My 2012 Mac Setup

Back in 2009, my setup was featured on Shawn Blanc’s website. Back then, I was running an Apple-Authorized Service Provider, only had one kid and used a desk I didn’t build with my own hands. In the last three years, my computing needs at home and at work have changed, I’ve changed jobs, had a second kid, bought a house and built a desk. Seems like it’s time to re-visit that old article.


Since February 2010, I’ve worked as the IT/Multimedia Director for the Salvation Army Kroc Center here in Memphis. I joke that anything involving pixels or electrons passes through my department of four. I oversee all of the audio/video, IT and design-related projects for the Center, which is set to open in January. Until then, I spend a large amount of time dealing with construction-related issues.

Work: Hardware

While I originally started with a 13-inch MacBook Pro like I had at my former job, I’ve since upgraded to a 15-inch. My current machine is a MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) with a 2.3 Ghz i7 with 16 GB of RAM running Mountain Lion. I tossed the hard drive it came with for a 256 GB Crucial m4 SSD. Longtime readers will know that I was previously using an OWC SSD, coupled with a hard drive, thanks to the company’s Data Doubler bracket, that can be used to replace a SuperDrive with another 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD.

That rig ran in to a few issues. First, 115 GB was not enough space, but juggling data across two drives grew old quickly. Secondly, I still use my SuperDrive very often at work, and needing to hook up an external wasn’t much fun. Lastly, I had a run of bad luck with the OWC drives, having two die in quick succession.

When I’m at my desk, the MacBook Pro is open, on a stand, off to my right, with a 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display in front of me. This display was purchased before Apple included Thunderbolt in them, but otherwise is the same hardware Apple offers for sale today. It’s great.

This summer, I had my elbow operated on, and since I have found the most comfortable keyboard for me to use is Apple’s slimline Bluetooth keyboard. I love my Extended II, but simply can’t use it day to day. Depending on what I’m working on, I either use a Magic Trackpad or Magic Mouse.

I’ve got a Western Digital MyBook I use for Time Machine backups.

Server wise, I use a Xserve. We ordered it right after Apple announced the machine was going away. It’s running 10.7 server, and serves up files to my department over AFP. We also have a HP server, running Windows Server 2008 that is the domain controller and handles DNS on the network, as well as some file sharing to our Windows users.

I also have a Lava Lamp on my desk. It has green goo in blue liquid.

Work: Software

Like many professional nerds, I often push my hardware to the very limits of what it can do. While we have a Mac Pro in the office for video and audio editing, I often do short jobs on my laptop, giving the i7 a run for its money. We’re using Logic and Final Cut Pro X for most of our work.

I run CS5 for design projects. Most of the time, I stick to Photoshop and Illustrator. While I can get around in InDesign, I’m far more comfortable in QuarkXPress, much to the chagrin of my graphic designer.

Since the majority of the staff that my department supports runs Windows, I have both XP and Windows 7 virtual machines setup in Fusion. I also have a virtual 10.7 Server setup, to test things before I deploy them to the Xserve. I keep my VMs on an external drive, and really enjoy that 16 GB of RAM when I’ve got things cooking in Windows.

Day to day, I use all of the typical Mac software — Mail, Messages, Chrome, Tweetbot and TextMate.

Oh, and our corporation uses Lotus Notes, so I run the Mac version of that, too. It’s not awesome in any way.

I do most of my writing for 512 Pixels right inside of MarsEdit, and publish after I’m done editing. (The same goes for Tools & Toys.)


I don’t do a ton of work on my home computer anymore. While I still use it for my main iTunes library, I have all of my photos on Dropbox, and use iTunes Match. However, my wife does use the home Mac all the time, so earlier this year, we upgraded from our iMac.

Home: Hardware

We’re now using a Mac mini (Mid 2011) with a 2.5 Ghz i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM. This week, I popped in a 512 GB version of the same SSD I have in my laptop.

To store our ever-growing iTunes libraries, I have a Guardian MAXimus box with two 1.5 TB drives in a hardware-controlled RAID–1. Mirrored drives in a RAID shouldn’t be considered a backup, so the Mini and the RAID get copied to a set of drives I keep at my office.

We use AT&T U-Verse for Internet access. I have a 1 TB Time capsule that has command of the network. From it, I have a CAT–6 cable run across my attic to an AirPort Express to cover the back porch and shop with the Wi-Fis.

Home: Software

Most of what I do on this Mac is iTunes. My wife uses mostly the built-in stuff — mainly iTunes and iPhoto. She loves family history, and uses MacFamilyTree to keep up with it.

Mobile & Misc.

My 32 GB black Verizon iPhone 5 is always in my front right pocket, face-in and top-down. I’ve got a 32 GB white Wi-Fi iPad as well, but it doesn’t see the usage it once did.

I read on a Kindle Paperwhite and write in Field Notes notebooks with either a Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink pen in 0.5mm blue-black ink or a 0.7 mm Uni-ball Jetstream ballpoint pen in blue.

I listen to music through Sennheiser HD–280 PRO headphones and record with a Rode Podcaster USB mic.