Paring Down

My “old” 2019 MacBook has had an increasingly rough time over the past quarter. Fans running hotter and hotter. Since I’d planned to sell it after my next upgrade sometime in the 6-18 month timeframe and the new 16″ MacBooks haven’t been announced yet, I’m upgrading early in hopes it’ll result in both a chance to sell it for a slightly better price and to get immediate relief for poor performance. (It’s a perfectly good machine, as far as I can tell. Its problems seem to be related to many years of migration from Mac to Mac, using Time Machine or the Migration Assistant. Too much old system and application cruft weighing it down.)

This time my upgrade is a size down. I’m in love with my extra-wide monitor (LG 34″) and find I increasingly wait to do some tasks until I can be using that extra space. So, having a large screen laptop isn’t really a priority (particularly since it’s a pandemic, I’m immunosuppressed, and I’m hardly going anywhere anyhow). I’ve gotten a 13″ M1 chip MacBook and it seems quite nice so far. It arrived on Thursday and my main project since then (apart from a lovely six-hour visit in person on the back porch with dear old friends), has been setting it up without dumping every single thing I’ve ever had on my old Mac(s) onto the new one.

I’ve figured out I can now do without TextExpander, instead entering the 30 or so key replacements (typing ssf to insert San Francisco, for example) in System Preferences > Keyboard > Text.

I’ve decided to phase out Evernote and instead have a new Scrivener project called File Cabinet with all the “I should hold on to a copy of this piece of paper” stuff. That’ll be a gradual project, which is fine because I’m paid through the year and Evernote doesn’t do prorated refunds. I’ve got 875 non-archived notes in Evernote to potentially migrate, but 250 of them are recipes I likely won’t want all of, so I doubt this will be particularly onerous to take on in batches of 25 notes or so.

I think I’ll skip Time Machine for backing up this Mac; I’ve gone years (probably over a decade) without starting from a clean install like this. It’s taken most of a couple days to get this new machine how I want it, but that seems a fair price for those years off from the task—and it’ll be easier the next time.

I’ve decided to take a wait-and-see attitude toward reinstalling Skype. I haven’t actually made much use of it since around 2016, I think.

With a salute to my past self, I’m also taking a wait-and-see attitude toward installing a code editor. I had Coda, which is now, I learn, Nova. Still looks like the one I’d want if I wanted one, but I’m not actually writing HTML/CSS anymore.

I’m wavering over Microsoft Office. I’ve had some frustrations with Pages and Numbers, for sure, and both Google Docs and Sheets have their limitations. But oh the cruft that comes with a massive install like that. And with great power comes great complexity to learn. Do I need either of those things in my life? Maybe ‘good enough’ really is? Going to try that out for a bit anyhow.

Which brings me to my other “is it worth it?”: Adobe InDesign. On the one hand, it’s an amazing tool which I can bumble around in OK already. It’s what I’d need to prepare quality documents for publishing, whether books (which I’m not currently working on) or game components. But, though I am making a game, I’m not a visual designer, so maybe I can just make do with lesser programs for my playtest purposes. That’ll let me avoid the CPU devouring Adobe Creative Cloud, at least until or unless I’m working with a visual designer.

I think the theme for my computer and my life is now: Less Cruft.

Oh hey, a well-regarded alternative to InDesign, Affinity Publisher, which can import InDesign files even, is on sale for $24.99. After a bit of YouTube review and intro watching, I’m going to give it a try. [Gave it a try, but had many many crashes on my first very simple document. Maybe it works great for some, but certainly not for me. Availing myself of a refund and reminding myself to always do the free trial if there is one to save me and the company time. Asked advice in a creative coworking group I’m in and had the good suggestion to explore Layout mode in Pages, the app that came with my Mac, and that’s working great.]

These are the apps I installed on the new machine. First, the everyday essentials.

  • OmniFocus
    My home for tracking all my tasks and someday-maybe ideas. I’ve been a big fan for years and use it every single day.
  • Roon
    Our household’s music management system of choice. It connects in to Tidal and Qobuz and has a good radio function, so there is always new music to explore. (I’m very grateful for Joe’s love of music, skill with system administration, and good taste for keeping this full of new sounds, running well, and looking great.)
  • Scrivener
    I write everything that isn’t email or websites or something on which I’m collaborating in Scrivener. Both my books grew up in Scrivener, my daily pages are in Scrivener, my gamemaster notes for running roleplaying games are in Scrivener, and all of the rules design for Kabalor started in Scrivener. Part of my baseline essential kit.
  • Dropbox
    These days I use this for one thing only: keeping Scrivener synchronized between all my devices. It’s so helpful to be able to add to something I’m writing from whatever device is closest to hand at that moment. (But if Scrivener had its own sync servers like OmniFocus does, I’d have skipped Dropbox.)
  • Slack
    Since I don’t do social media anymore, this “workspace chat” is where my group connection with friends takes place. I also use it for a volunteer gig.
  • 1Password
    This whole build-it-from-the-ground-up and log-in-again-to-all-the-things project has been made so much easier by this wonderful password manager. Super nice company and super good product. If you don’t have a password manager—you should—or your current one makes you sad, do yourself a favor and get some peace of mind.
  • Time Out
    My rest reminder software. This gets me to rest my eyes, brain, and wrists and is an essential health tool.
  • Zoom
    Vital for me to stay connected with friends and family—and where I gamemaster my ongoing roleplaying games.

Other stuff that I installed:

  • Affinity Publisher
    As mentioned above, tho’ I haven’t tried it out yet.
  • Steam
    My game platform of choice. Current game of choice: Wingspan, the online version of the bird-themed board game with magnificent game mechanics.
  • Arq
    For managing cloud backups of my files.
  • Firefox
    My secondary browser, handy for seeing if some issue is a Safari problem and for logging into alternate accounts without having to log out and back into my main one.
  • Kindle
    The desktop app for my ebook reader of choice. Though I rarely read ebooks on my Mac, it’s often easier to manage my ebook library on a bigger screen.
  • Pixelmator Pro
    I’ve been using Pixelmator for my graphics needs, which are almost entirely maps for my roleplaying games. I took the reinstall task as the opportunity to upgrade to the latest and greatest.
  • TweetDeck
    Every now and then I post something on Twitter in the Discardia account (very rarely any other), but since Joe’s account is private, this is the only way I can read his tweets now that I’m not on Twitter generally. 🤣

It really says a lot about a) the utility of the base set of apps that come on the Mac and b) how much I use browser-based apps that the above is the entire list of installs.

Onward to my de-crufted future! Happy Discardia. 😁

Now if only after my hard day of computer setup I could join the lovely Apple support person I chatted with this morning. She was going to do a Juneteenth crab boil with her family and oo does that sound delicious. But, in the absence of that, I’ll enjoy this baked potato with all the fixin’s and revel in the lack of noise of computer fan.

Published by

Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg https://www.patreon.com/kabalor

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