I did a post on spdebate a while ago about debate tech I use, a few people have emailed me recently asking about it again so I figured I would post a centralized update. So below the fold you have my review of debate tech- both for stuff related to debate and for debate admin.
Personal use– I have the alienware M17x– After a few years of more “mobile” laptops I went back to the big daddy and a 17 inch screen. I found that most of the time I was doing work I wasn’t in a convenient place to plug into an external monitor and so I wanted a big ass screen. My previous laptops up to this point have been
-Alienware area 51 (in cyborg green)
-Acer aspire 1
The m17x is heavy as hell, and the power brick prob. ways more than most 12 inch laptops. I also only found 1 backpack that it would fit in the laptop pouch for as even though it is a 17 it is designed so that it is much wider in the middle than your average 17. The screen is amazing to stare at for long hours, and the keyboard does not in any way feel like a chincy notebook keyboard. It is also lightning fast even when I have a million windows open. While I love it, prob. not for everyone.
Asus EEE pc 1005ha These are what I purchased for the squads viewing computers. Super long battery life for flights, solid build, good screen. I only installed open office to save some cash there and it works pretty well though obviously when you open the speech the template functions won’t work. People’s major beef with this line is the power supply- people keep saying it breaks easily. Actually the thing has a heat sensitive chip in it that turns it off when the temp goes up. So if you wait for it to cool down (or stick it in the fridge for 20 mns) it works again. The asus forums and various eee pc websites make this the top netbook in my mind for getting tech help/customized programs etc.
Mouse- I recently got the Razer Naga which has way more buttons than any other mouse. The problem is that the software for the mouse doesn’t allow you to customize the buttons like other Razer mice- the number buttons just do the number commands (which I guess is useful for warcraft or something) so I had to re-shortcut key all the template functions which is kind of annoying, and you have to hit ctrl with each stroke- but hopefully they will fix this soon. Other than that the Razer diamondback was what I used for ever and you can get for like 40 bucks.
One other thing I use is this mouse case that doubles as a mouse pad.
2. Podcast/Speak and type-
A USB headset seems to work better than the ones that plug into the microphone jack, I have this one.
I got this neat desk system for scanning receipts but it turned out to be a pretty good scanner overall- sheet fed it can do 50 pages per minute. I would highly recommend it for coaches who have to deal with admin tasks or keep track of spending.
For software I am an Omni page fan, though I don’t know that version 16 is actually an improvement on 14/15 and may in fact be substantially worse. I have not been able to get my claws on 17 pro yet unfortunately… I would also like to try this which has a nice little feature:
Before I go into detail about the main app, I want to mention my favorite Finereader 10 innovation: a “Screenshot Reader” feature that ought to be part of all OCR software. If you’re trying to copy text from a scanned image of a document in a Web browser—for example, in Google Books, or on site that displays police reports and similar documents—you don’t have to transcribe the text by hand. Instead, you click on the Screenshot Reader’s taskbar tray icon, draw a box around the text you want to copy, and wait a few seconds for the Screenshot Reader to perform its OCR magic and copy the text to the clipboard or into a new file in Word or Excel. The full Finereader application doesn’t even need to be open when you do this. This powerful new tool may make even those who are satisfied with their current OCR consider upgrading.
Xnote stopwatch– for those of you not using synergy or who do LD- allows you to open multiple timers at once and it will remember how many you want open and set for what times.
Evernote– another tip from Gulakov- I like that its free and syncs automatically with my iphone- so I put things like tournament addresses, flight times etc in a note through copy and paste and then I have it on my phone with me automatically.
Carbonite– need more online storage than your drop box allows? Carbonite gives you unlimited for a yearly fee- repeat-unlimited. And the fee is less than the minimal drop box upgrade.
Mifi– these things are awesome. They are like wireless 3g cards for your laptop, only they are a built in router so up to 5 people can use the internet on them. Not great for torrenting 20 gigs of comics at one time, but for cutting updates at the hotel/airport/hs tournament with no internet they are amazing.
Headphones on a plane- I use these – the jist of it is in ear headphones don’t use active noise cancelling and are thus better for your ears/produce way better sound quality than over the ear cans.