Posts From July 2009

This is why coffee shops with Wi-Fi are so popular nowadays:

Over the past several years, however, social psychologists have discovered that creativity is not only a characteristic of the individual, but may also change depending on the situation and context. The question, of course, is what those situations are: what makes us more creative at times and less creative at others?

(Via Kottke.)

The money quote:

You don’t have to have everything in front of you to know that you own it as long as you were systematic in caching it for when you need it.

(Via M.M.)

My Dock

Yesterday Patrick Rhone was kind enough to post a picture of my physical desk and a screenshot of my Mac’s desktop onto his weblog, Minimal Mac.

More than a few folks have asked how I got my dock pinned to the bottom of my screen, and actually, it’s a pretty simple trick. You can move the dock around all you want with a single line of code in the Terminal and a reboot of the dock.

To pin your dock to the bottom, just type this into the Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.dock pinning -string end

Or if you’d rather pin the dock to the top or back to the center, simply replace the last word of that line (end) with either start or middle respectively.

After typing this, you’ll need to reboot your Dock. Do this by restarting your computer, force quitting the Dock from Activity Montior, or typing this into the terminal:

killall Dock

If fiddling in the Terminal freaks you out, there is the more-than-capable app, Cocktail, that let’s you adjust all sorts of settings for your Mac, not just where to pin the Dock.

Additionally, there are two other little tricks I use with my dock: a custom-built apps folder, and a temporary storage folder affectionately named “The Wardrobe”.

Though I mostly launch apps via Quicksilver, there are times when my hand is already on the mouse, or I simply feel like clicking to launch an app rather than typing. This is why the seven apps I use every single day (Safari, Mail, Things, Yojimbo, iCal, iTunes, and Fever) are permanent residents of the Dock.

But I still want the handful of other apps which I use near-daily to stay close by. Thus my custom-built apps folder which is simply a collection of aliases:

Picture 2.png

The Wardrobe — which is using one of the Helveticon icons — is for any and all files which I don’t want on my desktop, nor do I want to store long term on my computer.

As a side note, after eighteen months with Leopard’s default download folder, I’m now back to downloads being saved right on the desktop. The intention of the downloads folder was that all your downloads would be in one spot, and that they wouldn’t clutter your desktop. But I found using the download folder meant the files were always an additional click away, and then after being used never got dealt with.

Having files download directly to my desktop keeps them instantly accessible and easier to clean up afterwards. It’s much easier to drag a file to the trash, eject it, filed it away, or drop it into the The Wardrobe from the Desktop than from the downloads folder.

What I like about my Dock being set up this way is the nice compromise it draws between less apps, thus relying on an application launcher, and more apps and using the mouse to launch. The Dock is not too slim, but yet it’s not bloated either.

Reader’s Setup: Jay Torres

Jay Torres is a sales engineer for an HVAC company based in Corona, CA. When he’s not doing equipment selections or doing take offs, he maintains a blog, posts pictures to Flickr and tries to be interesting on Twitter. He currently lives in Santa Ana, CA.

Jay’s Setup:

1. What Does Your Desk Look Like?

Jay Torres Mac Setup

Jay Torres Mac Setup

Jay Torres Mac Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

My current set up consists of a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, 2GB RAM, 160 GB HDD attached to a 24″ Dell monitor. I use Apple’s wireless keyboard and mouse. I thought I’d miss the number pad but I like the fact that its so small and minimalist. I only got the mouse because it matches the keyboard. Don’t judge me.

3. Why are you using this setup?

I got my laptop from my previous job where I convinced the IT department that I could dual boot a Mac into Windows and that it would play nice with our network. Yeah, I had to explain what dual booting was to the IT department of a half a billion dollar company. Since I called on clients all over Los Angeles and Orange County, my computer couldn’t be tied down to a desk. I needed something powerful and portable and the MacBook Pro easily fits the bill. I could be at a client’s office and I could easily whip out my computer and crank out a selection or bring up product data. When I get home, I just plug it into my monitor, reboot into good old OS X and catch up on everything that’s happened during the day. I can’t see myself having a set up other than this.

