Running on Air: Robert Lo Bue

I first learned about Robert's use of a MacBook Air from this post.  He was comparing the 11" and 13" Air.  Picking a computer is a very personal thing and very need based. I reached out to Robert to ask him if he was still using his Air and if so how.  The interview is below.

1. Who are you? What type of business are you in, what do you do?

Hi! I'm Robert Lo Bue and I run a little company called Applingua Ltd. We translate iOS and OS X apps into different languages for developers worldwide.

2. Which model MacBook Air are you using? 

I'm on my third MacBook Air now! The first was way back when they first came out. I sold is a few weeks later… Then, last year, I picked up an 11" MacBook Air to complement my iMac. This was perhaps the most special Mac I'd ever used, so light, sturdy and powerful.

A few months later I sold both the 11" Air and iMac and went for a 13" MacBook Air 'Ultimate'. A mid-way point I suppose between the two. While the specs have now been superseded by the 2012 MBA, mine boasts a beefy a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD. The best money I've ever spent.

3. Why did you select the MacBook Air over other Mac models?

The MacBook Air is just so portable. You can walk and cycle without even noticing it's there (sometimes I have to double check!). The 13" has a very crisp screen too, with the same resolution as a 15" MacBook Pro. 

It runs cool, it's silent, it's beautiful.

4. How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business ? 

My MacBook Air runs my company. Everything is processed on this machine, all backed up with Dropbox and Time Machine. The best apps are the ones that help me get through my day more easily. On the air, this includes The Hit List, LittleSnapper, BBEdit, Coda, iLocalize, Mail and Xcode. I also use a few cool web services too, such as Buffer, Trello and FreeAgent to name a few.

5. Which has been the best thing about using your air to run your business/create your product?

I'm always on the go. For the first 12 months of my business I was "Location Independent" and you'll often find me working from Airport lounges even today. The Air is the only machine I'd want to travel with. It fits perfectly on a folding plane table and the battery is always dependable.

The weight means I don't mind taking it out and about with me. I can be online (especially with the speedy SSD!) and working from anywhere in the world in seconds!

Twitter: @applingua

Thank you Robert for taking the time to tell us how you use your Air to run your business !

If you know someone who is running a business or using an Air to do something cool please have them send me an email or contact me on twitter.


Running on Air: Michael Evans

This weeks interview is from my friend Michael Evans of Macfilos.  Michael is one of the first bloggers who reached out to me with a common interest in technology that lead to a great friendship.  Michael is a huge proponent of the MacBook Air and influenced me heavily as I gradually moved from a 15", to a 13" Air and finally an 11" Air.  Michael is also an avid photographer and traveler.  Spending time in both London and Greece.  

1. Who are you? What type of business are you in, what do you do?

First, Austin, let me thank you for inviting me to contribute to this excellent series. I wish I'd thought of it!

I run the best business in the world. It's called retirement. Seriously, though, I owned a communications company for most of my working life. I founded it when I was 26 after a successful career in technical journalism. After over 30 years at the helm I was able to sell out to an international communications company so I could take early retirement. 

Among my many interests, which include languages, is writing. It's something I have always enjoyed, and the MacFilos site is a great outlet. I'm not in it for money and don't think about making it commercial. I'm just happy to write and, if I amuse or entertain a few people along the way, it's enough for me. Of course, if I were 26 again I'd be looking for a viable way of turning an interest into profit, so I well understand why other writers are looking to possibilities of income.

2. Which model MacBook Air are you using? 

I bought the first 13" Air when it was announced in February 2008 and loved it from the start. It was a hot (literally) little beast with some idiosyncrasies, including the flimsy flap for the ports and, of course the single USB port. Still, I managed quite well with the 64GB SSD. 

So I was a ready buyer for the second generation. The 11in version seemed more practical than the 13" and I haven't regretted the decision. Now I have just acquired the latest specced-out 11" Air with 2.0GHz i7 processor, 8GB of memory and the 256GB disk. It feels like we've come a long way in four years.

3. Why did you select the MacBook Air over other Mac models? 

As I get older I become more minamalist by the year. I can't stand clutter and unnecessary weight. I am constantly amazed at the leviathans I see being hefted on to various Starbucks' tables. For me, I want the most bang for the least pound and that means the smallest MacBook Air. 

As you know, I did waver when the 15" retina MBP was announced. I really did want to fit it in to my system. Ultimately, though, it was a case of want over need and I felt I would be giving up so much in terms of convenience and portability.

People are often sceptical about the abilities of such a small, "toy" computer. But they underestimate it at their peril.

