Dave Bradford

Developer and picture taker.

Living Without My Computer

December 28, 2011

Picture this two weeks ago, it’s a cold Saturday morning. I get home after spending the night around my girlfriends, power up my MacBook Pro, went downstairs to make a cup of tea and noticed the screen was completely black? After a bit of troubleshooting it wasn’t just the screen, it seems to have completely failed posting at all I mean it turns on but other than that there is no chime no nothing! Wow this hit me pretty hard I mean my main machine was busted just shy of 4 years old.

It’s been a good few weeks now without my laptop - it’s tough. I don’t think I fully appreciated how much time I invested in my notebook however the way I’d adapted my setup over the last year or so has made this a lot easier to deal with.

Below is a breakdown of how I’ve managed this:

Files and Documents

Ok let’s start at the beginning for general files and documents I use a variety of different tools, firstly part of my backup process included daily time machine backups and fortnightly hard drive clones of my main boot drive. All of this seems pointless after I realised I live out of my Dropbox folder, everything thats not music or photos. Other documents can be found in my Evernote or google docs which all work from any web browser.


Music is my life, about a year and a half ago I decided to move to Spotify. A very smart move in hindsight, I still have 80GB of music which I continue to backup, however not easily accessing it made me realise I never use it. Everything I listen to was in Spotify, combined with last.fm which I’ve had since I started my iTunes collection I’ve scrobbeled & loved everything I consider important, which helps me to remember which albums and songs I truly love. All my Spotify playlists are synced and a simple login to another machine brings it all back. I simply cannot recommend Spotify enough.


I have complete copies of my photo library on hard drive clones and time machine backups, however like the music this isn’t an issue. Although I won’t be organising photos until I get a new computer (I’m well into iPhoto), all my photos sync up to my Flickr account. All my events are sets inside of collections ready for review, simple editing if needed and all online taking up no physical storage of my own. I use an eye-fi sd card to copy all my photos up to Flickr and set them to private, I then make set the best ones to public, this way I have a backup copy of everything.

Code / Design Work

When I purchased my linode vps server a few years ago I went from keeping all my code locally to moving it all to the server and editing via SFTP over an SSH tunnel, I setup port forwarding for an internal only test web virual server and I can fire up a test web service just about anywhere I can run putty or command line ssh. I run nightly backups of all this data, the database files / web services and config via a script I wrote a few years ago these all get copied up to my dropbox for archiving.


One quick thing to point out I only use a free Dropbox account, however I have made a lot of referrals and got my account up to 4GB.

I plan to ether get a new notebook soon or get mine repaired. Either way I wanted to show how easy it is to survive this using web services while some of mine are special use cases it’s important to realise the importance of cloud services and utilise them to our advantage.

I cannot wait to get the notebook thing resolved, all of this has also been made easy also with the use of my iPhone, however I doubt I could use it full time for this length of typing!