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.