Federico Viticci’s Sweet Mac Setup

Who are you, what do you do, etc…?

I am Federico Viticci, editor in chief of MacStories. I started MacStories in April 2009, and it’s become a place where I (and my team) can write about all things Apple including news, reviews, and discussion about Apple products. I also tweet as @viticci.

What is your current setup?

Federico Viticci Sweet Mac Setup

Federico Viticci Sweet Mac Setup

I switch back and forth between my office, and my “home office”.

Back home, I have a 21.5-inch mid-2010 iMac with 4 GB of RAM, and 3.06 GHz Core i3 processor. I’m not a fan of glossy screens, but I haven’t found the lack of matte finish on my desktop displays a huge annoyance as many others on the web would tell you. To back up my iMac, I use a combination of Time Machine and SuperDuper through a partitioned 1 TB Western Digital external drive. I have a simple white desk I bought from IKEA years ago (sorry, can’t remember its name), which makes for a good surface to host an additional Just Mobile Xtand and, occasionally, my Jawbone Jambox. My home network is powered by a terrible modem provided by Telecom Italia, which, fortunately, is slightly improved thanks to Apple’s AirPort Express. The AirPort Express used to be connected to some old external speakers to use with AirPlay and Airfoil, but last week I removed the speakers altogether as I’m planning on buying new ones soon.

The real office is where I spend most of time writing for MacStories. I’ve got a mid-2011 13.3-inch MacBook Air in there, connected to an AirPort Extreme which shares a single IP address from (another) terrible modem, this time from Fastweb. The AirPort Extreme (4th generation, not the latest one) allows for external disks, so I’ve taken advantage of such functionality to connect a 750 GB Western Digital drive for wireless Time Machine backups, and media archiving. I keep all my music, movies, TV shows and photos on that drive. Because the MacBook Air is so portable, I often find myself bringing it home for those times I don’t want to use an iMac (usually when I want to focus on writing a long piece — the Air keeps me more focused on the task). The Jambox travels daily from my home office to the “real” office, too.

Last, my iOS setup consists of an iPhone 4, and iPad 2. I like to keep my iPhone 4 “naked” with no case, whilst the iPad is protected (and propped up) by a polyurethane gray Smart Cover. I use my iPhone as, well, a phone and Internet communicator most of the time, whereas my iPad is mainly a writing and reading device. My girlfriend and I still prefer watching movies on my MacBook Air or, if it’s a really good one, on my Apple TV 2nd-gen, which I also own. I couldn’t live without my daily music dose, and for that I rely on AKG’s K390NC in-ear earphones, Black Mamba version. I like AKG’s noise canceling functionality, and the fact that these earbuds come with an iPhone-compatible mic and music controller also helps. To charge my iPhone, I use a first-generation Apple Dock (in which the iPhone 4 fits nicely) or the Powermat, according to my mood.

Why this rig?

Having to travel back and forth between my office and home, I needed two different setups. For as much as it’s lightweight and extremely portable, I don’t want to carry the MacBook Air with me all the time, nor do I want to see it on the driver’s seat every day. And because my workflow is heavily cloud-based, I can effortlessly switch between my two machines without losing the documents and data I work with. As iCloud approaches, keeping multiple devices in sync all the time is making more sense than ever.

What software do you use and for what do you use it?

With my job, I test and fiddle with too many apps, so I’ll mention the ones that I really couldn’t work without.

  • Dropbox keeps my files, work documents, app libraries and preferences in sync everywhere.
  • Clipmenu is a superb addition to the Mac’s system clipboard that I’ve been using since 2008 on a daily basis.
  • Evernote: is my digital drawer. I store notes, thoughts, links, images, PDF…everything inside the app, and its recent updates both on iOS and OS X made note-taking incredibly better.
  • OmniFocus for task management. I’ve tried almost every “serious” (or you could say, “popular”) GTD-oriented application out there, but I keep coming back to the Omni Group. You just can’t beat it.
  • OmniOutliner for jotting down ideas, structure my thoughts, and track expenses. Combined with DropDAV and Captio (which I use to quickly email expenses to myself on the go), it’s become a must have in my dock.
  • Text Edit and Byword: I write in plain text using Apple’s default app, and proofread / check Markdown in Byword. Plain text files are stored in Dropbox, and accessed from my iPad and iPhone using Notely — again, I’ve tried many “writing apps”, but Notely impressed me for its reliability and customizable keyboard. This combination of tools is used for MacStories articles, not the stuff I keep in Evernote.
  • Spotify lets me listen to music on my Mac and iPhone. I’m trying Rdio this week, but I don’t think I’ll switch.
  • Google Chrome Canary is my default browser. I like Chrome better than Safari as it uses less memory, it’s got terrific support for extensions, pinned tabs, and free Google sync. The Canary build gives me early access to features I’d otherwise have to wait months for.
  • Day One is a new entry, but I’ve fallen in love with it. I’ve never kept a daily journal, and Day One changed that.
  • CloudApp to share images, links and files with my Twitter followers or co-workers.
  • 1Password to securely store logins, credit card information and other private notes. I use AgileBits’ app on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
  • TextExpander for text snippets and automatic expansion because, really, you’d be a fool not to use it if you type a lot every day.
  • Reeder and Mr. Reader to catch up on RSS feeds on my Mac/iPhone and iPad, respectively. I like Mr. Reader because it’s fast and integrated with a lot of services, such as Evernote and Send2Mac.
  • Instapaper is where I keep articles I want to read later. I’ve been using it every day for the past two years, and I can’t wait for version 4.0 to be released.

These are the apps I use more frequently than others. It’s the software I immediately re-install when I set up a new Mac, or iOS device.

How does this setup help you do your best creative work?

I write for a living, and Apple devices combined with the apps I use help me stay focused, connected and secure with a reliable environment I know I can trust. It’s not only about the “it just works” philosophy, it’s “it just works and lasts” for me. I haven’t looked back to Windows PCs since 2008, as switching to a Mac setup has been the best decision I’ve ever made — it got me where I am today.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

It wouldn’t be really different from today’s rig, except for a couple of additions. First, I really want new headphones. I’m torn between Sony’s MDR7506 and Sennheiser’s PX 360 at the moment, but I guess I’ll go with Sennheiser as the brand has served me well over the years. As I said above I also need new external speakers, and the M-Audio Studiophile AV40 look like a good solution. Thunderbolt was a big factor in choosing this year’s MacBook Air model, and I look forward to having a high-speed, relatively affordable external Thunderbolt drive soon (the current offerings are just too expensive and “pro” for me). My last summer vacation taught me that when you work with iOS devices 24/7 battery is never enough, so I’ll buy a JustMobile Gum Plus backup battery soon.

Other than these “accessories”, I’m very happy with my Mac setup.

More Sweet Setups

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

Federico Viticci’s Sweet Mac Setup