My Setup ala

What’s this all about?

I’m a big fan of The Setup on and while I’m not famous enough to warrant my own article on there, I thought I’d actually like to document my own current setup/tools/etc so in the future I can compare how things have changed.

What hardware do you use?

In general I use a Mid-2013 MacBook Air with a 1.7GHz Intel i5 processor (the fastest available at the time), 8GB of RAM and a 256GB ultra-fast PCIe SSD, with a 128GB MicroSD in a NiftyDrive. It’s running OS X Yosemite and is generally used either on its own (on my lap with it’s phenomenal 12–16 hour battery life) or plugged in to an Apple Keyboard, with a wireless Apple Magic Trackpad and a Dell U2713HM 27" monitor with a 2560x1440 resolution (which I can’t recommend highly enough — for the price this is an awesome monitor!).

I use the same machine when I’m working on smaller clients or generally at my main client (whoever that is at the time), but sometimes for 100% pairing roles I need to use the client’s equipment.

I carry it in an InCase back pack along with a pair of Bose AE2w over the ear bluetooth headphones (my Shure SRH440s broke in mid-2014), a bus-powered USB hard drive, retractable network cable, various VGA/DVI/HDM adapters for the laptop and a Moleskine notebook.

And what software?

As a Ruby on Rails and RubyMotion developer, I spend most of my day using Chrome and Atom having switched in early 2014 from Sublime Text 3. Chrome is fairly standard, I use a few extensions regularly like Evernote’s Web Clipper, 1Password, but generally it’s fairly stock.

I’ve customised Atom with many snippets, custom keyboard shortcuts and plugins — some of my favourites are Jumpy, AtomLinter, Merge Conflicts, Minimap Git Diff and Atom Todo Show.

Most of my sites are built in Ruby on Rails, but my blog is currently running Ghost (out of pure laziness, I wanted to move it to my new hosting, wanted it to look more modern, but didn’t have time to do that and move the hosting).

I use Gmail for all my email — personal, company and Taekwondo. I read my email using the official GMail apps for iOS and MailPlane 3 on the Mac.

Another app I can’t live without is Evernote. Again, I use this on the Mac and iPhone (6) and iPad (3rd Generation). I currently have 2347 notes spread across 38 notebooks. I don’t use tagging much (“Unread” for pages I’ve Webclipped but haven’t read and “to-add” for expenses scanned in that I haven’t converted in to my online accounting system yet).

Aside from these, I do have a bit of an addiction to buying other useful bits of software such as Macaw for responsive HTML WYSIWYG editing, Paw for testing REST API interfaces, Slicy for extracting portions of unflattened PSDs.

I’ve recently switched from Photoshop to Pixelmator and I must say, with the exception of Pixelmator not having an Application Frame mode (where all palettes are contained) I much prefer it!


In late 2013 I moved all my hosting. I was hosting on a single dedicated server using Bytemark, 4GB of RAM, quad-core and mirrored hard drives. I have nothing but praise for their server, but I felt that this was too risky from both a security and hardware failure point of view: everything on one machine — all clients, all data, all access.

In late 2013/early 2014 I decided to go to small individual virtual machines and moved everything over to DigitalOcean droplets. I currently have 12 virtual machines with them and manage them all using Chef. I have 3 mail servers, 4 web servers, a database server and then other servers running various utilities — and in doing so managed to cut my monthly hosting bill about in half and with great separation of responsibilities and reduced risk to the whole thing going bang! I back up to DreamObjects, an S3 clone (but cheaper) using simple s3cmd uploads of tarballs.