Reader’s Setup: Stephen Hackett

Stephen Hackett gets paid to be a nerd. He’s the service manager at an Apple-Authorized Service Provider right outside of Memphis, Tenn. When not healing Macs, he takes a photo a day as part of an on-going art project, babbles away on Twitter, writes on his blog about Macs, design, and journalism, and chills with his wife and their 11-month old son. The most important thing you need to know about Stephen is that he has a dogcow tattoo.

Stephen’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?

The desk of Stephen Hackett

The desk of Stephen Hackett

2. What is your current Mac setup?

For my day job, I carry a 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is pretty much the perfect notebook. It’s small, light and very powerful.

At home, I use a 24-inch iMac powered by a 2.93Ghz processor and 4 GB of RAM.

To house my massive iTunes and Aperture libraries, I have a 1TB RAID housed in a Guardian MAXimus box hooked up to the iMac via FireWire 800. I also have a set of Western Digital 750GB ‘My Book’ drives that are used for rotating backups. When one is at home, the other is locked up at work.

I type on an Apple Extended II keyboard hooked to the iMac via a Griffin iMate ADB-USB adaptor. The Extended II is the best keyboard Apple ever shipped, and with a little utility called Keyboard Maestro, I have the function keys mapped like on Apple’s new chiclet keyboards.

My wife hates that keyboard.

The SoundSticks were a gift from a client, and while they’re old (and take up a USB port), the sound is fantastic — way better than the built-in speakers on the iMac. And boy, can that sub rumble.

The desk was a gift from my wife’s uncle. It weighs like 200 pounds and is ugly as sin, but I love it. Interestingly, it has an AT&T inventory tag on it, dated 1991. It’s probably stolen property.

3. Why are you using this setup?

The MacBook Pro is just perfect for what I do for a living. In any given day, I’m sitting at my desk, slaving over the repair bench or stuffed into someone’s server closet fixing a sick Xserve — usually all three by lunchtime. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is small and powerful, and the battery life is fantastic. And with FireWire 800, it really is a professional machine. You can’t get a better notebook for $1200. Period.

On the home front, I opted the 24-inch iMac for a couple of reasons. I wanted a powerful machine without having to spend the money for a Mac Pro. With it’s 2.93Ghz Core2Duo processor and NVIDIA GeForce GT 120, this machine cuts through Aperture and the CS 4 apps like butter. I never find myself wishing I had opted for the tower.

My wife and I don’t own a television, but with the 24-inch model, we can watch anything we want to on the iMac easily. Between Hulu, Netflix and iTunes, anyone can go without a television. Try it. Your brain will thank you later.

The RAID allows me to store my iTunes and Aperture libraries in a way I know they are safe (even though that box is backed up offsite as well). I also use the RAID to store all of the various software installers and images I’ve collected over my years as a Mac technician. I mean, I never know when I’ll need to burn a copy of the OS 8.5 install disc.

I’ve got the army of backup hard drives because you can’t be too careful with data. Especially if that data includes baby photos.

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

Here’s a brief list, excluding the built-in apps like Mail, iChat and Safari:

  • Lightspeed to track service tickets and repairs at work.
  • MarsEdit for blogging, as it’s far superior in every way than WordPress’ web interface. Likewise, I am in love with Tweetie.
  • Aperture for my photography work. I tried Lightroom, and just couldn’t get used to it.
  • Adobe CS4, Transmit and CSSEdit for any freelance design projects.
  • I use MobileMe to keep data between the two machines and my iPhone in sync. After trying to live without it, I simply can’t. I use Dropbox instead of MobileMe’s iDisk, however, because it’s more reliable and much faster.

Under it all, I’m running Snow Leopard. I live on the edge because my customers do.

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

I have a 16 GB white iPhone 3GS, a 2nd generation iPod Shuffle and a 3rd generation 40GB iPod. The 3GS is the best iPhone yet, and I went with white this time around just to mix it up, and man, it looks good. I rock the old iPod in my truck. I don’t need videos while driving, so why have a newer model? Plus, carrying an old iPod has done great things for my street cred. I think.

I’ve got an Airport Extreme – the first box-style one, before the Gigabit Ethernet model – and an Airport Express hooked up at home. They’re great, and have never given me any trouble.

I’ve got a pile of old machines as well: a couple of Mac SEs, an iMac G3, a Clamshell iBook and a Pismo. The Pismo is my favorite of my older machines. It was a great notebook and runs Tiger pretty well.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

At this point, I’m running current hardware all over the place. Due to my ever-expanding media collection, that 1TB RAID is going to be full by the end of the year, so I’ll need to address that soon — probably in the form of a Christmas present to myself.

More Sweet Setups

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

Reader’s Setup: Stephen Hackett

Frequently Used Keyboard Shortcuts From My Day

I. LaunchBar

To invoke LaunchBar I use command + space. My most frequently used LaunchBar initials and their respective applications are:

S Safari
M Mail
IT iTunes
IC iCal
F Fever
T Tweetie
N NetNewsWire
C Coda
TR Transmit
ME MarsEdit

II. FastScripts

AppleScripts I use regularly, executed with keyboard shortcuts by FastScripts:

Activate Mail shift + command + m
Send Mail message to Yojimbo option + command + y
Non-top-posting email reply option + r
Send Web page to Yojimbo option + y
Title case service control + option + command + t

III. Etcetera

A couple of my favorite apps which make use of universal hotkeys for the keyboard enthusiast:

Invoke the Quick Entry dialog in Things shift + command + space
Invoke Thing’s autofilled Quick Entry dialog shift + command + t
Invoke Yojimbo’s Quick Entry Pane shift + command + y
Frequently Used Keyboard Shortcuts From My Day

Speaking of the past and the LA Times, check out Lawrence J. Magida’s 1984 review of the Original Macintosh 128K.

