Settling My Setup

The past year has been a computer smorgasbord. Last summer, my main computer was a nice Chromebook, but it gave way to an iPad. It’s more computer-like than ever, and I enjoyed making it my primary device. That said, I hesitated to publish a post — in draft for months — about switching up my setup. Why? Because I wanted to be sure I was going to stick with the iPad and that it would work long-term for me. Things were going well until a Windows PC gaming laptop entered the mix and I slowly gravitated to it. Now I believe I’ve settled my setup with one of Apple’s best devices yet: the M1 MacBook Air.

Wait, what? Yeah, not the iPad. And not the PC.

The iPad was designed to be an excellent tablet, which it certainly is. Not long ago, Apple added features to make it more like a full computer, greatly improving its functionality. Those additions were native mouse/trackpad cursor support and desktop-class browsing. Combined, this meant that — at long last — one could hover a pointer over a web link or button to access a site’s features. It also allowed for better text manipulation; no longer would you be challenged to precisely select words with the fat tip of a fumbling finger. Despite these handy non-touch advances, using the iPad as my main computer was still lacking.

The iPad multitasking menu.

Though my productivity needs mostly center on simply typing words, I find iPad’s multitasking misses the mark; it’d be better labeled as bi-tasking or maybe tri-tasking. The Apple tablet’s Split View feature is nicer than ever, thanks to iPadOS 15’s new controls, and Slide Over — with multiple apps in a stack — is both slick and useful. At most, though, you can have a total of only two apps visible at a time, with a third iPhone-sized app somewhat in the mix. These innovative features are implemented fastidiously, but using iPad with a bluetooth-tethered mouse and keyboard, acting like a full-computer, begs the question: why not just use an actual laptop?

The clamshell form-factor of a notebook computer, like the MacBook, along with a traditional operating system is best for productivity. I say this as one who truly relied on an iPad (and a Chromebook…) as my main computer for a long time; I really wanted the iPad to work for me. I love the iPad with its simple software and superb hardware; it’s fantastic…as a tablet. However, given its shortcomings, I finally bought — dare I say it — a “real” computer (or let’s say a full computer).

iPad with attached keyboard looks like a laptop.

Switching away from the iPad as my daily device was an interesting process that required compromise. Had circumstances been different, I would likely still be relying on the iPad — it was good enough, or close enough to a full computer for most of my needs.

Therein lies the rub, as some of my needs (and wants) could only be met with the recent PC gaming laptop my family bought. With it, I gained true multitasking and multi-windowing for superior productivity. I also gained access to PC games and a particular app for creativity: RPG Maker MZ. While the Windows laptop’s robust multitasking reminded me of what the iPad lacks, it didn’t play nice with my Apple paradise, which led to trying a handful of cross-platform apps and services. As a result, I cautiously embraced a multi-device setup: iPad plus Windows laptop as needed. The combo seemed to work, but it was less than ideal.

Preferring to use my own personal laptop, I shopped for a mid-range Windows machine. This was partly led also by my family’s need for yet another traditional computer since my wife and I have five (5) kids that we homeschool. As I shopped for “the perfect” Windows PC, I felt most were compromised in some way. Finally, after my budget increased, I snapped up the MacBook from Apple’s refurbished store — it’s like-new. I’ll share it with one of my sons for some of his school work, but otherwise I get to claim the MacBook as my personal device. It makes the most sense for me since I can compute comfortably from within Apple’s walled-garden.

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MacBook Air with floating app windows.

I’ll probably have more to say about the MacBook itself in a future post, but in case I don’t, let me share my first impression here and now: I love it! So far, so good. It’s only been three days since I started using the M1 MacBook Air — it’s still kind of surprising. The last time I owned a Mac of any kind was about ten years ago. It was a late ’09 MacBook running OS X Mountain Lion on an Intel Core 2 Duo.

Overall, I think my setup is settled now, which is a relief. In just the past few days of acclimating to macOS, I already feel unrestricted, like anything I need to do is no problem. I’ve installed x86 or intel-based apps (Discord, RPG Maker MZ, and GIMP for example) and they’re all running normally through Rosetta without issues so far. Using a mouse or trackpad with the MacBook feels more natural than with the iPad. And macOS is a great experience. It’s simple, elegant, and refined like all of Apple’s products.

The iPad and the MacBook are both computers, no doubt. Each one provides a unique experience, a “think different” approach to computing. Whichever one’s “different” computing is the same as your needs or wants, that’s the one to use.

The Edgebook is Dead

A few months back, I got a excited for a new take on an old thing. I was interested in an iteration of Windows 10. It’s name was Windows 10X. And it will never see the light of day. Bummer, because I was really interested in a Windows version of a Chromebook. I called it the Edgebook. It could have been a simple laptop without the ad-driven privacy-invading Google tentacles weaved throughout. But the potential of Windows 10X is not all lost.


