Posts From June 2009

Car and Driver Magazine finds out what we all could have guessed anyway. (Via @ianbarker)

An Invitation for Reader’s Mac Setups

There has been an unexpectedly great response to the Sweet Mac Setup posts. Quite a few people emailed just to say how much they were geeking out over the series. And many also suggested that I feature a broader demographic of people in various professions — which I think is a great idea.

But instead of hunting down more people, I thought it would be fun to feature the setups of those who are already reading the same site you are.1

If you want to showcase your (cool/dorky, clean/messy, old/new, etc.) setup to other shawnblanc.net readers, send an email to sbnet@mac.com, and I’ll reply back to you with the details.

Thanks for reading, and, as always, thanks for being awesome.

— Shawn


  1. A concept not unlike what Greg Storey did last year with “Airbag: As Seen From Around the World“.

What happens when you lose your iPhone while in Chicago for a Lego convention but have MobileMe and an internet-tethered laptop. (Via @jsnell.)

Sweet Mac Setup: Sebastiaan de With

Sebastiaan de With specializes in icon and visual interface design, teaches people how to design icons, makes sweet t-shrits, and, most importantly, is a genuinely quality guy.

Sebastiaan’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

Mac Setup: Sebastiaan de With

Mac Setup: Sebastiaan de With

Mac Setup: Sebastiaan de With

2. What is your current Mac setup?

I’m currently using a Mac Pro as my primary workstation, with a 30″ Apple Cinema Display and Wacom Cintiq 12WX attached. I use the Cintiq for occasional drawing, sketching, and signing off paperwork, but as a very ‘posable’ secondary display it’s also quite useful. My desktop hardware is always surrounded by figures and models.

I was using an old first-generation MacBook Pro as my first Mac and out of the office: it used to be a real pain as it has almost completely broke down. The first run of the MacBook Pro was pretty unreliable, and my first unit literally melted. I very happy to have obtained a new laptop during my week in San Francisco at WWDC, the 17″ Macbook Pro.

3. Why are you using this setup?

I got a Mac Pro after saving up enough money because I realized how severely limiting my laptop was. I often found myself back tapping on the laptop case as it was performing some sort of Photoshop operation and being annoyed at the heat it made during operation. It was fantastic to go to a workstation with such raw power, and being able to pick my own display and swap out hardware was a huge plus for me. I never regretted that, as I’ve expanded its graphics, RAM, and storage abilities quite a few times since I got it.

The Cintiq was a hard choice, but very much worth it. I wanted to get back into artistic and ‘freestyle’ art a bit more, and it has really helped.

The 17″ MacBook Pro had been on my wishlist since the unibodies got shown off. The screen simply blows my 30″ Cinema Display out of the water, it’s quite light for its size, and extremely fast. As a plus side, the battery easily lasts for 8 hours. The latest update just adds more beefy specs, and I enjoy still having the ExpressCard slot; I may be that single digit percentage of the Mac userbase that finds those extremely useful for 3G hardware (I’d like to keep my USB ports available, thanks), network adaptors, eSATA, and more.

4. What software do you use on a daily basis, and for what do you use it?

I’d say my top 10 of apps is Photoshop CS4, Mail, Safari 4, NetNewsWire, Billings, iPhoto, LittleSnapper, iChat, Tweetie, and Quicktime.

I do all my work, without exception, in Photoshop, so it is almost always open. I get a big pile of email each day, so I have Mail open without exception (it starts when I log in). I do all my blog posting, half my tweeting, and most of my reading in Safari 4. I have almost 300 news sources in NetNewsWire, but they’re never a distraction. I consider it a part of my work to stay on top of everything that’s happening in my professional world. I do all my business work like invoicing, time tracking, and project estimation in Billings.

