Michael Lopp

Michael Lopp

Engineering manager, reposer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a Silicon Valley-based engineering manager who has worked at companies like Apple, Netscape, and Borland. When I'm not working, I write at randsinrepose.com. Topics vary wildly from management, to understanding nerds, to my deep fascination for the quest for the perfect pen. I also write books.

What hardware do you use?

I'm wrestling with identifying my primary machine because I've become increasingly mobile in the last year, so let's call my two setups: the coffee shop rig and the home rig.

My coffee shop rig is 15-inch MacBook Pro. 2.8Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of memory. I had a MacBook Air, but while sexy on airplanes, I always felt like I was going to bend it. The Pro feels like aluminum brick that is comfortable traveling anywhere on the planet. This machine is never plugged into anything except the charger -- it's my mobile play.

My mobile set-up follows me around in a Johnson & Murphy messenger bag that is perfect for getting around the Valley and is wearing well. If I'm traveling elsewhere on the planet, I have a Tumi bag which is ugly, but affords me more space for long haul travel accessories.

My home rig is a Mac Pro 2 x 2.8Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon with 4 GB of memory. Man, I need more memory for this sucker. Attached to this beast are two 30 inch flat panel monitors which is a stunning amount of pixels. Prior to this monitor configuration, I had a 30 inch in landscape and 23 inch flat panel in portrait -- I miss this set-up.

For typing, I use the latest Apple aluminum keyboard. I miss the clickity-clack of my older keyboards less every day. For mousing, I use the Logitech Performance Mouse MX because it feels great in my hand and has the best scroll wheel I've found.

I depend on my iPhone 4 for email triage, texting, and snapshots. If I'm busting a photography move, I have a Panasonic DMC-LX3 which provides lovely 16:9 shots, but the lens is too fucking big for my pocket.

I religiously use the .5 Zebra Sarasa gel pen to write all things, I write in ALL CAPS, and I collect bells.

And what software?

I'm a Mac OS X nerd and have been so for the past eight years. I'm a LaunchBar guy. Any time I have to touch the mouse, I feel inefficient.

For information consumption and tracking, I've recently moved to Chrome because of the blazing speed, but also because it felt like it was time to escape the Cone of Kool-Aid that is Apple to see what the rest of the world was doing. I fall in love with newsreaders like I fall in love with productivity systems. The love affair lasts for three weeks and then I move back to reading via Tab Groups and keeping track of my day on a piece of paper. There's an important lesson about human nature for both application domains that is going to make someone a pile of money. If I had to commit to a newsreader, it'd be NetNewsWire. If I had to commit to a productivity application, it'd be Things.

For writing first drafts, I use TextEdit and have done so for the writing of two books. I've tried a variety of different writing applications, but they always distract me from doing what I love which is writing. For subsequent drafts and editing, I end up in Microsoft Word which pisses me off.

For most coding tasks, TextMate is just fine. Like LaunchBar, I'm certain TextMate could make my life easier than it already does if I took a few hours to poke around under the hood, but I'm writing more words than code these days.

For presentations, I love, absolutely love, Keynote. In my opinion, if you want to see the pinnacle of Apple application design, spend some time in Keynote. The application effortlessly moves from a lightweight prototyping tool to hardcore presentation development. The complete lifecycle of most presentations is entirely in Keynote.

When I dive into website development, the toolbox contains: CSSEdit, TextMate, Transmit 3, and Photoshop CS3.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream set-up is full of contradictions. I don't believe it's possible to have enough pixels, but I often find maximum productivity when I'm shoved into the 1440x900 resolution of the MacBook Pro. I want my software to have as much flexibility as I need at that precise moment and I swear loudly when it does not. I think touching your screen is a messy business, but, apparently, I can't stop doing it.

I do a little dance when Steve Jobs successfully removes another wire from under my desk.

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