Brent Simmons

Brent Simmons

Mac, web developer (Glassboard, ex-NetNewsWire)

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Who are you, and what do you do?

I blog at inessential.com. I'm one of the founders of Sepia Labs, where I write Glassboard for iOS. I've started doing web development again just recently, which is fun, but mostly I'm a Cocoa coder.

In the past I created NetNewsWire, now at Black Pixel; TapLynx, now at Push IO; and MarsEdit, now at Red Sweater.

What hardware do you use?

I'll skip enumerating my computers and displays, mainly because I'm a little paranoid about doing that - but also because they're not that interesting. Let's assume I have what I need to do my job, including the usual run of iOS devices. I'll mention some other things instead.

I have a Magic Trackpad, which I love. I've become an Olympic-level swiper.

My most important piece of hardware, which I love even more than my trackpad, is my Apple Extended Keyboard II. If it ever breaks my career is probably over - not because I'd be unable to adjust, but because I'd be too heart-broken to even try.

Other perhaps-interesting office hardware: a Verilux Happy Light, which I run for a few hours every morning, which keeps me even-keeled. Four heavy Boeing surplus tables arranged in a U and strong enough to withstand massive earthquakes. (Our plan is to huddle under them, with our cat, when the 9.0 hits Seattle.) A cheap Fender Squier and Frontman 15G amp. A box of old-style Pilot Razor Point black pens. A graph-paper notebook I bought for 5 francs at Prisunic in 1992 that I've only recently started using.

And what software?

Lately I've been trying to deal with ever-increasing complexity - and my own impatience - by moving as much as I can back to Terminal apps. Most of this is just about switching to one text editor - Vim - for everything, including writing email, blog posts, notes, HTML, style sheets, and code.

I've gotten as far as switching my most-used email account over to mutt, and I'm doing most of my writing and web coding in Vim, but I'm still using Xcode for Cocoa coding. I'd like to get off Xcode (as much as possible) before long.

There are two main reasons for this effort. One is that using a single, customized text editor for everything just makes sense for people like me who spend so much time working with text. Another is that no GUI text editor can compare with a Terminal app for speed. There's always some animation or slow-appearing window that gets in my way, and I'm ridiculously and pathologically impatient - and getting worse.

But that's not to say I've given up the world of GUI apps. No way! I love 'em.

I use Acorn, Photoshop, and Preview for graphics. I regularly use Safari, NetNewsWire, MarsEdit, Colloquy, iChat, Twitter for OS X, Instruments, iCal, xScope, LaunchBar, Keynote, Growl, FileMerge, Versions, iTunes, FastScripts, Transmit, OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, and LiveView Screencaster.

For testing in browsers I use Chrome and Firefox - and Chromium and IE 9 via Ubuntu and Windows 7 running in VMWare Fusion.

I use the wonderful and better-than-grep ack on the command line. For SCM I mostly use Mercurial (on the command line usually, though sometimes I use SourceTree). I use Bitbucket for repository hosting. My shell is still tcsh, though I'm considering switching to zsh. DropBox has become my documents folder. I use Lighthouse for bug tracking. Most of my communication with my co-workers is via Glassboard (we almost never use email anymore).

Somehow, just in the past few days, I've finally moved from Monaco to Consolas. I never thought I'd switch from Monaco. (I would have gone with Menlo, but it's a bit too blurry for me.)

What would be your dream setup?

I wish wish wish that my iPad had a retina display. I don’t think we can over-estimate how stunning that will be.

That’s it — that’s all I wish for.