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

  • Safari – I thought about this and amazingly, I spend a lot of time in my web browser, both for work and play. I used to be a longtime Camino user but Safari is just so fast, it was hard to go back. I use GMail and its multiple inbox feature to handle both personal and work email and for prioritizing what has to be done. I pretty much rely on Google for everything. Google syncs my contacts and calendars with my iPhone via “the cloud”. Considering that my work doesn’t use an Exchange server, it’s the next best thing. Now if they would just enable push email…

  • NetNewsWire – After Safari, the next piece of software I use most is NetNewsWire. I follow ~100 feeds ranging from gadget blogs, finance blogs, design blogs and anything else I find interesting.

  • iChat – For my AIM and Google chat accounts. I tried to like Adium but video chat brings me back.

  • iTunes – Handles all my music, TV and movie organization. One of three apps that gets launched at log in.

  • Tweetie – It does everything I need and nothing more. If they give me the option of getting rid of the dock icon, it’ll be perfect. Also launches at log in.

  • MarsEdit – Simple app for posting to my blog.

  • iPhoto – I don’t consider photography as a hobby but I do take a lot of pictures of what I do on the weekends (which may be a bad thing if this thing gets published). I use iPhoto to organize and upload to my Flickr page.

  • Stickies – For bits of information that I always need to copy and paste into fields.

  • Dropbox – I store all my work files in my Dropbox for easy access when I boot into Windows. It’s so seamless, I forget it’s syncing with their servers. I wish I had found this earlier.

  • Windows 7 and IE8 – When I quote equipment, our quoting software is web based and only works in Internet Explorer. So I had to install Windows 7 on a 20GB partition on my MacBook Pro. I have Parallels installed but using Windows in it is barely usable. I only set aside 20GB because I don’t really have anything I need to install on the Windows side other than MS Office and a couple other random apps. Although I feel guilty saying this, once I boot into Windows 7, it’s crazy fast.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

I have a 16GB 1st generation iPhone unlocked on TMobile. I also have an original 5GB iPod (still works!), a 20GB 4G iPod and a green 2G iPod shuffle for working out. I have a 160GB Apple TV. Right next to it, I also have a 500GB Time Capsule that I use for backups and for streaming media that isn’t already stored on the Apple TV.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

In the near future, I don’t have anything planned but when it’s time, I’d like to get a unibody 15″ MacBook Pro and the 24″ LED Cinema Display. I absolutely love how the monitor has connections for power, USB and audio. Why no one else has thought of this before boggles my mind. I’d love to get an iPhone 3GS, but I’m actually getting a good deal with TMobile and don’t plan on switching anytime soon.

More Sweet Setups

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

Patrick Rhone:

There are few things I love more, or am more inspired by, than a clean, uncluttered, distraction free computing experience. I wanted a place where I could feature, review and catalog these items. Minimal Mac is that place.

Patrick’s new weblog has quickly become a new favorite for me. I love how everything on the site is geared towards minimalism (save for the frequency of posts, I hope).

Reader Setup: Gordon Barr

Gordon Barr lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He is a part-time programmer, part-time webmaster, part-time IT support helper, and part-time architectural heritage campaigner. He has been described in the newspapers as a ‘boffin’ during attempts to promote Chemistry as a fun and interesting subject through the medium of a life-size fibreglass cow, and as an ‘expert’ when trying to convince people not to knock down interesting old buildings unnecessarily. In his spare time, he runs the online Scottish Cinemas project to catalogue, record and research old cinema and theatre buildings.

Gordon’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

Gordon Barr's Setup

Gordon Barr's Setup

Gordon Barr's Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

At work have a Mac Pro (2x Dual Core 2.66Ghz) as my primary workstation, and a Mac Mini 1.66Ghz Core Duo. I’ve three 20in Cinema Displays between them; one on the Mac Mini, and two on the Mac Pro, with a single mouse and keyboard shared between them. At home, a first generation unibody 13in MacBook. Oh, and an iPhone or two, obviously.

