Nerdy: Tech setup late 2020

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I haven’t written about the tools i use much over the last few years. As i was working in the cafe I’ve mostly been using different MacBook’s and there’s not really much to say about those.

However, i have a proper little desk setup again now, so here’s a post about the tech i choose for my “personal computing” and why i choose it.

Desktop: Mac Mini

My desktop computer is a little Mac mini. One of the new ones with an Apple Silicon CPU. It’s my “projects” computer and came out of the company budget for R&D. It’s a way for us to dip into the Apple Silicon world and try things out before we finally transition our app / company to it in a few years time.

It’s where i do a lot of my “play” computing. Little experiments and projects to build skills and explore new tools. Over the course of a week it gets used for writing, coding, editing videos and the like.

It’s a good play computer, but it’s not ready to be my work machine. The M1 Macs are really fast, but not super stable. This is the second Mac mini after the first one had a complete hardware failure and had to be replaced. Even the replacement machine seems to have ropey bluetooth.

However, for playing and exploring new tool’s it’s perfect. I can try things out and it doesn’t matter much if anything goes wrong. It’s a safe(ish) place for me to break things without it effecting my day to day life.

It’s nice to have a desktop again. There’s nothing quite as comfortable as having a proper desk and chair. It’s a good place to get things done.

 Display: Dell P2415Q 4K

The Mac mini is a headless Mac. Unlike the iMac or a MacBook it doesn’t have a screen, keyboard, camera, speakers or microphones.

In the past i’ve run Mac mini’s entirely headless and logged in via a laptop, or i’ve put them under a TV. However this time i’ve opted to use a big 24” external display. It’s not as nice as an iMac display, but it’s darn good. It helps that we already had one available for me to borrow.

The most important thing is that the display supports 4K resolution at 60hz. This means the display is crisp and smooth. It’s also height adjustable, which helps with my posture. A good display, like a good chair, is worth every penny spent on it.

I wish Apple would make a more affordable display again, i’d love to have something with an integrated web cam, speakers and microphone.

Smart Speaker: HomePod mini

A relatively new addition to my life. i wrote about the HomePod more extensively a few weeks ago but i’ll cover some of the best bits here.

The HomePod does triple duty at my desk in my bedroom. It’s how i turn my lights on and off, it’s the speakers for the Mac mini and its also how i listen to podcasts and other media.

It’s not as room filling as a stereo speaker, but its a pretty damn good for £99.

Phone: iPhone 11 Pro

My iPhone is funded via work. I’ve had iPhones since about 2008 and the release of the iPhone 3G. I really like them and generally update every 2-3 years.

Theres not a huge amount to write about. It’s quick and sturdy and takes great photos. I use AAC when i am out and about so it’s also my primary communication tool, It does a great job.

Bed device: iPod Touch

Alongside my phone i also have an iPod touch. It lives in my bed where i use it for audiobooks, podcasts and youtube. It’s also got AAC software to help me to communicate.

To help keep it focused its tied down using “restrictions”. It doesn’t have a web browser or access too many apps. I like having it to hand during the night, it means i don’t sleep with my phone and spend all night on Twitter!

Tablet: iPad Mini

My iPad is an older iPad mini. Like my iPhone, It also act as my speech from time to time.

Back a few years ago i used an iPad for most of my work, then it became a device to use in the evenings and these days it’s not even being used everyday.

I have been considering selling it as i’m not using it as much as i used too. Perhaps it could help fund a new console..

Console: Xbox One (2015!)

I enjoy gaming. Games like Forza and snow runner are a restful way for me to spend time. I do most of my gaming on a first generation xbox one from 2015. Of all the hardware on this list, this is the most likely to get upgraded in the next year.

I plug the xbox into the dell display for gaming and it works well. It’s hidden on my bookshelf so it doesn’t get in the way when i am working.

 Final Thoughts

More or less, thats all the hardware i am using at the moment. It all works well together and it gives me lots of options for getting things done.

I’m not sure how things will change over the next year. It mostly depends on what happens with the pandemic. At the moment i am finding a good groove working from my bedroom studio and the hardware i have meets my needs.

If i had to make a prediction; i suspect i will end up buying a newer xbox sometime soonishly. Perhaps when the prices drop a little. I also suspect i’ll be looking at a faster Mac sometime in 2021. If the desk is working well, a apple silicon based iMac might be a good fit for my needs.

All in, i am very lucky and very happy with the equipment i am using. I am curious about the future, but not in any rush to change anything.


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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