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2×4: An Interview With Stephen Hackett

2×4: An Interview With Stephen Hackett


    2×4: One series that examines two topics, creativity and productivity, by asking those who make things on the web the same four questions on both subjects.

    Many of us appreciate the devices in our hand, on our laps and upon our desks. Few understand their heritage. Now heritage may seem like a strange choice of word for describing technology, but as the industry of personal computing matures, its history becomes more and more important, as do the people who truly know and understand their evolution. One such writer, a man so dedicated that he has Clarus the Dogcow tattooed on his ankle, is Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels fame. The site that is named after the number of pixels across on the original Macintosh (which boasted a 9-inch, 512×342 monochrome display for those of you who aren’t running to Wikipedia).

    Now with heritage and history often comes with an air of pomposity. Hackett has none of this. In fact, in both his writing and his various podcasts, the guy is relatable, inventing and often outright hilarious. He has the knowledge, but not the airs. His passion for technology encourages you (or at least me) to learn more about the devices I take for granted on a daily basis. If you’re at all interested in technology, journalism or design, you won’t do better than his 512 Pixels blog. Or the newly created 512 Podcast along with fellow 2×4 alum, Myke Hurley of the 70 Decibels network for that matter. His passion for knowledge also goes beyond technology and into a variety of (often unusual) topics on his podcast, Ungeniused.

    Without further ado, here’s a look at informative look at the world of Stephen Hackett.

    Creativity

    Have you always considered yourself a creative person?

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    I have. As a kid, I always was writing or sketching.

    What mediums and inspirations do you gravitate toward to realize your creative goals?

    Sometime between 7th grade Art Club and giving up on my art degree two years in to it, I thought I could become some sort of artist as a living. You know, a hip graphic designer who could draw and paint, too.

    It turns out while I am pretty handy with a Wacom tablet and Adobe software, I can’t draw or paint. Not even a little. I can, however, write. So I suppose my mediums of choice are the pixel and the written word.

    If you had to point to one thing, what specific posts or creations are you most proud of and why?

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    2011 marked the first time I ever really wrote a lot of personal posts on 512 Pixels. That said, I am super proud of Two Years and The Fifth Floor, which are both posts about my wrestling with the fact that my three year old has brain cancer.

    Any suggestions for those who feel they may not be creative enough to unlock their inner artist?

    While I’m sure most people would say “Don’t give a shit about what others think,” for me, not caring what I think is more important in many ways. I often find myself dismissing one of my own ideas before I act upon it, censoring myself. Sometimes, that can be good, but for me, it often means that I don’t do things that I probably should.

    Productivity

    Can you describe your current personal and professional responsibilities?

    Sure. First and foremost, I’m a husband and the dad of two small kids. With our son still in and out of the hospital for various tests and things like physical therapy, we’re busier than the average 4-person family, I believe.

    From 9-5, I work for The Salvation Army as the IT/Multimedia Director for The Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. The building is currently under construction, and is slated to open late this year. I oversee all of the IT, audio video and multimedia stuff. If it involves data, pixels or electricity, my department is there, ready to work.

    How do you go about balancing the personal, professional and digital?

    I get it wrong all the time. I am late to work because I can’t tear myself away from breakfast, but I check work email before bedtime. The system I outline below helps, and I’m trying to be more intentional about separating work from home.

    What tools and techniques do you find yourself counting on to get through your workload?

    I say this often: my life is in OmniFocus. I have folders for home, work and the website. Inside those folders, I have dozens of projects, with lots and lots of tasks.

    For capture, I use Field Notes notebooks. There’s always one in my back pocket. A couple times a day, I take any tasks and move them in to OmniFocus. When in the car, I use that Siri-on-the-keyboard feature to get things in to my OmniFocus Inbox without crashing my truck.

    Notes and reference information live as plain text files in Dropbox. I get to them via nvALT on my Mac and Notesy on my iPad and iPhone.

    What is the best starting point for the unproductive amongst us, who are looking to get more organized?

    Something like OmniFocus isn’t going to help you get off the ground. Get some colored index cards, assign a color for work, home and other and go to town writing stuff down.

    More by this author

    2×4: An Interview with David Sparks 2×4: An Interview with Myke Hurley 2×4: An Interview With CJ Chilvers 2X4 Interviews 2×4: An Interview With Gabe Weatherhead 2×4: An Interview With Brett Kelly

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    Published on September 17, 2020

    10 Best Monitors for Your PC Under $100

    10 Best Monitors for Your PC Under $100

    Are you looking for the best monitor under $100?