3. Why are you using this setup?

Much of my ‘proper’ work (i.e. that I actually get paid for) involves tying together old legacy Visual Basic and Fortran code and trying to make it play nicely together, so Windows is a necessity. As a result, the Mac Pro is running Windows XP in Bootcamp rather than MacOS X. Pleasingly, the Mac Pro was purchased after I specced up the equivalent Dell workstation at the time, which was nearly UKP £2000 more expensive (!). Who says Macs are pricier?

The Mac Mini is so I don’t have to spend all day in Windows land, and it runs everything else. The cinema displays were gradually purchased over time – I started out with just one of them and added more as budgets allowed.

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

I use Synergy to share a single mouse and keyboard between the two machines; I couldn’t live without it. I write and edit manuals and other technical documentation for in-house software, and I could do a lot more on the Mac rather than in Windows if there was still a Mac version of Framemaker (are you listening, Adobe?!). There’s always some Terminal windows open, and often some stuff running over X-windows from our Sun servers too.

I use Spaces to keep things separated – the default one has Mail and iCal which are always open, another with a bunch of terminal windows for local servers, etc., another for Safari and Tweetie, and one for Things.

I’ve recently started using Things (thanks to the review on this very site) to manage my work to do lists, and its ability to sync with the iPhone equivalent is crucial to keeping me (relatively) organised. The venerable but incomparable GraphicConverter is still in my Dock, and used almost daily, even after all these years.

For my side-line in architectural heritage, I take a lot of photos, and managing them is a bit of a nightmare. I’ve recently converted to Aperture for this, and am gradually getting a handle on it. The excellent FlickrExporter for Aperture is also used frequently for my Flickr uploads.

On the Mac, TextWrangler is my editor of choice; on the PC-side, SciTe is rather good.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

A Time Capsule at home for backups; a large box under the bed full of old cables, power supplies and about 7 different Apple laptop display dongles of various vintages, and a pristine Mac SE that still goes bong when you turn it on – I must find an old keyboard and mouse so I can play with it properly!

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

My iPhone is a 3GS; I appear to have Compulsive Upgrade Disorder when it comes to these things. So when they release a new one, I suspect I will be there. Luckily, I have a bunch of friends who are not such early adopters I can sell last year’s model on to.

More Setups:

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

That’s one way to create a new font.

Alex Payne:

The problem with abdicating your content consumption to other people, though, is other people. Perhaps it’s overestimating my ability to find interesting things to read, but I don’t trust my friends and the Internet at large to educate and entertain me. In the venn diagram of my interests and my friends’, there may be 80% overlap, but most of the content that I’m going to find deeply engaging is probably in the leftover 20% at the margins.

Also, Alex points out how Fever really only works if you subscribe to a lot of tech-related weblogs, as these are the ones that more commonly post links leading away from their site. Since I don’t read very many non-tech weblogs, Fever works great for me.

Between Twitter, Fever’s Hot List, and the small handful of my daily “must-reads”, I feel quite confident that I’m not missing the 20% of the most engaging content on the web. Also, I make sure to do my part and post a link when I do come across that 20%.

Like Merlin Mann said, “If linkbloggers wrote more, shovelbloggers thought more, and a-listers cited more, the web would get 15% more interesting overnight.”

Reader Setup: Tim Van Damme

Tim Van Damme is a Belgian webdesigner. By day he runs his little freelance company Made by Elephant, but by night he turns into his wild, alter ego called Maxvoltar. He is also a self-claimed celebrity tweeter with millions of followers.

Tim’s Setup:

What does your desk look like?

Tim Van Damme Setup

Tim Van Damme Setup

Tim Van Damme Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

I’m using a Unibody MacBook Pro 15.4″ (the one without SD, you know, that old piece of last-year’s hardware?). Besides that, I have a 23″ Apple Cinema Display, a 1Tb external Lacie drive (backup solution #1) and a 1Tb Time Capsule (wireless internet everywhere and backup solution #2).

