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: (comes with OSX): I love 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

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.