Oliver Haslam’s sweet setup

Every week we post a new 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 Oliver Haslam, part-time writer of words, full-time tinkerer of tech. In-between those, I try and keep my two-year-old from damaging himself.

I’m better at some of those than others.

Editor’s note: Oliver was kind enough to provide us with his Mac, iPhone, and iPad setups. To keep it all straight, we’ve deviated a bit from the normal format, but everything is labeled so you can enjoy the read.

What is your current Mac setup?

Oliver Haslam's Mac setup

Right now, I live on a late-2011 11″ MacBook Air. It’s the stock, low-end model so only has 2GB of RAM, but that SSD means I get by without shouting at it too much. It’s the perfect size for carrying around, and when in my home office it’s plugged into a nondescript Dell 24″ monitor, so that 11″ screen isn’t an issue.

My keyboard is the infamous Logitech K760. Being able to effortlessly switch between three different devices is a real boon – I can use it with the MacBook Air, my MacBook server, or iPad mini Retina.

The aforementioned MacBook server is a 2008 aluminum unibody model that runs 24/7 as my home’s DHCP, DNS, and VPN server. I may have missed out some other acronyms too, but you get the idea! Yes, most of that can be handled via my router, but I did say that I’m a full-time tinkerer!

Hidden behind the monitor is an Inateck dual-drive USB dock that I use to give the server a little more breathing room.

There’s a Windows notebook in that photo too, but the less said about that, the better.

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

I don’t use either of the Macs for anything heavy-duty. I use Chrome when writing for either of the sites that are daft enough to have me thanks to WordPress, and in all honesty I could probably get by with a Chromebook if I had to. Well, if it wasn’t for a couple of apps, that is.

My tasks and projects live in OmniFocus, but I’m far from unique there. It’s overkill for what I use it for really, but I stick with it because I’ve never really managed to find anything to replace it. I do try the whole GTD thing, but always fall off the wagon. Must. Try. Harder.

When writing for my own site, or elsewhere for that matter, I use Write. It’s perhaps one of the lesser-known text editors and syncs perfectly with Dropbox. There are all the usual Markdown options and previews too, and I’m very happy with it. It’s probably one of the most iOS-like apps on my Mac, which is nice.

I also make use of Hazel, the tool that monitors folders and then performs actions based on criteria. I use it as my photo management system. Photos are uploaded to Dropbox from either of the family iPhones, the MacBook server downloads them again, and Hazel sorts everything into folders based on metadata. It even pulls screenshots into a separate folder so they don’t find their way into my main archive. Hopefully iOS 8 will negate the need for quite so much hoop-jumping.

How would your ideal Mac setup look and function?

Ideally, I’d like one of those nice 27″ iMacs with more RAM and CPU horsepower than I’ll ever need, but with one baby and another on the way, I can’t see that happening.

Unless we lay it down and use it as a baby changing table, too.

What is your current iOS setup?

I’m still rocking the iPhone 5, in black. It’s only the 16GB flavor too, so I’m getting good at managing space!

Oliver's iPhone setup

My main iPad is a 16GB iPad mini with Retina display in black. The old iPad 2 that it replaced has now become one of the main sources of amusement for my little boy. It’s sometimes quite scary how easily he uses iOS.

Oliver's iPad setup

What iPhone apps do you use the most, and why?

All of the apps on my home screen get plenty of use, but some get tapped more than others.

I make pretty heavy use of Contrast’s Launch Center Pro as the catalyst for most of my iPhone-based actions. It’s where I go to send images to family via iMessage, and it’s where I start when I want to create entries in Day One. The ability to create templates that just require manual entry of a little data and then have them fire off to other apps is a great time saver for me.

I use Drafts as my main note-taking app, partly because I like being able to send text almost anywhere from within it, and partly because it lets me create quick notes…quickly.

While tasks and projects are handled by OmniFocus, Listacular is where I keep old-fashioned lists. OmniFocus is overkill for knowing what I need to pick up from the grocery store, and I like how Listacular uses Dropbox, so I always have my lists no matter what device I’m using.

Those paying attention will no doubt have noticed the obligatory Tweetbot icon, and Pushpin is my Pinboard client of choice. If I see a link that I want to check out later, it gets squirted into Pinboard and read via Pushpin.

Which iPhone app could you not live without?

At this point, it has to be Launch Center Pro. While I could arguably live without it, everything would take longer to do and as a result, I probably wouldn’t bother doing it. As a result of Launch Center Pro, I use certain apps much more than I ever did, which can only be a good thing.

Oh, and Dropbox. Everything lives in Dropbox – notes, photos, lists. Everything.

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

Mainly to consume media. I’ve taken to reading comics in ComiXology thanks to the iPad mini. The iPad 2’s larger form factor was just too unwieldy – turns out the iPad mini is just about right.

What apps do you use for your iPad the most, and why?

Watching football (that’s soccer, to most of you!) when out of the house is taken care of by the Sky Go and BT Sport apps. Neither are available outside the UK, but if you’re a subscriber, you’ll know why I love them.

I use Reeder 2 to make sure I’ve kept abreast of all my RSS feeds, and Pushpin is where I keep my Pinboard stuff. Browsing the web, reading in Pushpin and Reeder 2 as well as the ComiXology app are the main uses for the iPad mini. Oh, and the odd game of course.

Which iPad app could you not live without?

Probably the Sky Go and BT Sport apps, but the ComiXology and Chrome apps get plenty of use as well. The obligatory OmniFocus app is installed, but if I’m honest, I rarely use it on the iPad. Sacrilege, I know.


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