The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

Colin Dismuke

Colin Dismuke

Ocean engineer (Delmar Systems)

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Colin Dismuke, I live in Houston, TX, and I’m currently an ocean engineer at Delmar Systems where I help design, analyze, and install mooring systems, among other things. Recently, work has taken me back and forth to Australia half a dozen times so I've become a bit of a travel enthusiast. At home, I'm either training for a race (sometimes triathlons but mostly half marathons) or taking photographs with my wife.

What hardware do you use?

Since we're a Windows only engineering firm I use a Latitude E6230 with a 12.5-inch screen, 2.9 GHz i7 CPU, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD running 64-bit Windows 7. It's not the most powerful machine but it runs very smoothly and is more than enough when I'm on a plane or offshore. When I'm at my desk in Houston, the laptop is connected to a 27-inch Dell LED monitor and Bose Companion 5 speakers. In addition to the regular backups on our company servers, I have an encrypted 1TB Silicon Power Shock/Waterproof external hard drive that's incredibly durable and fast. To stay comfortable I sit in an Aeron Chair although I'm considering some type of arrangement that would allow me to stand for part of the day.

Each time I travel I try to remove anything that wasn't used or useful on the previous trip. At this point I can fit everything I need for two weeks in Australia/offshore in a GoRuck GR1 and a small North Face Base Camp Duffel. It may be more efficient to use a hard roller suitcase, however, when traveling by helicopter to an offshore platform it's usually mandatory that your bag be soft on all sides. The real key to magically effective packing though are the various Eagle Creek packing cubes that fit inside the aforementioned bags. Not only do they allow for much denser packing they also keep your clothes, toiletries, and cables much more organized.

At home, almost all hardware is Apple-made not only because I find it to be better designed (both hardware and software), but because it streamlines my process of moving different media around to the various devices in the house. My main computer is a late-2009 27-inch iMac with a 2.66 GHz Core i5 CPU, 12 GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. Everything is backed up to a 3TB Seagate Backup Plus and a newly acquired Space Monkey. If portability and power is necessary we have a mid-2010 MacBook Pro with a 2.4 GHz Core i5 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB hard drive. Otherwise, my 64 GB iPad Mini with Retina display and 32 GB Space Gray iPhone 5S go with me wherever I go. I find that more and more often much of what I do at home and at work can be accomplished on my iPad which, even five years ago, would have been hard to believe.

When my wife and I are taking photographs, mostly for pleasure but sometimes as a service, we use two cameras. I usually shoot with a D800 and Series E 50-mm 1:1.8 lens. The lens was manufactured in the early 80's and lacks the features of more modern lenses, however, I love the image quality and have grown to prefer the manual operation of the lens. When autofocus or image stabilization is needed we use a D90 and a AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-200mm lens.

And what software?

There are two main applications that I use when working on mooring design projects: ANSYS AQWA/Workbench and Orcaflex. Workbench is used to create meshes of new models that were designed in Solidworks. Workbench is a very powerful program that makes it possible to intergrate many ANSYS products into one interface, however, we simply export the meshed model as a text file of nodes and elements. From there Sublime Text, the Windows Command Prompt, and Excel are used alongside our in-house software to perform the mooring analysis and design in AQWA. Orcaflex provides a more visual interface and is used for various projects.

Most of the other software that I run at work is used to increase efficiency. Breevy is used for text expansion, Launchy as an application launcher, Dexpot for creating multiple desktops, WinSplit Revolution for window management, and Greenshot for taking quick screenshots and outputting them to various sources. I use Chrome for browsing.

At home Aperture is used for photo management and most image manipulation. When more advanced photo editing is needed then images get opened in Pixelmator. Alfred is my application launcher of choice among many other things and Divvy is used for window management. In addition, BackBlaze runs periodically to provide yet another backup. I use Tweetbot for Mac and Rdio for listening to music.

Across both platforms I use Dropbox to keep everything in sync, f.lux to adjust the brightness and temperature of all my displays, and 1Password for password management.

As far as mobile platforms go, on the iPad I use Calendars 5 to schedule appointments and reminders, MindNode for taking notes or brainstorming for a project, Paper for explaining ideas or quick sketches, and PDF Expert for reading papers or journal articles. For almost any non-work related writing I use Byword since it works flawlessly across the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. During the day I usually have Status Board open to show me the time in various time zones, tweets, emails, and a few other personal metrics.

On the iPhone I use Pocket Casts for listening to podcasts because of its reliability and overall design, Weather Line for checking the weather, Drafts for short notes that might need to be used elsewhere, and Fantastical. I've been very impressed with VSCO Cam over the past few months. When offshore it's usually much easier and safer to pull out an iPhone than to carry around a DSLR (which are sometimes against rig regulations). Two great travel apps that I've used over the past year are FlightTrack 5 and Banca.

Finally, there's a long list of apps that are synced across both the iPhone and iPad. Clear for lists, Tweetbot, Instapaper, Omnifocus, 1Password, Reeder, Rdio, and Hangouts for chatting.

What would be your dream setup?

A new Mac Pro powering dual Retina displays and the ability to run ANSYS software natively on OS X. Oh, and some type of teleportation that would allow me to travel to Australia sans 26-hour plane ride.

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