Technology I can’t live without

Knowledge workers everywhere have been shaken and stirred by the advent of ChatGPT – a new bit of software that has already made my life as a writer easier, though I am not sure yet if it qualifies for that elite list, called “technology I can’t live without”.

Because there is such a list!

In the hope this might be helpful to other small business and home office workers, here are the bits of kit that I rely on.

I’m excluding fairly obvious things like a desk and a computer – instead focusing on things that might not be evident to everyone. And yes, I am mentioning brands – no affiliate links, no making money. Just: over time, these are the things I have come to rely on.

Load shedding protection – UPS to run router and computer

This is South African (and African specific) – the little UPS that runs the fibre box and router is a Gizzu GU30W, and the UPS that runs my laptop is something my husband cobbled together. But both mean that I can keep working no matter what Eskom throws at us.


I used to have a printer that took those terribly expensive cartridges. When it died, I invested instead in an ink tank printer. It takes little bottles of ink, which last, seemingly forever. I bought an Epson 3in1 Printer L3111 in March 2021, and am still using the ink that it came with.

It’s one drawback is that it is not Wi-fi enabled, but I have always been able to get around that. At the time of my research, people said that these kinds of printers sometimes get clogged up unless you use them a lot. I use mine mainly to print documents that I am editing, and the nozzles remain unclogged to this day.

Back-up laptop

In 2011, I think it was, I bought a little Toshiba Portege for my personal use (at the time I had a big Dell laptop that belonged to Independent Media). When I left Independent, I bought that Dell from them, and replaced it with another Dell several years later. The Toshiba is still trucking though, and I keep it running and updated as a back-up if anything happens to the Dell (or somehow, I need a second PC in times of long load shedding). And the reason I stick with Dell? They are big, reliable and have decent keyboards.

Desk fan

This has been a hot summer! I bought a Basesus which runs on a USB cable tethered to my computer, and also has a rechargeable battery. It has kept me going on days when otherwise I would have melted into my chair.

Big diary (yes, made of paper)

Not tech that one plugs in at the wall. But this year, for the first time, I am trying a big A3 diary – perfect for my time blocking and planning. And no, I do not use an online calendar. They have just never worked for me.

Do you have hardware you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below, or via email.

Main picture: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

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