Posts From December 2009

Nice overview by Chris Bowler. I’ve gone back and forth between Droplr and Cloud for the past several months. Cloud seems slightly more snappy, but Droplr certainly takes the cake with its feature set — I don’t who wouldn’t want to use it.

Reader’s Setup: John Rust

John Rust is a freelance videographer, web designer, writer, and college student. He also tends to constantly dabble in graphic design, photography, music composition, live audio productions, and programming.

John’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

John Rust Desk 3

john-rust-1.jpg

John Rust Desk 2

2. What is your current Mac setup?

I’m using a mid-2007 2.2GHz MacBook Pro with an anti-glare screen. I have a 20″ Apple Cinema Display (the old aluminum kind) plugged into the MacBook Pro whenever I’m at my desk. I’ve got both a wired and a wireless Apple keyboard (the aluminum type), which I switch between depending on what I’m doing and my mood at the time. I consider my Magic Mouse to be the most amazing Apple product released in the last year.

Next to my computer are three WD My Book drives providing me with 2TB of total storage for photos and videos. I’ve also got a set of small speakers also on my desk; I don’t particularly care about the quality of them because I usually have my music playing pretty quietly in the background.

There is also an old eMac lying around somewhere which I use occasionally as a local web server. The problem with my setup, in a nutshell, is that I juggle hats so often that I’m constantly adjusting my setup to better fit what I’m doing.

3. Why are you using this setup?

I bought the MacBook Pro so I could have a computer that did everything I needed it to do — from video editing to document editing — and still be portable enough to take almost everywhere. It’s certainly not as powerful as a Mac Pro, and its limitations are more than obvious at times.

Even though it’s the smallest model, the Cinema Display is pretty much all I need now in terms of screen space. Sure, editing in Final Cut Pro is more fun with a bigger screen, but it’s not necessary (and it won’t fit on my desk very well). I can’t live without FireWire 400, and the hub on the back of the monitor is wonderful when I need it.

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

I use a lot of software, and I’m usually testing and playing with new releases to see if I like them. Overall, my most-used apps are iTunes, Mail, Skype, iChat, Tweetie, Fever, and Safari, like pretty much everyone else who reads this site.

Besides that, my most-used apps would be:

  • The Hit List. I keep switching between The Hit List and Things, but The Hit List is usually my favorite. Hopefully there’ll be an iPhone version of it at some point in the near future.

  • Photoshop CS4. I upgraded from the original Photoshop CS, and the upgrade was definitely worth it. I can’t say anything glorious about an Adobe product, but it is what I use for photo editing, design work, mockups, and essentially anything having to do with image manipulation.

  • Final Cut Studio 3. I’m in a love/hate relationship with the applications in this suite. They’re incredibly powerful and functional, and do everything I could ever need to do in terms of video editing. Yet the work I do in them tends to slow my computer to a crawl, and I really wish the interface would get a facelift.

  • Espresso and CSSEdit. Basically everything web-related goes through these applications. I absolutely love the live preview feature of CSSEdit, and I enjoy tweaking stuff on my site (and other sites) with it.

  • Aperture. I completely fell in love with this application the first time I saw it in use, and I never could go back and use iPhoto. All my images (besides my LittleSnapper library) are cataloged in aperture, and in my opinion it has set a standard for how user interfaces should be designed.

  • MarsEdit. Because writing and editing blog posts in the WordPress admin area just isn’t fun.

  • TextWrangler. You can’t beat the price of this application. It’s everything I need in a text editor and more; I prefer it to Pages a good bit of the time. In fact, I am writing everything in this interview in it.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

I own a white 16GB iPhone 3G (the Evil Empire won’t let me upgrade to a 3GS), and the Apple Bluetooth Headset which I use in the car. I have an AirPort Express that tends to bounce around the house depending on where it’s most needed at the time.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

I’m in need of a new computer at some point in the future, but I don’t know what to get. A MacBook Air is almost necessary for college (I’ve strained my shoulders enough carrying around a MacBook Pro and lots of textbooks), but incredibly limiting for everything else. A 27″ iMac would be great for everything except for school. I’ll probably just settle with a high-end MacBook Pro and hope I don’t have to deal with files from a RED camera anytime soon.