4. How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business ?

Well, as I've said, it isn't a business if you definite business as a way of making money. But I do treat MacFilos as a little business in terms of discipline and project planning. Like you, I use Squarespace as the host after experimenting over the past four years with Typepad and then, for a brief time, with Wordpress. I like Squarespace because it gives me complete control over the site's features without my needing to know a thing about HTML or CSS coding. It's a bit like painting by numbers for those who have no coding experience. 

Since most of my writing is in plain text, I am no longer a fan of complicated word-processing systems such as Word or Pages. I use Byword and enjoy its clean interface, the seamless synchronisation with all my devices over iCloud, and the ability to use Markdown tools to achieve the right finished results on MacFilos. I have used MarsEdit for a long time but am gradually getting used to doing everything in Byword.

I get most of my information from RSS feeds and use Reeder as my Mac application of choice. On the iPad I prefer Mr. Reader which is unfortunately not yet available for Mac or iPhone. I am also a great fan of Zite on the iPhone and iPad. This is a feed magazine that learns from your interests and ferrets around the internet to discover information that you wouldn't normally see. Often, I discover a story on Zite from an obscure site and get ahead of the blogging pack. 

In common with most of us, I use Marco Arment's wonderful Instapaper as the collection bucket for stories that interest me. On the Air I use Read Later to access my Instapaper account so I can work through news and get inspiration. 

I won't give a catalogue of all the programs I find invaluable, but I love Evernote and Dropbox, Hazel and Launchbar. Little Snapper, which I won in a Shawn Blanc raffle, comes in handy for screen shots to send to the web site. But a mainstay of my life is OmniFocus which maintains all my to-do lists and projects and is first port of call every morning, whether on the Air, the iPad or the iPhone. I'm a great fan of GTD (getting things done) and I have always been fascinated by efficient management of life.

Over the past twelve months I've become a convert to Day One, which has just been improved updated brilliantly. For a personal journal it is unsurpassed. You can tell that by the fact that I'm now on Day 419; in the past, with other software, I seldom progressed beyond day 30. In common with all my favourite apps, it syncs over my devices. 

I've become paperless in my old age and am religious in my scan-shred routine. Everything is sent to Devonthink Pro by my trusty Fujitsu Scansnap and is shredded before it has time to gather dust. 

Since my DevonPro database contains sensitive information, such as bank and credit card statements, I locate it within an encrypted sparsebundle which sits in Dropbox to prevent loss. To create sparsebundles I use Knox, now part of the 1Password family. And shame on me for not mentioning 1Password sooner. This is the world-beating app that contains all my deepest secrets. It works like a synchronised dream across all devices.

Finally, to deal with all the non-income I receive from MacFilos, I am addicted to Moneydance. Pietro Montalcino of Macography is another Moneydance fanatic. It isn't the prettiest accounts application in the world, but it is rock solid and has sufficient depth to interest the trained accountant while presenting a simple face to the novice. I enter transactions into the iPhone/iPad MD app and they are instantly synced with my main Moneydance datafile in Dropbox. 

5. Which has been the best thing about using your air to run your business?

Without a doubt it is portability and convenience. The Air frees me from the confines of an office. Most of my writing is done in cafés and pubs around London, or in similar venues in Greece where I spend a good part of the year. I also travel worldwide and I cannot imagine having to lug around even one unnecessary ounce of computer. With the benefits of Dropbox and iCloud, everything I want or need is right there in the Air. A cappucino, a handy powerpoint and a friendly wifi hotspot is all that's necessary to get the creative juices running.

Twitter: @macfilos

Thank you Michael for taking the time to send me this great interview !
If you know someone who is running a business or using an Air to do something cool please have them send me an email or contact me on twitter.

Running on Air: Pietro Montalcino

Have you ever been to If not you are missing out on some great personal writing.  This a site run by my friend and fellow blogger Pietro Montalcino.  Pietro is an IT Professional and world traveler currently living in Dublin Ireland.  

1. Who are you? What type of business are you in, what do you do?

Hello to your readers and to you Austin. Thanks for having me as guest on your blog and for asking me these questions.

My name is Pietro Montalcino, the person behind, another blog dedicated to all things Apple. In my blog I try to give the perspective of what it means to be an old-time Apple user. I’ve been an Apple user for more than twenty years. Things were different back then and Apple was not considered cool at all. I thought that many new Apple users - the ones that came on board as a consequence of buying an iPhone or iPad - could benefit from my experience to understand and embrace the Apple philosophy.

I would call an act of love toward Apple. During the day I work as a manager for an IT company and at night instead of watching TV I write for my blog, read analysis on Apple and test new apps.

