The Setup: Neil Lancia

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Neil Lancia, and I’m the Marketing Guru here at, A Small Orange. We’re a network of hosting companies that provides everything from shared, VPS, cloud, and reseller hosting to dedicated, and multiple IP hosting. I spend most of my time working out of our office in Durham, NC, but I do spend some of my time working from home. When shopping for electronics and business devices, I seek high performing tools that are cost effective. In other words, I’m big on value.

What hardware are you using?

My primary work machine is a consumer grade Gateway laptop; a simple core i5 setup with a 500GB HDD and 4GB ram. I don’t need anything particularly powerful, and I’ve been satisfied with Gateway laptops since 2008. Since A Small Orange is a small company, I don’t believe in purchasing “business class” laptop computers. In my experience, “business class” computers aren’t worth the extra expense. They’re typically ugly, slow, and loaded with outdated programs and outputs in order to make them compatible with the legacy systems still found in big companies. My last “business class” laptop was a Dell from 2009 with Windows XP Pro and a serial port on it!

At home, I use a few peripherals. First, I use a 1.5TB external drive for backing up my system. It’s a pretty basic Western Digital Drive that I don’t put very much strain on.

For ergonomics, I use a Logitech Alto laptop stand and wireless keyboard combo. The stand elevates my laptop so that it is level with my external monitor while lessening its footprint. It also has a USB hub built into it, which makes connecting my laptop even easier. I also us an old Logitech MX310 optical mouse- she has been my loyal companion since 2003. This mouse was affordable, accurate, stylish, and equipped with three additional programmable buttons. Just by looking at her, you’d never guess she’s nearly a decade old.

I use an LED backlit 20’ HP 2011x as my primary monitor. It’s only got decent resolution, but does an exceptional job of displaying colors and terrific contrast. Though it shouldn’t be compared to an Apple Cinema display, it cost less than $140 shipped.

For the audio component of my system, I’m a bit of a snob. For speakers, I use a matched pair of Celestion MP1s loudspeakers pushed by an old compact Sony powered subwoofer. The amplification isn’t the cleanest, but is has enough watts to really get the Celestion drivers moving. Celestion’s history of guitar equipment and their relationship with Kef makes the MP1s an extremely musical and lively speaker.  As a result, this sub-sat system sounds better than any “computer audio”’ system that I’ve heard from Logitech, Klipsch, Altec Lansing, or Boston Acoustics.

When at work, I use a pair of Klipsch S2m in ear headphones. They have a built in microphone, which coupled with their travel bags makes them ideal for hands free conversations on my Android phone. They reproduce sound adequately, but their bass is a tad heavy. Their biggest drawback is that is that they have excessive “cord noise.” On the plus side, they do an amazing job of blocking background noise. This makes them ideal for airplane, bus, or subway travel.

For snapping photos, I use a simple point-and-click Cannon SD-1000. I’ve had this camera for four years, and while it is only 7.1 mega pixels, its lens quality results in colorfully detailed images. It is also extremely compact, and I keep it nestled within an old white bag that came with my 5th gen iPod.

As my smart phone, I use a Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate from Verizon. Its 1GHz hummingbird processor is snappy, but it always lags when downloading emails. I swear my iPhone 3G was faster email, but the Samsung takes much better pictures, and shoots arguably the best 720p I’ve yet seen on a phone from its era. I keep it protected by encasing it in a stylish smoke-tinted TPU case. TPU cases are the best because they are stronger than silicone cases, yet less brittle than hard cases. In the stores, TPU cases are often $20, which is robbery. I got mine off Amazon for $3 shipped.

I also carry around a 32GB iPad2 whenever I’m sitting in or meetings, attending software camps, or roaming around conventions. It’s the best note taking platform I’ve found, and it is ideal for managing social media remotely. I keep it protected in a cheap neoprene case, and I use Apple’s smart cover (the lime green one) for ergonomics and a degree of additional protection.

What software are you using?

I use Windows 7, and the Microsoft office suite. Excel and Word are exceptional products, and PowerPoint isn’t too bad either, but for more impact, I’ll spin up a Presentation with Prezi. I also use Google Docs for collaborative work.

As my browser, I’ve transitioned to Chrome after using Fire Fox for nearly eight years. Fire Fox 4.0 just killed it for me, and I like how snappy and tight Chrome is.

I use Pidgin as my primary chat client, but also use Skype for voice and video calls whenever possible. Skype also has a pretty solid iPad app that I use on occasion.

Evernote is something I just can’t stop recommending. I love how I can access my encrypted notes from nearly any smart device on the planet. I use Evernote for my work notes, personal notes, and even shopping lists. Their software is easy to use, and so far, I’ve not paid them a penny.

In our office, we use HootSuite for managing social media interactions. Their iPad app is also pretty strong, but for composing tweets, Twitter’s own iPad app is superior.

For entertainment I rely on Pandora on my mobile devices, but I use turntable.fm from my computer. Turntable is an amazing service that allows you to play music for your friends, for free. There are no ads, but you do have to deal with the occasional bad personality.

What is your dream setup?

I’d rather have an Android device from HTC, as I feel their hardware is a little better, and their software is easier to root. Mobile devices evolve so quickly though, that I’d rather not label a specific model in my dream system. I’d also be curious to get my hands on one of the new ultra thin computers from Asus. Since I’m not quite ready to move my primary work environment onto a Mac just yet, I think the UX21 could be a really nice and portable platform.

I’d love to get my hands on an Apple Cinema display- I really don’t think there’s a better looking monitor on the market.

For audio, I’d like to see what a pair of B&W PM1s and a Rega Mira would sound like when connected to my computer. I’ve always admired theMira’s compact yet elegant design, and PM1s are just exceptional speakers. For headphones, I’m curious to hear what a pair of Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors might sound like with a nice headphone amplifier.

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