I ran into the provost of Berklee College of Music today. He asked me how the semester was going. Given the relentless snowstorms that Boston endured at the beginning of the semester, I think he may have been bracing himself for my response. However, he needn’t have worried (if he was). I truthfully told him, “it was going great, that teaching is my bliss, and that it’s what I get to do.”

I genuinely do feel lucky that I am able to teach. I feel like I get to do it.

As I walked to class, I thought about the distinction between things I have to do versus what I get to do.

I realized that there really are very few things in my life that feel like chores/jobs; that are things I have to do.

    I get to teach
    I get to consult for creative, innovative companies, and collaborate with an array of interesting people
    I get to write
    I get to be a Father
    I get to be a Husband

Not everyone has the opportunity to do these things. I’m lucky.

Sometimes, some/all of the above feel like they’re things I have to do. However, when they feel this way, it is through my own failing of perspective.

The test, I suppose, is whether you’d be sad if you could no longer do something. If you would not be, it’s something you have to do. If you would be sad, it’s something you get to do.

I’d be sad if I could no longer do any of the above.

These are all things that I get to do.

I’m lucky.

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In my last post on this topic, I discussed how you could create a redundant synchronized version of all the important files on your mac via Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive, and CloudHQ. In that post, I briefly mentioned that doing so not only increases your productivity, but it largely renders backups to things like Apple’s TimeMachine irrelevant.

In this post, I want to put a finer point on that statement, by discussing how I set up my new mac without restoring from a TimeMachine backup or using Migration Assistant.

This post is less an argument against backing up the traditional way, and more a point on how our relationship to OSs and software is changing.

As stated in my post on synchronizing your Document to OneDrive, I was up and running pretty much the moment I turned my new Mac on and downloaded the OneDrive app. Even before that, I had access to all my Document files via the web interface (which, of course, means I have access from any computer), and the MSFT online suite of apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) are beyond merely functional, and largely indistinguishable from their desktop counterpoints.1.

Once OneDrive was synchronized, I then had a local version of all my files. What was left was my other essential apps.

The below are the apps that I really can’t live without on my Laptop:

TextExpander

Rationale: I have so many abbreviations that speed up my typing that, if TE is not installed, my typing comes out looking like the ramblings of an insane person.

Installation Process: Download from their site. Enter my registration key, synchronize via Dropbox (see below).

1Password

Rationale: Every password and other pieces of log in info I have is kept here, and has been for many years. I can’t access much of anything without 1Password

Installation Process: Re-download from the App store, synchronize from iCloud (see below).

Notational Velocity

Rationale: Long my note-taking device of choice. Its interface is so dead simple, all you have to do is type. No saving, no creating new files, etc.

Installation Process: Download from their site. Synchronize via Simplenote; which is essentially an online version of NV (I use this on my iPad/iPhone/whenever I’m not on my own computer).

Office Beta For Mac

Rationale: As above, the distinction between Office’s desktop and online/app version of their products is nominal; however, the desktop/laptop versions have less latency (and a few more features). In a pinch, I could do without having these on my Mac, and get by fine. That day is certainly coming.

Installation Process: This is actually the one I was most worried about. Prior re-installs of Office led to all sorts of issues. No such problems this time. Downloaded the new versions, entered my user name and password, and was up and running.

Paprika Recipe Manager

Rationale: I love to cook, and this app – via its bookmarklet and really simple interface – makes it a joy to capture recipes from Sites, and then synchs with my iPad/iPhone (which I frequently use in the kitchen).

Installation Process: Download the app, enter my log in/password, and it automatically synched via its own Cloud Sync.

Mailbox

Rationale: My love affair of this Gmail organizer has sort of waned of late, because its search is just (still) horrid, and it seems to of late be having trouble synching as precisely as need be with Gmail (and if this doesn’t work, then why bother?). Still, as an efficient way to organize a mountain of email, it’s good.

Installation Process: Download from their site. It (sort of) synchs via Dropbox).

Dropbox

Rationale: Very much a network effect thing going on here. I use Dropbox because others use Dropbox. I’m not nearly as enamored of it as most, and really try to use it as little as possible (I still struggle with their transparent gambit of forcing me to upgrade by automatically sucking my photos in). That said, as above, many apps rely on Dropbox for synchronization, and unless and until they go some other route, I’m stuck with it.

Sonos Desktop Controller

Rationale: Because I like music, and no one makes listening to/controlling of music better than Sonos.

Installation Process: Download from their site, open. All of my streaming sources and my networked music are there.

Others

That’s really it for installed apps. I use a handful of other Extensions for Chrome (not even worth mentioning, but, yes, I installed Chrome, and it synched my bookmarks, etc.), such as:

Evernote (I have the desktop version too; install by downloading/synch by entering your user name and password)

Instapaper for capturing articles (via its bookmarklet) that I want to read later on whatever device I’m on at any time.

That’s my set up.

It’s pretty free of kruft. I try to avoid hacking the menu bar, etc.

You’ll note that there’s no mention of a cloud based or TimeMachine backup set up. That’s because there’s no need for this. Music and photos are on external drives.

Photos get backed up periodically (and are now on their way to Apple’s “Cloud” – which I do not dig, and do not believe they will ever get right).

Music…beyond an increasingly few number of songs/albums that I can’t find on a streaming service, I just don’t care that much about the mess of files of music. I’ll keep the things I care about backed up, the rest…who cares?

Bottom Line

Essentially, the above argues for a Chrome/Web Book type of solution. That is, a computer with little to no hard drive or built in apps; just a web browser. We’re certainly heading that way. Microsoft, oddly, is leading us there (catching up to Google).

What this means is that the days of backing up Gigs of data and apps and music are sort of behind us. It also means that moving fairly seamlessly from computer to computer is a reality. It took me under 15 minutes to download, install, and synch all of the above.

This is a very different reality from restoring from a TimeMachine backup/Migration Assistant, and it’s really a nice change.

 

 


  1. There are some definite important exceptions to this statement. For instance, among other things, it does not appear possible to create a Table of Content from Styles in the online version of Word

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