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Old Aug 11, 2012, 03:56 AM   #1
nightlong
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Hey writers ... What do you use?

For those who make their living with words, whether journalism, fiction, blogging, or in the course of a day job ... What mac gear do you use, and what are your favourite apps?

My own system ... In transition, still using my 2007 iMac at desk with Word, use ipad2 for a lot of writing, typed and handwritten, favorite apps so far are iA Writer, Noteshelf, Quickoffice, Penultimate, Pages. With apple BT keyboard and Wacom baboo stylus.

Air 13 inch would be ideal next buy for me in every way except for perhaps the screen. has anyone taken the leap to rMBP just for sharp text, even if the rest of the machine is overkill for yr purposes?
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 04:22 AM   #2
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The rMBP would definitely be overkill for just writing purposes.
It does indeed have a lot of processing power for dealing with big documents but the MBA should be sufficient for that.

Also it does have a lot more portability than the rMBA even though its thin. The footprint and screen size of the MBA is great and you can really use it anywhere you like, on your lap it never really gets too heavy or anything.

Regarding your question about programs, I cannot answer that, I am just a college student and for writing I just use pages and the Microsoft Office pack.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 04:46 AM   #3
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The big attraction to the Air is portability, at home mostly, not being so desk-bound, but a screen with sharp text is a big priority too. how do other Air users who write all day get along with its dreary TN screen?
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 05:00 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by nightlong View Post
The big attraction to the Air is portability, at home mostly, not being so desk-bound, but a screen with sharp text is a big priority too. how do other Air users who write all day get along with its dreary TN screen?
Have you ever taken a good look at the MacBook Airs' screen? It's very crisp and sharp, no doubt about it. It is a great screen!
Go to an Apple Store and take a look for yourself and compare the two MBs.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 05:04 AM   #5
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I am a copywriter and use my MBA with iA Writer and Marked to export to HTML. I tried a few other "minimal writing apps", but I didn't like them. iA Writer has the best font in my opinion. It needs some time to getting used to it, but after that you will not regret it. Since I administrate tons of websites of my clients I also use 1Password to store all the logins, Numbers for spreadsheets and Skitch to optimize images. If I need to edit a HTML file I use Mou, which is currently in beta, but still a great app.

For maximum privacy I also use a VPN, if you want to know which one, write me a pm, I don't want to promote anybody here.

About the screen: It is really sharp, I have an external 1080p Samsung monitor which looks like crap compared to the Samsung screen of my MBA.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 05:17 AM   #6
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I was ready to buy Air 13, was just waiting for ML to come with it, and then all these posts were appearing about the screen problems and how you need to rush out and spend hundreds of dollars on calibration gear to get optimism performance! I started to think rMbp might be better value, even though I don't need all that power, I do need a readable screen.

----------

That's encouraging, two people who find the screen sharp enough for long days with text. The spelling robot here got in the way in my last post, of course I meant optimum performance, not optimism.

I found iA writer on iPad took some getting used to, also. Not used to such a blank page!
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 06:27 AM   #7
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I was ready to buy Air 13, was just waiting for ML to come with it, and then all these posts were appearing about the screen problems and how you need to rush out and spend hundreds of dollars on calibration gear to get optimism performance!
Ugh, don't listen to those people. You know, the problem with Apples' "no questions asked" return policy is, that people start to complain about every little thing: "OMG, I have a Toshiba SSD, the world is doomed, I'm gonna return it." Next time the same person get's a LG screen and returns it again and so on. I mean, why would you stress about that so much? Buy the MBA, use it and be happy. If you really don't like it, return it after a few days. I have the Samsung screen and Toshiba SSD and don't really care. The time I would spend calibrating my screen and trying to find a little scratch I would loose money - time is money.

