My Tech Top 10: Laura E. Hall

My Tech Top 10: Laura E. Hall

Laura E. Hall
Jan 2, 2011
Why yes, that is an airplane bathroom.

Happy new year, everyone! I'm Laura, the newest Unplggd contributor. I'm a Texan who has just moved to Portland, Oregon to live a slower-paced (but still plugged-in) life with my husband and two cats. In my spare time I'm usually reading, writing, watching movies, making jewelry, playing games, traveling or creating art. At any given moment I have way too many projects going at once, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm fascinated by the way technology influences how people interact with spaces, and have found a related avenue of interest in alternate reality games. I'm also an avid casual console gamer; my favorites can be picked up at any time, or tackled in random spare hours. And lately I've been learning card games for a bit of screen-free entertainment.

My design style is all about seamless tech integration, since I'm not really an early adopter -- everything I use is intended to augment and enhance my life and hobbies. I also have a strong inclination toward organic elements, and think no office is complete without a big window and at least one plant.

Top Row:
Macbook Pro, Dell Inspiron Netbook: Like most of the Unplggd contributors, I have a largely Apple-based tech setup at home. I have a used Macbook Pro, and even the netbook shown above is a hackintosh. I typically like to keep my laptop at my desk and to use the netbook for couch-based writing and browsing, but since my recent move the MBP has been following me around the house.
Kindle ebook reader: I think all the worrying about "the death of books" is pretty silly. I love my Kindle, but I also love my set of Coralie Bickford Smith's cloth-covered Penguin classics. (I'm also a regular at the public library and used book store.) In short, I'll pretty much read books in any form I can get 'em. Having tried both the Kindle and the Nook, I prefer the former, mostly because I find using both the Nook's touchscreen menu and e-ink screen dissonant. My only wish is that the Kindle was less closed-source, as it would make file management a lot easier.
Nintendo DS Lite: My DS is an indispensable accessory and some of my most favorite games have been on this platform. The decorative skin on my DS shows characters from Moshi Monsters, an online childrens' game my husband used to work on.
Onkyo S330 speaker system: We love to watch films at our house. I was a heavy user of Netflix but ever since Instant came out, I hardly ever get discs at home anymore. This speaker system has fantastic sound quality considering its budget-friendly price, and it helps to make the movie-viewing experience incredibly immersive. Right now, my husband and I are learning about the entirety of British history through films, so having surround sound is great for all those battle scenes.
Zipcard: One of the reasons we moved was to live in a city that was walkable, bikeable and public-transportationable. But there are some times when you absolutely have to have a car, and that's where the Zipcar system comes in. Cars are parked all around the city; you reserve one hourly via the iPhone, walk up to the car, unlock it with your Zipcard and you're good to go. You also don't have to pay for gas or insurance. Unbelievably convenient.

Bottom Row:
Apple iPad: Yes, another Apple product. My husband is an app developer so we always have the latest programmable device in the house; I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the next version of the iPad, since I'll inherit the older one. Since we got the iPad it's provided most of our daily media consumption -- music, Netflix, browsing, and so on. We also use it in the kitchen for recipes.
Netgear Ready NAS Duo and media server software: Another movie-watching-related tech product, this baby is a storage server that lets us stream movies and files to the television via the Playstation. With the help of the software's streaming conversion, pretty much any file type is a-okay.
Nikon D70: The D70 was my first DSLR and it's served me long and well. Recently I've been having trouble with the lens so I'm torn between upgrading this one or moving over to a similar-level Canon. But I have been able to get some amazing photos out of it, over the years.
Playstation 3: I've been a Playstation fan since the days of Parappa the Rapper (purchased nearly simultaneously with a Dreamcast, rest in peace). I'm never without a game to play, and I like that the systems always double as media players: in college, I used my PS2 in lieu of a DVD player, and today I'm happily watching Blu-Ray discs on the PS3.
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS: Lugging around a DSLR is a lot of work, and isn't always the most convenient -- or subtle -- photo-taking option. I picked up the PowerShot on the recommendation of a friend and have been very satisfied. Lightweight, fast and does great macro shots.

Technology/device I'm most looking forward to in 2011:
Since I have to choose just one, I'll say it's the Nintendo 3DS. But I'm also looking forward to seeing the newest multitouch and tablet devices coming out.

Tech or tech organizational tip:
"When cleaning, only touch things once." Due to my various hobbies and work-related enterprises I have a lot of "stuff" to deal with and it's very hard to keep everything sorted. One of the best office organizing tips I've learned in the last year is to get rid of pretty much everything that isn't related to finances, or that has very strong personal memories attached -- and even those can be photographed or scanned for posterity. The same applies to technology -- while moving we spent a lot of time going through boxes full of miscellaneous wires and chargers. Instead of just chucking them back into the box, we sat down right then and figured out which were still useful and which needed to go.

I never leave home without:
Yep, I'm afraid it's my iPhone 4. It's clock, communication, music and map, all in one. Plus I'm pretty addicted to the Crosswords app.

Here's part of the attic which I get to transform into a functioning office space, with lots of different "zones" for hobbies and work.

Created with Sketch.