The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

John Gruber

Photo by George Del Barrio.

John Gruber

Writer (Daring Fireball)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm John Gruber. I write a web site called Daring Fireball. A few years ago I created Markdown.

What hardware do you use?

My sole work computer is a 15-inch 2.5 GHz MacBook Pro with 4 GB of RAM and a 250 GB hard drive. I got it in March 2008, so it's not one of the new ones with the black keyboard. Mine has a matte display. At my desk in my office, I connect it to a 20-inch Apple Cinema Display, Harmon Kardon SoundSticks, and an Apple Extended Keyboard II (by way of a Griffin iMate ADB-to-USB adapter).

I own a 16 GB iPhone 3G that I have with me whenever I expect to remain dry.

Miscellaneous other hardware that might qualify as work-related, roughly in order of how much affection I have for it: a Ricoh GR-D point-and-shoot camera; a Canon Rebel XT DSLR, with 28mm and 50mm f/1.8 prime lenses; a Flip Ultra pocket video camera; a Kodak Zi6 pocket video camera; a pair of 250 GB Lacie hard drives I use for backing up my internal MacBook Pro drive on a rotating basis; a 1 TB G-Tech G-Raid2 for video storage; an Apple Time Capsule which serves as both a Wi-Fi base station and a lame but convenient server; a 10-year-old Logitech mouse; and a Kensington 7-port USB hub.

I carry a paper notebook and pen with me everywhere. Currently: an unlined soft cover Moleskine and a 0.38mm Uni-ball Signo RT (black).

And what software?

On my Mac, again roughly in order of affection: Yojimbo for storing and tagging notes, bookmarks, passwords, and etc. -- at this writing I have 4,675 items in my Yojimbo library. BBEdit for writing and coding. After several years of switching back and forth between Quicksilver and LaunchBar every few weeks, I settled on LaunchBar about a year ago. NetNewsWire for feed reading. My main web browser is the nightly build of WebKit. BusySync is a wonderful tool for sharing iCal calendars with my wife. If Twitter counts as work-related, and I suppose it does insofar as I often find stuff to link to from it, Twitterrific. Script Debugger for AppleScript scripting. Numbers for spreadsheets and the occasional graph. Every night I use SuperDuper to clone my MacBook Pro's internal drive to one of the two aforementioned Lacie hard drives. Sound Studio for podcast recording.

I use MarsEdit for posting articles and links to Daring Fireball. TypeIt4Me for system-wide text snippet expansion. DragThing for a system-wide drag-and-drop shelf. ExpanDrive for SFTP. Keynote for the one or two speaking gigs I accept each year. Acorn for simple image editing, Photoshop CS1 for non-simple image editing and design. (Photoshop is the first app I've listed which I'm not using the latest version of.) I use Apple Mail for email, along with SpamSieve.

I use both FastScripts and Keyboard Maestro for executing scripts and macros I've created to automate frequent tasks. I have a handful of custom system-wide Services menu items I created using ThisService, which lets you creates services from simple AppleScript and shell scripts. I started using Dropbox recently, but because I spend nearly all my time on a single computer, I don't seem to use it much. For tracking tasks, I use a baffling, embarrassing mish-mash of OmniOutliner Pro, Things, and, for the past week, Potion Factory's just-hit-beta The Hit List. Using more than one piece of software for this is madness, but there are things I both like and dislike very much about all three of these apps.

On my iPhone: Tweetie, Things, Instapaper, and NetNewsWire. (And MobileSafari and MobileMail, of course.)

Server-side, Daring Fireball runs Movable Type, but, in the words of Han Solo, I've made a lot of special modifications myself. Not the least of which is Markdown, which I use for everything I write. Six Apart offers a very nice "iMT" plugin for Movable Type which provides an iPhone-optimized web interface.

What would be your dream setup?

The only software I'm dissatisfied with are the aforementioned plethora of task managers.

Hardware-wise, a 30-inch display and a Canon 5D Mark II would be nice.

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