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The MacSmith’s Favorite Things 2023


Well, Oprah does it so I thought I’d add my two cents. Below is my first ever The MacSmith’s Favorite Things list, just in time for the holidays. Enjoy!


PRINTERS


With the increasingly digital world, gone are the days when we were all going through reams of paper and lots of annoying (and expensive) ink cartridges. But still, when you really need to print something, you really need to print something.


COLOR:  I’ve been using an Epson EcoTank ET-4800 Wireless All-in-One. Shaq likes it, and so do I. No cartridges, just ink tanks that you fill from the bottles (usually included with the printer purchase). There are a few different models at varying prices bro pick the one that’s best for you. 


BLACK & WHITE: I’ve had a Brother HL-2280DW laser printer for a few years, and the new model Brother HL-2300D is just as good. Since it’s laser, it has nice crisp lines, it allows for double-sided printing, and has just one big cartridge with the black ink that’s easy to change. Brother seems to have consistently good quality printers, so that’s my go-to brand.



EXTERNAL DRIVES


You need an external hard drive because you need to back up your data. Yes, there are online services that will do this for you, but the only way to ensure that your data remains yours and doesn’t disappear is to back it up yourself on your own drive. I’ve had too many people crying in my office because they’ve lost those adorable pictures of their grandkids. 


EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE: Those of you that know me have heard me say over and over, “Just buy whatever is on sale”. Why? There are just two major companies (both very good) that manufacture hard drives: Seagate and Western Digital. It’s a very safe bet that any hard drive you buy is just packaged by another company but is actually one of those two. I currently have the Toshiba Canvio Basics 2TB for backups, and also cart around a LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB.


FLASH DRIVE: Flash drives (those tiny ones that are easy to lose, darn it), are handy for transferring files when you don’t have a cord to connect two machines or don’t want to try to figure out sending something wirelessly. A flash drive with both the older USB and newer USB-C connectors in the same device are really convenient. I have a SanDisk 256GB Ultra Dual Drive (there are also different storage capacities at varying prices). These are also good for a quick backup of a few files but remember, these are not for “permanent” backup as they’re prone to fail more than the more heavy-duty external hard drives. 



ADAPTERS, CORDS, CABLES, AND POWER


So many options!


HDMI CABLE: Lots of hotels now have access to the outlets on the TV that let you plug in an HDMI cable so you can connect your laptop or iPad and get some work done or watch a movie. I bought a 3-pack of HUANUO High-Speed HDMI Cables and just keep them in various travel bags. They’re 6 ft long and this particular pack comes with a right-angle adapter which comes in handy for awkwardly placed connections. 


USB ADAPTERS: While we’re on the subject of travel, many hotels were great about putting USB ports by electrical outlets, but then the smaller USB-C quickly took over and hotels haven’t upgraded as fast. The tiny USB-C to USB adapter is great for solving this problem. It has a USB plug on one end and a USB-C outlet on the other. Probably get a couple of them (I got a Syntech multi-pack) because you’ll likely leave at least one plugged into the outlet at the hotel, in which case it’ll be gone forever.


VERY SHORT EXTENSION CORDS: You wouldn’t think that a 1-ft extension cord would make a difference, but these are ridiculously useful. They come in different lengths (even as short as 8 inches Miady Short Power Extension Cord) but for me the 1-foot (Toptekits Short Extension Cord) is the great, and they even make a version with a built-in switch. Why, you ask? Outlets aren’t always in the easiest-to-access places so having even that extra foot can make all the difference (again, think hotel rooms!). 


MULTIPORT ADAPTER: Even if you don’t know the names for all of the various cords and cables your devices have, a good multiport adapter likely has a spot for them. A good example that I’ve used is the Acodot 9 in 1 which has a single USB-C port expanding to 9 other ports, including: HDMI 4K, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, PD charging, TF card slot, and SD card slot. 


POWER BANK: It’s never a bad idea to have a backup power supply. I like the ones that have a wireless option for phone charging and a solar panel in case you can’t plug it in to recharge. I got the Riapow Solar Power Bank a couple of years ago and it still seems to be working well, even after a good amount of use (not to mention being dropped a few times). 



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