    Whether you want it for your home office, editing photography, or gaming, you don’t need to spend big bucks on a display screen because a low budget one will certainly do the trick.[1]

    We can almost hear you having second thoughts about the picture quality, but you don’t have to worry at all.[2]

    Our list of the best monitors under $100 will be more than enough to cover you. Just go through it now, and you’ll find yourself a bargain.

    Why You Should Trust Us

    Our list incorporates some of the best low-budget monitors available in the market. Their efficiency and distinctive traits enable them to stand out from others.[3] The hand-picked ones below are incredibly slick and have a high refresh rate, fast response time, high resolution, and built-in speakers.

    1. Acer Ultra Thin Frame Monitor

      Our first affordable computer screen is Acer’s 21.5-inch ultra-thin frame monitor. It has a refresh rate of 75Hz using an HDMI port and offers a full HD widescreen display.

      Its brightness can be maxed out at 250 nits. It has a slight tilt angle ranging from -5 to 15, as well as Radeon free sync technology.

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      Buy this computer monitor.

      2. Sceptre Ultra-Thin Display

        Sceptre is another company that provides excellent displays for your CPU. The screen size is a little smaller at 20 inches, but it’s made up for the slightly lower price than Acer. It also comes with two HDMI ports and built-in speakers and is wall mount ready.

        Buy this computer monitor.

        3. ViewSonic LED Monitor

        best monitor

          If you want the best monitor to set up in your office or around the house, ViewSonic’s LED screen is another good option to buy. The resolution is full HD and has a broader tilt ranging from -5 to 23 degrees.

          On top of that, the product comes with a 3-year warranty. Included in the bundle are a VGA cable, monitor, power cable, and audio cable.

          Buy this computer monitor.

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          4. ViewSonic Gaming Screen

            While we just covered a ViewSonic monitor, this one is specifically built for gaming in mind.

            Overall, this computer screen provides the same specs as the previously mentioned item. The key differences are that this one is slightly longer, comes with pre-set customizable visual modes, and offers a maxed out contrast, delivering a dynamic contrast ratio for sharp and crisp images. It also comes with a DVI cable.

            Buy this computer monitor.

            5. Asus Back Lit Monitor

            best monitor

              If you don’t mind spending a little more money, you can get an Asus Back Lit Monitor for your PC. A lot of the focus is on image quality, particularly having a strong contrast ratio and smart video technology for straight viewing. That feature also helps in reducing blue light since you’ll have more flexibility with the colors and brightness.

              Buy this computer monitor.

              6. Asus Back Lit Display

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                Another alternative to the previous Asus monitor is this one. It has a smaller contrast ratio, though it still delivers a smooth video display. You also have aspect controls, so you can adjust its display.

                Buy this computer monitor.

                7. Dell Ultrasharp Panel Monitor

                best monitor

                  If you’re looking for the basic features, look no further than Dell. There’s nothing particularly fancy about this panel screen, but it does the job well for any computer.

                  Its response time is 8ms, which is typical for a monitor. It can come in either silver or black.

                  Buy this computer monitor.

                  8. ViewSonic Frameless Monitor

                    If you liked ViewSonic’s LED monitor but wanted a little more features, we suggest looking at their frameless display. While it boasts similar specs as the brand’s other monitors, it offers color correction and dual built-in speakers, making it ideal for office and home use. It’s also 22 inches long.

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                    Buy this computer monitor.

                    9. Dell Mountable LED-Lit Monitor

                      For a dependable display with a good frame rate, Dell has a mountable, LED-lit monitor in the market. It measures 18.5 inches, has an adjustable arm, and has been through rigorous testing for long-lasting reliability. You can’t go wrong with this best monitor either.

                      Buy this computer monitor.

                      10. Sceptre Monitor

                        The final screen to cover comes from Sceptre. Compared to the ultra-thin version mentioned above, this one is available in 22 inches. Beyond that, it’s your standard display that provides decent tilting at -5 to 15 degrees, wall-mounted capabilities, 5ms response time, and built-in speakers.

                        Buy this computer monitor.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Finding one of the best monitors around can be tricky. If you’re looking for an affordable one that can last for years, consider picking a computer screen from this list.

                        Featured photo credit: Sebastian Bednarek via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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