Mac Setups: The Triple Display iMac Setup of a Java Developer
It’s time for another featured Mac setup! We’ve got the sweet triple-screened desk setup of Java developer Ben S. to share this time, let’s jump right in and learn a bit more…
Tell us a bit about the hardware in your Mac setup
- iMac (Mid 2010 model) – 27” (2560×1440) , 2.93Ghz Core i7 CPU, 12GB RAM
- Dell 30” 3007 WFP Display (vertical orientation 1600×2560)
- I-INC 28” (1920×1200) powered by USB2 Diamond video card
- Sennheiser wireless audio Headphones
- Philips hue back lighting behind the screens
- Apple Magic Trackpad
- Apple Aluminum Wired Keyboard
Included in the setup but not pictured are an iPhone 4s, iPad 2, iHome Airplay speakers, Apple TV 3rd gen, Brookstone 85 lumen portable HDMI projector, and an Airport Extreme.
Screen resolution is critical for me. I’ve been developing software since age 7, and still do to this day. So I remember the first Mac Plus, SE, LCIII, PowerPC 6100, etc. Every chance I got I went with bigger screens and use every inch of space I have on my screens to be more efficient. The iMac had a large monitor to start with for a reasonable price, and allowed me to have another 30” powered natively as well. The USB video adapter was my only choice for yet one more monitor as this Mac was before Thunderbolt, or else I would have two 30” screens connected. But I did get an adapter that handles 1920×1200 so its OK as my little 28” screen.
Good audio quality and comfortable headphones are important too as sitting and coding for 8 to 10 hours and you feel the effects of a bad design on your head. The headphones don’t have a microphone, but a rubber band attached Plantronics voyager BT headset with a boom mic takes care of my VoIP calls for meetings without suffering on audio range and quality that only Senheiser has. The headphones are also used for movies, and you can pair up to 4 of them, and crystal clear audio for 30 meters in a building which was another reason why I chose them.
What do you use your Apple setup for?
The system is used primarily for Java development, and support. I manage the dev team and support team with CrushFTP, LLC as well as coding myself. We sell CrushFTP. I have some cloth marketing material on the wall from a sport team we sponsored, I know it looks tacky there, but it helps keep me motivated.
The left monitor is used for Chrome. I have development tickets open, test sites, forums when searching for solutions, and OSX Terminal ssh’d into different machines.
The middle monitor is reserved for coding with 160 vertical lines of code, and 212 horizontal characters visible as I work. I don’t spend my day scrolling back and forth to look for things as I can see a whole function or class all at once a lot of times. I laugh at coding standards that dictate a 80 character horizontal width as it looks absolutely ridiculous on a serious system. I am not afraid to use my screen real estate, and I believe that makes me more productive and efficient than many people.
The right monitor is used for emails, music, virtual machines and occasionally realtime log files as I am testing things. Email is done in Safari using Gmail. Mavericks killed Mail, and Google Apps web based interface is so much faster for searching, and working with the email that I gave up Mail for almost everything, and never looked back. Safari is a requirement because it supports auto text correction and common spelling typo fixes as you type. Chrome doesn’t, otherwise I may have used chrome everywhere, but the separation is good at times too. I generally respond to almost 100 emails personally every day, so a fast reliable interface is critical, and I make a lot of typos in my emails. I hate having to go back and fix the pointless ones where there is only one possible result that it should have been. I customize the text replacement panel in the OS System preferences to fix things the default spell checking wouldn’t change.
Which apps do you use most often?
By far I use Eclipse the most since its the dev and build environment for our software, CrushFTP.
CrushFTP is our own file transfer server software, and I use it heavily. I share files with clients, do high speed file transfers overcoming bandwidth latency issues, and testing / QA work. I don’t need DropBox or other cloud storage providers since I can do it all myself, and under my control.
GoToMeeting for screen sharing, and sometimes TeamViewer as well.
I use VMWare Fusion to run older OSX releases, Windows, and Linux VMs. I setup a 4 node Linux cluster on my machine to test more complicated networking server scenarios.
TextWrangler when I need some quick text editing as I don’t want text interpreters doing font styling or other alterations on text and Xml files.
Hex Fiend for seeing the raw bytes of a file as sometimes I need to really see what is going on when doing more complicated MD5 hashing and diff analysis of files for faster transfers.
Simon Free to keep a quick watch for new drivers, and tracking our business website for downtime (or my own ISP’s downtime)
OS X Terminal, and Console. A lot of people don’t realize how powerful these apps are, but when you go and look at Windows, or Linux, there isn’t anything that compares to these built in tools. Its ridiculous how useful they can be.
Keka for extracting rar and exotic zip formats.
AirFoil and AirFoil Speaker. I grab Pandora audio from Chrome, and send it to 3 different speakers simultaneously in the house over Airplay. I also use Pandora on my phone and send it to the AirFoil speaker on my machine, and then that is replicated back to all the speakers in the house. I love having control over my audio to distribute it where I want.
iShowU for screen recording for tutorials videos I create for our software.
Skype for VoIP calls, and office calls as we have one of our support lines through Skype.
Switchboard from Connectify which allows me to aggregate my ISP connections into a larger pipe. I take my DSL ISP, and direct ethernet ISP, plus a 3G modem ISP and make it one connection as far as my machine is concerned. If I have a really big download I need to transfer, I can get it done quickly. I keep multiple unrelated ISPs so that if one goes down, it doesn’t really bother me much, and with switchboard, I don’t even notice.
Hue on my iPhone for controlling lights in the house and behind the computer monitors to give atmospheric effects and mood lighting.
Do you have any general tips or productivity tricks to share?
Contrary to a recent post on OSXDaily, only update to Mavericks if you don’t use Mail. Its bad, really bad. If you are someone who uses Mail for anything besides a few casual emails a day, it is unusable. Apple pretends its not so bad, but its far worse than they admit to. Besides just not delivering email unless you restart it frequently, it doesn’t always open emails either, just flickering a window. I would recommend if you are going to go to Mavericks, and need Mail, jump ship and switch to Sparrow, Mail Pilot, etc. Mavericks also silently changed text replacement services and disallows fixing “space” typos in words the same way 10.8 allowed. Subtle minor things that add up, I don’t recommend it to friends.
Airplay speakers require very strong wi-fi signals, and have a couple seconds of delay to them. They can’t be used for gaming as such, and with a somewhat weak signal, they won’t operate. Perfect example is playing a rented movie from the iMac over wifi to the Apple TV, which cannot also play to an Airplay speaker at the same time, as the Wifi network is too saturated by the movie buffering on the Apple TV. Once the movie buffers, then the Airplay speaker can be chosen and work fine, but doing so before the movie has finished buffering will silently fail 99% of the time. I’ve also had horrible experiences with other vendors expensive routers besides the Airport extreme in reliability for Airplay. So stick with the Apple router if you don’t need exotic router configurations in order to keep AirPlay stable.
I really like the Brookstone LED projector. Great for movies in the evening, or a darker room. On trips I take it with me, my iPhone, and some headphones and we have a portable theatre. The projector runs for about 1.5 hours on its internal battery before it needs to be plugged in to continue on.