Software I use, January 2011 edition

CUNY provided me with a new Mac Pro, check out these specs baby, so I thought it might be neat to document what it takes to set it up from scratch.

For the last six months, I’ve been working regularly on four different Macs. At home, I have a MacBook and an iMac, and at work I’ve had a MacBook Pro and an iMac. To keep the system environment similar, I’m a reluctant user of MobileMe. It has its downsides, but it’s really the simplest way to sync everything from my contacts to the icons in my dock. For some applications, I’ve noticed it will even sync your license. Authenticating the machine against MobileMe is the first step I take.

Google Chrome is my browser of choice. I trust Xmarks to keep my small selection of bookmarks in sync across browsers and across machines. My homepage is “about:blank.” Once I have my browser set up, I download Dropbox so I can start restoring my files and other application-specific preferences. As of today, my Dropbox is at 41.1%, or 21.2GB. It’s good to install Dropbox early so it can start pulling data down. Dropbox also installs Growl, a system notifications utility, which is nice because I use it for other applications.

For development, I use a combination of TextMate, Git, MAMP, Sequel Pro, Firebug, the default Mac OS X terminal, and Cyberduck. TextMate is a nice text editor with useful features for writing PHP, Python, Javascript, or HTML/CSS. I’m certainly not a power user through. Git is my new version control software of choice, and I generally use it in conjunction with GitHub. For instance, the J-School has all of our code in public repositories with multiple collaborators. MAMP takes the fuss out of running a web server on your local machine. Sequel Pro is an amazing, repeat amazing, tool for futzing with databases. Most hosting comes with phpMyAdmin. Forget that: Sequel Pro blows it out of the water. Firebug is the defacto standard for working with CSS because you can see all of your potential changes live in the browser. Lastly, Cyberduck is my go-to SFTP client. Its nicest feature for is the ability to open a file on a remote server in TextMate.

A while back, I made the switch from Gmail’s web client to Apple Mail. I love me some Gmail but Firefox kept freezing up and I’d lose my email window amongst all of my tabs. For most purposes, Apple Mail and IMAP works just fine. Contacts work out of the Address Book and you have an automatic backup copy of your correspondence. To mimic one-click archiving, I’ve installed a program called Mail Act-On.

Skype and Adium are my chat clients. Nothing too fancy there.

For reading and writing, I use Reeder and MarsEdit, respectively. Reeder is a gorgeous RSS reader that uses the reading list you already have in Google Reader. MarsEdit isn’t the greatest blogging tool in the world but it works with WordPress and gets the job done.

Last but most important: AlfredDivvy, 1Password, and Skitch define my productivity. Alfred, an application quick launcher, makes launching any application, or finding a contact, a few keystrokes away. Alfred is also significantly faster than Quicksilver. Divvy is neat tool for resizing windows with a keystroke. I find it most handy when I start spawning too many terminal windows. 1Password handily generates a unique password anytime I’m signing up for a new account, stores them in a secure database synced via Dropbox, and lets me use the password when I need it thanks to minimal browser extensions. Skitch is absolutely what you need to communicate visually. Capture any part of your screen with a keystroke, easily annotate the image using the pop-up window, and upload the image to Skitch, Flickr, or your own server for sharing.

Fifty minutes later, I’m back in business.

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