The rest sort of speak for themselves; I take a lot of photos, I use LittleSnapper with a huge gallery of icon and UI inspiration, keep in touch with iChat and Tweetie and watch videos with Quicktime + Perian.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

Naturally. I have a third-generation iPod 40 GB (still works!) which I saved up for by working as a dishwasher back in my younger years and serves as a testament to doing hard work to attain beautiful design, an iPod nano (second-generation), a first-generation iPhone and an iPhone 3G. I used to have three iPhones in total; since I live in the Netherlands, I had to buy them off eBay before the iPhone 3G came around. One broke, and I got a new one. The broken iPhone was later replaced in the US by Apple for a completely new unit, so I sold off my spare iPhone to my mom. True story.

I keep the iPhones in xStands: nice, aluminium Cinema Display foot-style holders for iPhones.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

I keep hoping for a 30″ LED Cinema Display. The iPhone 3G S will be a sure buy later this year, considering how I’d like to test its color profile and specs for software I am making for iPhone and iPhone design / development. I won’t be bothered with supporting my local carrier, though: T-Mobile in the Netherlands is as bad as AT&T, and has no plans to support tethering or make attractive plans. I’ll be buying the iPhone 3G S in Belgium, without a SIM-lock and without a contract.

Accessory-wise, I’d like the mStand for my laptop. It’s a nice stand, similar to the xStand and Cinema Display foot I already have. It’s quite pricy, though.

More Sweet Setups

Sebastiaan’s setup is just one in a series of Sweet Mac Setups.

Upgrading to the 3G S

Upgrading to the 3G S

And tweeting about it.

iPhone 3.0 OS Walkthrough

iPhone 3.0 OS Walkthrough

Rene Ritchie asks:

“Need a handy link to send your friends who may have questions?”

Why yes, I do. And may I also suggest Dan Moren’s excellent and winded review of the new iPhone software update on MacWorld.

(Via DF.)

Walt Mossberg Says the 3G S is Super Speedy, Too

And Walt Mossberg Says the 3G S is Super Speedy, Too

From the Wall Street Journal:

To me, this is the most important feature of the new iPhone 3G S. In fact, the “S” in the name stands for speed. During my week of testing, the new model proved dramatically snappier in every way than my iPhone 3G. Its processor is 50% faster than in the prior model, and it sports a new graphics chip. Applications opened much more quickly. Web pages loaded far faster. The camera was ready to use almost instantly. And I never once saw the occasional, annoying iPhone behavior where you strike a key while typing and it sits there, seemingly stuck, before you can continue.

Though I thought for sure the “S” in the name stood for Shawn.

Gizmodo’s iPhone 3G S Review

Gizmodo’s iPhone 3G S Review

Jason Chen on Gizmodo says, “once you start using it, the speed of the iPhone 3GS will amaze you.”

Funny, because on the aforelinked review by Engadget, Joshua Topolsky wasn’t all that excited about the speed jump. Saying, “the additions of video recording, a compass, and a speed bump just don’t seem that compelling to us.”

Not only that, but Gizmodo’s review of the 3G S’s battery life says it is what Apple claims it to be: better. Joshua’s review on Engadget said that the new battery is virtually the same as the original 3G.

Apparently, results may vary.

Engadget’s iPhone 3G S review

Engadget’s iPhone 3G S review

iPhone 3G S and 3.0 OS reviews are all over the place today and a lot of them are pretty fantastic, too. Here is a great overview by Joshua Topolsky which includes lots of details, photos, and videos.

AT&T Offeres Best Upgrade Price to iPhone 3G S for 3G Owners

AT&T Offers Best Upgrade Price to the iPhone 3G S for 3G Owners

From the AT&T Newsroom:

We’re now pleased to offer our iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September 2009 our best upgrade pricing, beginning Thursday, June 18. [...] If you’re one of the customers who benefits from this change, and you’ve already preordered from an AT&T store, we’ll adjust the price of the device when you pick it up. If you benefit from the change and you pre-ordered from AT&T online, we’ll send you an e-mail and issue you a credit.

