Interactions with Tech

Photo: Andrew Neel

We all interact differently with technology on a daily basis. These devices and services can enrich our lives. Generally when I choose new tech, I’ll consider its security, and the privacy policies of the organization that developed it. I’ll consider both the financial cost, and the “time cost” to maintain it.

So, that being said, I welcome you to step into my day-to-day interactions with technology in this post!


In The Morning

Usually my first interaction with technology is not what you might think. I have fairly unoptimized eyesight, and without glasses, it would be very difficult to live a normal life. Thankfully they require no batteries, and minimal maintenance to use, but are absolutely essential to me.

Next would be my smartphone. I use an iPhone XS for just about everything, ranging from taking calls and texts to email for work, watching for system alerts from my clients’ IT infrastructure, posting tweets on Twitter — you name it. And this phone works great with both a business and personal line because of the eSIM feature. But what I enjoy the most is the multimedia capabilities on this device. The photo quality rivals my 10 year old DSLR (a Nikon D3000). Speaking of multimedia…

Work and Play

Image: Lauren Mancke

The Apple AirPods Pro. These things are outstanding. The audio quality is very good for wireless earbuds, and they have active noise cancelling. They can also do “transparency mode”, which allows you to hear your surroundings while on the phone or listening to music. And they connect effortlessly via Bluetooth to my phone, Apple TV or MacBook Pro.

Ah yes, the MacBook Pro: a 13″ powerhouse of a laptop produced in 2018. This goes with me almost everywhere, and enables me to support my clients regardless of where I am. It also links up nicely with my phone in ways that make it simple and quick to communicate and share workloads between the devices.

Multimedia

Photo: Rumman Amin

Bouncing quickly back over to the multimedia side of things, I’ve deployed two Sonos One speakers in the house that connect to our Apple Music subscriptions. These speakers sound amazing and have Alexa built in (or optionally Google Assistant), but they are a bit more expensive. To supplement them, we also have two Alexa Dots in strategic places in the house to turn our Philips Hue lights off and on, ask what the weather is, things like that.

It’s important to note that the Dots and Sonos speakers don’t connect together for playing music, but the audio quality on the Dot is surprisingly good for the price and size. It’d be easy to opt for Amazon’s speaker solution, except me and my family really enjoy controlling music from our phones, which is easier to do on Sonos speakers using AirPlay and the Sonos app.

Fun fact: there are some privacy enhancements that can be set for Alexa. I’d highly recommend adjusting accordingly if you use Alexa services. The same goes for Siri.

In the past, I’ve thought about using HomePods instead of Alexa Dots and Sonos, as their audio quality is also very good. However, the price point and lack of third party integration turned me off to the idea for now.


Servers and Network

Image: Samuel Ramos

A couple of months ago, a good friend of mine sold me his HP server, which is a rackmount ProLiant DL380p Gen 8. It’s currently running Windows Server 2016 with Hyper-V, which allows me to create separate virtual machines on the host. This is particularly helpful with learning and fine-tuning skills, and splitting up workloads:

  • Active Directory PDC (internal DNS and DHCP for home network)
  • Active Directory Secondary
  • Utility server (UniFi Controller and software install storage)
  • Test Windows 10 VM (testing Windows Updates, etc.)

Currently this server is connected to a UniFi security gateway and a UniFi 8 port switch with PoE+. It’s adequate, but I’m exploring Cisco and Meraki’s options for home use, as they provide a more robust and stable network environment.

Our home Wi-Fi is served by a Ruckus R610 wireless access point. This single access point is providing wireless signal to the entire house, and does an amazing job. I’ve always been impressed with Ruckus’ wireless performance.


Being Healthy

Now, on to health. I use a combination of apps and devices to try to maintain my weight and mental health:

  • An Apple Watch to track exercising, heart rate and breathing
  • The Insight Timer app to track meditating (paired with AirPods Pro — active noise cancelling is perfect here)
  • An old, beat-up treadmill that still works perfectly

Can’t go wrong going biking, walking or hiking when the Minnesota weather permits, too!

Tip of the Iceberg

Honestly, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg, but it was fun to write and ponder. Usually around once a year, some of these will change a bit. I suspect the next bigger change will be the home network, which I’m very eager for.

Thanks for reading!

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