My Technology Ecosystem, April 2014 Edition

I get questions, every now and then, about the technology ecosystem I use. I figure it’s pretty obvious from my posts, but in order to be perfectly clear, and in order to have a post I can point people to, I’m documenting my technology stack as of today, April 1, 2014. I’ll do this in layers from hardware, up through software ecosystems.

The Hardware Layer

Desktop Computer: Commodore 64

I recently upgraded from the VIC 20 to the Commodore 64, and I must say that it is a huge improvement. Having the additional memory is great, because I can now type in longer programs from the pages of BYTE Magazine. And, it’s got a 320×200 display, which is almost double what my old VIC had.

But an even better advantage of the upgrade has been…

Laptop Computer: Commodore 64

It is small enough to carry with me when I go places. I don’t even need batteries because this thing has a plug that I can snap right into a wall outlet. I mean, it’s cutting-edge.

Tablet: Etch-a-Sketch

The Etch-a-Sketch has been a life-changer for me and the family. It’s portable, requires no battery, and can do just about anything. I’d post a picture of our family Etch-a-Sketch, but it turns out we left it in the car (which my wife has driven to work). We use it a lot in the car to keep the kids entertained. They can watch their favorite movies on the Etch-a-Sketch, which I painfully draw for them, scene-by-scene, and which they then criticize. It’s a wonderful family-bonding experience.

Printer: My Royal QuietComfort DeLuxe Portable Typewriter

Granted, it is a little difficult to find toner ribbon for this device today, but when you do, it produces copy that harks back to the golden age of journalism, when newspapers were king, and on April Fool’s Day, columnists would wryly opine on how television was the wave of the future–nod, nod, wink, wink.

Truth is, finding decent typing paper is almost as difficult as finding ribbon, but I make due. Turns out it’s even easy to print multiple copies with this printer…

Copier: Carbon Paper

…because, carbon paper!!. This stuff is pure genius. Slip a sheet of it between two pages of typing paper, and type away. You come away with two copies of your document, each copying duplicating with precision every typo you make along the way.

Now let me discuss the software layer of my technology ecosystem.

The Software Layer

I wanted to spend a little time talking about the software I use as part of my technology ecosystem because it plays such a large role in how I work.

Filesystem: Manilla

Look, I’m not trying to start a flame war, and I know people are sensitive about these things. If you look across the spectrum of filesystems, people tend to fall religiously into one of two camps:

Manilla or Hanging Files

I will state for the record that I am a Manilla filesystem kind of guy. I think they have a simpler interface, with fewer hooks into other systems that tend to complicate things. Also, it’s very difficult to overstuff a manilla folder, whereas hanging files seem ripe almost to the bursting point.

I’ve always used manilla folders, ever since I was a little kids and thought that people were calling them “vanilla” folders. I mean, come on, when you’re seven years old and you hear people talking “vanilla” or “hanging” files, which one are you going to choose?


I couldn’t get through my day without Evernote. Fortunately, they have an early beta of Evernote for Commodore, which I have been lucky enough to get to try out. It’s pretty amazing. You can capture notes, tag them, and then save them to your external tape drive. Rather than shards on Evernote servers, your notes are stored securely on cassette tapes which can in turn be stored neatly in one of those old tape organizers, or as I prefer, in a shoebox. Find a note is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Find the right tape.
  2. Fast-forward to the right point on the tape (this might involve some trial and error).
  3. Load the note into Evernote.

One huge benefit of this system is that it makes it easy to share notes with others. You can let your friends borrow a tape, for instance. Better yet, you can collect a bunch of notes on a single tape, and make a copy of it for all of your friends. I like to call this a “mix tape” because it has a mix of lots of different notes that none of my friends will actually care about.

This technology ecosystem allows me to be as productive as you think I am and I can’t imagine ever giving it up. Well, at least not until midnight anyway.

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  1. I’ll confess. When I read the part about the Etch-a-Sketch I almost Google’d it to see if there was actually a tablet called the “Etch-a-Sketch” named after the toy from my youth. As I read a little more it became apparent I was being bamboozled.

    I thought the post was out of character for someone who I figured for an “Apple guy”.

  2. Good stuff in your list. Can’t really go wrong with any of your recommendations.

    Just one quick recommendation…

    Regardless of whether that Bill Gates guy did (or didn’t) say that nobody needs computers with more than 640k RAM, trust me, it’s a luxury you’ll really learn to appreciate.

    So, go for an Atari 1040ST instead – you won’t regret it. 🙂

  3. Man, with all that technological gadgetry at your fingertips, it’s little surprise you have so much time on your hands that you can afford to write posts like this.

    And thank God you do!

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