(Via @film_girl.)

Fever Really is That Hot

Shaun Inman has taken the problem of individual RSS overload and solved it with a brilliant, beautiful web-based feed reader called Fever.

I had the honor of helping beta test Fever over the past year, and six months ago I actually switched away from NetNewsWire and now use Fever exclusively.

It really is that hot.

The reason I switched is because the selling point of Fever (subscribe to as many feeds as humanly possible, and never feel stressed about not being able to keep up with all of them) actually translated to my experience. Fever is much more than a good idea with a pretty face — Fever really works.

Up until now feed readers have pretty much had only one function, and that is to collect all your unread items. Which is why the only solution to feed-reader overload is to slash and hack your subscription list.

Naturally, Fever works splendidly as a standard feed reader. You can group and browse your feeds just like you always have. But it doesn’t stop there, and neither should you.

Suppose you want to simply check in quickly and see if anything new or exciting is going on. In any other reader you would have to scan through all your feeds, and mentally assess what’s going on. That’s a lot of thinking, and it certainly doesn’t happen quickly. Which is why people are constantly feeling the need to cut back on feeds.

Yet this is the main point of Fever.

As Shaun put it, “Fever takes the temperature of your slice of the web and shows you what’s hot.” Which means the more feeds you’re subscribed to, the better Fever works. Go nuts! Subscribe to as many feeds as you can.

All these extra feeds are called “Sparks”. Once you subscribe to them, you never have to look at them, sort through them, or worry about them again. But you DO get to use them to help keep your Hot tab alive and active.

It’s Hotter in a Site-Specific Browser

The way I check feeds in Fever is the same way I used to check feeds in NetNewsWire: using the arrow keys exclusively to find new articles, but reading the articles on their respective websites. This is why I prefer to run Fever in Fluid.

In Fluid’s preferences, under Behavior, I checked the box for links sent to default browser to open in the background. Since I like to read articles in their perspective author’s site, when I right-arrow out to an article or a link it then opens up in Safari, and in the background. Once I’ve opened up the small handful of things I want to read, I close Fever and begin reading.

If Fluid is opening an additional tab or window every time you arrow out to an article then go to Fever’s preferences (not Fluid’s), and de-select “open links in new window/tab”.

Hot Tips

  • Make sure you put the Feedlet into your browser’s bookmark bar. You can’t set Fever as your default RSS reader in Safari’s preferences, so clicking on the RSS icon in the Address Bar won’t subscribe you to the feed in Fever.
  • The main keyboard shortcuts I use are “a” (for marking an entire feed as read), and “s” (for saving an article). Fever has a slew of keyboard shortcuts; you can find them in Fever’s main menu.
  • Selecting “Show Unread” from the menu, or pressing “u”, will show you only the feeds that actually have unread items in them. Removing the clutter of lots of feeds that have old articles you already read last month.
  • Though the iPhone interface of Fever is extremely slick, it can get a bit borked when you visit a webpage. A quick tilt of the phone to change the orientation will fix it.
  • Fever installs automatically, and its updates are pushed automatically (not unlike WordPress’ in-app update feature).
  • In Fluid’s General Preferences I’ve checked to show the dock badge. This way you can see your unread count in the dock (assuming you want to).

If you need some help getting Fever populated, here is my current OPML file, which includes about 200 feeds altogether.

More Reviews

This is just one of a handful of winded and entertaining software reviews.

Designing of The Rakes’ Third Album, Klang

Designing of The Rakes’ Third Album, Klang

Mark Sinclair:

Work Associates looked to some of the Germanic influences on The Rakes’ third album, Klang, to create their entrancing typographic sleeve for the release and the supporting singles. Here’s how they did it…

(Via Khoi.)

Waferbaby’s, “The Setup”

Waferbaby’s, “The Setup”

Those digging the recent series of posts on Sweet Mac Setups will no doubt enjoy these other nerdy interviews done by Daniel Bogan. They’re not Mac-excluseive, and the only bummer is there’s no shots of the actual setup.

