Spare not the efficiency
A reader asked if I could write about having to work from home. I was blase in my reply, as I've been working from home for 29 years now.
He was relieved, he said, that he could get a home-use license for his CAD software, which normally is locked to a computer at work. Siemens is one of the companies allowing that, albeit for only 30 days. I reckon an extension will be coming for that.
Companies like Bricsys and Graebert allow you to easily move the license to another computer: just unlicense the first computer first. I won't describe how to do it as the process is different for each vendor.
Allow some time for the license to get moved at the software company's head office. Sometimes it takes a few minutes. Earlier this year, I needed a CAD license renewed for my writing work, and the employee in charge was out of the office -- for a week. The firm has since changed the way customers contact it for license changes.
I have one rule that guides my software and hardware purchases and upgrades: I tolerate no product that slows me down. This means that all my computers are fast enough, my monitors big enough, my mouse with sufficient buttons, my keyboard having the exactly right clackiness, and my table-chair comfortable enough.
I will spend whatever it takes to meet my no-delay criteria, and then I stop spending. Here are two examples:
- Last year I bought Logitech's upgrade to its wonderful Performance MX mouse. The design changes made it unwonderful -- dreadful, actually--, so I gave it away to a friend, and then found the original model (no longer made by Logitech) brand-new on eBay, and bought two. (I wear out a mouse every half-dozen years).
- I still use PaintShop Pro v6 (copyright 2000) because it loads in under a second, and has the function set I need. Newer versions groan under feature-bloat.
29 years ago, when I could only afford one computer, I realized that depending on just one was risky. Computers and monitors became cheap, and so now I have several arranged around me:
1. Primary 3.1GHz quad-core Acer desktop computer topped out with 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, and 4TB HDD. It runs Window 7 and has an old nVidia 2000 board only so that it can drive the three monitors I hook up to it.
2. Secondary desktop computer is a space-saving 2.6Ghz dual-core Acer all-in-one computer with lower specs, and acts as the monitor for my Apple Mac Mini that I rarely use.
3. Primary laptop: Windows 10 on a 2.6GHz dual-core HP Spectre laptop with 8GB RAM and 1TB SSD. It also handles three monitors.
4. Secondary laptops: a variety in storage.
5. Printers: an HP laser printer for every day printing, and an HP color printer for special jobs.
6. Network: 1GHz wired ethernet for any device with an ethernet port, and a commercial-grade router for WiFi connections.
7. Internet: I have a business account with my ISP, which means no waiting for tech support and it has unlimited data. Backup provided by my ISP through a LTE modem that lets me connect to the Internet over the cell phone system, in case the wired connection fails (as it has done twice so far). It is an ADSL connection, meaning there are never any download delays, but uploads are slower.
8. Keyboard and Mouse. I use a keyboard from Azio that has brown K-switches, which I really like. It matches my typing style. For mouse, it is Logitech's Performance MX, because it is tall and it has that spin/clack center wheel that makes me more efficient.
9. Backups: I find I have little data to backup, as most of my of my work gets shipped off to clients. At the end of each day, I drag a copy of the folder I worked on to the 4TB backup disk using TerraCopy. Every so often, I use Windows Briefcase app to backup my crucial files (income spreadsheet, etc) to pCloud. Every half year I backup my online actives, such as this blog and my Twitter activity, to pCloud and a compact, portable drive that I made from a left-over 250GB SSD.
Another form of backup: A few weeks ago I realized that my ten-year-old desktop computer running Windows 7 might croak one day. Most of the software I rely on runs on Windows 7, and cannot run on newer versions. I found on eBay a lease-return Dell desktop that still runs Windows 7, bought it, and one day I will set it up with the software I use. Maybe I'll never need it, but at $350 it is cheap insurance.
Yet another form of backup: last fall, when I lost my laptop while in Europe, I found that my late-model Android cell phone was a pretty good replacement device. It doesn't work for writing and editing, but it handled all my other business tasks. (My laptop was eventually returned to me, some weeks later.)