Anyway, with ML even the LG screens have a good calibration profile, there is no need to calibrate it with professional software.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 06:47 AM   #8
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macbook Air 2010 13" C2D here - great screen, use Word 2011 for writing - the full black screen with just your page on it view is wonderful for writing. Also used Scrivener on trial for planning and writing, and tempted to move to that.

I think my screen is supposed to be the poor one, but I don't see it. Beats my old Sony into the ground, and all the Dells we use on desktops at work. The only thing that beats it is the iMac we have in one room at work, though that's more reflective if it's in sunlight.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 07:13 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Skoopman View Post
Ugh, don't listen to those people. You know, the problem with Apples' "no questions asked" return policy is, that people start to complain about every little thing: "OMG, I have a Toshiba SSD, the world is doomed, I'm gonna return it." Next time the same person get's a LG screen and returns it again and so on. I mean, why would you stress about that so much? Buy the MBA, use it and be happy. If you really don't like it, return it after a few days. I have the Samsung screen and Toshiba SSD and don't really care. The time I would spend calibrating my screen and trying to find a little scratch I would loose money - time is money.

Anyway, with ML even the LG screens have a good calibration profile, there is no need to calibrate it with professional software.
-

Thanks for this Skoopman, some have said ML has sorted this, some say not. I'm sure there are zillions of happy Air users out there, but people most often don't list text when evaluating it. I just want a great portable writing machine that won't give me eye strain .... Which I've never had since I got my 2007 iMac.
Resolution has improved since then but it's still a great screen.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonLa View Post
macbook Air 2010 13" C2D here - great screen, use Word 2011 for writing - the full black screen with just your page on it view is wonderful for writing. Also used Scrivener on trial for planning and writing, and tempted to move to that.

I think my screen is supposed to be the poor one, but I don't see it. Beats my old Sony into the ground, and all the Dells we use on desktops at work. The only thing that beats it is the iMac we have in one room at work, though that's more reflective if it's in sunlight.
Do you use a bigger screen with the Air when at a desk, or just the Air?
I've been looking at scrivener, can't decide whether it is over-complicated or brilliant.

Anyone here using Scrivener?
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 08:02 AM   #10
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Anyone here using Scrivener?
Depends on what you write. For a book where you need a lot of research material it could be worth it. I get all my infos from the internet so iA Writer is more than enough. Dual monitor set up could be worth it, too. iA Writer on the MBA screen, Safari on the external monitor.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 08:10 AM   #11
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Smile Writer's setup

I write a lot and my MBA 13 2011 is certainly the best writing machine I've ever had.
I was using iA Writer + Simplenote combo but recently have switched to WriteRoom 3 and prefer it over the iA Writer.
I use two themes: day with a white background and night with the WriteRoom default full screen background. Both have the same font settings: Bitstream Vera Sans size 19.
A week ago I also bought the iLap stand. Writing outside of a big monitor setup is much more comfortable now.
Put it all together and MBA= ZMA (Zen Writing Machine) .
Edit: I forgot to mention Freedom - an app that cuts you completely from internet for a given time. Without it I could hardly done any writing at all .

Last edited by ZirkMan; Aug 11, 2012 at 08:16 AM.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 08:39 AM   #12
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I've had to have 2computers for a long time as backup in a very busy freelance writing and editing biz, and also wrote music as part of this, so I've had 2 screens for long time (Imac, mini mac with a proview scrren) but not dual monitors, which I've been using lately, dell u2412 with my iMac while waiting/dithering about the Air. I'm only writing for money part-time now, I've been working on a trilogy in fiction for several years, massive research etc, and have been loving the dual monitors, with writing on one, research, dictionaries etc on the other, plus my iPad on hoverbar for mail/messages/safari. Feel like a screen-surround stockbroker! .. Without the money, alas.