2. Which model MacBook Air are you using?

Just two weeks ago while in the Bay Area for work, I bought a speced out MacBook Air 13" with Intel Ivy Bridge i7, 8GB RAM, 512 SSD. Its specs are more than I will ever need (especially the SSD space) but I really wanted 8GB of RAM and the only model the Apple Store had in stock was the ultimate configuration so I went for it.

3. Why did you select the MacBook Air over other Mac models?

I come from an early pre-unibody 2008 MacBook Pro 15" that I bought when I really needed a Pro machine (I was an independent IT consultant in 2008 and had to run Virtual Machines all day long). The Pro had been struggling since the release of Lion but decided to wait till WWDC 2012 to replace it because I wanted a new gen machine.

Only a month ago I was undecided between another Pro machine and the Air. This year WWDC instead of simplifying my choices made them harder.

The non-Retina MBP is now a dying platform (for example in Mountain Lion Power Nap won’t be available for this model) and at the same time I wanted a laptop with an SSD. The MBP Retina is a Revision A of a new Apple product. If I’ve learnt something in these 21 years as an Apple customer is to stay away from Rev A models.

The MacBook Air was the natural choice. I could’ve bought a MBP and replace the drive with an SSD as an after market upgrade but the Air appealed to me quite a lot. I also wanted to try a new Mac model, something with good reviews like the Air. In its current revision the Air is a modern, mature and reliable product that should give me years of happy usage.

Contrary to many Air users, portability is a non issue for me. I travel quite a lot for business and that means carrying my corporate laptop. Bringing a second laptop - even as small as the 11" Air - would be too much. I usually pack in my leather briefcase the iPad instead.

I went for the 13“ model because this is my main home machine and I like having some additional screen real-estate.I am not fond of external displays so the 13” was the obvious choice. Even better, the 13“ model has the same resolution as my old MBP 15” but in a more compact case. This model is really the sweet spot for my typical usage.

4. How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business? 

I obviously have a standard corporate laptop that I use for work so the MacBook Air is my personal machine. I use it for all the things I am not supposed to do with my work laptop. These include:

  • Write posts for my blog. That is a self-hosted Wordpress installation. I use a mix of MarsEdit and web interface to write, edit, post, tweak my posts.
  • I write all my posts in Byword. Its integration through iCloud with its iOS counterpart is fantastic so I always save my drafts on the cloud in case I have to time to work them while on the go.
  • Moneydance is a personal finance software that has been on my wife and my machines for the past six years. We share the same DB through Dropbox and couldn’t live without it.
  • I manage my photos with iPhoto but I am thinking of moving to either Adobe Lightroom or Aperture to better manage a growing archive.
  • Safari is my default browser. Chrome is installed on my Mac but it doesn’t have a place in my Dock. I have started a slow but steady transition away from Google services as they seem to be of lower quality than in the past.
  • My default RSS reader is Reeder and the Twitter software is Twitterrific. I like its iCloud based tweet marking service.

Beautifully simple work setup

In general I tend not to install too many applications in my machine. Call me minimalist. Back in my mind I still have the feeling that too many apps make a machine slower. It’s likely not true but I’m old enough to have seen this happening so my subconscious always pay attention to that.

I like using the applications Apple includes with its OS. I’m a purist in that sense. If some sort of software is part of the OS I normally don’t look for alternatives. I like to learn that application in all its details and get into the mentality of the Apple developer that created it. It’s a fascinating process if you stick with it.

5. Which has been the best thing about using your air to run your business/create your product ?

I only got my Air two weeks ago so I am not really sure what impact it’s going to have on my day-to-day work. Certainly I appreciate the sheer speed of this baby and the fact that it’s just a pleasure to carry it around the house. Having an SSD is so amazing, I just love it.
The battery life is very good and even more impressive it’s the short time it takes to charge it.

While writing a post with Byword I appreciate the higher pixel density of its display compared to the MBP and the very good keyboard. Back in the days when I bought the pre-unibody MBP, its keyboard was considered one of the best on the market. Four and a half years later, I can safely say that I find the keyboard on the Air even better than that of the MBP.

To learn more about Pietro you can find his website twitter and information below:


Thank you Pietro for such a great interview !

If you know someone who is running a business or using an Air to do something cool please have them send me an email or contact me on twitter.


Running on Air: Steve Kamb

Can you name a person whose hometown is Sandwich Massachusetts, runs a business from all around the world, and has recently given aTedX speech? If you guessed Steve Kamb you would be correct. I stubbled across his site when a friend of mine referred me

Steve talks about leveling up your life, and if you are not a gamer you may not be familiar with the term. That’s ok because Steve recently gave a speech at TedX Emory that explains it all. I highly recommend you check it out here.

