Kate asked me the other day about Macs, and after writing an entire post’s worth of information on my computer setup alone, I figured I should probably write a post here about the tools I use to run my business. Of course, in true nerdy fashion, it’s going to take two posts. Who knew I had that much to say on the subject? First up, the hardware:
Do you know how annoying it is to spend all work day on a Mac, then go home to a PC? Yeah, it drove me crazy. So finally, in 2009 I bought into the Mac hype — and of course I’ve been an Apple girl ever since. I went with a MacBook Pro so I could take my work with me while I traveled, and I bought the cheapest on the market, on sale before Thanksgiving.
A couple months ago, almost 3.5 years after I bought it, my MacBook Pro finally decided it had had enough of working day in, day out on large files. I would spend half an hour just waiting for a file to save, and finally, my programs stopped working altogether. However, I was able to wipe the hard drive, reinstall the OS, and it still works fine for travel, as long as I only keep the things I really need on it. It doesn’t load things as quickly as a new computer, but the difference is pretty minimal.
Because the monitor on my MacBook Pro was so small, I asked for an extra monitor that Christmas. At the time, you could get a decent one for $80-$100 on Black Friday, and you probably aren’t going to be fighting a lot of people for one. Having an extra monitor was extremely helpful for website development, and I still use mine, even though my iMac has a huge screen. I like having the code on one screen and the site on another. I also tend to put my to-do list, or any references while I’m writing a blog post on my secondary monitor. If you find yourself moving between a million windows at once, it could be a good investment for you!
I found working with a trackpad super annoying for daily work, so I bought a Magic Mouse. Now I’m grateful to have an extra when the batteries on the mouse for my iMac die, which is way too often. Magic Mouse? It would be magic if it didn’t eat so many batteries. I recommend Advanced Lithium for these and stockpiling Extreme Couponing style (not sure if they actually make coupons for Advanced Lithium, but if they do, please point me in that direction).
I honestly don’t use this as much as I thought I would, but that’s why I bought the cheapest on the market, to give it a try. I’m not sure how much the cheapest one is now, but I was able to get an opened box for $60. I write the state names on my Across the USA posts with my tablet, and I have occasionally incorporated my own handwriting in my design work. If you have great handwriting, you might consider purchasing a Wacom tablet to add a unique, handwritten touch to your blog graphics.
Since I was pretty sure my MacBook Pro would still work fine for travel, I replaced it with an iMac — again, the cheapest on the market, on sale because I bought an opened box (see a pattern here?). Even the cheapest model now has a 1TB hard drive, and I feel pretty confident it will take me a number of years to fill that up. And honestly, though a 27″ screen would have been awesome, I still feel like the 21.5″ is giant, even without my extra monitor.
So, there you have it — the story of how Apple takes most of my money. But, I will say this: I have consistently purchased the cheapest Apple product on the market and haven’t been disappointed yet. I think it’s tempting to purchase the best on the market, because you know even that is going to be outdated quickly, and if that’s in your budget, do it. But don’t worry if it isn’t! I run some pretty heavy-duty programs, and the base models work just fine for me. Also, keep in mind that I’ve bought all of this tech over a number of years, and I typically hoard birthday and Christmas money (which are conveniently in the same month for me) for tech purchases, because I’m just that nerdy.
What do you run your business and/or blog on?