Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

The Best Tech I Ever Had

Over the years I’ve talked a lot about what my ideal tech would be and what I want to change. I’ve rarely, however, talked about the tech that has worked best for me. Looking back I think there are two points in my tech life/career where everything I had worked for me and I wasn’t searching for something new. I think it’s important for me to look back at that and remember why and how tech actually can work for me.

The early days of Apple

I first switched to Apple in 2008. At the time I did so because my Windows machines weren’t keeping up my school work and web development for my day job. Basically, IIS wasn’t the best for PHP development in those days and Apple offered a better solution. In addition, the 15″ Mac I bought in 2008 was about 1/2 the weight of the Dell Vostro it replaced which made a big difference for a machine that went everywhere with me.

That machine was the best tech environment I had up to that point. I didn’t feel like I was fighting it like I had for years with Windows, it ran everything I needed it to and I didn’t yet have to worry about syncing up multiple computers and devices.

Around 2010, I think it was, I started to get frustrated with my Mac due to that last point, it didn’t sync well with my other devices. Up until that point, however, it was stable, portable, fast and really did everything I needed in a computer. I often wish I could go back to that point and be happy with my tech but my work and life are both so different today that I think I would find myself quickly frustrated with a computer that didn’t talk to my phone and other devices. Still, it was my first glimpse at really good tech.

Linux and Google

The second time I found a tech stack that really worked for me was around 2017 – 2018 when I left Apple behind and wound up going all-in on Google’s ecosystem.

For all its [many] faults Google’s tech really did work for me. I could use any laptop I wanted (and had a great System76 laptop running Pop!_OS that served me well) and I could get to all my data from any device I needed to. We even had Google Fi for our phone plan which is still the best phone plan we’ve ever had.

So why did I leave it? Well, to say Google’s stance on privacy is problematic is quite an understatement. I just couldn’t live with it so we tried going to, first, all open source software (which failed miserably with the rest of my family) and then back to Apple where, 3 years after coming back, we’re still at.

Google, though, worked. I could work with people in Drive. My calendar was easily shared with my wife and current. Text messages and phone calls were available in my browser and everything really did just kinda work, even when my primary laptop was running Linux.

Today’s tech

Today, with the exception of a secondary laptop running Ubuntu, all of my tech is Apple again and it’s…. OK.

When it all works it is pretty nice but there are so many syncing issues that I feel like I spend more time fixing devices than using them. One of my biggest frustrations with Windows, way back before 2008, was the registry and just how easily it could get corrupted. Today I think Apple’s Keychain has gotten just as bad requiring me to regularly delete entries manually to fix basic features.

My other issue today is that, while Apple syncs fine on my device, if I use a non-standard device it’s almost impossible to get to all of my data. I can’t even get to my Apple Music account from my work machine and, on my Linux box, all the data I have in Apple might as well not exist.

There are days when I just want to dump it all and go back to the Pixel and Google’s ecosystem but their privacy issues mean I won’t be (I don’t even have a personal Google account today) but… damn I do miss using Google’s services. They really did work well for me.