URL-Shortening Plugin for WordPress

URL-Shortening Plugin for WordPress

Lets you create, customize, and track click-throughs of short URLs using your own domain name and redirecting to your own posts or to any other web address.

“Trust, Hostility, and the Human Side of Apple”

“Trust, Hostility, and the Human Side of Apple”

Marco Arment on the iPhone app approval process and WWDC’s odd session on App Store publishing.

Sweet Mac Setup: Shaun Inman

Shaun Inman’s jaw-dropping web-design skills, mind-boggling web-development skills, and really awesome name, all set him apart as a man who needs no introduction.

Shaun’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

Shaun Inman's Sweet Mac Setup

Shaun Inman's Sweet Mac Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

I currently use a 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro purchased at the end of 2006 as my primary machine. It’s maxed out at 3 GB of RAM.

Connected are a Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0, the full-size aluminum keyboard, a 20″ aluminum Apple LCD, the Bose Companion 3 speaker system, an original iSight, the Samson C01U USB Studio Condenser Microphone and the M-Audio 61-key USB keyboard.

3. Why are you using this setup?

I do a fare bit of travel and prior to this laptop I used a G5 at home and an iBook on the road. I just got tired of syncing before and after trips. The Intellimouse is the perfect fit for my hand; the copy/paste/back/forward buttons seem to have been designed with my thumb specifically in mind. The new Apple keyboards are equally delightful to use. The rest I neither love nor hate; they just get the job done.

4. What software do you use on a daily basis, and for what do you use it?

No real surprises here. I use the following on a daily basis:

  • Quicksilver strictly as an application launcher
  • Mail for all my passive aggressive needs
  • TextMate for code wrangling
  • Photoshop CS 3 for pixel pushing (anti-aliased or otherise)
  • Transmit for breaking things on live servers in real-time
  • BBEdit 8.2.6 for its Find and Replace with support for regular expressions and Find Differences
  • Safari for Twitter, Shortwave, Fever, Mint and Google
  • MAMP for local development

Frequently if not daily:

  • GarageBand for music composition and recording
  • Terminal for really breaking things on live servers in real-time

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

Wi-fi is provided by an Airport Extreme. I’ve also hooked up the old G5 to the flat-screen in the family room. I picked up a cheap PlayStation-to-USB adaptor and setup ControllerMate to control the Finder, DVD Player, VLC and a number of emulators (NES, SNES, Gameboy Advance and PlayStation). I also have a jail-broken iPhone (for my carrier, not the apps).

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

Of course! In the next month or so I’m planning on picking up a new MacBook Pro and a Wacom Cintiq 12WX. Also, since my iPhone is jailbroken I’m planning on picking up an iPod touch as an easier-to-maintain development device.

More Sweet Setups

Shaun’s setup is just one in a series of Sweet Mac Setups.

Sweet Mac Setup: Jon Hicks

For years John Hicks has been a top-shelf new-fangled media designer. He currently works for Opera Software and publishes the Rissington Podcast.

Jon’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

Jon Hicks Mac Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

I have a unibody MacBook Pro (2.5ghz, 4gb RAM, 300gb HD) which is hooked up to one of the new 24″ LED Cinema Displays, with Apple keyboard and Logitech Revolution MX mouse. Backups are done onto a 1tb Western Digital MyBook, and online with Dropbox (see below).

3. Why are you using this setup?

I work in many locations aside the office — home, trips to Opera in Norway or Sweden, and we often spend around 6 weeks a year up in Glasgow. Working from a MacBook Pro means I always have my files and setup with me. Years ago I used to sync a PowerBook and G5 twice a day, and it became too tedious.