1. Who are you? What type of business are you in?

My name is Steve Kamb, and I run Nerd Fitness is a community of thousands of nerds, desk jockeys, and average joes all over the globe who are helping each other level up in the game of life. I sell information products, online courses, and fitness plans for people looking for specific direction on getting healthy in a fun, nerdy way. There aren’t many places online you can learn about getting healthy with references from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Transformers!

2. Which model MacBook Air are you using?

I’m currently using a 2011 13" MacBook Air, purchased in late July 2011: 4GB of RAM, 256GB hard drive, and the 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 processor.

Steve on the move

Steve on the move

3. Why did you choose the MacBook Air over other Mac models?

I spend a LOT of time traveling. In fact, I’ve technically been “homeless” since January of 2011; since then, I’ve visited 15 countries across six continents, living out of a backpack and running my business from my laptop. Because I travel so frequently, I knew I needed a laptop that had incredible portability without sacrificing power and performance. After using an old MacBook pro (2007 model) for the first half of 2011 (bouncing around Australia, New Zealand, and southeast Asia), I knew that picking up a MacBook air would make my travel easier and my business run more efficiently! Since then, I’ve traveled to 15 states in the United States, Ireland, Spain, France, South Africa, Ecuador, and I’m currently planning a trip to Brazil.

Even though it’s incredibly portable, I’ve had no issues using the Air as my primary computer. In fact, I’ve stored, edited, and published all of my videos from traveling with my Air, including my Exercising Around the Globe video.

4. How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business ?

I use my MacBook Air for everything - I use iPhoto and iMovie to keep track and manage my photos and videos from travel, I use garage band to edit any audio content for my site, and I use the webcam to do live webinars and Q&A for my site. I’ve recently given presentations at Facebook, Google, Google Dublin, and TEDxEmory, using Keynote along with keynote remote on my iPhone to create those presentations. Recently I’ve put a huge focus on increased productivity, utilizing free apps like Think and Self-Control to help keep me focused on the road when I need to create content or get projects done in a timely manner.

5. Which has been the biggest advantage about using your air to run your business?

The portability and battery life. I’m actually typing this interview while on an airplane flying cross-country! I often have small pockets of time that I need to get a lot done, and having access to a laptop that’s incredibly portable and powerful makes that far easier than ever before. Thanks to the long battery life, working out of a coffee shop isn’t an issue as I can still get hours of work done even if I can’t find an outlet.

To say the MacBook Air has revolutionized how I’ve been able to run my business is an understatement!

To learn more about Steve you can find his website twitter and Facebook information below:

Thank you Steve for inspiring so many !

If you know someone who is running a business or using an Air to do something cool please have them send me an email or contact me on twitter.

Running on Air: Lynn Rosskamp

Do you think crafting handmade items and technology go hand and hand?  If you answered no you would be wrong as I learned from Lynn. You might be surprised to learn that many items produced by these craftsman and women are created by taking advantage of the technology available today.  This was one of the reasons I wanted to create this series.  I found about Lynn on the Pikes Place Producers web site and asked her for an interview.

Who are you? What type of business are you in?

My name is Lynn Rosskamp and my companies are PingiHats and Shop Cascadia. I've been making fleece animal hats and hoodies with ears under the PingiHats brand since 2008 and I'm now in the middle of branching out with a partner into a second business, Shop Cascadia, that centers on clothing and housewares made in the Pacific Northwest, both produced in-house and from other small businesses in the area.  I sell both online and at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

 Which MacBook Air are you using?

I am using the 13" MacBook Air from mid 2011  

Why did you select that MacBook Air over other models?

Because it is light and portable but has all the features and usability that I want.  This is the second generation of MacBook Air we've used so clearly it's been working well.  My current physical shop is a small daystall at Seattle's Pike Place Market, which is the oldest continuous covered farmer's market in the US.  We make our products and do fabric design, accounting, and website building and maintenance in another small studio space across town. With the MacBook Air being so light and portable, it's really easy to transfer it from place to place.  I use a portable hub or my cell phone to provide internet access as the Market does not have wifi available for its daystall area tenants.

How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business?

I use Photoshop and Illustrator a lot for fabric and t-shirt and hoodie design and hook the MacBook Air up to my Wacom tablet for drawing. We use an all-in-one webservice, Shopify, to host our website and provide our shopping cart, so we use their interface online quite a lot. 

Which has been the biggest advantageabout using your air to run your business?

I would say it's the fact that you don't sacrifice any features for the portability.  My businesses are very small and has to be adaptable and agile to survive and I think the MacBook Air nicely mirrors that.