Was looking at some pix of writers rooms a while ago, not a dual monitor setup in sight, nearly all had laptops with no additional keyboard.mouse ... Like, begging for neck and back trouble. iPad has freed me a lot from desk, but when at the desk I love big screens and seeing things at a glance that before I had to burrow to find.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 08:52 AM   #13
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Freedom ... Comes with the territory in rural Australia when you have to have satellite for broadband that is not reliable or fast but worst of all has very loud-fan modem. I turn that off when writing ... Have 3G on iPad for mail etc, but I don't answer anything that's not urgent, often for 2 or 3 blissfully uninterrupted days.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 09:24 AM   #14
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Several writers like Michael Marshall and Charles Stross (both SF and thriller writers) love and recommend Scrivener. I think its a neat tool for planning and structure, while the writing window is as neat as Word - useful if you write in fragments and then plan your work around them.

I just have a laptop at home, iMac at work, but my writing there is for the web, so I often find myself writing in dreamweaver with the split design/code screen so I can see my copy and it's base structure before dropping it into our CMS.

Were I a pro who worked for himself (the dream) I'd have an iMac and an Air...
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 10:13 AM   #15
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My main machine is a 2008 iMac. I recently bought a 2012 MBA because after two years, I found that an iPad with Quickoffice just was not a viable substitute for a laptop. One reason was that Quickoffice struggles with anything longer than a few pages. Another reason is that typing on glass sucks.

The vast majority of my work is done with Word 2008. I also occasionally use PowerPoint and Excel. I have Acrobat on a Windows Vista laptop when I need to edit PDFs, but that's not very often.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 10:49 AM   #16
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I'll try scrivener when I get the Air, which I've decided to do after all the positive feedback here ... 8/base model/256. Your dream of being a pro writer ... It has many benefits but after doing that and music composition freelance for 20 years and for last few years writing fiction too .... Too much sitting, too much same thing even though different sorts of writing ... And writing through illness, through anything, don't get paid if you don't make the deadline! I mostly do non-writing work for money now, consulting and running or organising workshops, so I can reserve slumping in chairs mostly for fiction writing. My spine is much happier! the iPad also has reduced sitting hugely. With the Air I'll do more writing outdoors on the farm I live on, looking forward to that.

----------

I also have word 2008, which some say is better than 2011. But apparently Microsoft isn't doing mac version of 2013 .... And I'm sick of Word anyway, such a massive clunky and so PC dull old dinosaur ... It's exciting that people are now developing software for writers instead of for word 'processors'.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 10:56 AM   #17
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I am not a writer, but I am a professor who does a lot of writing on the MBA. Works just fine for me. If you want to be upset about the screen, spend a lot of time on here reading the posts from people whining about them. I'd think it was perfect otherwise.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 11:00 AM   #18
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My main machine is a 2008 iMac. I recently bought a 2012 MBA because after two years, I found that an iPad with Quickoffice just was not a viable substitute for a laptop. One reason was that Quickoffice struggles with anything longer than a few pages. Another reason is that typing on glass sucks.

The vast majority of my work is done with Word 2008. I also occasionally use PowerPoint and Excel. I have Acrobat on a Windows Vista laptop when I need to edit PDFs, but that's not very often.
I agree iPad has limitations. So what do you think of the Air as writing machine, what sort of writing do you do?
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 11:01 AM   #19
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Hmmm...

I write all day on a combination of a 20" Dell Widescreen monitor and an 11.6" 2012 MBA.

No problems whatsoever.

If I ever feel like I need to focus more on just my words, I use Scrivener or WriteRoom to go full screen on just the 11.6".

You're of course free to spend on a rMBP, but that's serious overkill.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 11:12 AM   #20
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I write all day on a combination of a 20" Dell Widescreen monitor and an 11.6" 2012 MBA.

No problems whatsoever.

If I ever feel like I need to focus more on just my words, I use Scrivener or WriteRoom to go full screen on just the 11.6".