I’ve been using a Chromebook for about 2 years solid now — there’s a lot to like. Its limitations are actually a feature because they make it simple. A virtue that is still oft undervalued, simplicity is a strength that makes using a Chromebook an easy affair. There is, of course, a downside to Google’s ChromeOS. It’s the same downside inherent in all of Google’s products and services: ad-based surveillance. Your personal details profit the big Google. I have been willing to make the trade-off before: sell my digital soul for “free” web software. What could it really hurt? I reasoned that if I was forced to see ads on the web, they might as well be hyper-targeted ads for things I would actually want to spend money on.

But no more.

Like the clock’s steady pendulum, I’ve swung back to the side where privacy is of paramount importance. Going from Google to Apple, I prefer to spend my money on keeping my personal data on the private side of the fence. Why be a persona non data — that is a person online who receives no respect of their personal data, not immune to digital intrusion or invasion? Although Microsoft isn’t as privacy focused as Apple, they are certainly not as privacy ignoring as Google.

So imagine a laptop that is both simple like a Chromebook and doesn’t log your every digital move? That is what I had hoped a Microsoft Edgebook would be. But now it won’t be anything at all. Apparently, beta-testers didn’t see a reason for Windows 10X to exist, or Microsoft perceived that the OS variant simply wasn’t worth releasing to the public. I guess that’s not too much of a bummer because news reports say that some of the hallmarks of Windows 10X will be migrated into full-fledged Windows 10. I’m not exactly sure what this will entail, but I do think it’s smart for Microsoft to take what they’ve learned from development on Windows 10X and apply it to their main OS. The biggest paradigm that may be adopted is the overall push towards simplicity and modernity. I welcome that.

Despite the better looking future for Windows 10 along with its classic robust flexibility and capability as an operating system, I’ve already decided to switch from my Chromebook to either an iPad or a Mac, because Apple and iPhone. As of now, I’m lasered on the iPad as the most simple and modern computer on the market. Oh, and did I mentioned it’s also the most private? Yeah, take my money, Apple.

Of Macs and iPads

So how’s your month of May going? Mine has been adventurous. The new company I work for turned a corner last week, so things are looking better. We were given new laptops with VPN remote access to the new-to-us servers. My former dual-monitor set up was replaced with a new Ultrawide curved display. Best of all, an office building was bought; we should start moving in sometime next month. I shouldn’t have to work from home much longer and will be able to finally resume some new “normal.” Meanwhile, I’ve been swamped with imminent deadlines for my structural steel design work. I think I’m going to make it.


With that out of the way, I’ll get back to computing. In my previous post, I contemplated switching from my Chromebook to a Windows desktop PC. Well, that’s changed a bit. As I was pricing a custom build on NewEgg and then considering an off-the-shelf PC from Best Buy, I noticed that the best price point I could get to for my needs was around $700. It occurred to me that the Mac mini is the same price. Then it clicked in my brain – since I like using mostly Apple stock software for my personal stuff everyday, I should just buy a Mac desktop instead of a Windows desktop.

This was a no-brainer idea. I was a bit surprised that I had not been more adamant about it before. This was also a relief because it helped me resist sliding down the switching path into the Microsoft camp. I need to stop switching ecosystems and just stick with one (assuming that’s possible for me). Living in Apple land can be expensive, but to me it’s worth it.

As I thought more about a Mac mini, I began to remember the fact that almost every single app I would use on a Mac is also pre-installed on the device I’ve been wanting all along – the iPad. Can you guess where this is going next? So then I figured why not just stick with switching from a Chromebook back to an iPad? It has all the apps I really need, and the entry-level iPad costs much less than a Mac mini.

In 2019, when I switched from iPad to Chromebook, I needed a solid solution for simple text input and manipulation. I also needed a desktop — not a mobile — web browser. It’s been almost 2 years since then, and in that time, Apple has made the budget model iPad compatible with the Apple Smart Keyboard and given it full native mouse/trackpad support. The iPad is also now more computer-like than ever with a desktop-class browser that many people say really works, and it remains affordable and accessible. So it looks like I’ll be switching back in 2021. Surprise, surprise.

Also, the Apple Pencil looks compelling. I’ll probably buy one and will need an iPad to go with it.

Contemplating Another Computer

Howdy, y’all. I had to take a break for a bit so I could step back from the edge of the stress cliff. My day job has been undergoing a huge transition from the rubble and remnants of one company to the promise and potential of a new company. It’s been a rough ride. Okay, that said, this post is about my core geekery – computing. I tend to switch things up, and like my job situation, I’m wanting to switch out my Chromebook for a “real” PC.


This switch is directly related to my job transition. As I was forced to work from home on my work laptop, which is a very capable Windows 10 machine, I decided to use it as my personal machine too. It was easy to do because there was nothing to set up. Having been solely using a Chromebook, everything I did was cloud based via web apps. So with Chrome installed on my work laptop, I logged into my Google account. And that was it; all my stuff was there.

My work laptop (which I can’t use anymore – that’s another bump in the rough transition road) is no slouch. It was used for CAD design, having quite a mobile spec load out: 32GB RAM, core i7 CPU, SSD storage. Given all that horsepower, it made my personal computing fly compared to my Chromebook. Plus, since it ran Windows 10 instead of Chrome OS, there were no limitations. I could do pretty much anything with it since it ran desktop apps and not only a browser.

