Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


SubscribeFollow me on TwitterLinked In Stumble Upon What I Digg Email me

Archive for TechToys


The Essential Keystrokes Home Office Setup

Posted by: Char | Comments (6)

David at Extra for Every Publisher shared his Problogging setup with his readers today and asked what everyone else is using too. Since I do web design and problogging, I decided to share my set up with everyone, too – and if I’m lucky I will win the prize he is giving out to the person with the best response.

Home OfficeYou can actually take a look at my home office in a post I did on my other site a while back – but I am just going to deal with the hardware specs for this post.


My main system is a Dell Dimension Pentium 4 with a 3GHz processor, 3GB of RAM and a 21″ monitor. The system is about 3 years old and it is starting to show its age. Something tells me I will be replacing it within the next year. I run Windows XP on my Dell. Some of the software I use daily includes, Microsoft Office, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and iTunes.

iMac G5My secondary system is a Apple iMac G5 Desktop 20″  (2.0 GHz PowerPC G5, 1.5GB RAM, 250 GB Hard Drive, SuperDrive). These are really cool machines!! I use my Mac for a lot of my graphics work. It has the complete Adobe Creative Suite 2 (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) on it plus Office for Mac and it is my preferred machine for Skyping thanks to the built in microphone and webcam.

My mobile office includes a Sony VAIO laptop that has the same software on it as my Dell does. I take my laptop everywhere – from the living room to work while the family watches TV to the hockey rink to get some extra work done while waiting for my son to finish ice hockey practice. I can also check email and surf the web on my Treo phone as needed.


HP LaserjetWhile I don’t do a ton of print work anymore, I still have 3 printers in my office at this moment. I have a Lexmark 2430 magicolor color laser printer, an old HP Laserjet black and white laser, and an HP 2510 Photosmart all in one printer, fax, scanner and copier. Believe it or not, they all get used and all have their own specific jobs. The all in one is networked so the iMac can print to it as well.


linksys wireless gIn addition to my office we have computers in the playroom for the kids and one in my husband’s office (yes, we are a family of geeks) so they have to be networked. We swear by our Linksys Wireless G Cable Gateway to get our high speed cable to any computer in the house.

Other stuff:

For backups I rely on my SmartDisk 160GB FireLite drive. It has more storage space than the Dell and it is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.

I also have a Nikon Cool Pix 7600 that I use for digital photography. Its small, takes good quality pictures and can even take video if I need it.

My set up is obviously more than the average person needs to be successful online, however, I am lucky that I am married to Mr. Gadget who loves technology and buying the latest toys. Plus, doing work on the web and in print requires more than just the average blogger might need.

So, what is your setup? Leave me a comment here, or better yet – go over to David’s site to get in on the action and you may even win a prize.

Categories : TechToys
Comments (6)

SmartDisk Firelite 160GB USB driveDid I ever mention that I am married to Mr. Technology? Well, I am. He just can’t help himself. If there is a new gadget, tool, or tech toy out there, Mr. T. will have to pick it up, play with it, test it, or more often than not, buy it.

After experiencing one too many blue screens of death in the early days of our home offices, Mr. T. has become enamored with external data storage. From a bottomless supply of floppy disks back in the 90′s to stacks of writable CDs, Zip drives, flash drives, and external hard drives, we have tried them all. I’m not kidding.

Anyhow, Mr. T. was at his favorite haunt the other day and decided that my life could be made easier with a new technology tool or two. He picked up a SmartDisk USB FireLite drive for me. Why? Because. Because the FireLite drive is so cool. It can hold 160GB of data – which is more than the hard drive in my 3 year old Dell desktop PC. And get this! The entire unit is slightly larger than a deck of cards, which means it will fit in my laptop bag or even in my purse if I need it to.

It is also plug and play! It requires no additional power source (but can handle an AC power supply if needed) and even though it came with software, I haven’t had to install it.

No more excuses when it comes to backing up your data. It just doesn’t get any easier than this!

Comments (5)

How do you get a bunch of kids excited about learning how to program? Try adding Legos with motors!

Every Monday night for the rest of the summer my son and some of his friends are taking a class on building robots with Legos. How cool is that? They are doing it through a company called Davinci’s Kids. He took the first course last fall and really had a great time with it.

Basically each week they are presented with a challenge. They build a working Lego robot using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics kit and then program the robot to perform certain tasks.

Last night was week #2 of the course and their mission as part of Alien Encounter was to design a plow for their robot that would push the most rocks across the finish line. Here is a video of my son’s last robot performing the task. One of the wheels got stuck and it ended up making the plow turn.

About 12 years ago I taught the Lego Robotics program to kids in a private school setting. The curriculum is extremely sound and a great way for kids to begin learning the basics of programming in general.

Categories : TechToys
Comments (10)


Team Training NE Celiac Family