“The Setup” is a new series of blog posts where we highlight the various software and tech tools that our team members use to excel in their roles at A Small Orange. With each post, a different team member will share the hardware and software tools that they use during their work week. Not only will you get to know our team a little better, but you might even discover something that will make your job a little easier to do. Thanks to the very cool blog The Setup for the inspiration.
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Douglas Hanna and I’m the CEO of A Small Orange, a provider of high quality shared, VPS, reseller, and dedicated web hosting services. I also write about customer service occasionally at Service Untitled.
What hardware are you using?
I have slowly been consolidating my computers. My laptop, which I consider my main computer, is a 13″ MacBook Air. I loved the MacBook Airs when they first came out, but read and heard terrible things about their performance. The most recent iterations have much better hardware and I made the plunge and bought one when they were updated in July. So far, it’s a great computer to use, but the battery life isn’t what I was hoping for.
I don’t really use an external mouse with my laptop, but I do have a Logitech Wireless Anywhere Mouse MX, which is great. It’s one of the best mice I have used and I happily recommend it to people looking for one.
At the office I have a 24″ iMac, which is probably about two years old or so. It’s hooked up to a Samsung SyncMaster PX2370 monitor, which is very nice for the price. I wanted an Apple Cinema Display for my second monitor, but couldn’t justify spending $1,000 on a monitor when $250 got me a great one. I use the standard Apple keyboard with it and it’s fine, but I did swap out the standard Magic Mouse with a nice Logitech mouse.
I have two cameras. I have a Nikon D80 that I’ve had for a couple of years and take with me when I want to take some serious photos. For more casual trips or trips that take me underwater (I scuba dive every now and then), I have a Panasonic Lumix. It’s cool because I can take it with me when I go to the beach or on a boat or something and not have to worry about it.
I’ve had my iPhone 3GS for a while now. I didn’t really see a need for an iPhone 4 when it came out and just delayed getting one long enough until we’re now at a point where it looks like the next generation iPhone will be coming out much sooner than later and an upgrade isn’t worth it. When the iPhone 5 or whatever it is comes out, I’ll upgrade. I’m on the phone a lot and use a Linksys SPA941 for my main desk phone. It’s pretty standard, but it gets the job done. I use the OfficeRunner by Sennheiser for my office phone headset. It also switches over to a headset for my computer with a quick push of a button.
I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but I like nice sound equipment. In my office, I have Logitech Z-2300 speakers. They’re pretty good. I also have HD 595 headphones from Sennheiser. They aren’t noise canceling, but the sound quality is awesome. I also have a pair of Ksplich headphones that I use with my phone. They’re great to use for listening to music or talking on the phone. They are noise canceling and work pretty well when I’m on an airplane.
For miscellaneous stuff, I have an older generation Kindle that I use and something called a WakeMate. I am not sure if the WakeMate actually helps me wake up more refreshed, but it does give me some cool data about my sleep and lets me track patterns and changes. I also have a cool presenter remote that I use when I speak at conferences and such. I used to try and use an Apple remote, but it never worked right. I also have a Samsung 4G LTE hotspot from Verizon. I travel a lot and it’s nice not to have to worry about dealing with wifi at airports, hotels, or conferences. I just turn it on and within a minute or so, I’m online and using a connection I know is reasonably secure and is fast enough to do what I need it to do.
I am generally against cases for my electronics, so I don’t have one on my iPhone, but I do have an awesome Timbuk2 backpack that they sadly don’t make anymore. When I need to look more professional, I put my laptop and a notebook in my messenger bag from Ferragamo.
What software are you using?
Almost everything I do is on the Internet, so my software needs are pretty minimal. I have tried every browser in the world, but always come back to Firefox. I don’t use many extensions or add-ons, but I do use Firefox Sync, Xobni for Gmail, Wappalyzer, and HTTPS-Everywhere.
I spend most of my day communicating with people in one way or another, largely over email and IM. Adium is my IM client of choice and I use Skype regularly as well. For email, I’ve been using Gmail for a few years now. I have probably two hundred or so filters between my the three or four email accounts I use regularly and I use them to keep my email under control. Gmail also has the best spam filtering I’ve seen and it’s great to be able to have the exact same email experience on any computer I use. I wish it gave more in terms of stats about who I send email to, how often, and such. There’s an open source application out there called mail-trends that does this to an extent, but not as easily as I’d like.
Even though I’d prefer to use the open source alternatives, I use the Microsoft Office suite of software because I’m used to them and they’re powerful enough. I use Word all the time and Excel pretty regularly. I do prefer Keynote over PowerPoint, though. I use Evernote and its web clipper to help keep me organized as well. I don’t use a to do list program – I just use my email inbox as my to do list. I have used Google Calendar for a couple of years now and have never thought to try anything else. I use Dropbox to sync some things between my various computers. Password management is big for me. I’ve tried just about every password management application out there, but keep coming back to an application called Wallet, which is made by a company called Acrylic Apps.
Even though I am not a system administrator, I do use Terminal a lot. Coda is also really cool and is my application of choice if I’m doing more than a quick edit over SSH.
For music on my laptop, I use iTunes. On my desktop at the office, I use Spotify. I like how it syncs my iTunes playlists and plays the music I’ve already downloaded and curated into a playlist. I was a pretty early adopter of Pandora and still think it’s pretty awesome, but haven’t been using it much now that I use Spotify.
I have been using Backblaze to manage my backups for about two years now. It’s the best backup management software I’ve used because I can literally set it and forget it. Most backup solutions claim you can do something like that, but with Backblaze, you actually can. I’ve got everyone in my family using Backblaze and a number of our employees. I wish they had a referral program. If they did, I think it’d be free for the next 20 years for me.
I don’t use too many apps on my phone besides the core ones like Safari, mail, messaging, and of course the phone part. The few apps I do use include Wallet, the New York Times, Fly Delta, GateGuru, Kayak, Flixster, Yelp, OpenTable, and the various apps for financial institutions I do business with.
What is your dream setup?
I am pretty happy with my setup now, but there is always room to do better, right? I’d love to have a more powerful version of my MacBook Air that also has more battery life. Ideally, I’d be able to hook it up to two Apple Cinema displays. And best of all, each of the screens would be matte instead of glossy. I could also upgrade my headphones and speakers, but that’s not too important. Otherwise, I think my setup is just about how I want it.