4. What software do you use on a daily basis, and for what do you use it?

Dropbox is my hero. I keep all my work in a Dropbox folder, so that I not only get an online backup, but also easy versioning. Once I forgot my Macbook Pro, and thanks to Dropbox, I was able to work from another machine.

Quicksilver, Main Menu, Caffeine, and BusySync are my favourite ‘blend in so much I take them for granted’ apps.

For work I use Fireworks, Coda, VMWare, xScope, IconBuilder, Candybar, Illustrator, LittleSnapper, CSS Edit and Leap. I’m also a Yojimbo lover for storing everything else.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

I still own a 1st generation MacBook Pro, as well as a last generation G4 Powerbook and 1st generation Titanium Powerbook. The Titanium is held together by stickers (I lost all the screws), and the stickers help prevent electric shocks from the coating that has been rubbed away on the top!

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

Having got recent upgrades: new MacBook Pro and LED Display, not much. But I do plan on getting a 32gb iPhone 3G S when it comes out! I held back from upgrading to the second version (3G), as I really wanted a better camera and much more storage space, which the 3G S has. Weird name though.

More Sweet Setups

Jon’s setup is just one in a series of Sweet Mac Setups.

Sweet Mac Setup: Scott McNulty

Scott McNulty is a senior contributor to MacUser, a frequent Macworld contributor, and co-host of Fork You. He is also the author of ‘Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read,’ which is best enjoyed when bought in multiples.

Scott’s Setup:

1. What does your setup look like?

Scott McNulty's Sweet Mac Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

I have a dual 3.2 GHz Quad-Care Intel Xeon Mac Pro with 16 gigs of RAM, 3 internal hard drives (the stock 500 gig HD, and 2 1 TB Western Digital HDs that I added later), and the ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics card. Oh, and the Mac Pro has two SuperDrives for some reason (I bought it at an Apple Retail Store, and they only stock the low end Mac Pro or the high end Mac Pro… guess which one I bought).

Attached to the Mac Pro I have:

One of these cameras is usually attached to the Mac Pro as well:

I might have a technology problem.

3. Why are you using this setup?

Generally I’m using my Mac to do one of three things: read, write, or edit video (see? There’s a reason I have this ridiculous computer… so I can buy more cameras!). Clearly, video editing on this machine is a pleasure: lots of RAM and two monitors really make a difference (my previous machine was a MacBook Pro, which was great but the Mac Pro is sooo much faster at encoding video it isn’t even funny).

I would recommend that if you can afford to get yourself two monitors you should do it. I know some people think that it is overkill, but trust me once you use a dual monitor setup (whether it is using an external monitor with a laptop, or using two monitors in general) you’ll never want to go back. I couldn’t use my LED Cinema Display with the Mac Pro for a few months because it didn’t have a Mini DisplayPort and I really missed that extra real estate for writing or watching video (luckily Apple came out with the ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics card upgrade which sports a DVI connector and a Mini DisplayPort, exactly what I needed).

There are some who say, “Scott, do you REALLY need this much computer just to blog?” To those people I say, “Mind your own darn business! And how did you get into my apartment?” Clearly I have no need for this much Mac, but when it was time for me to get a new Mac I realized that I had never owned a Mac Pro. I felt it was my duty as a highly respected Mac pundit to experience the Mac Pro for myself.

4. What software do you use on a daily basis, and for what do you use it?

Here are all the apps I use on a regular basis:

  • Butler: Without this app I wouldn’t even know how to use my Mac. Once it became clear that QuickSilver development was slowing down I went on the look out for a replacement app launcher/Swiss Army Knife of Awesome for my Mac. I tried a bunch of the apps out there and fell in love with Butler (how can you not want to have a little icon wearing a bowler hat in your Menu Bar? I mean really.).
  • Camino: Safari is great and all, but Camino is my true browser love. I don’t use any FireFox extensions so Camino offers me the one thing I want from FireFox: the rendering engine. I must admit that Safari 4, top tabs and all, is slowly wooing me from Camino.
  • TextMate: I’m typing up this very document with TextMate. I write a lot, and most of that writing is done in TextMate (usually using MarkDown).
  • Scrivener: As of late people have started asking me to write books (I’m as shocked as you are) and Scrivener is my go to text application for large writing projects. It is an outliner, a word processor, and a note keeping application all rolled into one great package. I can’t imagine writing a book without it.
  • MarsEdit: I use this for all my personal blogging. I’ve been using it forever.
  • NetNewsWire: Speaking of apps I’ve been using forever, I’ve been a happy NNW user for a long, long time. At the moment I have a little over 600 feeds in it, and it never bats an eyelash.
  • Final Cut Pro: I have a silly little video podcast that I co-host and edit. All the editing happens in Final Cut Pro (though I could probably use the latest version of Final Cut Express for what I’m doing).

  • iTunes: This one must be on everyone’s list.

  • Skitch: I take a lot of screenshots of various things and I haven’t found an app that make it easier than Skitch.
  • Acorn: I do lots of small edits in Skitch, but when I need to do something major I launch Acorn. It is perfect for what I need, and so much easier to use than Photoshop for a graphic design novice, like myself.
  • iPhoto with FlickrExport: I’m not a very good photographer, but I do enjoy taking pictures. iPhoto organizes them, and the great plugin FlickrExport makes it super easy to upload all my crappy pictures to Flickr.
  • ClipStart: ClipStart is a young application, but it is to video what iPhoto is to pictures. Since I have all those video cameras I have lots of random video clips cluttering up my Mac. ClipStart gives me an organized view into that video chaos and an easy way to upload random videos to Flickr from time to time.
  • Tweetie: I think it is the law that Mac geeks must use the Twitter, and if you’re going to use a desktop app for Twitter than Tweetie is the best at the moment.
  • 1Password + Dropbox: For a long time everyone raved about 1Password, and I just didn’t get it. Then I found out about its keyboard shortcuts and paired it with Dropbox (so all the logins for all the Web sites I use are available on any Mac I have) and I was in love. 1Password as truly improved my computing experience, and it is rare that you come across an app that you can say that about.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

I have an AirPort Express somewhere in my apartment (it is so small!) and a first generation 1TB Time Capsule that both my Mac Pro and my fiance Marisa’s MacBook back up to.

There’s a 40 gig Apple TV in our living room that we use to stream music to and to watch the occasional movie trailer (when we have parties it comes in handy to have a picture slideshow and play music. That impresses people for some reason).

I, of course, have an iPhone 3G (black, 8 gigs), an 80 gig iPod, and a 16 gig iPod nano (orange because Marisa said orange best matched my personality, whatever that means). I also have a G4 Cube sitting on an end table looking cool (it still works, I just have no reason to actually run it).

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

I tell ya, just knowing that my Mac Pro supports 32 gigs of RAM and I only have 16 in there sometimes makes me think… but then I realize I hardly have a need for 16 so I really shouldn’t double it for no good reason (though it would be totally awesome, right?). I’m very happy with my current setup, and spent the money on my Mac Pro with the idea that it would last me a few years at the very least.

More Sweet Setups

Scott’s setup is just one in a series of Sweet Mac Setups.

Are Banner Ads Worth It?

Are Banner Ads Worth It?

David Greiner on the nitty-gritty details of Campaign Monitor’s recent 8-week advertising campaign that included three different banner ad designs, rotated on seven different ad networks and websites, with four unique landing pages.

Sweet Mac Setup: Christina Warren

Christina Warren is the assistant lead blogger for both The Unofficial Apple Weblog, and Download Squad. Though she went to film school, and is known on Twitter as @film_girl, her passion really is writing, and it shows.

