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Greg Maass’ Mac and iOS 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.

New setup interviews are posted every Monday; follow us on RSS or Twitter to stay up to date.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Greg Maass (@gmaass in the usual places), and I’m a software developer, musician, and father living in Seattle, Washington. I’ve developed enterprise software for hospitals and universities for the last 20 years, always on a Windows machine using the Microsoft stack.

What is your current setup?

Greg Maass' desk

A few years ago, I started getting into iOS development and bought a bottom of the line Mac Mini and plugged it into my existing keyboard and monitors to see how I liked the platform. I liked it, but the Mac Mini was too underpowered to do much, so I bought a top of the line Mac Mini with a Fusion Drive. I love it, and so far it has been serving me well without making me wish I had a more powerful machine. I have a Windows machine that I can switch to when needed (mostly for CD/DVD reading), but I rarely turn it on these days.

I have been using a stand-up desk for 6 years, using a bamboo kitchen shelf and keyboard stand that I got from Storables. They’re not adjustable, but they are perfect for my height. Other people hate using my setup. I have a Magic Trackpad and standard HP keyboard mapped to Apple function keys so I can have the same keyboard at home and work and not have to readjust every day.

Where can we find your macOS wallpaper?

I take a lot of photos and generally use wallpaper of memorable hikes I have taken to remind me that summer is always less than a year away.

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

For iOS development, I use XCode and Text Wrangler.

For remote access to my Windows machine in my office at work, I use Microsoft Remote Desktop.

I use Chrome everywhere as my browser.

For Calendar/Task/Life Management, I’ve flipped back and forth between Fantastical and Informant, and a couple of years ago finalized on Informant, even though I’m not crazy about their subscription model. I need one app that presents my Calendars and To Do list in the same place, so I can’t use any of the highly regarded task management apps like Things or OmniFocus. Informant is super flexible and runs on Mac and iOS. I also use Trello for more complicated tasks like software projects or travel planning.

I am a news junkie and am a longtime user of Instapaper. I get a lot of use from the Chrome extension on the Mac and share sheet in iOS.

I try to go native whenever possible to keep things simple, so I use the native mail client.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

I would love to get nicer monitors for my dual monitor setup and a next generation Mac Mini, if only to have the assurance that Apple will not stop making this model.

What iPhone do you have?

Greg Maass' iPhone

I currently have a Silver 256GB iPhone X. I was actually pretty happy with my iPhone 7, but was lusting after the improved camera in the X. I was blown away by how they kept the size under control while improving the hardware so much. Once I actually held one in my hand it was a done deal.

Where can we find your wallpaper online?

I use the built-in image for the lock screen and have a black wallpaper so that I can use David Smith’s clever hack to customize my screen layouts.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

My iPhone is my most-used computer. It is hard to believe that 10 years ago I did not have something like this in my pocket. The best way to think about the apps I use is to step through a typical day.

Wake up:

  • Check the weather using Dark Sky. Amazingly accurate for hard-to-predict Northwest weather.
  • See what my day/to do list looks like using Informant.
  • See what my work day looks like using the native calendar app. Yes, I use 2 calendar apps. I like to keep my work calendar separate from my personal calendar, which also contains linked Google calendars for 3 other family members. Also, the native calendar app does a much better job of managing Exchange calendars and meeting invites from work.
  • Email using the native mail app for personal and multiple work accounts.
  • What’s new with my friends using Facebook.
  • See if it’s armageddon yet using Tweetbot, my favorite Twitter client.

During the day:

  • Messages using iMessage. Probably 90% of my contacts use iMessage.
  • Reality break using Instagram to look at beautiful things and inspiring photography.
  • Listen to music using Spotify.
  • News browsing using Feedly, offloading longreads to Instapaper for later.

End of workday:

  • Dimming, an app I wrote that tells me if there is enough time for me to get home before sunset to squeeze in a run/bike ride/outdoor activity.
  • NPR One to catch up on the latest news.
  • Castro, to catch up on some podcasts. Podcast apps are very personal, and Castro meets my needs better than others that are out there. I’m going to be releasing a podcast app this spring/summer that is my idea of how a podcast app should work, and I think others will like it as well.
  • For photography, I use Halide for RAW photography (mostly for landscapes) and to capture depth data for when portrait mode in the native camera app cannot handle it. I use the native camera app is for the default HDR mode, and Snapseed or Camera+ for post-processing. Just started using PortraitCam, which seems pretty great for depth manipulation.

Which app could you not live without?

A really hard question. If I didn’t care about keeping my life in order, I would say Tweetbot or Instapaper, where I spend most of my time, but in the real world I rely on Informant to keep all of the balls in the air and I would be lost without it.

Which iPad do you have?

Greg Maass' iPad mini

I currently have an iPad Mini 4 in space gray.

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

My iPad is used almost exclusively for reading and media consumption, along with music practice as time allows. I don’t do any “real” work on it.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

For news, I use The “Failing” New York Times, Instapaper, Feedly, and Tweetbot. For music, I use The Amazing Slowdowner and iRealPro. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video for movies and tv show binging.

Which app could you not live without?

Probably the same as on my iPhone: Informant and Instapaper.

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