Placeholder Tech Leads, Plus Wish List for Chrome

Someday, in my "spare time," I will get around to tech items like these:

1) The satisfactions of finally attaining, through the combined and complementary efforts of SugarSync, DropBox, Gmail, and a few others, the long-rumored completely machine-independent computing life. I have three computers I use interchangeably -- desktop and two laptops --  and (with a few minor exceptions that I'll note) I no longer have to worry about which laptop I should take to a downtown office or on a trip, or which machine has the "current" version of a file. Conceptually this sounds banal and so-last-year. In reality I've found it surprisingly stress-reducing never to have to think about where my info "is," since it's wherever I want it to be. And I think I've learned the right way to combine SugarSync and DropBox.

2) Talk about your sublime software/hardware combos: InstaPaper and the iPad. I've made allusions to it before (and so have Alexis Madrigal and Andrew Sullivan); tips, tricks, and analysis some day soon.

3) The two programs currently occupying the space in my brain devoted to "interesting software I'm tinkering with because, really, it will let me organize my life better." These are (multi-platform) Personal Brain and (Mac-only) OmniFocus. These two have very different strengths and purposes and "visions" for how you should work and think, but for me they overlap in a few interesting ways. I'll explain why I keep being drawn back to the implausible-seeming but elegant and extremely flexible Personal Brain -- and why I also keep using the also extremely flexible (Windows-only) Zoot, which is nearing the release of a whole new years-in-the-making version. And, how (multi-platform) MindManager fits in the mix.

4) The evolution of the MacBook Air: what I've learned by using the original, early-2008-era MacBook Air in China, versus its latest incarnation in the US.  Bonus: the evolution of the Android Nexus phone, from the (orphaned) Nexus One, which I liked and like, to the new Nexus S.

5) The evolution of Chrome, including the many ways I rely on it and three huge grievances I have against it. OK, I'll name one of them: Google's odd decision not to support (its own) Google Gears system for (its own) Chrome browser under SnowLeopard, so you cannot use (its own) Gmail while offline. I have two more.

That's the to-do list. Maybe I'll ask Santa just to write these items for me. And while I'm at it, I am glad to hear that a few DC-area visitors took the opportunity of the slack tourist season to watch the Senate in session this afternoon.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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