Christina’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

Christina Warren's Sweet Mac Setup

Christina Warren's Sweet Mac Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

I have a Black MacBook (August 2007, so it’s the mid-2007 revision), 2.16 Core 2 Duo, with 4 GB of RAM (only 3.3 is really usable, but whatever) and a 160 GB internal hard drive. I have that paired with a 22″ widescreen ViewSonic monitor (and incidentally, I would NOT recommend the monitor or ViewSonic, as after only six months I’m getting major backlight fluctuation and stuck pixels and will have to send it off for repair, I think I’ll replace it with an HP 22 or 23″ widescreen monitor and then use the ViewSonic as a TV).

I use an Apple Wireless keyboard (the super-hot aluminum version) and a Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook mouse when I’m connected to my desk (75% of the time) and the regular MacBook mouse/trackpad when I’m mobile.

I have a 750 GB Seagate external (USB 2.0) drive connected when I’m at my desk, and probably close to a terabyte in other FireWire and USB 2.0 drives that I have laying around my insanely messy office.

When recording Podcasts (like TUAW’s Talkcast or The Flickcast), I use a USB Logitech AK5370, which is cheap, but effective. I had a 4 speaker creative surround sound setup, but in my new office, they don’t quite work so I’m looking at some attractive replacements.

I have a Wacom Bamboo Fun (the medium size) for Photoshop and Illustrator work, and I love it. I also have a 32 GB iPod touch 2G and a 60 GB black iPod 5G. My fiance recently replaced the battery in my old-school 40 GB iPod 3G, so that’s around somewhere too.

I display my MacBook on the Logitech Alto Express laptop stand. For anyone who is looking for an inexpensive laptop stand (you won’t get the wired ports or add-ons like with the Alto Connect), look at the getting the Alto Express. I got mine for like $12 shipped from Amazon.com (and this was NEW) and it has been fantastic. In fact, my fiance bought three more so that he could have one at work and two in his office at home.

Oh, and I have a BlackBerry Curve. But I hate it it (used to love it), so let’s not talk about it.

3. Why are you using this setup?

The MacBook has been a great primary computer, handling everything I’ve thrown at it and then some. Sure, doing high-end Motion work is out, but that’s not what I do. Having the second monitor has really opened up how I’m able to interact and work with my applications. I almost always have my e-mail (Apple Mail) open on the MacBook and then I do my work on the secondary monitor.

The MacBook keyboard is the best laptop keyboard I’ve ever used, so the Apple Wireless keyboard is a great way to bring that experience without having to be confined to the MacBook itself. Plus, since I’m using a Logitech Alto Express stand to display my MacBook at an angle, the keyboard is really a necessity.

4. What software do you use on a daily basis, and for what do you use it?

Web browsers go without saying, but I generally use Safari 4 Beta when I can. There are often situations where I have to use Firefox 3.10 (I was using FF 3.5 beta but it was still too incompatible with some of the plugins I explicitly use Firefox FOR, so that was scrapped), but I still prefer Safari.

NetNewsWire is my hands-down, favorite RSS reader. I prefer Newsgator to Google Reader and use Newsgator Mobile on my BlackBerry (the one good app on the thing), so NetNewsWire is the perfect facilitator of all my feed reading needs. I write about fashion, web technologies, film and everything Apple, so my newsreader is my productivity savior and also my productivity killer.

Since I primarily work as a freelance writer, Mail.app, Word and TextMate are some of my most heavily used applications. Some of my freelance work requires that I send articles via *.doc, and Word 2008 is the best way to do that. I have and love Pages ’09, but when it comes down to it, Word is often the easiest to use, especially when commenting and editing files. I use Google Apps to run the mail servers for my domains but use Mail.app as my mail application because I just don’t like to use a web-based client if I can help it.

