My Setup

May 25th, 2008

I like discussing what I use to get work done, and it is a slow Sunday afternoon, so why not. If you are at all interested in seeing what my setup looks like, here’s your chance.


From December 2005 to March 2008, I owned, and thoroughly enjoyed, a last revision 15″ Powerbook with 1GB of RAM and a 7,200 RPM hard drive. It was my first Mac, and it was simply the best computer I have ever owned.

After almost two and a half years, though, it was showing its age, especially after upgrading to Leopard in October 2007. It was slow, the battery (its second) was wearing out, and I was eager to upgrade to an Intel-based Mac. So after saving for quite a while (I am, after all, just a college student), I bought a Macbook Air at the end of March.

My reasoning was this: while the Macbooks are certainly sufficient for me, I love the Pro’s aluminum enclosure. They do not fade or warp with time, are strong, are easy to clean, and are not affected by skin oil as much as the Macbook’s plastic case.

Moreover, being a student and a freelance web designer, I don’t need a Macbook Pro’s power. What I do need, however, is mobility. I need to be able to effortlessly bring my notebook with me to class, the library, or a coffee shop for meetings with clients. It needs to be as easy to carry as a regular paper notebook, and that’s exactly what the Macbook Air is.

The Macbook Air is the perfect choice: it’s light and incredibly thin, yet has an excellent screen and keyboard, and a sufficient processor.

I use it every day as my primary computer, and it works brilliantly. It is faster than my Powerbook in everything except graphic-intensive work, and the keyboard is as good as my Powerbook’s, which was the best keyboard I have ever used.


I love the flexibility. I love doing work at my desk one minute, and then simply grabbing my Macbook Air and walking to the library the next. If I am bringing books with me, it only adds three pounds to my bag, or two and a half less than my Powerbook did.

As you can see in the picture, I also own an iPhone, which I got at launch in 2007.


Paradoxically, new Mac owners decide to still suffer under Microsoft Office when Apple offers a nice alternative. I have never used Microsoft Office as my default productivity suite on my Macs, and I never will. I have used iWork all along.

Pages 2008 is a great word processor, especially for long papers. Making paper-wide style changes, like changing the body font or text size, requires making only one change, instead of doing it by hand across the entire paper.

Keynote is the biggest reason to use iWork, though. Compared to Powerpoint, it is actually enjoyable to use, and it is much easier to make good looking slides (not necessarily any easier to make a good presentation — that is dependent on the person making them, not the app).

I also use Numbers for my accounting class, which produces much nicer looking spreadsheets than Excel with little effort.

For web design, I use Coda. It’s a great application — well designed, and easy to use. Having HTML/CSS/everything else editing, FTP upload, and previewing all built into one app not only cleans up my workflow, but makes me more efficient, too.

For email, I use Gmail and; for RSS feed reading, I use NewsFire, although I may experiment with NetNewsWire.

I use Safari 3 for web browsing because I enjoy its minimalist interface, and Firefox bugs the hell out of me on OS X.


Nothing special. It’s a nice darkwood desk, which I try to keep clear of clutter. I have a had habit of using my desk for storage because my room is small, but I can’t do work when it is a mess.

My favorite part, though, is the embroidery on my shelf. I got it while I was in China, and it is an incredible piece of work. Besides being nice to look at, it is always motivating to see it.