The Setup

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Nicole Jones

Nicole Jones

Writer, editor (Facebook)

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, I'm Nicole Jones. I'm a writer and editor in San Francisco. You can read some of my work at swellcontent.com.

I'm a content strategist at Facebook. Right now, I'm focused on Facebook Timeline and what we call the Open Graph. I also make Born Hungry, an online magazine for home cooks.

I spend a lot of time reading, taking photographs, and staring at the sea. You can keep up with me at nicoleslaw.com.

What hardware do you use?

I have two 13" MacBook Airs - one from work and one that I got before starting at Facebook. I switch between them and usually leave my personal machine at home. At work, I have a sweet standing desk with an Apple Thunderbolt Display, wired Apple keyboard, and corded Logitech mouse.

My phone's a 16GB iPhone 4S, with a black Snap Case from a few years ago. InCase makes great cases, so I've stuck with them since the original iPhone.

For ebooks and really long articles, I read with a Kindle Touch. It's slow and uncool, but I love reading with it, because I can pump the text up really big. I tried the iPad 3, but I couldn't get over the justified text and tiny font choices. I'm not reading a print book - so why should I have to squint like I am? When I'm not using my Kindle, I keep it in a felt case from Old Calgary.

For notes and sketching, I carry a few different notebooks. Right now, I have a couple from Field Notes and Moleskine, but I also buy random ones whenever I see them. I love thinking onto a whiteboard, so notebooks are indispensable for keeping track of ideas from meetings and walks around the city. I usually carry a few black ballpoint Pilot pens. I like how they feel in my hand and they don't bleed like some of the other ones I've tried.

My stuff fits nicely in my waxed canvas Sketchbook backpack. Amber Jensen's a rad bagmaker out of Oregon... I saw this red roll-top bag a few times before getting it at Press Works on Paper in SF. It doesn't look like she's making it anymore, but I bet the other ones are just as awesome.

I have two cameras: a Fuji FinePix X100 and an older Nikon D80 with a couple of Nikkor lenses (50mm f1.4 and 18-35mm f3.5). I have a bunch of film cameras, but I'm only shooting digital these days. I carry the DSLR around in an old Domke shoulder bag. The X100 goes on my shoulder with a handmade strap from Hong Kong.

My stereo setup is pretty basic, but it works for me: Bose AE2 over-ear headphones that never give me a headache when I'm wearing my glasses, a set of Sony bookshelf speakers, a Sony turntable and an Apple AirPort Express for music over my Wi-Fi network. I sold all of my CDs years ago, so I just listen to LPs and mp3s these days.

It wouldn't be a proper interview if I didn't mention my cooking and surf gear. In the kitchen, I don't have too many gadgets, but I love my All-Clad pans. I inherited a few of them and received a couple more as holiday gifts. They cook evenly and are super easy to clean. For dishware, I'm only eating off of Heath at home now. I spent a lot of time replacing cheap stuff over the years, so I finally decided to invest in the real deal. It's such a treat to cook for yourself and eat on a plate you love holding - especially for me, since I have to hand-wash everything in my tiny kitchen. I have a few bowls and plates from the Coupe line. They're not cheap, but they're classic and I can add to them in the future. Also, if you've ever thought about getting a Vitamix, I finally did - and it's a dream for making smoothies, sauces, nut milks, and pesto. You'll never need another blender. I don't even bother putting it away.

When I'm surfing, I ride a custom two-toned 9'1" Almond Lumberjack with a mahogany fin. I hauled it up here from Newport Beach. It's a wavecatching machine, except at Ocean Beach, where the waves are big enough to break both of us. I usually take it down to Pacifica or Santa Cruz for a smoother ride. I have a front-zip Patagonia R3 wetsuit, which is warm and lovely, but hard to get on and off. I wish they'd make a back-zip for women, but I think they assume women don't really surf in cold water. Grumble grumble. And it's super nerdy, but my waterproof cinch sack has saved my life a few times.

And what software?

My personal machine runs Mac OS X Lion; my work machine's on Mountain Lion now. I'm still struggling to accept the junk Apple keeps adding to OS X. I worked there for five years, so I'm trying to keep the faith...

Dropbox syncs my files across my different Apple devices. iCloud takes care of my contacts and notes. I use a couple of accounts from Google for mail, calendars, and sharing docs. I read and reply to email in Apple Mail.

For chat, I've moved to using Facebook Messenger way more than I expected to. I used to rely on iChat (or is it iMessage?), Colloquy, and Skype for that, but I'm a total convert with Messenger. It's super fast and lets you switch from mobile to web and back again without a hitch. It helps that most of my friends and all of my coworkers use it, too.

I use a few different apps for writing: TextMate for editing strings and coding, Pages for client-style documents and marketing copy, and iA Writer for everything else. I'd be lying if I said I never open Word, but that's only to edit things other people send me.

I'm still stuck on Safari after all these years. I send articles to Pocket and Reading.am and subscribe to feeds in Reeder. My book highlights and recommendations sync to Readmill from my Kindle. And though I'm weaning myself off of Twitter, I still rely on Tweetbot for a sane reading experience. Most of these apps talk to each other through bookmarklets and sharing links, which means my reading pile is always overflowing.

For diagrams and mock-ups, I use OmniGraffle and Keynote, depending on what I'm making. Keynote's super helpful for seeing how a small text change will affect part of an interface before it goes live.

I'm more into taking photos than editing them, but I use a few different apps for images. I use Preview for viewing and minor editing, Pixelmator for fixing levels, Flickr and Facebook for photosharing, and Little Snapper for full-page screenshots.

1Password is my password savior, and Transmit handles FTP for my WordPress sites.

The Voice Memos app is a secret favorite of mine. I use it to record talks, interviews, concerts, beach sounds, mountain streams, and personal memos. It's great for sending an audio note to someone you love in an email.

Except for a few Beirut albums on my iPod, I've almost entirely abandoned iTunes for Rdio. My backlog of Radiolab, 99% Invisible, and This American Life episodes are now in Instacast.

And last but not least, I put private thoughts and random memories into Day One.

What would be your dream setup?

Ideally, I'd have a one-bedroom apartment with a small studio space overlooking the sea. I'm dreaming of a real desk, a real chair, and a shiny new iMac. These days, I write at my old, French kitchen table. It does the trick, but it's not the best height and it's in the middle of my tiny, noisy apartment.

Since we're fantasizing, I'd have a Leica M with a couple of lenses. Wall to wall bookcases. Lindsey Adelman lighting in every room. A little Sunfish sailboat in the yard and a point break down the road.

For serious though, I'd love to spend less time thinking about email and more time reading. I'm not sure how to simplify my email setup, but it's definitely a headache for me these days. I can't wait until ereaders break away from imitating print books and move into their own. I'm already pretty spoiled with these bits and bobs talking to each other - we're not too far off now.

Overall, I'd like things to be simpler and more spacious.

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