There are freelancers who have (luckily) found their rhythm and identified what suits them in terms of schedule, resources, environment and industry, among other factors. Then there are freelancers who continually change it up and experiment with different things, both out of necessity and preference. I’m definitely in the second category: in my one year and eight months of full-time freelancing, I often find myself trying out new stuff, and then comparing that new stuff with the resources I already use. I’m easily attracted to new software, apps, systems and services; and while I stick with those that work for me, in recent months I had to get new tools for my work arsenal and do some adjustments.
The most drastic change I implemented a few months ago concerns computer operating systems. My old policy was to have one machine running on Microsoft Windows, and another on Ubuntu Linux. I had a longtime client whose software ran only on Windows systems, and I kept Ubuntu around for personal use because it gave me a much easier time, not to mention it’s much faster and safer than Windows. (Plus I’m too broke and cheap to buy a Mac.) I recently ended my contract with the Windows-only client, which left me free to do whatever I wanted with my work laptop. Without much thought, I backed up all my work files, wiped out my Windows 7 Home Basic installation, and finally said hello to Natty Narwhal (a.k.a. Ubuntu Linux 11.04).
I also had to contend with changes related to my smartphone. I officially became an Android user back in January 2011, and it didn’t take me long to cozy up to this mobile operating system. However, I did have some hardware issues on my young but fatigued HTC Wildfire. Since it’s an entry-level smartphone, you really can’t expect much from it in terms of specs. And within a few months, it slowed down considerably because of memory and storage issues. Oh, and despite the forced reset, it continues to restart itself at random times. (My smartphone’s still under warranty, but I can’t spare a day or two to have it checked out and function without it. Might as well get a new one when time and finances permit.) Because I reverted to factory settings and wiped out all apps and app-related data, I had to download everything all over again.
Then I got something from my dad before October 2011 ended: his old Apple iPad.
I guess I have gadget lust to thank for this one: my dad bought an iPad 2 during his trip to Calgary last month, and since he had no use for his old iPad anymore, he ended up giving it to me for free. It would be a shame if I didn’t integrate my new (old) iPad with my personal and work routines, so within the last few weeks, I’ve upgraded it to iOS5, poked around the iTunes store, and hunted for apps I like.
The new laptop operating system, fresh mobile OS install, and gadget hand-me-down mean only one thing: new freelance work tools! I’ve previously done blog entries on my favored software, services and mobile apps for work, so I guess this blog entry serves as an official update. I’ve decided to integrate those two lists into one, and made a separate section for the iPad since Apple iOS and Android aren’t really known for playing nice with each other.
Most people think that a complete shift to a different OS (for computers and mobile phones) is difficult. Well, back then it might have been a real headache, but it’s quite easy these days. As long as you do your research beforehand to find equivalent programs, and test the proposed new OSs before jumping ship to see if you can adjust, you’ll be fine.
While Ubuntu Linux is user-friendly and looks much better than it did in previous releases, there are still a couple of snags that may turn off some consumers. First, some software can be installed only through Terminal; the Ubuntu Software Center gives you a lot of programs to choose from, but it could always use a bigger selection with updated versions. You’ll also need to be very specific in your searches when it comes to Terminal commands.
Many of these listed software come with Natty Narwhal by default, but there are some programs that you need to look for and install through Terminal and the Software Center.
Re: Android, it’s the first touchphone/smartphone OS I’ve ever used, so I’m quite loyal to it. I like a no-frills approach to things, and so far, HTC and Android Froyo are just fine with me. The recent release of the Apple iPhone 4S got me thinking about switching, though. We’ll see. For now, I’m staying on the Android camp. (Go to Page 2)