mobile than LastPass ever did.
- VPN – I’ve subscribed to Private Internet Access for years now and use it anytime I am not on my home WiFi. It’s entirely for privacy protection from foreign WiFi and carrier snooping for ad tracking. I occasionally use Open VPN as well to connect back to my home network from my phone but I’ve been having trouble with it not working lately since I did some account shuffling on my NAS to harden security on it.
- Notes – I mentioned One Note a bit earlier, but lately, I’ve been experimenting with Joplin a bit for notes. It’s a Markdown-based editor that syncs using basic files in One Drive. I have a side project trying to build my own app that does something similar, but this one actually does almost everything I want. My only real complaint is the backend files all have gibberish names. I can open them just fine in any Markdown editor, but the names are not friendly.
Social Media is quite the dicey issue these days, what with all of it going to pot lately. I recently stopped using Reddit, and Twitter, for different reasons, but technically related reasons. It’s left me with some holes I’ve been trying to fill.
- Facebook – I still use Facebook. People seem to have a lot of issues with it, but I have never really had much problem with it. I primarily follow family and friends. I don’t post much, mostly just stuff I feel like family and friends might care about. I have other outlets for more shit-posty posts, which I think is part of where people get into trouble. I do follow a couple of groups, one for Toy collecting, one for CHVRCHES, and one for Aurora. I am in many other groups but don’t really follow them as much.
- Instagram – I still use Instagram a lot as well. I post more on my personal account than my original account though, which I have segmented off to pretty much just be “toys” related and then my personal account is everything else. I primarily follow music (bands, musicians, music photographers) and technology (retro, IOT, coding).
- Tumblr – I have tried to use Tumblr off and on over the years but never really “got” it. With Twitter dying, I’ve picked up Tumblr as one replacement for Twitter. I still don’t get it. I mostly just skim through it once or twice a week and queue up a bunch of posts I think are neat. I tried segmenting out Tumblr into topics but it’s cumbersome as hell to manage so I just have one Tumblr I use now.
- Mastodon – The primary replacement for Twitter, but I don’t really keep up with it as much as I could. Maybe I just, don’t NEED a microblogging service to use. I tried Threads and I have a BlueSky now, but meh….