What Tech I got in 2007

December 23, 2007 | In Life, Tech

I could have called this post What Tech I Purchased in 2007 but strangely enough, I didn’t purchase all that much. However, thanks to the job I got with Apple throughout the Spring semester, I was in receipt of a lot of products that I now get to keep, even though I am currently not working for them. I am not including items I’ve received as gifts though — and I don’t think I got any major tech gifts this year anyway.

Purchased: Canon 400D DSLR Twin Lens Kit +430EX Flash Unit

Canon EOS 400D Twin Lens Kit

I quickly outgrew the Panasonic FZ5 point and shoot that I purchased in late 2005. While the FZ5 was (and still is) a great camera, I had a number of complaints with it. My 400D has solved all of those problems and more and I have greatly enjoyed using it. It’s also bought me some unpaid photography work and allowed me to build up my portfolio.

I purchased the 430EX late this year to make sure I got some great shots on the red carpet at the ARIA awards. I’ve been using it ever since, but I don’t take it everywhere I go. On short trips I’ll usually just take my body and 18-55mm lens as it fits in the camera bag I originally purchased for my FZ5 perfectly.

Received: Black MacBook 2.16Ghz/1GB RAM (+ Extra RAM Upgrade)

Black MacBook
I can’t really speak highly enough of this machine. It’s small and hence light and portable, powerful and it’s got a number of great features that weren’t included on my G4 PowerBook like the built-in iSight camera. A couple of downfalls on this machine though is that it has the mini-DVI port that Apple uses on most of its products, which means that I needed to buy 3 different (DVI, VGA, S-Video) $40 adapters for when I do presentations, and no Firewire 800 port.

I upgraded the RAM in my MacBook from 1GB (standard) to 2GB and doubled the RAM in my PowerBook to 1GB at the same time. The extra RAM helps programs like Aperture run great, and multitasking a breeze — especially with Spaces in Leopard. I got the ram from and while it took a while for the product to ship, their prices are some of the best I’ve seen – significantly beating Australian prices even after shipping costs.

Purchased: Apple Wireless Keyboard

Apple Wireless Keyboard (white)

Shortly before receiving my new MacBook, I started to make the move to turn my old G4 PowerBook into a pernament desktop machine. To save clutter (despite still having far too much of it), I purchased the now, previous generation, Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Having my PowerBook setup as a desktop with the keyboard and a Griffin laptop stand has made my experience at my desk far more enjoyable. I’d highly recommend getting a laptop stand and keyboard/mouse combination for anyone who uses a laptop for long periods at a desk.

Received: 5th Generation iPod (80GB)

80GB iPod and dock
When I got the new iPod I was still pretty satisfied with my 4th Gen U2 iPod that had served me well since mid last year when I got a new one under warranty. The U2 iPod wasn’t full, not even close, and I really didn’t have any intention on filling it – I had a decent amount of music and podcasts that kept me happy on my reasonably long commutes to Uni each day.

Looking back, I think I could still be using my U2 iPod, but having the 5th gen has certainly given me a lot more flexibility in the way I listen to, and now watch, the media I have on my computers back at home. I’ve taken a lot of my DVD’s and ripped them to an iPod compatbile format so I can watch movies, concerts and TV shows on commutes back to Newcastle and other long distances and podcasts like Diggnation when I’m going into Uni. Previous to doing this I’d get the laptop out and watch them on the much larger screen. I miss doing that sometimes, and I think I’ll be in the market for a 16GB iPhone should Apple release one in Australia next year, just to have the wider screen.

Received: Pro Apps

Aperture and Final Cut Studio 2
Originally, I didn’t intend on getting Final Cut Studio 2 as part of the gear I got from my job with Apple, but we treated as a bit of an experiment to see how well that the apps would run on my MacBook. Both Aperture and FCS2 have been a great addition to my workflow for my photography and video production. Aperture has proved a fantastic upgrade from iPhoto which was suffering significantly with images from my 400D in terms of performance. It runs really well on my MacBook, and it’s certainly proved useful when I’ve done large events.

Final Cut Studio 2 was a great upgrade from Final Cut Pro 5 and Motion 2 which I had previously and included some new features that made my life when editing so much easier. My favourite feature of FCS2 is the use of Master Templates from Motion to Final Cut and the tighter integration between all the studio apps.

Received: iWork ’08, iLife ’08 and OS 10.5 Leopard

08 Software
All 3 of these products have been covered extensively elsewhere on the internet, so I don’t feel I really need to say how much I’ve enjoyed having all these bundles. I actually haven’t used iLife all that much because I’ve got the pro replacements for all the apps, but I have used Garage Band to record and produce some podcasts, mainly because it’s so darn simple to use.

Numbers within the iWork package hasn’t completely won me over yet and I’m seriously considering re-installing Excel because I’m so used to it. Since TextEdit in Leopard can open and save Word docs (to a limited degree) I don’t really need MS Word, and Keynote has always been my replacement to PowerPoint since when I first got my PowerBook.

Purchased: Shuttle PC (Intel P4 2.8Ghz, 512MB RAM, dual 10/100 Ethernet)

Shuttle - Floor Shuttle PC - Insides
I originally purchased this great little box to act as just a VoIP server, and it has actually turned out to be a great little Network Attached Storage (NAS) box. I’m still going to turn it into a VoIP server one day (It’s running trixbox, with a load of extra custom packages installed on top) – but I’ve got to upgrade my internet connection to make the best use of a VoIP service.

So in the mean time, this shuttle working hard as a NAS with 2x 120GB drives and one 184GB partition shared across the network as NFS exports. This works great with my Macs and I now run my entire iTunes library on my PowerBook straight off the NAS — I just have it automount on boot to ~/Music. As well as storing copies of all my DVD’s so I can play them up stairs on my laptop without needing to grab the disc, I use the Shuttle to store uncompressed DV exports out of Final Cut Pro so I can run compression software over them on my MacBook which does the job significantly faster than anything my PowerBook would ever be able to handle. Unfortunately, when I get around to purchasing a Gigabit Ethernet card the most it will be able to push through is 130Mb/s due to the bandwidth limitations on an non-express PCI slot.

Purchased: LaCie d2 320GB External Disk Drive

I wrote about this purchase back in July and it’s been working hard ever since. It now accompanies the Shuttle in working as storage for files that I don’t need access to that often, as well as the capture scratch for Final Cut Pro. I might buy another one of these in the new year to work with Time Machine, but for the moment I’ve got a copy of most of my documents on my PowerBook and my MacBook so I don’t really have the need.

I’ll be interested to see what I get for Christmas now. Here’s a few things on my list I’d like for Christmas, or I’ll seriously consider buying in the new year:

  • In-ear Monitors (probably a pair of Shure’s) because I’m damaging my ears with wearing my Sony cans on the bus which don’t do a terribly great job at blocking out extra sound.
  • A new mouse for my desktop setup to replace the Apple puck (circa 1998 mouse) that I’ve got. I’m currently looking at the Logitech MX Revolution.
  • More storage: I’m going to buy some new SATA drives for my NAS and another external drive from LaCie.

Feel free to write in the comments about what you’ve purchased in 2007 and what you’re hoping for Christmas, or looking at getting in the year to come!

– james

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