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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

The iPad Boring

A few weeks ago Apple announced the iPad Boring via a press release. It was not a big announcement for Apple. Much like the iPhone SE the “iPad 5th gen” was a mid market device designed to fill a gap in the market. A design from 2013 stuffed with internals from 2016. To those waiting for iPad Pros it was a very disappointing update.

However, to me it was pretty darn interesting. I had been looking for a “home computer” for a while and i didn’t know it was iPad shaped.

Home Computer.

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing hardware. I have an iMac, a MacBook and (via the BBC) an iPad Pro. Thats almost £4,000s worth of hardware and i am grateful for it. My devices support my work and that keeps me fed and housed etc. All good things.

However, theres a snag. All of those devices serve double or even triple duty. None of them are really “mine”. They belong to my employer, or my company, but not really to “me”.

This is not the first time i have found myself in this position. For ages, i used to have a MacBook Pro for work and an iMac or a MacBook Air at home. I started this way back in 2011. At the time i even had this handy definition of a home computer:

For me, my home computer is the computer which i am unable to work on. It doesn’t have my software tools installed at all. My home computer is what i use once i get home to check on twitter, Facebook etc. […] I also use my ‘home’ computer for non work projects, such as study or researching lego parts.

Since getting ill my work life and my home life have merged. I certainly don’t need another Mac in my life. But i have been wanting something all of my own.

Enter the iPad Boring.

I want my personal computing to be effortless. Something i don’t have to think about or maintain. Something “good enough” is fine. The fact i cant load all my software tools onto the iPad Boring is a good thing! It does run my speech software, so the important stuff is covered.

Secondly, the iPad Boring is cheap. At £339 its a third of the cost of even an entry level MacBook and almost a quarter the cost of a Mac i’d actually want to own. If i get two years use of it then donate it to relative i’d be pretty happy.

I think thats everything. Long live the iPad Boring!

Published: 12 April 2017 | Categories: Permalink

My setup (2017)

Here’s a quick overview of my setup in early 2017. Hopefully this will remain stable till 2018/2019.

Always with me.

Two devices are always with me. My iPhone and my Apple Watch.

My iPhone 6S is probably my favourite phone yet. It took a while to get the right case to stop RSI but since then it’s been amazing. It’s almost two years old and it’s still fast and capable.

I use my phone for everything from writing to social media and reading RSS feeds.

Working alongside my iPhone is my 38mm Apple Watch Sport. My watch is extremely helpful. Being autistic i really benefit from tools to help me to stay organised and communicate. The Watch is literally my voice, wallet and organiser. It’s a great device.

In my bag.

I don’t normally carry both an iPad and a MacBook but sometimes I do.

My 12.9” iPad Pro is supplied by my employer. It’s what I use for sorting out email, accessing the VPN and the like. It’s a great device for typing when combined with the studio near canvas and the magic keyboard. I’m new to the iPad but so far I am super impressed. I’m glad I tried something different.

If my iPad isn’t in my bag then my 2015 12” retina MacBook probably is. I love it’s portability, performance and flexibility. I spend a ton of time working from the cafe and for coding, photo editing and slide making I prefer to use the MacBook.

At home.

At home I have my iMac, my server and my iPod.

My 2014 5K iMac is a beast. It’s by far the fastest Mac I have ever owned. The screen is gorgeous and and it’s the most productive and comfortable place for me to work. This is where I spent most of my time for BBC and freelance work. It’s also handy for a bit of gaming etc.

None of my devices have decent storage. So I have a 2011 Mac Mini Server as a NAS. It has a copy of everything and also runs my development servers and the like.

My final home device is my iPod. It’s what I use in the evening and is loaded with lots of audiobooks and the like.


In total I have 7 devices in my life. They each serve a different purpose and they are all useful.

If I had to reduce device count I’d drop devices in the order iPod, Mac Mini, MacBook, iPad, Watch, iMac, iPhone.

The iPad is a work device so I don’t really count it. The Mac mini was also cheaper than a boring hard drive of the same size so I also don’t really count it as a day to day device. It simply sits around making sure all my data is safe.

If it wasn’t a work device I probably wouldn’t own a MacBook and an iPad. I may sell the MacBook on in the future if I don’t use it enough.

Final thoughts.

As i mentioned at the start, i am hoping that this year my tech setup will be very stable. I am extremely lucky to be able to have a nice selection of devices for all the things i need to do.

Published: 25 March 2017 | Categories: Permalink

The massive iPad and the little MacBook.

At the end of 2016 i wrote about my setup. The very short version is that i wasn’t very impressed with the new MacBook Pro’s and had decided to stick with my iMac and older MacBook Pro setup.

This is broadly still the case, however it has been tweaked a little.

A little MacBook.

The first change is that i swapped from a MacBook Pro to a MacBook. My partner is taking my 13” MacBook Pro to university with him. It makes more sense for him to have it than for me to have it and barely use it. I brought myself a little 12” MacBook to use in the mean time.

I will write about the MacBook again in the future, but in brief It’s brilliant as a satellite device, but unworkable as a primary computer. I do push its limits often, but because i brought it with a 60% discount i am happier to live within those limits and go to the iMac when needed.

A massive iPad.

The second change is that i swapped from a borrowed 9.7” iPad Air to a work issued 12.9” iPad Pro.

It didn’t make sense for the BBC to buy me another Mac. I wouldn’t use it as i already have better Macs at home, however, i needed a way to get onto the BBC VPN and an iPad does the job nicely.

We went with the bigger iPad as a bit of an experiment. A friend of the team has one and i wondered if i could follow his approach.

Perhaps ironically, the iPad is now bigger than my MacBook.

Till 2018.

With those two swaps made I don’t expect to see any other hardware changes now till 2018 when i may retire the iMac in favour of a MacBook Pro and 5K display. We will have to see what happens.

I am excited to be able to have both the MacBook and the iPad Pro. They overlap in interesting ways an i look forward to exploring them more in the future.

Published: 14 February 2017 | Categories: Permalink

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