More Sweet Setups

John’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.

And asks him the very same question that has been in the front of my mind for months: “Why do you write [Prettify] in plural form?”

Garrett’s Answer:

Hah. It’s amazing how many times I’ve been asked that. Honestly, I don’t know why I did that. I just wrote the first few in plural and it stuck. I guess I imagined in the beginning I would eventually have other people adding content to the site as well, but after a short time I realized (after looking at submissions) that I don’t trust anyone else’s taste enough to give out control over posting. I thought about switching to singular, but it was already the style of the site.

A free utility app that adds functionality to the Magic Mouse, allowing you to set actions for clicks and taps based on how many fingertips are on the mouse’s surface. MagicPrefs also allows you to adjust the tracking speed and tap sensitivity. No support for “pinching” yet, but it looks like it’s in the to-do list. Basically, this is the solution to my problem with the Magic Mouse.

Speaking of online backups: Chris Bowler on Web.AppStorm is giving away four one-year subscriptions to CrashPlan today.

Khoi’s dilemma with finding an online backup solution for his 400GB of data. There’s some good discussion in the comments with many recommendations for DropBox, Backblaze, or Jungle Disk.

My approach for backing up is to keep it simple, and keep it safe. At my home I’ve got a TimeCapsule/TimeMachine backup, and run a nightly SuperDuper clone to an external. At my work office I’ve got another external that I clone weekly.

Having an off-site or online backup is important because, as Khoi says: “Fire or theft would leave me as helpless as any less-conscientious computer user, rendering all my self-congratulatory local backups worthless.”

What to Get for That Nerdy, Design-Savvy, Coffee-Loving, Snowboarding, Person in Your Life

Nerds are hard to shop for. We know precisely what we want, but we’re curiously passive about letting you know. Instead, we want you to know what we want without us having to say anything. Furthermore, the trick to being a great gift giver is to get someone the thing that they didn’t even know they wanted until they open it. Therefore, you’ll find below a list of gadgets, trinkets, and power tools.1

Except for that iPhone dock you see below, and the classic thermos, I own and use everything on this list. Each of these are great gifts, and I’d be proud to give any one of them to my other nerdy, design-savvy, coffee-loving, snowboarding friends or family members.

Nerdy

Nerdy Stuff

  1. Wooden Log iPhone Docking Station: $68

  2. Twelve South BookArc: $50

  3. Star Trek (2009 DVD): $21

  4. Media Temple Web Hosting: $100

Design-Savvy

Design-Savvy

  1. Pilot 0.40mm Gel Pen: $16 / dozen

  2. Levenger Circa Notebooks

  3. 1-Year Subscription to HOW Magazine: $30

  4. Field Notes Colors Subscription: $129

  5. Gotham Typeface: $199

Coffee-Loving

Coffee-Loving

  1. Chemex Coffee Maker and Filters: $50

  2. A few pounds of Peets: $15

  3. Stanley Classic Thermos: $34

  4. Breville Conical Burr Grinder: $100

Snowboarding

Snowboarding

  1. Ride Concept Snowboard: $750

  2. Burton Lifeline Snowboard Mitt in Mocha: $80

  3. Spy: Zoe Black Gloss Sunglasses: $140

Miscellaneous Stocking Stuffers

Miscellaneous Stocking Stuffers

  1. The Little Red Writing Book: $10

  2. J Crew Magic Wallet: $22

  3. Dewalt Heavy-Duty Compound Miter Saw: $210

  4. J Crew Argyle Socks: $15

  5. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations: $32

  6. Ticket to Ride: $38

  7. WoodWick Candle: $15


  1. This list may also come in handy if you end up getting one of those Snuggie blankets with sleeves and after you’ve returned it don’t know where to spend the money.

Wow. Really, really wish I was there. Snowboarding.

Thanks to Marco, this is currently my favorite iPhone game. It costs a buck and has rich graphics and a simple, addictive gameplay. There is also a free version available, though it doesn’t include “Pure Mode” which, in Marco’s and my opinion, is definitely worth the dollar.

