Taking advantage of the sales

As my workload has been picking up, I’ve been spending more time at my laptop working, and more time at my desk. My workflow is getting sorted out and I’ve been realising what it is that annoys me most when I’m trying to get work done. Happily, the technical aspects can all be fixed with a bit of savvy shopping in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales!

I’ve posted before at my family blog about my workspace, and it’s turned out to be a lovely place to work – when the desk isn’t being used as a dumping ground! It’s currently Christmas HQ although it’s fairly easy to clear when I do need to do some serious work.

My main bugbears have been:

My external monitor is just not good enough. It’s old, slow, isn’t easily compatible with my laptop, and the quality isn’t really up to scratch. It also takes up too much space on my desk, and I would prefer it to be on a stand. So, I have a new one on it’s way – a Samsung TV monitor that I’ll be able to switch over to use as a TV too for entertainment while I blog – the living room arial cable runs behind my desk so adding a splitter to that will be easy enough to do. We got this for £79 in the PC World Black Friday sale with a Now TV box & two Sky Sports passes thrown in. We plan to sell the box and the passes which will bring the actual cost of the TV monitor down to an absolute steal.

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Having to use my iPad as a makeshift Graphics Tablet. I like to draw graphics freehand and doing this on my iPad is the easiest way to do it right now, as I don’t have a proper graphics tablet. Knowing I wanted something fairly small, simple to use and not too high spec, James and I have both been keeping an eye out for a decent buy. We managed to get the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Small Graphics Tablet for a low price of £47.99 in an Amazon lightning deal – it’s got an RRP of £89.99 so we’re pretty happy with that! It will be really good for graphic creation & manipulation, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it… I have to wait until Christmas though, as it will be underneath the tree.

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My MacBook Pro is a little bit creaky. I have a late 2011 model 13″ MacBook Pro and while I love it to bits, it is showing it’s age a bit. I have a 1TB Sata II drive in here and boot up times and so on are getting a bit slow. Some of the apps I run for work could do with a speed boost. We’ve already upped the memory to 8GB, and eventually I guess we might boost that to 16GB, but now it’s time to tackle the hard drive situation. Amazon’s Cyber Monday deal of the day includes some pretty great SSD drives, including this 240GB SanDisk Extreme Pro drive. It’s super whizzy speeds, and we bagged it for £79.99. The RRP is over £200 so that’s a huge saving.

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We’re going to basically replace my CD drive with a hard drive caddy, move my 1TB drive to that and install the 240GB SSD drive as the boot up drive. My OS and applications will run off the SSD along with current files, and then the majority of things like photos & videos will be stored on the larger 1TB drive. My CD drive will be popped into an enclosure and kept in my drawer as an external CD drive. I use it so rarely that this will be a massive improvement to my laptop at very little inconvenience.

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Our wifi is inconsistent and unreliable. We’ve been having a nightmare with our Virgin cable broadband service, practically from when we moved in. They have replaced our router twice but we were still having to restart it to get the wifi running properly a lot of the time, and streaming BBC iPlayer in the evening was impossible, which is ridiculous on a 50 MB connection. Working was a nightmare whenever it was playing up, as I sometimes couldn’t tell if a site was slow because it was slow or because my internet died. We picked up this TP-Link wifi router at £44.99 which was a 25% saving.

It has already made a massive difference to our internet connection; streaming works perfectly, and file uploads & downloads are so much faster. It’s as if the poor quality Virgin router was just too overloaded coping with running the wifi and the cable connection. We’ve switched it to modem mode and the TP-Link gadget it doing the heavy lifting now.

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Hopefully this little spending splurge (made possible by the fact I earn money now!) will improve my working experience, and of course my productivity. Did you bag any bargains?

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