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Riding a MacBook Air 11

I want to explain my choice for the Macbook Air 11”. It’s not really about an Apple product. It’s about the reason I’m riding a 11” laptop.

Air to the rescue

Since 2010 I’m using a Macbook Pro 13” because it works like a charm (SSD Vertex III, 8go of RAM). Half of the time I’m working in an office with a LG IPS 23” screen and an Apple keyboard. In the office I plug my laptop to that station to be more confortable. The rest of the time, I’m moving from my flat to the office, from Bordeaux to Agadir, Paris or whatever. It was obvious I had to switch to the Macbook Air. The new Macbook Air comes with the Haswell CPU, a great battery life, 8go of RAM and a PCI Express SSD. Ok, let’s buy it. It’s thin, light, powerful (probably 2x my MBP) and not very expensive.

Why 11” ?

Now comes the interesting part. Everybody around me bought a 13” because:

Hey guy, a 11”? Seriously? Nobody uses it, TOO SMALL.

When someone come to me with this kind of sentence, I start thinking about the problem. And that’s my conclusion for 80% of the cases: People want space to multitask and tweet while they code. Or they want space to Photoshop something, or dual-split the browser’s window. In short, the space let you do shit you think you can’t live without. And it’s a big lie about productivity. Multitasking is the wrong way for 80% of the people, me included.

Every day tasks

My daily job changed a lot this past year and I code less to manage more. I code less in term of time but I do more productive work. When I code, I have a clear goal because I hate coding stuff that are not stable, tested and production ready. My coding session are short and concise. I think about it long time before with a paper and a pencil, completely offLine. This is why I don’t need to have a dual 27” screen all the day. A small screen let me focus on my code (in SublimeText). I run the iTerm2 in background, I use Growl and notifications systems for build/test failure and I don’t need to switch my windows every 5 seconds. It works nice for Ruby and client-side code.

The rest of the time, I’m reading a lot of articles, writing email, hangout with partners and other classic stuffs. The Macbook Air 11” is fabulous for me. The goal is to think before you use it. You know you will have not so much space and you have to optimise your time.

The 11” screen forces you to split your tasks:

  • Technical Survey
  • Writing
  • Coding
  • Code review
  • Testing

Just think about that. It’s more than 11”, it’s about your whole workflow. This setup lets you organize your every day tasks in a clean way.

Space

Switching from the Macbook Pro 13” (2010) to the Air is a big space and weight change. Not about the computer itself, but think about the charger. I have experiment a real 7-8h battery on the 11” Air. You can forget the charger, just let it on the desk and go outside with your laptop. I often have 4-5h trip (airplane, or moving to a meeting) and I just don’t take the charger. Removing the charger from my backpack is another huge improvement.

Final words

If you’re going to buy the Macbook Air 13” I highly recommend you to try the 11” first. Let it a chance. Try to think in a small box where everything as to be well organised. Every time you open the box, you know what to find. This is how I try to work.

Damian Le Nouaille