Upon Further Review: How I Spent My Money in 2009

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One of my end of the year rituals is looking back on what I dropped my hard-earned coin on over the year. This is a reckoning on software I thought would be a grand idea at the time and how I feel about the purchase at the end of the year.

Hardware

13” MacBook Pro: It was time to retire my cira-2006 WhiteBook and I chose the low-end Pro model. I debated upgrading to the higher-end 13” or the 15”, but, since I had a 500GB drive I would be transferring, I decided on the low-end model. It’s a fantastic machine I don’t want to picture life without. No regrets.

Logitech Wave Keyboard: I’ve never been a big fan of Apple’s keyboards. The clear white model feels too squishy, and the aluminum one feels too firm. I got the Logitech Wave on an impulse buy at BJs Warehouse one day and I like it. My only complaint is it’s not bluetooth, and with the laptop I’ve stopped using it because I don’t want to lose the dongle or tie up a USB port. No regrets.

OS X Software

Snow Leopard: I upgraded day one and haven’t looked back. I love the new Automator, Stacks, and Expose. I can’t think of any major hiccups I’ve had. No regrets.

Parallels Desktop 4.0 Upgrade: I hadn’t planned on getting this — version 3 was doing fine for me. However, at some point the Version 4 trial got my system in a state where I couldn’t easily downgrade from it and preserve my virtuals and I ended up saying, “screw it” and upgraded to 4.0. I still use it heavily as there are Windows apps I need to use. It gets used enough I’ll likely be upgrading to Version 5 next year. No regrets.

Things: I’m constantly struggling with managing my to-do list. Until I got Things, no system worked for me. I tried Moleskine notebooks, Google Tasks, Evernote, having my wife remind me, iCal alerts — you name it. I got Things because of its iPhone integration (more on that in the iPhone section) and I love it. I was the site lead for an ISO audit and it was incredibly helpful managing the project. No regrets.

The Sims 3: The Sims franchise and I go way back; I’ve played all of them. Once I got the new Macbook and could actually run games, I grabbed the Sims 3. Overall, I like it. I was hoping it’d let me run without the CD like Spore does, and that’s probably the biggest reason I don’t play it much — I thought it’d be a perfect on the train game, but I tend to forget to grab the CD. Slight regret, only because I don’t play it as much as I’d like.

LaunchBar 5: I had to upgrade when I went to Snow Leopard. I use this tool every day and still barely scratch the surface on its features. As an aside, check out ScreenCast Online’s excellent LaunchBar tutorials. No regrets.

iLife 09: Granted, it came with my new MacBook, but I had also purchased a license on my old laptop. I only really use iPhoto and it’s been a mixed bag. The Faces feature thought my wife was both a booth babe from E3 and a bearded game developer. I like the Flickr and Facebook exports, but I’m disappointed it doesn’t sync photos I’ve uploaded to non-iPhoto created sets. However, I like having a central photo storage that I can get to from any application (using the new Services in Snow Leopard).  Slight regret.

iWork 09: I’ve been waffling between iWork and Office for most of the year. Each have their advantages, but I’m finding how well iWork integrates with Snow Leopard’s Services has resulted in me using it more. Keynote simply rocks; I used it for every presentation I had to give this year. No regrets.

iPhone Apps

I started going through my iTunes receipts to give an accurate list of everything I bought … and rapidly decided that list was too long to bore you with, so instead I’m just going to mention the high and low points. There’s also a few I bought just because there was a great deal on them, so I’ll ignore them for now, too.

Games

Hero of Sparta and NFL 2010: I got each of these as part of a Thanksgiving sale for a buck a piece. I like both of them: Hero is a nice God of War clone and NFL 2010 is a serviceable football game. No regrets.

Myst: I got this trying to relive my gaming youth. While it’s an amazing technical accomplishment — it’s the entire Myst game, right there on your iPhone — I’ve been disappointed; I just don’t think it scales down well to the iPhone screen. This one is a regret.

Flight Control: Holy cow, is this game addictive or what? Not only do I regret getting this game, I think my boss regrets me getting it too — when he got an iPhone and asked for a game recommendation, it was the immediate choice and we’re both infatuated with it. Seriously, though, no regrets.

Peggle: This is a game that’s hard to describe; it’s like an inverted version of Blockout merged with pinball. The idea is to make these colored blocks go away by aiming a canon of sorts at them. It’s a fun game, but my one big issue is being color blind, I have a hard time telling the difference between some of the blocks.

Productivity

Quickoffice and DocsToGo: I bought them in a hope that my iPhone would become a netbook of sorts, and it didn’t quite work out that way. It’s not a fault of either program (they are both good) but my own work habits. While it’s rare I’ll attempt to do work on these, the few times I’ve had to use them puts them in the no regrets column.

Things: I’ve covered this already, but the iPhone app is a perfect companion to the desktop; I tend to use the iPhone app more than the desktop version. I only have two complaints: I can’t define Areas of Responsibility on the iPhone, and the data sync doesn’t happen via the cloud, but they seem to be working on that.

AutoStitch: I wrote about this one here, but suffice to say, I use it enough to instantly make it a no regret.

Byline: I float between Byline and the Google Reader web app. I frequently use Byline more because it’s a stand-alone app and syncs very well with Google Reader. However, both of them expose a limitation of the iPhone OS that drives me nuts: because apps can’t talk to each other, I can’t “send to Evernote” as I can when viewing Reader in a traditional browser. No regrets.

Simplenote: This is a handy Notes app that also has a web client, so, unlike the iPhone’s Notes app you sync over the cloud. It makes me wish I could delete the built-in Notes app.

Wooji Presentation Remote and Apple’s Keynote Remote: This was the year where I had to give a few presentations, and, being the geek that I am felt I needed an app on the iPhone to control Keynote. It was a disaster, Since it uses a Wi-Fi connection to the laptop the iPhone battery drained too fast and I felt myself looking down at the iPhone for my cues, falling into the dreaded “staring at the index cards” presentation method. I ended up going back to the Apple physical remote and using my Macbook and Keynote in presentation mode.

In 2008 it felt like I had more regrets than 2009. Perhaps that was a case of the App Store launching and just going nuts buying it, or this year I was more discerning about my purchases. How about you? What purchases did you make in 2009 you liked or regret?

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