The capability and flexibility of that Windows 10 machine has made me want my own. So I’d like to switch off my Chromebook and replace it with a desktop PC. In fact, I’ve already been on NewEgg building a custom PC wish-list. I have found that it’s hard to save money when building a PC of your own. There are areas where you can save a few dollars, but overall it still adds up to a lot. In my case, I need to also buy Windows 10 software and not just PC hardware, which adds a good chunk to the cost. Anyways, it’s fun to custom build my own PC hot-rod. I make a budget build, a dream build, and then I build something in between that’s neither compromised nor crazy. You can buy just a new RTX GPU that costs as much as an entire computer! As much as I want to run Minecraft with real-time ray-tracing, that will have to wait a long time.

Being mostly an Apple guy when it comes to mobile computing, there’s a question: why not get a Mac? Because I want to do some PC gaming, stay more compatible with my wife’s Windows PC, and be able to use my own PC in lieu of my work PC if the need arises.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to buy anything for a while. But that’s no big deal. My needs are basically met. But I’ve got some wants and maybe some future needs to consider. Even a budget-friendly Windows PC offers greater flexibility than my Chromebook, and that alone is enough reason to switch. That said, I did learn a good lesson years ago: never buy an entry level Windows machine. Not only is the build quality sub-par, it’s not future proof, and it’s also painfully sluggish.

Here’s the rub of all this. I also still really want an iPad and plan to buy one. So I figure I’ll be replacing my Chromebook laptop with two things: a desktop PC and an Apple tablet — a computer and a mobile computer. I’ll probably keep the Chromebook around too and let the kids use it for school, so I’ll still have access to it if the switch-a-roo bug bites me again. And I’m sure it will.

The EdgeBook Is Born!

Microsoft is doing a thing. It looks interesting and exciting to this tech nerd. A new OS is coming along soon, called Windows 10X (poor name IMO), but more important are the new devices along with it. Basically, we’re talking about Windows powered Chromebooks, which I’m calling EdgeBooks.


I’ve used four different Chromebooks over the last few years and really like them a lot; they’re so simple! And they’re super affordable. Did I mention reliable? They run ChromeOS and all the Google stuff like Drive and Docs. Also, the Chrome broswer, in case it wasn’t obvious.

What excites me is that Microsoft is making their own version of Chromebooks using a new and modern version of Windows. Why the excitement? Because…it’s Windows-ish! And it’s Chromebook-ish at the same time. Somehow it looks attractive, like a good fit. It helps that I actually like Windows 10.

What stands out about Windows 10X is that it’s based on Windows 10. But 10X is modernized, fresh, and above all, it’s super simplified. The legacy stuff from years past – cleaned out. Also, it runs the Microsoft Store, which has simple modern versions of Microsoft Office.

The main feature is, of course, the browser. Instead of Chrome, you get Edge. I use Windows 10 with Edge on my work laptop. It’s really good.

With that in mind, what might these new Windows 10X devices be called? How will they be marketed? Here are a few ideas:

  • WinBook – because it’s a Windows laptop.
  • EdgeBook – because it’s a Windows laptop mostly to run the Edge browser.
  • CloudBook – because it’s a CloudOS laptop, or a CloudPC.
  • SurfBook – because of “Surface” laptops. So why not also SurfOS?

There are two bits I find very interesting about Win10X:

  1. No resizing windows (unlike Chrome OS)
  2. No local file storage (unlike Chrome OS)

First, I love the simplicity of always full-screen app windows; they’re like tablet apps. This removes one of the three icons in the upper right corner of regular Windows 10 app windows.

And this might mean that many or most EdgeBooks will be quite small. They’d have to be just big enough to squeeze in a full-size keyboard. Like many Chromebooks, I think EdgeBooks will have 11.6 inch screens. That’s great for Mobile Computing.

Second, a lack of local file storage sounds like the antithesis of Windows. But in our modern computer world, it also seems normal thanks to cloud computing. I think most of us are used to this nowadays. On my Chromebook, I default to storing everything in Google Drive. On an EdgeBook, you would do the same using OneDrive.


A big attraction I have not mentioned yet about a Windows version of a Chromebook: privacy. I would lean towards using an EdgeBook in order to distance myself from the data-harvesting Google ecosystem. Microsoft might be similar in this regard, but I think it is much less so than Google.

Check out what Microsoft says about Edge and your privacy.

The Edge browser defaults to Bing search, which uses a web indexing engine by Microsoft, not Google. My current search service now is privacy-centric DuckDuckGo, which uses the Bing search engine, among others, for results. It’s quite good.

All in all, an EdgeBook with Windows10X has me excited. If nothing else, it will increase competition for Chromebooks, in turn making Google innovate them more. If I wasn’t planning on buying an iPad later this year, I’d likely get a new “EdgeBook.”

Watch the video below to see a demo of Windows 10X.


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