3. Why are you using this setup?

Years ago I switched to using laptops, and wouldn’t want it any other way. About half the time I work from home (the setup in the pictures), and the other half I’m either at the office, or at a client. Anywhere I arrive, I just open my MacBook and start working where I left off. A laptop might not be the most powerful workstation around, but portability wins over power every time. I must admit having an external monitor is a big plus.

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

Apps that are always running include Safari, Photoshop, Espresso, MailPlane, NetNewsWire, Tweetie, Skype, iChat, iTunes and LittleSnapper.

For a full list I’d like to point you to an interview Grace Smith did with me, exploring all the apps in my dock.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

A white MacBook which used to be mine, but is now being used by my girlfriend, an Apple TV, and an Airport Express that multiplies(?) the Wi-Fi at home.

Almost forgot: an iPhone 3GS.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

I tend to buy a new iPhone each year, and a new MacBook Pro every 2 years. Maybe I’ll buy a second Cinema Display to use at home, and that 10″ NetBook Apple’s going to launch later this year.

More Sweet Setups

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

Absolutely incredible sidewalk chalk and stop-motion music video for Coldplay’s song, Strawberry Swing.

A For an iPhone, By an iPhone wallpaper of my notes and outline which I used to write the previous behind-the-scenes article of said website.

Building ‘For an iPhone, By an iPhone’

In May my old iPhone and I launched a new website. It’s a gallery of wallpapers and backgrounds for your iPhone, all taken with an iPhone camera. They’re for an iPhone, by an iPhone.

For the past two years, I haven’t used the iPhone’s camera very much. Mostly because my wife and I never think about taking pictures; we’re not photo-fanatics. But after hearing CameraBag from Joshua Blankenship and seeing his iPhonaroid set on Flickr, my interest in taking fun and artsy snapshots with my iPhone peaked.

Originally, I figured I would create a Flickr set like Josh did and upload the shots to there. But then, after coming across Greg Shmigel’s Just What I See website, the Flickr set seemed inadequate…

The name and concept of For an iPhone, By an iPhone materialized one evening while walking home from the general store with my wife eating popsicles. After a few days of designing and coding, along with a few more popsicles, the site was launched.

A Picture versus A Thousand Words

Building a simple, photo-based site was a nice change of pace. There are quite a few differences between an entirely image-based website and a text-based one, and it was nice to have new challenges to tackle.

At first the Home page design of For an iPhone, By an iPhone showed a cascading list of the five most recent pictures. I was thinking about the convenience of being able to see a handful of wallpapers all at once. Undoubtedly not everyone will like and use every single wallpaper and giving the ability for someone to quickly scan is a feature.

But having five full-sized images on every page (except for permalink pages) felt less like a feature and more like a competition between wallpapers. Which is why I decided to only display one image per page. And by placing the navigation just above the pictures while the title and the tags sit below, it is still easy to browse through each wallpaper, even though it is just one at a time.

However, in good conscience I couldn’t completely abandon the ability for someone to scan several images at once. Which is why the archives display multiple images per page. Not to mention, (a) browsing an image gallery by title is just about as productive as picking out new music by song title; and (b) if the archives displayed only one image per page, that would be the exact same as the way non-archives are displayed.

And getting the archives to display and work just right wasn’t as easy as it should have been. Displaying full-sized images within the archives, like the original Home page design, was overwhelming; the archives needed to be displayed as thumbnails. And even though there are a lot of photo-gallery plugins for WordPress I was unable to find a simple one that would do what I wanted. So I hacked my own system for displaying the archives.

When browsing the archives you are looking at the excerpt content wrapped in an <a> tag which links to the permalink of the wallpaper.

To get WordPress to display only one post per page unless it was an archive page I’m using Matt Read’s plugin, Custom Query String. The CQS plugin allowes me to set exactly how many posts (images) display in any type of archive pages. I set all archives to display fifteen posts per page, which shows five nice rows with three images each.

On shawnblanc.net categories are only discoverable from the sitemap, because it’s easy enough to link to past articles through a linked list post, or simply link to past articles organically within other articles. However, on For an iPhone, By an iPhone, tags are much more vital. When the only content of a post is the image and the title, you can’t interlink to your own posts in a photoblog unless you use tags.