Since a lot of the writing I do is online, I can technically do most of my posting via a CMS, but I’m REALLY not a fan of web-based editing systems. They are clunky, prone to bugs, and oftentimes the TinyMCE or fsckeditor implementations don’t work well with Mac browsers. For my personal blog, I use MarsEdit, which is just a fantastic tool. For my work with TUAW and DownloadSquad, I use TextMate. What makes TextMate special is its extensibility, especially when it comes to bundles. My fellow TUAW Blogger, Brett Terpstra, is a super-genius (seriously) and he created a Bundle package for TextMate that allows us to craft posts in amazing ways. It supports Multi-Markdown, in-line tagging based on TUAW’s tags, etc. And the best part is, he created a script that will auto-fill the web-based text window with the properly formatted HTML from TextMate. It’s a brilliant workaround to a system with very limited XML-RPC support.

I use Real Mac Software’s LittleSnapper for most of my screenshot needs — although sometimes that’s supplemented by Snapz Pro X or Skitch. I love LittleSnapper because it makes it easy to make edits, organize screenshots for galleries (something that I do a lot of) and most importantly, grabbing full-page webpage snaps.

When I’m not writing, I like to play around with web design and development. For that, I use Panic’s Coda and Macrabbit’s CSSEdit. For non-development based file transfer or for interacting with Amazon S3, I use Panic’s Transmit.

For design work, I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Illustrator CS4. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with CS3 (especially after having to buy it TWICE in four months — long story), but I think CS4 has made lots of improvements, and I actually like the one-window workflow option.

For photo editing, I switch off between Apple’s Aperture and Adobe’s Lightroom. While trying to make some corrections to the photos I took of my office, I was reminded why Aperture still doesn’t do it for me and why Lightroom is almost the tool I want to use. I still find nuances between the two, which means maintaining two separate identical libraries and using them for different things. That’s a pain. Fortunately I don’t deal with RAW images very often and mostly just color-correct snapshots I take with my Nikon S51 pocket digital.

When I’m reviewing Windows or Linux stuff for DownloadSquad, I use VMWare’s Fusion 2.0. I also have, and enjoy, Parallels for Mac 4.0, but Fusion is my go-to choice. I did have a problem a few months back with getting Fusion to recognize a Windows 7 disk image to install locally while I was at a training seminar held by Microsoft, and Parallels recognized it (the same image worked fine on an external drive), so I keep both around.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

My fiance has a White MacBook (almost the same specs as mine, except his is late-2007, so he has a slightly faster processor, the better integrated Intel graphics and the ability to actually use 4 GB of RAM). He also has a white 40 GB iPod 5G.

An Airport Extreme router (model before the new dual-channel). We have it paired with an old-ass D-Link 802.11g router, thus achieving dual-channel goodness.

We have an Apple TV (which we modded with boxee, of course), that we LOVE. I recently got the new in-ear Apple earphones with microphone, and have enjoyed them. I just hope they don’t break down like the lesser-quality first version of the in-ear headphones did.

Over the years I’ve had truckload of iPods (10 GB 2G, 30 GB 3G, 40 GB 3G, 2 20 GB 4Gs, the black 60 GB 5G, a blue Nano 2G that was stolen when Grant got his car repaired, and now the iPod touch 2G).

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

Right now I’m really debating about getting a new Mac Mini to replace the Apple TV in the living room (it would go in the bedroom) to act as a full home-media center PC. We have FreeNAS running on an old box in Grant’s office and because it is BSD based, it interacts great with the Mac. We have Boxee and XBMC connected to serve content off of it, but I’d like to have the ability to play back higher-bitrate MKV files too.

My laptop will be two years old in August, and while I don’t “NEED” a new machine, I’m thinking about getting either a 24″ iMac to become my main machine in my office (still connected to a second monitor) or getting a Unibody MacBook Pro. I’d be just as happy with the Unibody MacBook, but I need FireWire for my occasional DV and HDV editing.

Additionally, despite my longstanding hatred of AT&T, I’ve pretty much realized I’ll be going to an iPhone when the new models are released.

More Sweet Setups

Christina’s setup is just one in a series of Sweet Mac Setups.