Reader’s Setup: Adrian Hanft

Adrian is the creator of Font Burner, a site that hosts 1,000+ sIFR fonts. He also maintains Found Photography, a site where he documents his camera experiments (like building cameras out of Legos) and photography. He is also on Twitter. By day he is creative director for Red Rocket Media Group in Colorado.

ADRIAN’S SETUP:

1. WHAT DOES YOUR Desk LOOK LIKE?

One is my setup at work, the other is at home.

adrian_hanft_work_setup.jpg

Adrian Hanft Home Setup

2. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT MAC SETUP?

At home I use a 17″ MacBook Pro which is almost always connected to my Sennheiser headphones. For digital photography I love my Panasonic Lumix LX3 with an Eye-Fi card that sends photos to my computer wirelessly. I just bought a 500gb external Western Digital drive that is powered by Firewire 800. As you can see, my home setup also includes a ping-pong table and a cat. At work I am on a Mac Pro (2x Dual Core 2.66Ghz). Possibly the most important technology in my toolbox is a sketchbook.

3. WHY ARE YOU USING THIS SETUP?

I try to never be too far from objects that keep my mind at play. You can see the toys above my desk at work, the wall of artwork at home, the headphones, and the ping pong table. I try to balance the utmost simplicity in my work space without losing the inspiration that I find from posters, artwork, toys, and games.

4. WHAT SOFTWARE DO YOU USE ON A DAILY BASIS, AND FOR WHAT DO YOU USE IT?

  • I use TextMate, Transmit, and CSSEdit for web development
  • There aren’t many days when I don’t open Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
  • Adium for instant messaging
  • Google Search Box recently replaced QuickSilver for shortcuts
  • Fever for RSS feeds
  • MarsEdit for blogging on all my WordPress powered sites
  • Transmission is typically going in the background

5. DO YOU OWN ANY OTHER MAC GEAR?

I have an iPhone and an aging PowerMac G4. I still use an old 3rd Generation iPod for audio books on my commute. The internet reaches me through my Airport Express Base Station.

6. DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE UPGRADES PLANNED?

I am holding my breath for the rumored Mac netbook. If that doesn’t come into existence I might just try installing OSX on a netbook to create a hackintosh. I have to resist the urge to upgrade constantly. I would love a new unibody MacBook Pro and an iPhone upgrade, but realistically those purchases are at least a year away. I have had my eye on a 30″ Apple Cinema display for a while.

More Sweet Setups

Adrian’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.

Loren:

I want a 3GS with the original aluminum enclosure.

Ditto.

Magic Mouse Miscellany

Last month I got a Magic Mouse. I would have bought a wired one if I could have because in all my experience with various wireless Apple mice the sensor-to-pointer communication has been poor and always made for rigid mousing.

Thankfully, the Magic Mouse works just as good as any wireless mouse I’ve used. So I’m keeping it, and now I’ve got a Magic Mouse at home. At work I’ve still got a Mighty Mouse, though.

It took about a week to get used to holding the Magic Mouse. It is a lot thinner than the Mighty Mouse, and therefore has to be held differently. Also, it’s constructed so much finer than its predecessor that my Mighty Mouse at work now feels like a cheap, overfed rodent.

But despite being fat, what I still love about my Mighty Mouse is that third button. Clicking on the scroll ball can activate different events. For me it’s Exposé, and it’s incredibly convenient when working a lot with the mouse.

Despite missing this third button, what I love about the Magic Mouse it’s ability to scroll with momentum. Just like on the iPhone, you can flick when scrolling a page, and it won’t come to a dead stop the very instant you stop scrolling but will instead slowly come to a halt.

Scrolling with momentum has quickly become addictive, and it now drives me bonkers to use my laptop trackpad because it doesn’t scroll like the Magic Mouse scrolls.1


  1. Smart Scroll is a $20 system-wide utility that attempts to mimic Apple’s momentum scrolling feature of the Magic Mouse and iPhone.

    However, with Smart Scroll you don’t flick, you “coast”. Which means the window will keep scrolling after you’re done moving your fingers on the trackpad even if you’re fingers are still on the trackpad. Not only does this break the law of physics, it also means you are always “smart scrolling” even when you don’t want to be.