Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Thomas Marban

Thomas Marban

Startup founder, developer

Posted in developer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Thomas Marban ([@thomas]( "Thomas' Twitter account.")), founder of tomatic based out of Austria. I've been running digital businesses since the mid-ninties in various lineups.

I've created the original popurls aggregator, famously cloned by Guy Kawasaki and I was the co-founder of Twidroyd, the first Twitter client for Android. Both products have been acquired by Idealab in 2010. In between, I've also helped Kevin Kelly with the relaunch of CoolTools. A couple of months ago I've launched Postagon, a commercial version of for novice bloggers.

I spend the rest of my time on running up to 60 miles a week.

What hardware do you use?

In recent years, I've settled for a two-machine setup. That is, an iMac maxed-out to get a lot of mileage out of it and a low-spec 11" MacBook Air that's being replaced on every new hardware release together with the usual iPhone and iPad combo. Other than that, I dislike gadget maintenance and ownership in general so I'm keeping just a very small collection of quality stuff. A Sony RX1 for photography, Bowers & Wilkins P7 & MM-1 audio gear, along with the very first iPod from 2001 and a japanese Game Boy Light with Tetris in permanent residence.

It took me many years but, I've successfully digitized all my music, movies and books which are stored on Drobos in redundant locations. If I weren't invested in them, I wouldn't purchase one today for reasons of their utterly slow performance. I don't own a TV, media center or other tech gear so the rest is literally just a box of chargers and cables. I like to travel very light but I'm a sucker for quality luggage that stands the test of time. Products by Rimowa, Filson, Porter and Killspencer are in heavy rotation during my trips. I don't sketch on paper so I just keep a small Midori Memo Pad around.

And what software?

Contrary to popular stock-app bashing, I'm a zealot of anything that's built-in as for me, tight OS integration simply trumps everything. So other than Lightroom & Photoshop for photography and Sketch for design, I'm only using Apple's productivity apps on Mac & iOS. I've tried each and every tool from Evernote to Things or Ember and iA Writer but turns out the file system is already pretty powerful if you're disciplined enough. Also, if there's a web-based version for applications such as news readers, I'll always use that over a native equivalent --- even for Gmail.

For music, I only listen to my local iTunes library since it's lossless and well organized. My own products are built in plain Python, running on Google App Engine so I'm perfectly fine with just any plain text editor du jour. I host my static stuff on S3 & Cloudfront. I'm fortunate enough to work alone so I'm only on Skype or any other IM for a scheduled call.

I consume tons of RSS feeds but even though I build stuff around it and other than the infrequent tweet, I don't really engage in social media. I do maintain a collection of vintage Porsches on Pinterest though.

What would be your dream setup?

As soon as Macbooks ship with 2TB of Flash memory, I'll switch back to a one-machine setup, but other than that I don't really worry about hardware decisions as long as they get the job done - dream setups are just always two years away.