Once you’ve set up your machine, you insert the main system disk, turn on the power, and in a minute you are presented with the introductory screen. Apple calls it your “desk top”. What you see on your screen looks a lot like what you might find on a desk. Instead of just a blinking cursor you see pictures, called icons, that graphically represent the things you can do with the computer.

“Macintosh Shapes Up a Winner”

What Loren has done in his design of Tweetie 2 is similar to what many of the best authors do in their writing. Some authors lay out plainly points 1, 2, 3, and 4, so we, the readers, are sure to be with them when they reach the height of point 5.

But, in my estimation, only the best writers have the skill to skip 2 and 4 while still bringing us to 5 — their prose alludes to the missing pockets of plot just right so that we figure it out on our own. And this they do without us realizing, because though we were actually led by the writer, we feel like smarter readers.

It is in this regard that software developers are not unlike writers. But instead of a plot they have a feature set, and instead of prose, a UI. The developer can lay out the whole of their feature set before the user with menus, sub-menus, and more. Or they can hide pieces of it hoping that each feature will be discovered, but knowing that perhaps they won’t.

But ignorance can still be bliss, because in my book a simple, well-written application that delights is far better than a feature-rich one which overwhelms. And this is why Tweetie 2 is not just my favorite Twitter application on any platform, period, it may also just be my favorite iPhone app.

Tweetie 2.0

Good Morning

The beginning and the end are my two favorite times of the day. This is when my thoughts are most clear and distractions seem most distant.

Mornings are usually spent quietly in my office with a hot cup of coffee.

Good Morning

Half the recipe to a good cup of coffee is a good cup, and this mug from Peet’s is my favorite. It’s my companion as I journal new thoughts and ideas, check my email, read a book, or watch a lame YouTube video my sister sent.

It’s this time early in the day that I cherish the more than any other. The coffee is fresh, and even though I have half-a-dozen meetings planned and a to-do list as long as my arm, the day still feels like a blank canvas.

Good Morning

A Pretty Good Script for Creating a Yojimbo Bookmark From Safari, With Tags, Comments, and Growl Support

Up until last month I had always just used the “Archive to Yojimbo” and “Bookmark to Yojimbo” javascript bookmarklets which the Bare Bones team provides. Saved as triggers that I launched through Quicksilver, I had been getting on fine with them for quite some time.

But after my switch to FastScripts instead of Quicksilver it seemed a good time to finally write my own, ideal script for crating a Yojimbo bookmark. Though a slew of AppleScripts out there already do this, none of them work quite the way I wanted.

Since I never know what words I’ll use when searching for some long lost bit of info in Yojimbo, I’ve found that the more metadata I can give an item when it’s created the easier it will be to find it some day. Which is why, in addition to tags, I wanted a ridiculously simple way to get a portion of text from the Web page into Yojimbo’s Comments box when creating a new bookmark.

The easiest way to do this is to take a highlighted chunk of text from the Web page and tell the script throw it into the new bookmark item as a comment. And that is precisely what this script does.

When invoked, the script takes the frontmost tab in Safari and creates a new bookmark item in Yojimbo. You’ll be given the opportunity to enter any tags before the bookmark is created, and if you’ve selected any text from the Web page you’re bookmarking it will get pasted into the Comments box of your new Yojimbo bookmark. Finally, once the script has successfully run, a Growl notification will let you know.

Additional cleverness comes to play in the case that your URL is already bookmarked in Yojimbo. If so, a dialog box will let you add the URL again or open Yojimbo and edit the pre-bookmarked item. Or you can simply cancel and pretend like you knew all along that you’d already bookmarked that page. (This bit of functionality is based heavily on another bookmark in Yojimbo script written by Jim DeVona.)

The section of the script that prompts for tags is based on a script by John Gruber. His original code looks like this:

set _tags to {}
    display dialog "Tags:" default answer ""
    set _answer to text returned of result
    if _answer is not "" then
        set AppleScript's text item delimiters to ", "
        set _tags to text items of _answer
    end if
end try


It’s short and clever, but once you run it you’re committed. Sometimes I invoke the script and, for whatever reason, I change my mind. But with the above code, hitting the “Cancel” button doesn’t quit out of the script — rather it just continues on without generating any tags and the bookmark is still created.

And so I modified John’s tag input code to bail if you hit Escape or click “Cancel”. To bookmark an item with no tags just leave the input field empty and press Return or click “OK”.

set _tags to {}
set _dlog2 to display dialog "Set tags (if any):" default answer ¬
    "" default button 2 cancel button 1
set _action2 to the button returned of _dlog2
if _action2 = "" or _action2 = "Cancel" then
    set _answer to text returned of _dlog2
    if _answer is not "" then
        set AppleScript's text item delimiters to ", "
        set _tags to text items of _answer
    end if
end if



Updated on March 20, 2012:

  • Zachery Jensen updated the script so that it now properly takes the selected text from your current Safari window and places it as a comment in the Yojimbo bookmark.
  • The `tell` command which previously referenced “GrowlHelperApp” now references “Growl” in order to support the Mac App Store version of the app.

P.S. Mail To Yojimbo script updated also

The MailToYojimbo script is updated as well with the improved Tag support (added October 2009) and fixes for the new Growl (added March 2012).

A Pretty Good Script for Creating a Yojimbo Bookmark From Safari, With Tags, Comments, and Growl Support