The Problem With Permalinks and Pagination

Standard WordPress behavior is to display the latest post on the home page. But to view the previous posts, you don’t browse by permalink, you browse by page.

Which means that getting the latest picture to display on the Home page, but to have the “previous” link point to the pervious post’s actual permalink page rather than /page/2/ was a little bit tricky.

Because of the way For an iPhone, By an iPhone is set up (with only a single image per page) there is a problem with the default pagination from the Home page. Because you’re only viewing one image regardless if it’s a permalink or nor, you could easily get /page/2/ confused as the permalink for the image you see on page 2. But once a new image gets posted, what used to be on /page/2/ is now on /page/3/, etc., etc…

I wanted all browsing to be from one permalink to the next, so that at any given time you were precisely where you thought you were.

After some searching around, I discovered a simple line of code, that when placed above the loop, does the trick just perfectly:

<? php $wp_query->is_single = true; ?>

This line causes the Home page to act like the most recent post’s permalink page (yet without re-directing to the URL of the latest post). Thus, what would normally be the “Previous” link is now the title of and a link to the previous post.

Which means once you begin navigating from the home page you go from permalink to permalink, rather than page to page.

From Phone to Published

By the time a new wallpaper shows up on the website, a lot has happened with that image already.

It starts when I come across something or someone that warrants a picture. So I take one. Usually several, actually. The best of the shots is then processed through CameraBag or CameraKit [iTunes Link], and the next time I sync the iPhone, all the photos get dropped into iPhoto. They are then re-sized, cropped and watermarked via Photoshop, and saved as 320×480 pixel JPEGs.

The 320×480 images are then run through an Automator process that copies the original, renames it, and resizes it for the thumbnail used in the Archives.

I then upload all the full-size images and their repsective thumbnails with transmit, and then publish each one via MarsEdit.

It sounds like a lot for something so basic, but it’s not as tedious as it sounds.

When first developing the site, I thought about coding an automated process or using a plugin so that if I emailed my image directly to WordPress from my iPhone, then it would get automatically cropped, a thumbnail created, and the image published. But aside from finding a plugin that worked the way I wanted, a set-it-and-forget-it process felt too sterile — I prefer taking the time to hand-craft each image that gets posted.

An Aside Regarding Pageviews

Over the last seven weeks, For an iPhone has averaged a 53% bounce rate with about 4 pageviews per visit. Shawnblanc.net, on the other hand, has a 73% bounce rate and an average of 2 pageviews per visit.

The average new visitor to For an iPhone will browse twelve to fifteen pages on their first visit. The average new visitor to shawnblanc.net, if they don’t bounce right away, will browse perhaps only four or five.

The biggest contributing factor is that For an iPhone encourages pageviews due to its one-image-per-page layout. Since it’s natural and not forced, it isn’t a big deal to click through many pages each visit.

In contrast, shawnblanc.net offers a dozen posts right on the home page. And each article is usually a stand-alone piece, and that each link list item is intended to send the reader away from the site. (Since each website has its own definitions of success, and its own audience, it wouldn’t be fair to compare them against one another to define the achievement or failure of one or the other. But that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to see the differences.)

For me, what defines the success of For an iPhone, By an iPhone isn’t that it would be full of jaw dropping iPhone photos and wallpapers. The site isn’t made up of individual images, but rather an overall collection of wallpapers all centered around and contributing to a simple and fun concept.

And it is the concept of For an iPhone, By an iPhone that makes it a success. That each image was taken with an iPhone camera, edited with iPhone software, and published for use on an iPhone screen.

This is one good-looking desktop wallpaper.

(Via Prettify)

A very clever approach by The Economist for displaying creative people’s work space, the objects in that space, and why they’re there. There is some fascinating stuff here.

I particularly love Mercedes Bunz’s quote about her laptop:

The laptop is a part of me. Everywhere you travel, everywhere you go, it’s part of you. It’s a very strange object because a laptop is something where your private life and your friends meet your working life and stress. It’s all on one object now, and it’s the centre of my little world. I’m a writer, that’s what I do most. My ideas happen while I’m typing.

