Running on Air: Pietro Montalcino

Have you ever been to macography.net? 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 macography.net, 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 macography.net 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?

Beautifully simple work setup

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:

Website: macography.net Twitter:@macography

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.

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