Night belongs to the Toads

I hope everyone had a good summer and hopefully avoided getting knocked down in one way or another from the ever present virus. This summer presented a good opportunity to get some work done around the house and start preparing for what could be a gloomy Fall and Winter. I did a lot more traveling for work than I was able to this past Spring so I could get as much work done as possible before the next spike. What I really needed to do was update my home setup while there are still equipment and resources available.

I often work late into the night, or at least it seems that way. It basically gets progressively darker in the cold months as you head north. I prefer to be off the road if the weather is bad if I can, so working out in my shop with a hot cup of tea or strong black coffee is quite preferable – if my equipment is working. If my computer is not working, I either fall back to older gear, or don’t do much until I can get things working again. As such – Windows updates for instance used to really annoy me. Not anymore.

I also used to rely on the fact that I could get whatever equipment I needed fairly easy if not close by, but the pandemic has made some things less available than others. (some prices could potentially increase) More people working or schooling from home, and less products produced does seem to create a challenging situation.

I almost decided to replace my older Chromebook with the new Pixel Go, but I soon found out that there isn’t a huge inventory or selection of ChromeBooks readily available. I still have a few older Lenovo laptops running Windows 10 Pro and MX Linux to fall back on, but I have come to the realization that it’s time for something a little more dependable and powerful. I did use a MacBook Air and an older MacBook Pro a few years ago, but at that time I preferred to work with Linux for everything I was doing – which ultimately became an endless loop of “Distro” Hopping. That does get old after a while, as does laboring through all the Window’s release changes and updates. At some point fixing software and hardware issues becomes extremely tedious and isn’t very productive.

I started using a Samsung Chromebook a few years ago as a basic writing tool for travel and simple web browsing. It wasn’t very expensive, seemed secure, and let me focus on writing, not tweaking the OS – except for the Beta Linux, which has actually evolved into a useful compliment to the Chrome OS. I really like using my Chromebook, and will continue to take it on the road and leave my new MacBook Pro at home. Yes I did bite the bullet and buy a new MacBook 13 inch laptop. It’s probably way more power than I will ever need, but I look at it as a good investment for the next couple of years. I almost went for the Mac Air, but all the reviews about the cooling issues I read convinced me to pass it over and go for the Pro.

I’m no supply chain expert, but I figured I’d better get the computer I need now while I can still find them available in my local area – which I got the impression that quantities are limited for certain configurations unless you’re only looking for a base model.

For a brief moment I did contemplate getting a Thinkpad Carbon X1 (which I would have run Debian on), but I really didn’t want another Windows machine even if I could install linux inside the OS, alongside, or instead of the factory installed OS. I know I can run some Windows applications on the Mac or even on the Chromebook, but why? If I need to run a Windows application, I’ll use my old Lenovo, but there’s nothing I can really think of right now that I would need or want to run.

The Chromebook is probably all I would need for basic tasks, but with the recent Google outages I’m not sure I want to be dependent on the “cloud” services or a good Internet connection all the time. Yes I can still do a lot offline with my Chromebook, and I will continue to do so, but I’m not sure I’m ready to invest a lot of money into a new laptop unless it can do everything I do now or may do in the next few years. I do like the Pixel Go, but I think I’ll wait and see what follows.

It makes sense to me to prepare for another possible lockdown, or whatever weird situation we’re in as the Flu season, Winter weather, and possible social unrest ramps up as November approaches. A computer is a tool, and you need good tools that you can depend on. If you don’t have the right tool, you could be in a bit of trouble or just plain out of luck.

I’ll be doing a lot of work in the dark as the Autumn evenings begin to cool down. The toads are usually out, the night sounds from the swamp make for a pleasant background symphony. The bats come out as soon as the sky begins to darken or until the wind picks up. It will be October soon enough. I have my hoodies, I have my coffee, and now I have my new laptop to keep me busy. Now I think I shall look into upgrading my phone – It’s no longer supported and the battery doesn’t hold a charge very long anymore, so I guess it’s time for that.

Even now as I write this I’m getting news updates about Positive Covid tests rising in some areas of the country. Things may get very weird here in the coming weeks. Having a reliable computer gives me one less thing to worry about.

I have considered starting a podcast, at least to test the waters. Now I have no excuse use about not having the perfect setup to do so. I do now, so I might be giving it a shot. I used to listen to Art Bell late at night while I was working. It sparked my interest in possibly trying some podcasting, but I never seemed comfortable with what I was able to produce. At least now I may be able to improve upon the quality of my earlier attempts – plus the times seem more appropriate for applying a little time and effort to what might only be an experiment. Maybe the Toads and bats will enjoy my ramblings. They could be my new test audience.

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