What I Use: Shaun Wilson's Windows-Loving Mac

Our What Readers Use series continues with designer and video editor Shaun Wilson, who takes the relatively unusual approach of not using his Mac as a Mac. Read on to find out why, and where iPhone and a DeLorean fit into the mix.I am a bit of a split personality when it comes to work – I’m a partner in both a design business (at which I do corporate video and web development) and a production company. I have two separate workplaces. I take my laptop between them, and my edit suite sits at one.

Laptop

I use a 13” MacBook Air (2011) running Windows 7. I really like Apple hardware and this is the best laptop I’ve ever had, but I can’t stand Mac OS. I’m not bother going to get in to the Mac verus PC thing, I just have some fundamental issues with how Mac OS operates from a UI standpoint. Frustrates me no end. Windows 7, on the other hand, runs great and suits the way my brain works. And I can boot in to Mac OS to do iOS development, so it all works out very nicely.

I have matching USB hubs at both workplaces with mice and network running through them, so I just throw my laptop on the desk at whichever place, plug in power & one USB cable, and I’m set. No plugging in a million cords or packing accessories in to my bag, all I take back and forth is my (wonderfully small and light) laptop.

Desktop

I have an Intel Q6600 quad core 2.4Ghz with 4GB of RAM and a few TB of storage, most of it in RAID 1 for redundancy & speed. I have a 24” Dell LCD as my main monitor and a 20” secondary LCD for video playback. Those are Behringer B2031’s either side running through a little Xenyx mixer.

Yep, it’s an edit machine. I cut in Avid Media Composer, because it’s solid and very fast to edit with. Its inbuilt grading tools don’t compare to something like Apple Color, but because they’re inbuilt I can jump between grade & edit without drama. I composite footage & build title animations in After Effects CS5 because it’s quick and powerful. I couldn’t live without TMPGEnc Xpress for encoding – ridiculously cheap, great workflow, and makes beautiful MPEG2’s for DVD. I use that instead of Adobe’s media encoder for most stuff.

Software

Productivity-wise, my data floats between Outlook 2010, Google and my iPhone. All my addresses forward to a Gmail account I access through IMAP in Outlook, and my calendar syncs with Google Calendar. I use Outlook because every time I try another mail/calendaring/contacts app, some key piece of functionality is missing. Outlook actually does everything I need and does it well.

Chrome is my everyday browser of choice, largely because it’s fast and simple, and the only extension I use is Adblock. But I use Firefox for web development because Firebug is unbeatable.

I switched back to Trillian for chat recently, thanks to the “Simple” setting that makes it wonderfully minimalist.

I have ResophNotes for SimpleNote access, but also use OneNote for more complex stuff I need to put somewhere I won’t lose.

I use SpiderOak for backup & cloud access to my laptop’s data from my phone. But I’ll probably switch to using Dropbox when they finally deliver "any folder" sync, because I use it alongside SpiderOak anyway for collaboration, and Dropbox’s API is widely used in third party apps.

I use Final Draft 8 for script writing & editing – it’s a bit clunky, but does the job and means I can easily work with everyone else who uses it.

Adobe CS5 Master Collection covers my development and video needs – I use Dreamweaver and Photoshop for web development (and Flash when I have a gun pointed to my head). I’ve tried dedicated IDE’s for PHP, but I just find Dreamweaver does the job without adding a lot of needless complication. It does have a horribly slow FTP client built in though, so I use FileZilla a lot.

Mobile

My phone is an iPhone 4. I find Android to be a bit of a mess. I have a lot of apps installed but honestly don’t find myself using much often beyond the basics, which iOS does a great job of. My mail and calendar sync with Google, while my contacts just sync with Outlook when I plug in – Google Contacts is an unreliable mess, and I don’t really need over the air sync for contacts. I do use SimpleNote instead of the inbuild notes app, as it’s nicer to use, has tags, and syncs well. I just wish Microsoft would hurry up and release their OneNote app internationally so I could use that too.

And there’s a small time-travelling de Lorean parked on my right speaker to keep me sane. Or remind me I’m not. One of those.

Thanks Shaun! Want to tell us about your own setup and why it works? Send us the details by email to [email protected]


Comments

    Just so you know, OneNote is built into Windows Phone 7, and all email and contacts (from outlook (assuming using OWC) and hotmail) are beautifully synched within a second of updates (pretty hard to catch it out). If you thing the android is a little bit of a mess, try a winphone 7 at telstra and optus and you'll feel the same way about the iPhone.

    Have had a HTC HD7 since christmas (Thank to my girlfriend) and is honestly one of the best smartphones I have ever used (plus you get to buck the iPhone zeolot crowd :D).

      Yeah I've been having a look at Windows Phone 7 - it's a definite possibility when my current contract runs out.

      I really like their UI and integration with other Microsoft stuff, but despite technically being "7" it's really a first generation OS, and I like the stability of the more mature iOS (feature-wise and breadth of apps).

    Wow, a non-evangelist Apple user. Nice to meet you sir.

    Good Setup - Using bootcamp? Parallels? VMWare?

      Bootcamp. As Windows is my main OS, I want it running natively (and solo) for the best performance.

      Works really well. The drivers Apple have provided do a great job - all the relevant function keys (brightness, media playback, volume, eject) all work like they should, and I can scroll windows by using two fingers on the trackpad.

      I was initially worried about the lack of page up/down/home/end keys (very useful when doing any coding), but I soon discovered they do exist in an undocumented fashion - holding Fn+arrow keys replicates their functionality. That's one annoying thing jumping between Windows & Mac - under Mac OS it's different, and as such confusing when I habitually try to use the same keystrokes in in Xcode.

    Cool setup. Just wondering what sort of battery life do you get running Win7 on the MPA?

    I would think that the drop wouldn't be as bad if everything is running on Flash! :)

      I haven't done any kind of lab tests but I seem to get about 5 hours out of it pretty easily. No doubt could get more out of Mac OS with its power saving features tweaked for the MBA but it's plenty enough for me. My last laptop had hopeless battery life so it's wonderful in comparison ;)

        Thanks for the reply, I've been tossing up the idea getting a MBA but I'm so reliant on Windows mainly due to familiarity.

        What a nice surprise, that's a lot more than what I was expecting. And how is the trackpad in Win7? Are you still able to use the 2 finger swipe to scroll (it doesn't have a PageUp or PageDown on the keyboard) or is it limited/less responsive than on native OSX?

          Oops read your reply to Matt. Cool!

    This is some serious food for thought. I have different requirements, but my work has a lot of Mac's, and my mac VM is tedious at best. So for work I have an old G5 mac pro on my desk (waste of real estate, but it allows me to use my mac when I have to). Plus, like you, I think the Mac's are great pieces of hardware. I'm also glad that you feel the same way about the UI (I am surrounded by Mac people at work).

    Is it possible to switch quickly between windows and OS X? Or is that just not possible?

    I love simplenote / resoph notes. It has been perfect for what I needed it for.

    Thanks to you, I will have to give OneNote a proper go. My stuff is spread everywhere (trying to keep it to dropbox).

    I forgot to mention something, I'm not sure if your setup above is standard for you or not, but I would STRONGLY suggest setting up Synergy if it is. It will work in your Mac OS and your Windows OS.

    I use it at work, and it saves me having to move from one computer to the other and it's almost like having an extra screen. Since Synergy was picked up again recently, it is much smoother than it has been in the past too. Also, I do not experience any lag with it (which is a common question).

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