Segmenting My Digital Workflow: Segment 1 - Task Compute
You're going to have to indulge me in some catharsis. I need to write about the hand wringing I've been doing in trying to settle out how I am going to work during this phase of the Geek Command Center and how I use the various enclaves to coordinate and actually produce the content from the various activities I'm involved in. Needless to say, LiveStreaming has taken over my life. That creates a swirl of activity associated with constantly being on camera, having limited time in between those stream-shows to set up for the next event and work on other content that I want to produce along the way. Like this blog. And so the separation of compute enclaves that I work in has become of prominent importance. Because I work things in segments, and when I reach for a device in a specific enclave to work a segment of my workflow, it needs to be configured and perfectly capable of working that task. There's no time for re-work or to reach for a device and have it not be the right tool for that segment of work. Right now, in my listicles schema, I have things split out between Task Compute, Draft Compute, and x86 Compute (because sometimes there are things I need to work that are not exclusively Task Management or Content Draft Creation, but still require an x86 platform).
Tonight I need to start talking a bit about Task Compute. Let me also say that I have resolved that the solution to my problem overall is to bring in a low-cost Windows digital ink solution; something less expensive than Surface, more capable than Surface Go, and differentiated from my iPad Zero 128GB with Apple Pencil. Right now I am ogling the Acer Switch 12. Saving up for that. But I still need to write my way through it for my own sanity. So here goes.
Task Compute is the enclave that I spend some time in every day. In a perfect world, it would be where I would start every day. In fact, it used to be. Up out of bed, review alerts on my phone, down to the studio, pick up the tablet device and start scripting out the tasks for the day at the tactical level. But now some mornings I either have to get up and immediately get showered and dressed for work, or I have to jump right on camera for a livestream. And therefore I do not always have enough time to get deep into task details on a tablet. As fast as I am with a tablet and digital ink, sometimes I have to be faster. Or I just do not get time to work my daily tasklist until I am out of the house and away from my tablet. Right now the list of possible Task Compute devices includes the following:
- Desktops and laptops NOT allocated to livestreaming, game captures, and podcasting for the month. This is generally two available systems, and this past month it has been my Secondary UberBox (Ryzen 5 inside a ThermalTake Core V21 MicroATX Case) and the Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop
- Dell Latitude E5450
- Lenovo ChromeBook 500e
- Apple iPad Zero 128GB w/Apple Pencil
- Apple iPad Mini 4 128GB
- Daily Driver SmartPhone (either the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 or Note 8, or the Essential Phone Ph-1)
- Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra (currently used as my primary DAP, but also as a note-taking and task management device)
- Three 11 X 17 WhiteBoards with Dry-Erase Markers
- 8-1/2" X 5" Hard Cover Journal
After a LOT of agonizing over the decision, I brought the Dell in last month, mainly because I was unimpressed by my usage of the Lenovo ChromeBook 500e for just about anything. The Latitude has been one of the BEST computing decisions I have ever made. I don't know that I would have ever taken the action to get a hold of a keyboard this well suited for journaling, blogging, and note-taking / list-making. I keep the ChromeBook 500e around because it is so new that I back away each time that I am close to taking action to get rid of it. There's a bit of thought that needs to go into using it; like I need to have thought through a few different scenarios that might constitute its given use-cases in a week and make sure that I have considered the different gotchas that might come up when I am going to assign it as my Task Compute device for a given week.
The iPad Zero 128GB with Apple Pencil is really almost my dream task compute machine; it’s just not an x86 device. I realize today that if I were forced to just get rid of everything in this enclave, keeping everything except one, it is the iPad that I would probably choose to keep. Above all else, I like scripting out my weekly tech playbook in pen and ink, or digital ink. But I do not always take my personal tablets to work, and so even when I am using the iPad as my Task Compute for that week, there are days that I do not have it with me. The iPad Mini, despite not having a dedicated stylus solution, still does an excellent job with a capacitive stylus. Of course the Note 8 and Note 9 have excellent pens as well, and even with just the VKB are great note-takers. And my aging eyes appreciate the days that I work from the Xperia XA1 Ultra.
The problem with these solutions is that I do not have the slam dunk solution that would cause me to use just one or two of these. I think that shifting to the Acer Switch 12 will alleviate that issue. It will return my world to the way things were when I used to work mainly from a 12" iPad Pro and my Toshiba Slate with Stylus and Windows Pro. The one issue back in those days was that the Toshiba was supposed to also fulfill the functionality that I am currently using the Dell Latitude for. So my notion of a Task Compute enclave is a bit more of a sprawl than I would prefer right now. It's functional, and well stocked. But not optimized. I would prefer to be almost exclusively on digital ink solutions. I don't want that to solely be the iPad today, and the Galaxy Notes are too small. Among all of these solutions, the XA1 is the surprise blessing. When I elected to keep it around to use as a DAP and DMP, I had no idea that it would figure into helping out with task management as well. Proof that there is a market for iPod Touch-like Android devices, because the whole reason the XA1 got pressed back into service was because I was soooooo dissatisfied with the performance of my 6th generation iPod Touch. I would also offer it as proof that there is a market for small form-factor Android tablets at the 5 to 7-inch size (but with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Please).