Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Joanne McNeil

Joanne McNeil

Writer, editor

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Joanne McNeil. I'm a writer and editor. You can read some of my essays here: joannemcneil.com. I also just started a blog called Internet of Dreams.

What hardware do you use?

I'm writing this on my trusty unibody Macbook, which I got early in 2009 before they were all MBPs. It has survived about 900 battery cycles, so soon I'm going to need to decide whether to replace the battery or get an Air instead. It is typically carried in a custom satchel from Aixa Sobin, who sells amazing bags and cases outside Balthazar in New York.

I'm hardly ever without my Keyboard Kindle. I use it to check email abroad (always gets a laugh when I pull it out at a bar for this purpose. When you are typing on the keyboard it seems like a total 80s calculator-punk device, like if a smartphone had a rotary dial on it.)

Phone is an iPhone 4, which I got six weeks before the 4S hit stores because my 3GS shattered beyond repair (more on that here.) I'd like to live more dangerously and carry it case-less, but I am clumsy and also the case is now my secret hiding place for various paper treasures like ticket stubs, a nine year old bartender's business card, and an Amelia Earhart puzzle crackerjack prize.

I also read physical objects and nothing makes me quite as happy as marking the cover of a new Moleskine notebook with silver sharpie.

And what software?

TextEdit for first drafts and to do lists. I'm working on a book at the moment and Scrivener is really as magnificent as everyone says. I wish I'd downloaded this years ago. I thought formatting the proposal would be an endless hassle, but instead I had something ready to submit immediately.

Calibre for turning epubs and pdfs into mobi files. Google Earth for "sightseeing." I still have MarsEdit on my dock though I haven't had a personal blog in a while. I edit Nostalgia for the Net podcasts with Audacity. YoruFukurou for Twitter. Browser is Chrome (the OneTab extension is wonderful.) Also Skitch, VLC, Dropbox, and Spotify, of course. I'm probably forgetting some other things, but really my day-to-day is usually typing & surfing.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd like it if my bedroom walls were touch screens with Google Sky rotating slowly at random at night. Touch screen tiles in my shower to check the weather. Touch screen barrettes in my hair. A touch screen kitchen table for browsing Tumblr with my morning coffee (the coffee cup is also a touch screen, and I'm using it to Skype with my friend in Japan...)

Honestly, I would like a treadputer. I get all my good ideas when I go for a walk. But I travel around so much that any kind of desk setup is too much commitment. A Roomba would also be nice, although I don't have an apartment where a Roomba would make sense.

Evernote, DEVONthink, and the like have never worked for me, but I would love a visually interesting program to hold all my Pinboard saves, all the notes I email myself, and everything I bookmark on Google Reader (or whatever I end up choosing to as a replacement.) If it had stats on things like keyword frequency, even better.