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Apple stack: How I normally work
Posted on 11-Nov-2013 17:56 by Bill Bennett. | Tags Filed under: News.

This week I’m setting out to work the entire seven days in Apple’s technology stack. Next week I’ll repeat the experiment with Windows. All being well, I’ll follow this with a Google week.

My goal is to see how well each technology stack works, whether staying in a single silo is practical or whether limiting tools this way is madness.

It’s probably worth explaining how I normally work. Here goes:

Portability, a decent keyboard and battery life are at the top of my list. I raced out to buy Apple’s 2013 MacBook Air as soon as it hit the market. The MacBook is more than enough computer for my needs. It’s also easy to carry and will work all day on a single charge.

Much the same can be said about my iPad 2. I use it around the house when I’m away from my desk.

Some people give me a hard time for owning a Windows smartphone. Nokia’s Lumia 920 takes fabulous pictures. Image stabilisation makes it can take clean shots in poor light, making it a great tool for a journalist. I also find the Lumia 920 has the cleanest, most readable screen – it is especially good for reading email while on the move.

Main Devices

Computer: MacBook Air
Tablet: iPad 2
Smartphone: Nokia Lumia 920

Other hardware

The original LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen was great for press functions, doorstep interviews and covering conferences. I’m still not sure about the newer Sky model with built-in Wi-Fi. Some of the things that made the Pulse great have gone.

Even so, I still use it. Instead of relying on my dodgy shorthand I can record audio and take handwritten notes.

Guilty secret

I have a ridiculous number of external drives considering I also back everything up to two or three cloud services. Must justification is that I’ve lost data in the past. That cost me a lot of work and money – so now I’m paranoid about keeping multiple copies of everything.

Essential apps

Google Chrome is a must, I use it synched across devices – although, sadly not my phone.

My favourite writing tool is iA Writer, I use it on the Mac and the iPad. In fact I’m writing this blog post with it. IA Writer just gets out of the way, unlike feature-rich word processors. A lot of the time I also work directly in WordPress.

Microsoft Office is essential for some jobs and some clients. There are people I’ve worked with in the recent past who insist on it. I prefer Microsoft’s cut down web apps to the desktop version, but that’s because I need writing tools that keep out of the way. My favourite Office app is OneNote, quite possibly Microsoft’s single most under-rated product.


Another app I can’t live without is Evernote. In some ways it is similar to OneNote. I keep story notes there. FaceTime is a must for catching up with family when we are apart and if that doesn’t work, Skype is our fallback.

I have Photoshop. Actually I have the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite. Most of the time I prefer to stick with the simpler Adobe Fireworks for quickly editing images.

TweetDeck stays on most of the time so I can monitor breaking news. I use Feedly to watch key companies and people. My backups go to iCloud, SkyDrive, DropBox and Google Drive – as I’ve said I’m paranoid.

Otherwise there’s a lot of cloud software in my life. I’m a huge fan of Xero. After years of hating doing the accounts, I can now spend less time hating the job because Xero helps me get through the pain much faster.


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