Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

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10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Increasing My Developer Happiness

I've bought into the idea that a happy developer requires a clean, attractive, comfortable workplace that encourages healthy, sustainable productivity. Rich Armstrong of Fog Creek Software explains how they spend $6,174 per developer to make them happy. Shortly after reading this article, I tweeted:

My ideal setup is ~$10K more (MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, two 30s).

While this is my ideal setup, it's not something I actually need. If you've ever worked with two 30" monitors, you might agree. That much screen real estate can be too much, as you have to pan your head side-to-side to take it all in. I've found that a single 30" or 27" is good enough for me. As far as a Mac Pro goes, they can have awesome horsepower when full-loaded, but unless you're doing some serious processing, you probably won't utilize it all.

The last time I bought a new computer was March 2009, when I bought a 15" MacBook Pro with an SSD. I upgraded it to 8 GB RAM a year later and it's hummed along just fine since then. I also had the pleasure of working on a fully-loaded Mac Pro at Time Warner Cable for all of 2010 and a company-provided MacBook Pro at Overstock for most of this year. With my recent move to a new client, it's time to increase my developer happiness. Since I am my own boss, it's easy to get hardware upgrades approved. ;)

My current hardware inventory is as follows:

  • A 15" MacBook Pro
  • A 30" monitor at home
  • A 27" monitor at my office in Downtown Littleton

Since I ride my bike to work everyday, I've been hauling my laptop back and forth on my 8-mile commute. This is getting old quickly. I'd rather have a permanent machine in my office and a laptop for when I travel to clients, the mountain office or to conferences. So here's what I hope to buy in the next week:

  • A new 15" MacBook Pro, fastest CPU available
  • A fully-loaded 27" iMac for my office

I'll be moving my current 27" monitor to the mountain office. I plan on getting rid of my current MacBook Pro through the Apple Recycling Program. I'm also planning on trying out Apple's 24-month leasing program. I like to get new hardware every two years and it's a better tax deduction, so it seems to make sense.

My only question at this point is should I get Apple's SSD and RAM instead of getting it aftermarket (e.g. via Crucial)? My original plan was to install an aftermarket SSD and 8 GB RAM in the MacBook Pro. For the iMac, I've heard installing an aftermarket SSD isn't an option, but RAM is. I was thinking about getting the SSD + 1 TB drive combo and upgrading the RAM to 8 GB myself. There's a good chance aftermarket is better quality, but I'd also have to pay more vs. having it wrapped up in the total lease price.

Of course, new hardware is only part of developer happiness. A clean, attractive, comfortable workplace is an essential component as well. My home and mountain offices are nice, but my Littleton office needs work. I currently share it with two other developers, Angela and Jim. Over the next couple months, we plan on making a lot of improvements to our daily digs. I'll make sure and take some before and after pictures and blog about how we improve things.

Update: Thanks to everyone for their advice. As I suspected, upgrading RAM and disk aftermarket is the way to go. When I wrote this, I was under the impression that you couldn't upgrade the iMac's disk. Since then, I've discovered OWC's Turnkey Upgrade Program. Using this, I can send them my iMac and get a wicked fast 480 GB SSD, a 2 TB drive, 16 GB of RAM and have it shipped overnight for around $1400. Add in 8 GB RAM and a 480 GB Mercury Extreme 6G SSD for my new MacBook Pro and I'm looking at $2600 (aftermarket) + $5500 (Apple) = $8100. Now I just need to find some external hard drive enclosures for my old drives. Bonus points if I can find one with Thunderbolt support.

I can feel my developer happiness increasing already...

Posted in Mac OS X at Oct 07 2011, 03:35:35 PM MDT 11 Comments