From time to time, I get asked what kind of computer do I use or what is my favorite text editor. Last night, someone asked me to describe my setup so instead of answering by email, I thought about describing it here. As I spend nearly all my waking hours on a computer in my home office, I took some time to build the environment that suits me best. Here is Part 1 - Hardware. I'll give you a list of the software I use in a future post.
I like working in the dark. It allows me to focus on my screen. I still need a lightsource other than my screens so I use a Philips LivingColors LED lamp set on a light blue color in the corner of the room.
My main computer is a Mac Mini. This is the 2012 version (the one just before the newer 2014 Mini announced this October), customized with an Intel i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB Fusion Drive. In terms of raw performances, it can't compete with a high-end iMac or a Mac Pro but as a machine for coding, it does everything I need and even some more without any slowdowns. I never turn it off, it's always on, sometimes for several months without even a reboot.
I use it with a 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display as the main monitor and a 24" Samsung S24A350H on its left side.
The keyboard is the standard Apple wired aluminum keyboard. I really like it because it's silent. I have a MacBook Pro connected to an external display on which I use the wireless Apple keyboard but I don't like it as much as the wired one with its numeric keypad.
The mouse is a Logitech Wireless Performance MX. I reassigned the extra buttons to keyboard shortcuts such as
CMD+W to close the current window.
On the left side of the keyboard, there's an Apple Magic Trackpad. I assigned plenty of gestures to it using BetterTouchTool such as close, mission control, copy-cut-paste, etc. I'll detail them in Part II - Software.
The Apple laptop is a 2013 13" MacBook Air with the Intel i7, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. On battery, I can use it between 12 and 14 hours before I need to charge it again. This is the best piece of hardware I've ever owned.
When home, it is connected to an Apple wired keyboard, Magic Mouse and external display using a LandingZone 2.0 PRO docking station.
I mostly work on Mac but sometimes, depending on the customer I'm working for, I need to have some Windows machines as well.
My Windows desktop machine is an old HP Pavilion Elite HPE which I upgraded over time. It also serves as a gaming rig with some good specs: 1 TB HD, 16 GB RAM, Intel i7, two EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphic cards. It runs Windows 8.1 and Linux Mint 17 on a separate partition. Another 24" Samsung S24A350H is plugged into it.
This is a HP Envy dv6: Intel i7 2.4GHz, 750 GB HD, 8 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M, 15.6" LED-backlit display at a sorry 1366x768. It currently runs Windows 8.1.
Keyboard and Mouse
The Logitech Illuminated K740 is by far the best keyboard I've used on Windows (and I've tried many!). It's super thin, has backlit keys with three levels of illumination and is silent. This keyboard has its place in my personal hardware hall of fame.
The Logitech MediaPlay Cordless Mouse is another piece of hardware I have since forever (2003, I believe). I love it for its many buttons, its backlight and the general shape that is so very comfortable to the hand. Unfortunately, Logitech doesn't make them anymore. It still works perfectly with OS X, Windows and Linux.
I run Linux Mint 17 on an Acer Aspire One 756 laptop. The specs are not impressive at all: Intel Celeron 1.1 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 320 GB HD, 11.6" screen. Its lightweight makes up for the less than stellar performances when I need to carry around a Linux laptop.
As a Linux desktop, I use the previously mentioned HP Pavilion Elite HPE. It dual boots Windows 8.1 and Linux Mint 17.
iPhone 6. Nothing to add.
I use a lot of external hard drives. So far, my favorite is a Transcend Storejet 2TB USB 3.0. It has rubber around it. I use these for cloning my machines or storing large media files.
Last but not least, each time I leave the house, it's with this Thule 13 Stravan bag to carry the MacBook Air and the iPad around.