Chris Humphries’ sweet setup

Every week we post an interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. We do these interviews because not only are they fun, but a glimpse into what tools someone uses and how they use those tools can spark our imagination and give us an idea or insight into how we can do things better.

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Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Chris Humphries. I’m a Digital Media Specialist and media production lab (or “Media Commons“) manager at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, more specifically at UAB Digital Media. Essentially I work with a great team of folks way smarter than I am to help students, faculty, and staff produce high-quality media content and research new ways of delivering content and information. I handle the hardware (Mac computers and an assortment of A/V gear) and software (Final Cut Pro X, the Adobe suite, etc.) side of things, making sure everything works well and helps get the job done.

What is your current setup?

Chris Humphries' work setup

My current setup has revolved quite a bit in the last year or so. On the computer side of things, I’ve gone from an iMac: (21″, i7, 12GB of RAM, 1TB HDD) and Macbook Air (11″, i5, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD) setup to a Macbook Pro Retina (15 inch, i7, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD) and Mac Mini (i5 with a self-installed SSD and 16GB of RAM). The MBPr is my daily driver (besides my work-issued iMac (27″, i5, 8GB of RAM, 1TB HDD)) and the Mac Mini serves as my media server (see what I did there), email server, and basically an always-on semi-web server for automation and such.

Chris Humphries' home setup

As far as iOS, I’m using a iPhone 5 (16GB, Black / super scuffed up) and an iPad Air (16GB, Space Grey). As with everyone, my iPhone is really my main computer. It’s kind of crazy what can be done with iOS devices these days (looking at you, Drafts/Launch Center Pro/Editorial, among others), and because of these incredible apps and the folks (Viticci, Guyot, Weatherhead, Gruenich – I’m probably leaving someone out here) who do incredible things with them and are kind enough to share what they’ve learned, I try to do as much as I can on my iOS devices because of their flexibility and portability.

Chris' iPad

Outside of my mac and iOS devices, my setup also includes a grab-bag full of adapters, cables, external batteries, electronics tool-kit and the like, as well as the Apple TV, Chromecast, Pebble Smartwatch, and a few WeMo sockets. On the networking/backup side, I’ve got a few 2-3 TB hard drives and a previous-model Airport Extreme connecting it all together, as well as a cloud backup on Backblaze.

Chris' iPhone

I carry all of this (besides the Mac Mini and work iMac) in either an Incase EO backpack or Penfield Messenger Bag.

What software do you use and for what do you use it?

Ah, software. I’m constantly falling in love with new software. I’m that guy at work that is always annoying everyone by saying, “Hey, have you seen/used [enter software here]?” Some of my most-used software on the Mac includes:

  • nvAlt – For note-taking and syncing.
  • Reminders – I’ve tried so many to-do apps out there, but I always come back to Reminders. It just works well, and with iCloud sync (as of right now) it’s really all that I need on the Mac and on iOS.
  • Asana – We use Asana at work for all of our project and task management. It’s a web app (unless you use Fluid) that I use every day.
  • Fantastical – Calendar-ing
  • Alfred – For launching apps and so much more. Man, I love Alfred. What can’t it do?
  • TextExpander – TextExpander makes my life so much easier. Students, if you’ve received a long, boring email from me about how the equipment you’ve checked out is overdue, it’s all thanks to the power of TextExpander.
  • Keyboard Maestro – This app is blowing my mind right now. The features that have been baked into this app make it possible to assign a keyboard shortcut (or anything-shortcut) to almost anything on the Mac. I’ve been exploring what it can do with the Pebble SmartWatch and HTTP requests via Smartwatch+ (iOS), and it’s out of control. Combine Keyboard Maestro with some apple/shell scripting, and you’ve got a stew goin’!
  • Dropbox – Where would we all be without Dropbox? It’s at the core of almost everything I do. So many apps and workflows I use depend on Dropbox, I honestly can’t imagine being without it!
  • AppleScript Editor and Terminal – When things get super nerdy, these two apps help me make sure I’m doing things right before I actually implement any scripting into a workflow.
  • Plex / Plexify – Plex is at the core of my home media server, and is just an amazing piece of software for media consumption. Plexify allows me to hack Plex into an Apple TV, which is huge!
  • 1Password – My password manager of choice, 1Password keeps me safe and is my digital firesafe. It’s that simple, but oh so important.
  • Instacast – My podcatcher of choice.
  • PopClip – I’m just getting into this one, but it’s awesome! Especially with all the goodness that Brett Terpstra is doing with it.
  • Final Cut Pro X – My video editor of choice currently. While it does have its flaws, and while saying this may discredit any skills or status I possessed as a video editor (I love and miss FCP7, too!), it’s the best app I’ve seen for creating web video content or quick videos that don’t require a major amount of media management/organization.
  • Adobe Creative Suite – I don’t use these apps incredibly often, but they are workhorses that can literally do anything that I need in the design/creative production area.

I think that completes most of my favorite Mac apps. As far as iOS, here’s what I’m using:

Mac Companion/iOS Counterparts (iPhone/iPad, if iPad app is available):

iOS Only (iPhone and iPad, if iPad app is available):

How would your ideal setup look and function?

Similar to Rick Stawarz, I love my Macbook Pro Retina. It can be a bit large sometimes (especially for meetings, note-taking, etc.), but that’s what my iPad is for. It’s a crazily powerful machine and I’ve yet to throw anything at it that it can’t do. I’m curious to see what happens with the Macbook Air this year, and if it goes retina and beefs up a bit on the processor/graphics card, I’ll probably head in that direction. The portability and beauty of those machines is simply incredible. A big retina monitor would be great, but I’ve gotta pay the rent, too. On the home side of things, I’d love to have a huge NAS that serves all my media and all of my automation, but the Mac Mini does that incredibly well.

iOS-wise, I’d love more native inter-app sharing and connectivity, but other than that, my iPhone and iPad really are fantastic. What’s so awesome about all of the third-party apps that are being developed is that really anything I want my iOS devices to do is possible — it just takes me learning how to do it.

In a nutshell, the current setup that I have is fantastic, but I wouldn’t be a true nerd if I didn’t always have that faint itch to upgrade and make my setup better in some way. I think next I’ll be looking into tightening up the reigns on my backup/networking strategy. The newest Time Capsule or a Synology NAS may be the solution I’m looking for.


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