Reader’s Setup: Michael Bester

Based in Salem, MA, Michael Bester works remotely as a Software Architect in the Interface Engineering Group at Schematic. Practically speaking, that means he authors HTML, CSS and a truckload of Javascript for a variety of projects. He occasionally writes on his personal site, Kimili, and tries his hand at witty banter on Twitter.

Michael’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

Michael Bester's Mac Setup

Michael Bester's Mac Setup

2. What is your current Mac setup?

All of my work for Schematic is done on a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with 3 GB of RAM. My personal machine is a quad-core 2.5 GHz PowerMac G5 loaded with 6.5 GB of RAM and a Terabyte of internal drive space. It doesn’t get nearly enough use these days to justify all that computing power.

An IOGear Micro DVI KVM switch connects both machines to a single keyboard, a 23″ aluminum Apple Cinema HD Display and an old Wacom Intuos 9×12 tablet, which I use for all my mousing needs. A Drobo loaded with a pair of 500GB WD Caviar drives stores all my photos, video and music. A set of Bose Companion 2 speakers rounds out the setup.

3. Why are you using this setup?

In the case of my personal machine, I tend to get the most powerful system I can, as I typically go a long time between upgrades. For example, before my quad-core G5, I had one of the first G4 desktops ever made. It lasted me 6 years.

The iMac is Schematic-issue, and is a recent upgrade from a white 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook (which simply crumbled under the weight of running things like Photoshop, Firefox and VMware simultaneously). As a web development workstation, the iMac gets the job done with aplomb.

The last mouse I used with any regularity was the hockey puck that came with my aforementioned G4. The experience left my forearm so sore that it soured me on using a mouse at all. It was then that I purchased the Wacom tablet. I’ve never looked back since.

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

  • Quicksilver — primarily as an application launcher, but occasionally to control iTunes or open files in a certain app.
  • Safari — because it’s fast and because its text rendering kicks ass.
  • TextMate — because I think there is no better editor in the world for most of my coding needs. The only thing I don’t code in TextMate is CSS. For that I use…
  • CSSEdit — because its code hinting and live preview are invaluable for authoring CSS.
  • xScope — is’s the toolbox for picking colors on screen, magnifying details or quickly measuring things in comps.
  • Default Folder X — because it adds much-needed functionality to OS X’s save dialogues.
  • Tweetie — because Twitter has supplanted RSS for me, and there is no finer Twitter client than this.
  • Adium — to keep tabs on my friends, colleagues and coworkers. Being a telecommuter, this is an especially important tool.
  • Photoshop CS4 — mostly to tear apart comps I get from designers.
  • Em Calculator — because I’m a sucker for vertical rhythm in my layouts and this AIR app from James Whittaker makes the math easy.
  • Apple Mail — to handle my IMAP and Exchange accounts in one place.
  • Terminal — for mucking around on remote servers and dealing with Subversion.
  • Spirited Away — to keep window clutter down and help maintain focus on the task at hand.
  • Preview — the unsung hero of OS X. Not simply for PDFs and images, I regularly open Photoshop files in it simply to avoid the spinning beach ball of death.
  • iTunes — Because most days, I work more efficiently with a soundtrack.

Some things I don’t use daily, but are still essential:

  • Firefox 3.5 running Firebug — because developing Javascript applications without this combo is sheer lunacy.
  • VMware Fusion — because I occasionally have to check my work on that other operating system.
  • Aperture 2 — to manage my rapidly growing photo library. It has all the tools I need to post-process and organize my photos.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

I’ve got a few iPods lying around, including a 3rd generation 15 GB model — the last one with a monochrome screen (what a relic!) — as well as a previous generation 1 GB iPod Shuffle. I also borrow my wife’s 2.16 MHz Core Duo 2 MacBook with 2 GB RAM on the rare occasion that I have to take a computer with me somewhere.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

Not in the immediate future, but when the time comes to upgrade the G5, I may transition it to a MacBook Pro. I’ve been skeptical in the past about using a laptop as my main machine because of the limited upgradability and generally slower performance when compared to a tower. However, I think recent generations of the MacBook Pro are bridging that gap.

More Sweet Setups

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

Reader’s Setup: Michael Bester