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  1. Question
    #1

    Mid-computing life crisis - help needed on hardware/OS/software for seamless life...

    Good afternoon all.

    I'm agonizing over a conundrum.

    I like seamless tech, where everything talks to the other, photos automatically archive and backup, and things are just always available.

    I'm also getting time-poor, and have far less time to be a tech-type person than I used to.

    At the moment I live in an iPhone, android, windows laptop, windows desktop, Microsoft Office, Dropbox , gmail world.

    All contacts/communication lives in google, work's on office 365, Dropbox for file sync and remote file availability. The whole lot is pretty negotiable. I use a couple of scripts to tie Dropbox to my PC (camera sync stuff from my two phones mainly). Evernote comes along for the ride as well for document scanning and note-taking.

    Is the vaunted Apple eco-system that seamless in reality, or am I better off home-brewing between Chrome, google, and some scripts/rules to glue it together. Remembering my time has value, is the apple premium made up for by the lack of having to script/control all this myself?

    Google also is beginning to worry me, "do no evil" seems to be more aspirational every day...but don't really think Apple or Microsoft are saints either...

    What I (think I) need:

    • Rugged (ish) low-powered mobile computing, at the moment I'm using a refurb Toughbook, grunt isn't a factor here, portability, connectivity and battery life are the key points, along with being able to take a moderate beating. Using a few windows-only apps here too for connecting to hardware out and about...
    • Reliable powerful desktop computing, able to run GIS applications, Office, a couple of windows-only applications, limited gaming would be nice (I'm keen on the occasional bit of Kerbal Space Program...). At present I'm running an old Q6600 quad core machine, 4 GB RAM, 8800 GTS 512 GFX so pretty long in the tooth...up for replacement hence the mid-computing life crisis...
    • A phone for personal/own business (currently Galaxy S4 running last Cyanogen mod version before the lights went out, lineagOS seems to have not quite gotten there with a new build ).
    • A phone (or another number on the same phone) that I can use for 'real' work, looking keenly at apple here but eSim seems a way off yet...stylus would be nice, but not a deal breaker, more looking for long term reliability and value. Dual SIM may be an option? Currently on an iPhone 7.
    • Seamless synchronization between all machines, I need stuff on one machine to show up on the rest fairly promptly, I need all my contacts to propagate across all machines (phones, computers) as well as e-mail, documents, photographs and everything in between. Basically, I don't want to have a moment where I go "bugger, that's on $device I don't have with me and I can't get to it... Dropbox seems to do this pretty well for files and photos...android app, windows app, apple app and web access if I need it.
    • Remote file access and/or remote desktop would be amazing, from memory OneDrive used to have this but not sure if it still does..this isn't a deal-breaker however


    Has someone in here had success in getting a simple unified system up and running that "just works" and if so, what and how have you done it and what tools have you used please?

  2. Post
    #2
    I didn't think it was that complex but my setup is:
    - Dropbox for files
    - Google ecosystem for everything else (email, contacts, photos)

    I suppose I could drop dropbox and migrate my files to google drive if I wanted to make it easier.

    I have a dual-SIM phone (a Mi Mix 2) and have my work exchange email/contacts synced to my phone as well as my personal email.

  3. Post
    #3
    Yeah, I think I'm over-complicating it, hence throwing it out there as to what other people are using.

    How about Office stuff, Office 365 is nice, but seems a waste to have two 1TB subscriptions to different cloud file providers if I can mash them together, or sync between them to get some redundancy?

    How's dual-SIM life?

  4. Post
    #4
    My office stuff is saved to dropbox - I'm using the home use program version so not subscription/cloud based. I get that that would be annoying though.

    Dual SIM is pretty sweet, I don't think I could go back. It's particularly useful when reception is poor for one network and I can switch to the other. Simulataneous 4G would be cool though (I think the newer Snapdragon flagship chipsets support 4G standby) and/or the ability to micromanage the data usage (e.g. pick which SIM for which app/account)

  5. Post
    #5
    I have a personal gmail account with 100gb of storage which I use for, well, personal stuff, including all my photos in Google photos.

    For business stuff I just have a single Gsuite for business account, with 1tb of storage and I use Google Drive file stream on all my devices (2 apple laptops and a windows pc), which means I have access to everything without needing the storage space available on all the devices. I selectively sync folders based on what I frequently use incase i don't have internet. And of course everything across these devices is synced.

  6. Post
    #6
    Home brewing it is always going to give you the most freedom, but what you said about the apple ecosystem does have its merits.

    I work on IT (solution architect) and I have been an apple user for over 15yrs at home. All my colleagues are also the same, and the number one reason you hear people say it is “I have to fix computers all day, I don’t want to fix them at home too”. So for me that’s why I stick with apple all in, laptop, appletv, iPhone. It really is seamless. But I do still use Dropbox, google photos etc as you get the cross platform aspect then too.

    But the huge downside of the apple walled garden is once you are in, it’s virtually impossible to get out.

  7. Post
    #7
    dual sim phones are the go for sure. saves you from having to carry two phones and you dont HAVE to use it as dual sim all the time if you want to take the sim out and put it back in your iphone 7 you could do that.
    Somthing like a samsung s8 dual sim version is pretty cheap from expert infotech. Its not the latest but its a great phone and ONE UI is coming out soon from samsung which could be something handy.
    no dual sim option for apple iphones and not holding my breath for eSim yet

  8. Post
    #8
    Thanks for the replies, it's helping out a lot :-)

    I think getting the dual-SIM thing sorted will simplify life, then I've only got one device to worry about, once less file sync, and not jumping between android and apple all the time.