You're of course free to spend on a rMBP, but that's serious overkill.
I'm not going to splurge on the rMbp, I really don't want to spend that much on a supposedly unrepairable laptop that falls between portability and desktop uses for me. However, if it was my only option to get sharp text ... I wouldn't consider it overkill any more than a gamer or video editor would if the machine fulfilled their major need.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 11:19 AM   #21
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Agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by nightlong View Post
I'm not going to splurge on the rMbp, I really don't want to spend that much on a supposedly unrepairable laptop that falls between portability and desktop uses for me. However, if it was my only option to get sharp text ... I wouldn't consider it overkill any more than a gamer or video editor would if the machine fulfilled their major need.
Of course not. If you're making money with your machine, you should spend as much as you need to in order to be more productive.

I'm a freelancer as well, and my main need was portability and speed. I was worried that "downgrading" from a 13" MBP would be an issue, but the weight and the SSD quickness were more than worth any issues with resolution.

I also prefer to use smaller screens most of the time, as it keeps me focused on one thing (well, it helps, anyway) instead of the 15 different things I can easily have open when I'm using multiple monitors.

I'm just biased toward any 15" MBP, after watching people spend $2k on a machine that they only use for email and web surfing and then complaining about how expensive Apple laptops are.

All this being said...the rMBP screen is absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to have something like that in a smaller form factor.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 11:40 AM   #22
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Does yr dell screen have the anti glare? I'm still getting used to that on the new dell screen I have .. Such a contrast next to the super gloss iMac. I think they are about the same in sharpness but it's hard to say, my eyes go through quite an adjustment from extreme gloss to extreme matte. I do sometimes spend 12 or more hours a day at screens (with some breaks) ... That's why I'm so fussy about screens ... Before the iMac I often got eye strain and headaches on terrible screens then, such as eMac, and various screens I used for laptops. The iMac is great and I don't want to step down or backwards from that, so it's worth doing some research.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 11:44 AM   #23
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No idea

Quote:
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Does yr dell screen have the anti glare? I'm still getting used to that on the new dell screen I have .. Such a contrast next to the super gloss iMac. I think they are about the same in sharpness but it's hard to say, my eyes go through quite an adjustment from extreme gloss to extreme matte. I do sometimes spend 12 or more hours a day at screens (with some breaks) ... That's why I'm so fussy about screens ... Before the iMac I often got eye strain and headaches on terrible screens then, such as eMac, and various screens I used for laptops. The iMac is great and I don't want to step down or backwards from that, so it's worth doing some research.
The Dell monitor I have is some refurb. It doesn't LOOK all that glossy!

But seriously, I have no idea. Right now, I use three screens, a crappy 19"acer, dell 20" and my MBA.

Maybe I'm lucky in that my many, many hours a day staring at them doesn't create eye strain, but if it did, I certainly wouldn't balk at spending whatever I needed to in order to eliminate that.

I've found more issues with Apple screens (iMacs and displays) calibrated by my designer/photographer friends. Eye strain galore after only a few minutes.

Perhaps my eyes have conformed to factory settings. If so, I'd love to know how to package and bottle this ability.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 12:25 PM   #24
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Perhaps my eyes have conformed to factory settings. If so, I'd love to know how to package and bottle this ability.[/QUOTE]

Haha! Of course you can package that ability, starting on the MR forums that have been causing my Air dithering with horror screen stories ... You could, for a handsome fee, guide them to the calm, quiet, productive state of Living With Factory Settings!
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 01:58 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by nightlong View Post
-

Thanks for this Skoopman, some have said ML has sorted this, some say not. I'm sure there are zillions of happy Air users out there, but people most often don't list text when evaluating it. I just want a great portable writing machine that won't give me eye strain .... Which I've never had since I got my 2007 iMac.
Resolution has improved since then but it's still a great screen.

----------



Do you use a bigger screen with the Air when at a desk, or just the Air?
I've been looking at scrivener, can't decide whether it is over-complicated or brilliant.

Anyone here using Scrivener?
Me. Love it.
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