(Via Ryan Gonzalez)

Reader Setup: Julian Schrader

Julian Schrader is the head of one-man-plus-partners web agency Schrader.io Design & Development based in Würzburg, Germany. Besides managing client projects and writing Ruby on Rails, XHTML and CSS, he’s currently studying for a Bachelor of Science in Business Informatics at the University of Würzburg.

Julian’s Setup:

What does your desk look like?

Julian Scharader's desk

Julian Scharader's desk

Julian Scharader's desk

2. What is your current Mac setup?

A 2 × 3.0 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (8-core) Mac Pro, with 6GB of RAM. Unfortunately still with the slow hard drive Apple Refurb put into it, so speed-wise there’s still a bottleneck to bust. To control this machine, I’m using a wireless Apple Keyboard and also a bluetooth Mighty Mouse, which unfortunately sometimes needs a special treatment.

Thanks to eBay, I recently added a second screen to my setup, totaling 2 × 30″ Apple Cinema HD Displays connected to the Mac Pro.

For my audio needs, I’m still using my old Sony stereo—its speakers hide behind the displays, iTunes DJ is shuffling through nearly all genres all day.

Unfortunately this setup isn’t worth anything on-the-go: When I’m working outside or at the university, I rely on my 15″ Unibody MacBook Pro (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM) and, of course, on my 32GB iPhone 3GS.

3. Why are you using this setup?

Throughout the day, I’m switching between various setups depending on the task at hand. Whether that means “communication”, “coding” or “designing”, I always need to have multiple applications (and windows) open.

As Shawn put it: I’m “a dude with over 8 million pixels worth of screen real estate” (8.192.000 pixels to be precise), and I found large screens to be way more efficient than constantly switching between Leopard’s Spaces, as I did before.

And the MacBook Pro—well, easy: My iPhone can do a lot, but I need a real computer for lectures and the cafeteria, and it’s great to leave the desk for the garden every now and then.

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

  • Things combined with Things Touch on my iPhone — a killer task management setup for me. Everything goes into Things.
  • Safari — browser of choice.
  • DropBox — all my projects live in folders synced with DropBox. This ensures that all my data on the MacBook Pro is automagically up-to-date and everything I do at the university is reflected on my Mac Pro.
  • iCal — All lectures and appointments go here. Thanks to MobileMe, this is always in sync on my machines and my iPhone always knows where I have to go next.
  • mite. — I’m a web guy, so my time tracking lives on the web. DynaMite on the Macs, web interface on my iPhone.
  • Mail — can’t get used to GMail. My Google Apps account lives in Mail.
  • iTunes — I’m constantly listenin’, told ya.
  • Aurora — wakes me up in the morning.
  • Tweetie & Tweetie — my Twitter client on the Macs and iPhone.
  • Adium — to log on to my XMPP server, OneTeam on the iPhone.
  • Skype — constantly in use with my most regular customer.
  • Fever — Shaun Inman’s feedreader immediately knocked out NetNewsWire for me.
  • TextMate — I do all my coding with it, sometimes even CSS.
  • CSSEdit — Explains itself.
  • Terminal — Ruby on Rails and server administration via SSH doesn’t work without it.
  • GitX — for version control. I version control everything. If it’s not in git, it’s at least in TimeMachine.
  • Transmit — for good ol’ (S)FTP and Amazon S3.
  • Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator (both CS3) — to edit pictures, and to check out what the designers did for me.
  • Numbers, Pages & Keynote — for my office needs and presentations. So much happier with the iWork suite than with Office (which happens to get dusty on my HD).

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

In the right corner of my desk I have a 1TB Time Capsule to connect me to our WiFi and for backing up with TimeMachine.

Mobile devices:

  • A 32GB iPhone 3GS, with me all the time.
  • An 8GB iPhone, which is used by my girlfriend.
  • I used to own still have a 60GB iPod 5G (hidden in my desk’s drawer, never used again since my first iPhone).

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

Nope. Just updated from an iPhone 3G to the 3GS, everything else is fine for now. Well, maybe a faster hard disk for the Mac Pro?