    I see some of the new iPhones can be dual-sim (the XR from memory), as well as the Samsung Note 9, which I'm pretty taken with (especially the stylus, I'd love to go more paper-free).

    Now, I guess I have to decide if I want to jump into the apple walled garden or not...

    A second hand trash-can mac is $4500, a top of the line Ryzen pre-built is the same, or I can build my own a lot cheaper if I make some compromises...

    **sigh** talk about first world problems...

  9. Post
    #9
    It's not true dual sim - one of the sims is an esim so needs to be explicitly supported by the carrier. None of the carriers in NZ support it, in Australia only the Apple watch esims are supported by a handful of carriers, not the iPhone esim (which is curiously different).

  10. Post
    #10
    Puk wrote:
    I work on IT (solution architect) and I have been an apple user for over 15yrs at home. All my colleagues are also the same, and the number one reason you hear people say it is “I have to fix computers all day, I don’t want to fix them at home too”. So for me that’s why I stick with apple all in, laptop, appletv, iPhone. It really is seamless.
    I worked alongside the apple distee for 8 years (worked for the same company but in non-Apple products). And when you start to within a primarily apple site then you start to see more of the reality. I can guarantee you that you get the same issues with apple. I remember the brown screens of death (kernel panics), massive network problems especially around safari, driver issues, all the same stuff you see on Windows. Of course managing OS X machines was harder because they have no AD equivalent. And there was a bunch of users in the "I'm to dumb to use windows so I'll go mac" who were just as bad on the mac.

    It's 6 of one half a dozen of the other really. However once you start operating an AD environment then you really start to see the Windows benefits (and yes I do at home).

    I would also add work uses iphones, I got given one (iphone 7), tried it for a few weeks and ditched it. It felt extremely non-intuitive compared to Android, simple things were way more work (apple fan bois that is my opinion and you aren't changing it). And it's a common theme with android users at work.

  11. Post
    #11
    Watching with interest. I have been gmail+dropbox for a while for multiple machine/phone sync. Love it for the most part, but would like a better solution for photos is all.

    I actually don't think there is better than the google/dropbox combo.

  12. Post
    #12
    krashersmasher wrote:
    Watching with interest. I have been gmail+dropbox for a while for multiple machine/phone sync. Love it for the most part, but would like a better solution for photos is all.

    I actually don't think there is better than the google/dropbox combo.
    What's wrong with google photos?

  13. Post
    #13
    I want to sync my win10/photos with my phone with my online google photos.

  14. Post
    #14
    krashersmasher wrote:
    I want to sync my win10/photos with my phone with my online google photos.
    https://photos.google.com/apps ?

  15. Post
    #15
    I have a my photos on a QNAP NAS (Mirrored RAID), shared with plex for viewing, sync'd with a google photos account for cloud backup.

  16. Post
    #16
    I'm also confused why a few of you are not using Google Photos. It wins hands down for this.

    I know with the Synology range of NAS solutions they have easy to use apps which you can use to automatically sync all cloud storage (Google drive/photos, dropbox, etc) to a local disk if you so wish but I don't see the point.

    Personally I'm just all in with Google. I don't use Office as Sheets and Docs does everything I need. I don't even use dropbox these days.

  17. Post
    #17
    Cloud is convenient for sure but you're giving away control of your data in return which some people don't like.

  18. Post
    #18
    Got an email over the weekend from Google re Google One being available in NZ. Signed up to the $2.99 plan and sync'd my iPhone. Pretty impressed. Enjoy the family sharing options with this and Google Music.

  19. Post
    #19
    Simple solution is to use Office 365 Personal for everything

  20. Post
    #20
    ^ Yuck

  21. Post
    #21
    Privoxy wrote:
    I know with the Synology range of NAS solutions they have easy to use apps which you can use to automatically sync all cloud storage (Google drive/photos, dropbox, etc) to a local disk if you so wish but I don't see the point.
    Because your access to your data is not guaranteed by google (see the recent news).

  22. Post
    #22
    I myself use Office 365.

    1tb of cloud storage, onedrive has an excellent android/ios/macos app, and you get Office as part of the deal. Any photo i take on my phone auto syncs to onedrive so no issue there either.

    Only issue is Office 365 is non existent on linux which is a bit annoying.(although their web interface is solid)

  23. Post
    #23
    OneDrive on windows10 is pretty solid now and the 1tb limit is good, if you already have an office365 subscription which includes the 1tb onedrive, you could move your stuff off dropbox and stop paying for it, and just use that subscription for your photos/work files/data backups etc.

    The onedrive client on windows7 is still not great however, sync errors and is missing critical features that the windows 10 one has, just not possible due to OS limitations

  24. Post
    #24
    I can't speak for apple, but I use a dual sim for my work Phone only because I couldn't be arsed with the company phone (an iPhone)

    android dual sim allows you to run 2 sets of apps for each phone number (like whatsapp for example) which can be pretty handy for segregating work/life. most major manufacturers offer dual sim phones now (even flagship models have dual sim versions too)

  25. Post
    #25
    Honestly if your goal is backup then OneDrive can do automated backup on both W10 and iOS/Android, you can even redirect your desktop/documents/pictures folders to OneDrive with a button in the app to sync them between computers. It also lets you revert to older versions of files or restore deleted files in the same way as Dropbox (better because it can be done to multiple files at once).