Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Useful Stuff #4

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 -- In wet, rainy, Vancouver, WA

Another in a continuing series about our list of stuff we find useful and would have a hard time doing without. This list is all computer-related.

16) Laptop PC's: One purpose of our Sabbatical is to exercise personal creative talents. Through writing and photography we're both documenting our journey and expressing ourselves with the goal of communicating, entertaining and amusing our readers. Additionally, email has become a primary means of communication with others. All of these things require a personal computer. We have two Dell Laptops so we can both work at the same time and so we have some redundancy in case one or the other machine poops out. Our machines are average sized laptops, both running XP (so I have only one operating system to support), and have been remarkably reliable and trouble-free. (knock on wood, turn around three times to the right, throw salt over left shoulder). We could not be without these machines.

17) Canon Printer: We wanted computer peripherals that are small and easily stowed, but that still produce high quality results. Our printer is a Canon i70 portable that is so small its stored in a cabinet, upright, like a book. It's not much bigger than the typical hard cover novel. And it produces exceptional results in both color and black and white. Our need for a printer isn't great, but having one is necessary. This one is perfect for us. Top notch.

18) Canon Scanner: Same requirements for size as above. The Canon Lide30 scanner is slightly larger than the printer, but very lightweight. It doesn't need a power supply either, as it's powered by the USB port of the PC. Just like it's printer brother, we don't use it often, but when we need to scan a document in order to fax or email it to someone, it really comes in handy. Also, because we're almost paperless, anything we want to save long term is scanned and stored on a harddrive so we can ditch the paper. Wonderful machine.

19) External Data Storage: USB thumbdrives and external USB harddrives have made the process of data file storage, backups and transfers so much easier than it used to be. Whether it's moving a file from one PC to another, or backing up our PC's, they're quick, trouble-free, and very reliable. In addition, three or four times a year we try to burn DVD's of our photos and other work that can't be replaced and send them by mail to a safe and secure location away from our bus-house.

20) Website Software: Also called an HTML editor, there's a wide selection of them in the marketplace. Some are free, some complicated. If you know what you're doing, you can even use most modern word processors. I chose SiteSpinner by Virtual Mechanics as it seemed to offer the right mix of features and was relatively simple to use. I'm not an expert in this field and I don't know much about competing products, but I do know I find this product useful and it works great for my needs. Combined with a competent webhost (I use Yahoo, but there are many out there), our website has become the primary means of keeping friends and relatives up-to-date with our explorations as well as a means to publish our creations.

Even more to come at a later date.