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Gerry Hayes’ Mac and iPad Pro 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?

My name is Gerry Hayes and I run Haze Guitars in Dublin, Ireland.

I repair and build guitars. I also write about guitars. I’ve released a number of free eBooks and have just launched a series of guitar and bass setup guides called Sketchy Setups which are all hand-drawn before being digitised and coloured.

I also write a newsletter and blog about guitar repair and maintenance. I’m currently working on a new book on guitar and bass wiring that will be released soon (I hope — turns out it’s a lot of work).

What is your current setup?

I have two iMacs. One lives in my workshop and one in my office.

Workshop Mac Setup

Gerry Hayes' Workshop Mac setup

The workshop Mac is quite old, but it’s a tenacious beast. It’s a 2007 iMac with 5GB of RAM (2GB more than officially supported). It was beginning to creak and groan a little until I popped in an SSD a year or two back. Now it’s more than serviceable as a workshop machine and is coping just fine with El Capitan. Not too bad for a system that will be ten on its next birthday.

It’s hanging off the wall with a VESA mount. It’s got a wired keyboard that I really should find a cover for — workshop fingers can get dirty — and a Magic Trackpad.

Where can we find your OS X wallpaper?

This one’s my own photo. It’s from a very foggy hike in the mountains a couple of years ago. We camped just below the cloud line. It was a good time, despite not seeing the sun for two days (Irish people can go months without seeing sun).

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

  • Calendar-wise, I keep flitting back and forth between BusyCal and Fantastical because I can’t decide which I prefer. The agony of choice.
  • I use GeekTool to display my calendar on the desktop. This saves me a lot of hassle as I can really quickly see what’s coming up. I leave that little bit of desktop showing all the time and it’s easy to read at a glance.
  • For keeping track of tasks, I use Things. At the moment, I have a horribly convoluted Applescript that I use as a makeshift CRM. It takes inputs, churns them up, and adds appropriate entries and notes to Things and Contacts. Pretty, it ain’t, but it’ll do for now. Some masochistic developer friends have offered to make something more ‘solid’, just for me, so fingers crossed.
  • Numbers sees a bit of action on the workshop machine, mainly to figure out tax and invoices. The Soulver calculator app is a big help for this sort of thing too — being able to see a calculation history and work out percentages as a maths-illiterate is fantastic.
  • I listen to a lot of podcasts. I once used Overcast on my phone and I LOVE it. I no longer have a working speaker dock in the workshop so I’m using Pocket Casts web interface on the Mac. It’s okaaaaay. It does lose episodes from time to time and I’ve had sync issues, but I haven’t found a decent alternative for Mac. I’d love it if Overcast’s web interface was tweaked just a tiny bit — even to give just one chronological list of all podcast episodes rather than grouping them by podcast.
  • I was considering moving away from Evernote for a while before the recent hubbub. I’m more determined now. I think it needs a rethink of my whole notes environment, though. I also use nvALT, which is fantastic for text notes, but I’d like one note app to rule them all. This requires more experimentation than I have time for at the moment, I fear.
  • Sitting up in the menu bar is Dropbox, Caffeine, f.lux and a bundle of the usual suspects. DeskConnect is the best utility I’ve used for reliably flinging stuff from Mac to Mac, or to iOS. Command-Q gets installed on all my Macs because, without it, I keep accidentally quitting my browsers instead of closing tabs.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

Just like it is currently, except with an Overcast web client that had a few more features. Or a native OS X app. Whichever Marco prefers.


Office Mac Setup

Gerry Hayes' Office Mac

What is your current setup?

The Office machine is a 27” 5K Retina iMac and is a thing of absolute beauty. That big retina screen is fantastic.

I added some 3rd-Party RAM after purchase (because I’m tight-fisted) and bumped it up to 24GB. It’s only got a 256GB SSD, but I’ve got a heap of external disks hanging off it and most of my stuff lives there.

I use the wired numeric keyboard because it’s easier for entering figures, and I still like the older Apple Wired Mouse for most stuff. I do have a Magic Trackpad 2 that I use for browsing the internet, photos, or whatever — anything where I can swipe back and forth. I’ve never gotten comfortable with gestures on a Magic Mouse though. Old dog.

There’s also a Wacom Intuos graphics tablet that I use for various graphics jobs, illustrations and diagrams, and for colouring my Sketchy Setups guides.

I use a Canon LiDE 120 for scanning my drawings, and the two active Yamaha monitors are hangovers from when I used to play about with recording music. They’re pretty good for some occasional rock and roll.

Gerry Hayes' Office Mac

Where can we find your OS X wallpaper?

