Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Nathan Peretic

Nathan Peretic

Co-founder, Cotton Bureau

Posted in clothing, developer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Nathan Peretic. I'm part-owner of Cotton Bureau (an apparel / merch platform for creators) and father of four homeschooled kids. We live just outside Pittsburgh, PA. I'm @nathanperetic on Twitter.

What hardware do you use?

Except for external monitors, I've been using exclusively Apple hardware for the last 10–15 years. It's been an assortment of MacBook Pros, iPads, iPhones and various accessories. Right now, my home setup is a 15" MacBook Pro (2017), LG UltraFine 5K, and Magic Mouse. The laptop + external monitor combination is always a little weird. Where do you put the laptop? The setup I've been running for the last few years is laptop in front, flat on the desk so I can take advantage of the trackpad, monitor raised up to max height directly behind the laptop. No fancy keyboards.

At the office I have a few workstations that I travel between with a 13" MacBook Pro (2017). One is a standing desk, the other seated, both matching the home setup. The desks are IKEA GERTON tabletops, the chairs are all 10-year-old Axia SPACE chairs from back when they were decent. I'm a pretty boring person, so there's really nothing on the desks other than the laptop, monitor, and Magic Mouse + Ugmonk leather mouse pad.

Probably the most interesting part of my current setup is the 11" iPad Pro (2018). It's such a phenomenal piece of hardware. I have a the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple Pencil, and LG UltraFine 4K connected at various times depending on what I am doing.

Oh, I guess I also have an Apple Watch, iPhone 11 Pro, and AirPods (regular and Pro). The Watch is a Series 3, which I have somehow managed to shatter 4–5 times. They really should not have shipped that exact design. It seems exceptionally fragile on the curved part of the glass. The iPhone is total overkill at this point for everything other than photography and 4K60 video. Everyone knows this now, but AirPods are incredible. The idea of AirPods would have been in my dream setup wishlist a few years ago.

For gaming, I have two Xboxes, two Nintendo Switches, and buckets of peripherals (including my pride and joy Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2), components, and older hardware. Nothing special on the TV side, just a whatever Vizio 4K HDR. Waiting on OLED to be ready, or maybe I should invest in a TV with lower latency for gaming..

And what software?

My work life is basically split into two types of tasks: writing emails and writing code. When I'm wearing my business owner hat, I juggle Slack, Gmail, Google Sheets, Dropbox (and Dropbox Paper), and Flow. I like MailPlane to open and close email easily while keeping the native Gmail experience. I've been using Gmail since it launched on April Fools' Day, so I'm pretty attached to the exact way their keyboard shortcuts, labels, and threads work. All of these apps were amazing once upon a time. Now they are just kind of business as usual and often more frustrating than they are delightful. So it goes.

When I have time to work on the website, I open most of the usual suspects from a front-end web developer's toolbox. Right now, that means Visual Studio Code, Sequel Pro, Hyper, and Fork. I'm usually willing to try any new tool, so VS Code and Fork have only entered the rotation in the last year. I am trying to use Mackup more as well to keep my various machines in sync.

What would be your dream setup?

I have almost no complaints on the hardware side. I guess I would upgrade all my monitors to Apple Pro Displays. It would be nice to have a motorized desk. I've heard good things about more ergonomic chairs. Looking forward to a 14" MacBook Pro when it eventually comes out.

Software seems to be stuck in a perpetual cycle of change—and not all for the better. Most applications I use are broken in small, irritating ways. Hardware that was perfectly good a few years ago ends up being slow and unusable from forced updates. New features tend to prioritize novelty or are only half-baked. The network is the biggest bottleneck 99 times out of 100. That said, I'm optimistic about the future in general and the future of iOS / iPadOS and just-in-time AI in particular. The theory of iPadOS is the best of all worlds: security, performance, capability, ecosystem. The reality is a Frankenstein's monster of incredible power and stiff lurching. Virtual assistants like Siri and applied pattern matching in vehicles, etc. have so much potential. My dream setup would be to fast-forward five or 10 years to an all ARM, touch-friendly, AI-enabled future that ironed out all the awkward bits. I suppose though by the time we all get there new envelope-pushing decisions will leave us equally unsatisfied. That's the price we pay for progress.

Ultimately, my dream setup ping pongs between imagining how all the problems I deal with on a daily basis could be solved by more technology (managing a fleet of family devices, automating the house, keeping files perfectly backed up and in sync) and wondering if we all wouldn't be better off with a little (or a lot) less technology in our lives. Every solution seems to bring its own burden of maintenance, misunderstanding, and malfeasance. The thing about dreams is that they supercharge some aspects while ignoring others completely. What I have today is a weird version of what I would have dreamed of having 10 years ago. We'll just have to see what the future brings.

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