My Setup

March 29, 2013

The Uses This series, and Shawn Blanc's Sweet Mac Setups series have always intrigued me, so I decided to write one of my own.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Mark Nichols. I'm married to Sibylle Kuder, I play violoncello, I hack around with various computer technologies, and I'm an all-around good guy. Professionally I work for Kansas State University as an "Integration Services Coordinator" — dealing with the sometimes messy intersection of differing systems and their needs. Lately I've been diving into the world of Vagrant and Chef.

What hardware do you use?

My personal computer is a mid-2009 15" 2009 MacBook Pro with a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 8 GB of RAM. Within the next week the original 320 GB hard drive will be replaced with a new 1 TB drive.

I also have a 16GB iPad Mini that is easily one of the nicest computers I have ever owned. My phone is a 16GB iPhone 5 on AT&T.

My employer provides me with wonderful tools, so I have on my desk a mid-2010 27" iMac with a 256GB SSD and a 1 TB spinning drive. My work laptop is a 13" Retina MacBook Pro, with a 500 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM. It is the sweetest computer I've ever had the pleasure of using.

Tunes in my car are provided via an 8 GB 6th-generation iPod Nano. The car, a 2010 Honda Insight, has the world's clunkiest iPod interface, but it does let me listen to Zoë Keating on my way to and from work. I have an aging (no longer holds a charge but works fine plugged in) 30 GB iPod that holds most of my music and lives in the corner of the house where I practice my cello, so that I can listen to the pieces I am learning.

My cello is a Hans Stainer 100, made by Eastman, fitted with Jargar Strings and played with a CodaBow Diamond SX bow. I use Gustave Bernardel rosin.

For printing we have a newly purchased HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 All-in-One printer/copier/fax/scanner. It's beautiful, it's wireless, and it prints like a dream.

At work I use a pair of Apple EarPods to listen to music or videos. At home I use a variety of earbud style earphones, but only when the cat isn't around. She considers them string with which to be toyed.

And what software?

Sublime Text 2, Vim, tmux, and iTerm2 for most coding. IntelliJ IDEA for Java, and XCode for Cocoa and iOS development.

Safari for 99% of my browsing and Google Chrome on rare occasion.

Adium for instant message chat and IRC. Twitterrific for Twitter.

Fetch handles my SFTP needs, although I am making more and more use of sshfs for accessing remote drives.

Growl for notifications and Alfred for Cmd-Space-ing things.

TakeFive helps me to control what's playing, and Cobook gives me access to my contacts.

F.Lux dims my laptop screen at night, and brightens it during the daylight hours.

Dropbox for convenient movement of files between computers, and Git for version control of all my coding projects.

What would be your dream setup?

After spending a couple weeks with the 13" Retina MacBook Pro I would be hard pressed to consider any other machine. Well, maybe the 15" Retina MacBook Pro.

I'd like a dead simple storage system that hung off our router that would let Sibylle backup her Windows-based machines and me back up my OS X-based machines seamlessly. And perhaps a Mac Mini tied to a couple large drives to house all our music and DVD movies.

I'd also like an iPod Classic as it would be large enough to hold my complete collection of music and audio books. But first I'll need a car with a decent iPod interface.

I'm intrigued by the Sonos Speaker systems, but other priorities have kept that on the someday list.

And someday I hope to be advanced enough on the cello to warrant a really good, old, instrument.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.