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Casual Friday: A Web Geek’s Hardware/Software Setup Revisited

About a year ago, I wrote a post detailing what hardware and software I use on a daily basis, a la The Setup’s format. I know I never tire of knowing what fellow geeks are using to be productive. Perhaps you’re the same. If so, you’re in luck. Here’s my updated setup.

My big takeaway, which hit me as I wrote this: it’s amazing how much changes in a year.

What hardware are you using?

In the office, I use a 27“ iMac running a quad-core Intel i7 clocked at 3.4 GHz. It’s a monster, sporting 16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD boot drive, and a 1 TB SATA data/scratch drive. I have a giant, loud, hulking Das Keyboard Professional Model S for text entry, seeing how I do an absolute ton of it. I also have a second Apple 27” display attached to this iMac, and I’m pretty certain that if NASA called me today and said hey, run our space program, I could without having to change much. This setup is pretty much my dream rig.

At home, I donated my old 2008 MacBook Pro and moved to an iMac 27″ for heavy lifting (quad-core i5, 12 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA for storage, http://www.directics.com/altera-fpga/). Heavy lifting here means photo and video editing, mainly. It too has a monolithic Das Keyboard chained to it, and while I hate the looks, the writing purist in me appreciates its tactile feel and obnoxiously loud noise.

Mobile computing gets a bit messy for me. I have an 11″ MacBook Air, which I consider an iPad Pro, and I love it to death. This makes my new iPad (or iPad 3, as many mistakenly call it) a bit of an outlier, because I split time between the MBA and the iPad. If I had to choose only one, today it would narrowly be the MBA. Over time, however, I think we’ll see the most innovation with iOS.

Because three Macs and an iPad aren’t enough, I have an iPhone 4S, which almost never leaves my side. My main gripe about it is the AT&T service, which I swear will change when the new iPhone 5 (or whatever it’ll be called) comes out, at which point I will jump to Verizon’s LTE and never look back.

So what software do you use?

I still run Google Chrome almost exclusively, and have very few problems with it – it’s a great piece of software. When I do need a second browser, I use Safari. As I write this, I have 32 tabs open.

For longform writing, I do most everything these days in Byword, using Markdown formatting for plain text. (All my writing these days is plain text, because I will never need to worry about being beholden to a certain app or rich-text formatting data structure in the future). When I’m done writing for the web, I export the HTML out of Byword and slap it into whatever CMS I’m using.

For mail, I am still a giant, swooning Gmail nerd. To me, using older clients like Outlook our Entourage just grinds me, and I’m not productive in them. Gmail has ruined email for me – in a good way.

For photo work, I use either Lightroom 4 or Aperture 3. I would like to settle on one, but I am trying them both out to see which best fits my needs. So far, I think I like Lightroom 4 best. Aperture, while having Photostream support and being much more ‘Apple’, is slower and uses a ton of RAM. Plus, Lightroom’s noise reduction is phenomenal, even when working with OOC JPEGs.

For video, I use Apple’s Final Cut Pro X. It’s a heavyweight, but if you can get past the learning curve, it can do almost everything you ask of it.

I said before I would die without Dropbox, and I stand by that. I use it daily.

For capturing the random thoughts that pass through my head, I use Captio to send an email to myself, or, if I have more time, Simplenote. From there, many to-dos go directly to my Fantastical calendar, or my iPhone’s Reminders app.

For taking pictures, I mainly use an Olympus OM-D EM–5 micro 4/3 camera with a prime lens (either the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 or the Olympus 45mm f/1.8), and it’s fantastic. If anything heralds the demise of giant, slapping, mirror-box DSLRs, it’s pro small form factor cameras like the OM-D.

For social media monitoring, I use Hootsuite. Yes, I pay for it, and yes, it’s worth it. For general web bookmarking for things I find interesting or want to save for later, I cannot recommend Pinboard enough.

What would be your dream setup?

A year ago, I said I would like a quad-core iMac with oceans of RAM and storage. I pretty much have that now, so all I’m missing is a search engine for my brain. Because I’m 43 and sometimes forget to wear pants. You know.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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  1. […] Friday, I detailed my general computing setup so that those of you who like to see what other geeks use to get things done could enjoy some […]

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