My Problogging Setup
I first wrote about my home office setup in How I Blog: Matt Craven back in May 2006 when I was still the editor of The Blog Herald. Things have changed a bit since then.
I generally blog from my home office – though sometimes from the local Starbucks or Caribou for that java fix. I can also write from the deck (I have two at the house) or from the living room/dining room area. It just depends on my mood at the time.
I’m still a Mac user. My current main computer is a 17″ Macbook Pro tricked out with the glossy screen, max RAM (3GB in this one), and the largest hard drive they were selling in March 2007 when I purchased it. This is my first Intel mac. I actually had no plans to purchase this but my trusty 15″ Powerbook G4 from the winter of 2005 died during a client trip in Dallas.
The Macbook Pro is connected in my office to the granddaddy of all monitors – a 30″ Apple Cinema Display. The laptop itself sits on an elevated stand just to the left of the monitor providing me with an enormous amount of screen real estate.
To the right of the Macbook setup is a Dell XPS workstation running Windows XP with Dual 20″ LCDs. I primarily use this for gaming, though the dual monitor setup and PC software is sometimes needed for specific applications. For example, I keep the books for Bryghtpath LLC (my company) using Quickbooks Pro from Intuit, which simply doesn’t have the same functionality in its Mac version as its original PC version does have.
I also have an older Powermac G4 tower on the other side of the office that serves as an iTunes server, a backup server, and the main podcasting machine. It’s too old for much else at this point.
The entire office is backed up to a 1TB RAID5 Appliance from Infrant.
My tools are similar to what I wrote about back in 2006. I still use Newsgator, I can read those feeds from anywhere, even if my Macbook Pro isn’t with me.
I have over 2400 feeds presently in my feedreader. About 250 or so of these are some type of searches – mostly using Google’s Blogsearch. Two years ago, I was primarily using searches from Technorati, but they’ve simply become too erratic for me to continue to use them. These searches might be about sites that I write on – or about some of our properties – or just general terms like “bloggerjobs”, “podcasting jobs”, “podcaster”, or even just “Matt Craven”. I find these searches to be an invaluable way to gather competitive intelligence and source great stories that often get missed in the blogosphere.
It’s a way to stay ahead of the competition – and break away from the constant regurgitation that can come from the echo chamber that is TechMeme.
Beyond that, my tools are pretty typical. I generally use WordPress for blogging, twhirl or twitterific for twitter, and visit TechMeme frequently to see what folks are talking about.
I have two key mobile tools in my arsenal.
The first is my Apple iPhone. I waited in line for three hours on the day that they came out and wound up getting the last one from the AT&T store that I was stalking. There’s little that I can’t do on this phone when mobile – and it’s allowed me to stay up on what’s happening from wherever I am. Plus it’s a great phone + iPod.
The second is my Sprint broadband card. Whether in my Macbook Pro or the Dell laptop that I use for some client work – it enables me to connect at broadband speeds just about anywhere in North America. And its saved me thousands in wifi fees from places like Starbucks.
I’ve turned myself into an early riser, even though I generally just hate the mornings. In many ways, however, my workflow is quite similar to what I outlined back in 2006.
I tend to skim feeds first thing in the morning via NetNewsWire – and then look at them periodically throughout the day – with a deep read late in the evening. As I skim, I open up in Firefox any item that interests me personally or as a potential blog topic.
At any time I have 80-100 tabs open in Firefox.
I used to open tabs in both Firefox and NetNewsWire, but that become unmanageable. Now I just store everything in the browser. Items that I’m reading that wind up just being good information generally get tagged and stored in my del.icio.us account for later reference – or bookmarked into Firefox as well.
I tend to blog with two Firefox windows open. The first is the main reading window with all of my tabs for reading, perusing, etc. The second is opened up to the wordpress interface for blogging. I’ve used desktop applications for blogging before but overtime I just began using the old-school interface and blog directly into the application. No fancy WYSIWYG interfaces for me.
When I blog just depends on what’s happening in the blogosphere.
If there is breaking news that I want to get ahead of – I tend to blog when that news is hot.
For example, on Saturday night this week the Sunday NY Times article on blogging stress and early deaths came out – very few folks had blogged on it. In order to get ahead of the story, I took some planned free time on Saturday and banged out the post. I believe we were the 2nd or 3rd blog to post on the story.
On the flipside, I actually wrote this post for publication later in the week on Sunday immediately after lunch – though you won’t be reading this for a few days down the road. Why? Because it’s just not time sensitive.
I do liveblog from time to time from conferences and events – so you’ll see some of that here at The Blog Herald in the months ahead.
Wrapping it up
That’s my problogging setup and my style/workflow – in other words, it’s what works for me. Hopefully you can take something away from it as well that will help you improve your own workflow.
Now, tell me how you blog and about your setup. I’m always looking to learn something new.
Matt Craven is the former editor & publisher of The Blog Herald. Currently, Matt is the co-founder of Bryghtpath LLC, a consulting practice located in Woodbury, Minnesota. Matt's presently looking for new blogging gigs. Ping him at matt (at) bryghtpath dot com. You can follow him on Twitter.
Cool setup — I think you need more computers, tho. :) Need to upgrade that admin panel, too.
I am also considering a Mac as well (saving up for a fall purchase).
However, which would you recommend as a better purchase? A flat panel iMac or a Powerbook instead?
I already have an iPhone (which helps me star important posts for later blogging in gReader), although buying that did set me back from a Mac purchase (Verizon termination fees are evil).
Can i have one of your computers lol? mines is very slow
Thanks for the endorsement. We can also setup you up with a NewsGator powered widget.
Darnell – I think it’s a personal preference. The macbook pros are powerhouse machines – mine is running the 30″ monitor and it’s 17″ screen right now – and I have Mail, Adium, twirl, firefox w/ 120 tabs, Adobe Illustrator, and some background apps running – plus I’m remote desktopped into a windows machine… and it’s still running like a champ…
Personally, I like the mobility that the macbook pro provides me – along with the desktop capabilities when I dock it here in my home office..
That’s a pretty great setup, I wish I had the cash to purchase a MacBook Pro but for now I’m going to have to deal with my year old MacBook instead.
You should really consider trying out Google Reader, especially if you have an iPhone, I will often find myself in a situation where I’d like to get some work done but I don’t have my laptop with me, so I’ll open up Google Reader in my iPhone and read some feeds… It’ll change your life.
Geesh. You have a full family right there on your desk!
You have been at this for a while and I am sure I have learned a few things from you in the last few weeks. To get ahead with hot news in blogging is a two sided coin: either be a late night owl and be on the heels of the Aussies, or blog full time and feed on your feeds.
I blog non-time sensitive material and occasionally real time. Staying ahead with news is a challenge especially for one-man blogs. Many try it and would burn out. Come to think of it: how can a newbie blogging alone keep ahead of a team (like your)that has been blogging for years?
Just out of curiosity, what do you think of Zemanta, Scribefire and SEO for Firefox? I am currently blogging about Firefox blogging tools and your experience will be cool advice for my readers.
scribefire is good – i don’t use it but I do have it installed for something to play around with.
I’ve never used the other two plugins that you mention..