The image is from Unsplash. You can find it here. I don’t like busy wallpapers, and I reckon I’ll stick with this one for a while.

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

  • My Sketchy Setups books are all completely hand-drawn, so they start out as pencil and ink on paper before being scanned in. I use Affinity Designer to clean up the scans and to add colour. Designer is a fantastic vector graphics app that means I’m not tied to Adobe. For anyone who’s getting fed up feeding a subscription for Illustrator, I’d really recommend giving it a go.
  • Also in the let’s-get-away-from-Adobe camp is Pixelmator. I can’t say enough good things about this app. Between this and Designer, I’ve got my graphics needs covered (although I have just downloaded Affinity Photo to play with too).
  • As far as writing goes, all of my blog posts, newsletters, and book stuff begins in Ulysses. I played with Scrivener for a while, but couldn’t get on with the look and feel. Ulysses is beautiful and I can style the themes just how I like them. I usually write in Markdown, which is handled just fine. Sync over iCloud is fast and solid. I love Ulysses.
  • I’ll often use VOX for listening to my music as it’s not so resource hungry as iTunes, but it’s been getting a few too many features and integrations for my liking. It’s not the end of the world to load iTunes, but I’d like a thin iTunes app.
  • On the subject of new features, I’ve used and loved TextExpander for ages but recent releases haven’t really brought anything that I need (or even want). I’ll wait to see what happens as things progress as I’m loathe to change, but we’ll see.
  • I’ve used iBooks Author to lay out my free guides and it’s worked really well for this job.
  • On to email clients… Oh dear. I’m one of those who still mourn the passing of Sparrow. I kept using it until very recently and I still have a copy installed on both Macs. I’ve been using Airmail, but it’s buggy — far too buggy for a version 3.0, but I feel like it’s the best of a less-than-stellar lot. I installed PolyMail with high hopes, but two separate installs threw two different fundamental bugs at me. Oh well.
  • It wouldn’t be fair not to mention Carbon Copy Cloner which shuffles backups and cloned stuff around those external hard drives I mentioned.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

I’d have a reliable email client. Essentially, I’d like Sparrow 2016, but I’d settle for one that worked properly.
Otherwise, I’m pretty happy.


Which iPad do you have?

Gerry Hayes' iPad Pro

I’ve recently upgraded to a 9.7″ iPad Pro. I really wanted to try the Pencil. I do a lot of illustrations for the stuff I write and was hoping the Pro and Pencil combo would let me streamline some of this.

Short answer is that it does. Longer answer is that I need more practice and app experimentation to find something what’s right for me.

Where can we find your wallpaper online?

It’s just the (rather splendid) image of Mars that ships with iOS.

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

For the longest time, I’ve been mainly consuming from the iPad. The friction I felt doing anything serious had prevented me using it for ‘real’ work.

I’m finding this to be less and less the case. There are still some tasks that I much prefer on a Mac. TextExpander is one reason for this — I rely on a lot of snippets, and TextExpander’s iOS keyboard is still a bit janky. However, I find myself doing more work on the iPad since I got the Pro.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

  • On the consumption side, I use Mr. Reader a lot. It pulls all my RSS feeds together and presents them nicely to me. Only problem is that iOS Split Screen has screwed with my muscle-memory of swiping from the right to go to the next article in Mr. Reader. Now I pull in another app half the time.
  • The Kindle app is great (and I can’t use an actual e-ink Kindle without getting a headache for reasons unknown to medical science).
  • Pocket is mainly a to-do list for articles I’ve found with something I want to remember to follow up on.
  • Tweetbot and Facebook’s Pages app let me do the social thing with customers and avoid digital hermitage.
  • I hate the Google iOS app and just have a Google homepage shortcut in my dock.
  • I use Airmail on iOS too. The advantage is that I have a ‘unified’ view of email – mails aren’t snoozed in one app but visible in another. The disadvantage is the weird little bugs.
  • Siri and the native Reminders app are great for quick reminders, but Things holds the important stuff.
  • Drafts is great for getting text from a single place into tons of other places. Take an hour or two to tweak it to your workflow and it becomes invaluable. Highly recommended.
  • I’m playing with Workflow a little, but am still just scratching the surface. I’d like to do more with this if I can find the time to go deeper.
  • Ulysses lives on iOS as well and it’s great here too. I’m doing more writing on the iPad and Ulysses makes it easy and pleasant.
  • I haven’t settled on a drawing app yet. I’m currently playing with Sketches, Bez, and Procreate.

Which app could you not live without?

Mr. Reader. I love sitting with a pot of tea and catching up on the world over breakfast.


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