by

Tools Are Cool

(This is a post in response to Jon Jones, smArtist for hire’s technolusty blog post from yesterday.)

Hi, I’m Scott, I’m a technoweenie.

I try to keep everything pretty simple… my primary “work” machine is my Macbook Pro. I’ve used it for years now, and now that I’m at a workplace that doesn’t freak out when I bring my own machine in for work, I can use it as my primary work machine yet again. I have years’ worth of handy OSX applications so it really is a force multiplier. And because it’s OSX and not Windows it actually, you know, rarely crashes or goes down. See?

Mmm, delicious uptime goodness.

And for toting it between work and home, I have a docking station set up at both places so I can just drop the laptop into the dock and fwoomf, I’m up.

So why am I such a fervent Machead? Because it has stuff that works, generally far more efficiently and elegantly than Windows equivalents, and having stuff that works makes me look smarter. Apps that see regular use while I work:

Mail.app (comes with OSX): I love Mail.app. It just works, and allows me to search years’ worth of email in seconds. Couldn’t live without it, and I haven’t found anything as just-work-ish on Windows. Sometimes I get seduced by some feature in Postbox, but I always come back to Mail.app.

Excel: The OSX marketplace for spreadsheet applications is pretty limited. Apple’s version, Numbers, isn’t good enough for serious work. Excel for the Mac is functionally equivalent to the Windows version. Some things you’ll never escape.

Keynote: Why I originally bought my Mac – I blame Trey Ratcliff for this one, he made Keynote presentations that were things of painful beauty. Once you use Keynote, you’ll never use Powerpoint again.

WriteRoom: One of the hardest things to do is to concentrate on just writing. At least for me. (It’s also why I work better on OSX. People tell me “Oh, there’s no games on that!” Well, yes. I have a gaming machine for that. No games is a *plus*.) WriteRoom is the best of the minimal text editors – you can easily just focus on writing and hide everything else.

Eclipse: Eclipse is the Swiss Army Knife of code editors. Open source, cross platform (it runs in Java but still runs fairly well on modern machines) and generally is the best at what it does. Except for web page editing. For that I have:

Coda: the best web page editor on any platform.

Pixelmator: I’ve just started switching to this from Photoshop, which I’m more than a few versions behind on. Pixelmator is affordable for normal people and eminently usable for image manipulation.

Balsamiq Mockups: Another cross-platform app (using Adobe Air), this does one thing and does it very well – it helps you quickly kick out user interface prototypes. Among other handy features, it creates everything in Comic Sans font just to make clear to everyone THIS IS A PROTOTYPE DO NOT USE THIS IN A SHIPPING PRODUCT FOR THE PUBLIC. Seriously if you use Comic Sans in anything public-facing I will hurt you.

That covers most things I use on a close-to-daily basis. I have a Windows desktop at work for tool-chain related things (yes occasionally I must work with other people) and an iPad which I use mostly to take notes and read newspapers (only half of which is work related). But my MBP is my baby. DON’T TAKE MY BABY.

  • Jeff Stevens

    Good post, Scott, thanks for sharing what works for you.  

    Shame your uptime is so low.  My work PC (Windows 7) is 42 days.  🙂

  • Emacs is the original Swiss army knife of code editors. 🙂

  • Carson Wilson

    What’s that fancy docking station you’re using? Is there a Macbook Air equivalent? 

  • Wow what an awesome dock.  I, too, am very curious what model that is and how well it handles heat.  Can you basically leave it in that and run the machine for many hours on end?

    Thanks, also, for the list of some of the programs you use, I’m going to check a couple of them out.

  • The dock in question: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003VV7QNY/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details

    Some assembly required, which is why it has some blistering reviews from people who can’t assemble things. Air circulation is fine, I leave it running constantly.

  • Moorgard

    I use a Mead notebook and a #2 pencil. If I have a need to do anything electronically, such as replying on your blog, I have my manservant Shwayder do it for me.

  • Ashen

    I’m sorry, you might be trying hard with a post like this, but you still aren’t getting a Mac snob certificate with a messy desk with cables all over it, not to mention a mismatched monitor and hints of a PS3 in the background. That’s just not stylish enough.

  • A Man In Black

    Achewood is updating again, by the by.

  • VPellen

    HIPSTERRRRRRRRRRRR

  • Sinij

    I find it ironic that anyone in _PC gaming_ industry would use MAC for any purpose.

    • A Man In Black

      I still find it ironic that anyone in the AUTOMOBILE REPAIR INDUSTRY would use a forklift or towtruck for any purpose.

  • Boanerges

    I actually prefer Netbeans now (leaps and bounds better than Dreamweaver) and I’m surprised you don’t use it, considering it has deep roots in Eclipse. Oh, and it’s free.

  • Grentfie

    I have very much enjoyed the switch from Eclipse to Netbeans.

  • serlev

    I was forced to use Eclipse for one job, one time, years ago.  I’ve never seen a development environment run so slow in all my life.  Visual Studio dances circles around that thing.

  • Some Mac apps I rely upon on a daily (or could/will) basis:

    * Cyberduck – not so frequently, since I live in CLI / git environment, but for those who like to do their file transferring via GUI
    * Dictionary
    * Echofon Lite – Twitter client, can drive entirely by keyboard
    * MacVim
    * Scrivener – word processing, powerful book/manuscript editing, need to learn better in 2012…
    * Skitch – capturing screen shots, and scribbling on top of them, plus some rudimentary image manipulation functions
    * Terminal
    * Textmate

  • Sausa

    WriteRoom is friggin’ A1, but good God, Lum, stow up those cables.

  • John Smith

    lum doesnt code to stow cables, HE CODES TO CRUSH.

  • Scatch Maroo

    I am completely dependent on Outlook (2010) because of the integrated tasklist with e-mail: I need to be able to categorize my tasks as well as sort them by due date.  But it’s an absolute critical function…

    Anyone recommend a solution so I could begin using my own Mac for work?