More Sweet Setups

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

Reader Setup: David Appleyard

David Appleyard is a freelance designer and blogger based in Manchester, UK. He is the editor of AppStorm, and manages various design-related sites including Design Shack.

David’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

David Appleyard's Mac Setup

David Appleyard's Mac Setup

David Appleyard's Mac Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

A 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, with 4GB of RAM. It sits upon a Rain Design mStand which, whilst not the most versatile laptop stand, looks stunning.

I use a 23″ Apple Cinema Display as my primary monitor, along with a Logitech S530 Laser keyboard and mouse. I still rely on a 6 year old set of Altec Lansing 2100 speakers that work flawlessly.

In recent months I have come to love my ScanSnap S300M, a tiny duplex scanner capable of providing a completely paper-free office environment.

3. Why are you using this setup?

I have found that portable Macs offer all the power I require in a far more useful form factor than a desktop. Since purchasing a first generation MacBook I haven’t looked back. Coupling my notebook with a large monitor feels natural and works wonders for productivity.

The original reason I made the move to OS X was for the wonderful user interface. It shunned the brash colours of Windows and appealed to the designer in me. After a few months I began to fall in love with all the other benefits of the platform.

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

I use all of the following on a very regular basis:

  • Mail – I remain reluctant of moving to a web-based system, and enjoy the simplicity offered by Mail.
  • Safari – One of the reasons I originally switched to OS X, and still the fastest browser available for the platform.
  • Things – For organizing my life and scheduling tasks to remember in the future. A fantastic user interface.
  • NetNewsWire – Great iPhone synchronization makes this my go-to choice for RSS. I’m also experimenting with Fever.
  • Tweetie – Having swapped between various Twitter clients, I’ve settled on Tweetie for now.
  • DevonThink Pro Office – For maintaining the aforementioned paperless office. It offers incredible OCR for scanned and imported PDF documents.
  • Spotify – Being in one of the supported countries, I’m a huge fan of the free streaming music service on offer.
  • Pixelmator – For remarkably fast image editing. Not as powerful as Photoshop, but I find myself using it far more often.
  • iWork 09 – I completely stepped away from Microsoft Office earlier this year. Pages and Numbers are perfect for my needs.
  • Transmit – Still my FTP client of choice, though I also use ExpanDrive from time to time.
  • TextMate – For coding and basic text editing.
  • Querious – Makes working with MySQL databases enjoyable — no mean feat!

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

I own a 1TB Time Capsule to act as a router and external hard drive for media, along with a 1TB Lacie d2 that mirrors my Time Capsule once a week.

An original MacBook (black) serves as a second machine if my MacBook Pro ever encounters a technical problem or surreptitious burglar.

I also own a few iPhones/iPods:

  • A 16GB iPhone 3G, with me at all times.
  • An 8GB iPhone now commandeered by my significant other.
  • A 3rd generation iPod shuffle for running. Rarely used.

An Apple TV sits in my lounge, though slightly sub-par WiFi reception makes it somewhat of a hassle to use regularly. Plans are in place to run an ethernet cable, but it’s no easy task.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

I’m thoroughly content with my current Mac setup, though would likely purchase a 30″ LED Cinema Display if Apple ever get around to producing one. I’m also a big fan of the MacBook Pro keyboard, and will pick up a Wireless Apple Keyboard to replace my Logitech at some point in the near future.

More Sweet Setups

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

Lukas Mathis’ article on modes versus quasimodes yesterday reminds me of linear beats versus layered beats on the drums. Linear beats are when you only play one sound surface on the drums at a time. Versus a layered beat, where you play multiple sound surfaces at the same time.

(If the lesson video linked to above isn’t that exciting, and you just want to see some crazy drumming, check out these clips of Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater. Mike often played face-melting linear drum beats and fills.)

Speaking of birthdays, this was one of the first gifts I got today. It’s a very fun and well-made board game for the whole family. And if you too are in the giving spirit, pick up Ticket to Ride via this Amazon affiliate link, and send little extra birthday cash my way.