5 Ways to Accessorize and Customize Your New MacBook Pro

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My previous post about 5 essential Mac software for the recent convert proved such a hit with my friend that I decided to recommend him more stuff. Anybody who knows me knows that I like to personalize my gadgets and tech gear. A brand new Macbook or Macbook Pro feels naked. If you plan to do any moving around with it at all and not have it sit permanently at your desk you probably might be interested in some of these really cool products.

5.

Speck SeeThru HardCase is basically a hard plastic shell that fits over your Macbook perfectly to help protect it from scratches that may come from moving it around. The 2 pieces of plastic covers snap snuggly onto your Macbook or Macbook Pro. I have the green one shown here. I like the idea of the black leather case but I was ready to write it off due to my concerns of the laptop overheating with a leather case until I read one of the Amazon reviews that said that the temperature actually dropped with the case.

4.

GelaSkins Protective Skin are vinyl skins that adhere to the surface of your laptop to provide both some level of protection and personalization. Their website has a whole bunch of designs and I like the one shown here. Now I personally don’t have one of these, but that’s because I’m still debating about getting my MBP laser etched. Also, I kinda like the illuminated Apple logo, and I’m not sure I’d want to cover that up. However, some of my friends with iPhones have gotten these and are extremely happy with them.

3.

Andrew Christian Messenger Bag You can’t have a laptop and not have a laptop bag. These bad boys provide the perfect balance between protection, price, and style. It’s really hard to find laptop bags that are affordable and not drab like those depressing black nylon corporate bags. Currently I’m using a leather messenger bag I found at Target, but I honestly can’t recommend it because it’s so thin that the laptop pretty much fills the bag and anything else in it makes it impossible to close it.

2.

incase makes these really cool neoprene sleeves for pretty much all the mac laptops. They come in various colors and I have a green one that matches my green Speck hard shell. They sell these at the Apple store too, but don’t get them there because they charge you more for it.

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More RAM I would consider this THE most important addition to your Macbook or Macbook Pro. More RAM lets you run more applications at the same time and let’s them run faster. You can be an idiot and pay Apple $200 more for essentially the same thing that Amazon sells for less than $100.

I’m always on the lookout for cool Macbook stuff. If you readers find any please do share. Thanks.

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Increase Your Productivity By 50%

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NEC commissioned the University of Utah to conduct studies on the productivity gains of wide screen displays and dual displays over traditional single screen displays. 96 test subjects were randomly given tasks such as text editing and spreadsheet editing. This study reaffirms what I’ve already suspected for years. Using a larger monitor or adding an additional screen can increase your productivity.

To summarize:

  • Increasing screen size increases productivity, up to a point.
  • When working with multiple windows, 17″ screens or smaller are much less productive than larger screens.
  • Widescreen monitors can be just as productive or more than dual monitors.
  • User preference is not a good predictor of their performance.
  • Novice users get significant performance gains when using a widescreen or multiple monitors over advanced or power users.

Some statistics of note:

  • Subjects given text related tasks using a 24″ widescreen saw over a 50% increase in productivity over a single 18″ screen.
  • Subjects using a 20″ dual monitor configuration saw a 44% increase in productivity.

I’ve been using a multi display setup at work for years. I truly believe it helps increase productivity by making things more easily accessible. This is especially true with developers who use 1 screen to code and another to see the results. In fact, at work I have a 3 display setup where my furthermost screen is running the Accenture RSS Screensaver (which I wrote), my secondary screen has my IM and other widgets and dashboard stuff, and my primary screen has my work. Unless you are displaying background information of low activity and importance however, I think the optimum number of screens is 2. You definitely get diminishing returns after that. I’ve tested using a 5 display system similar to the one in the matrix called the Octopus and found that I really only used 2 or 3 of the displays, with the other 2 pretty much ignored.

My workstationAt home I have a 15″ macbook pro. After reading the benefits of this study, however, I’ve decided to order a 22″ widescreen to use as a dual monitor setup for my laptop. Considering that monitor prices have been dropping considerably over the years, this course of action was a no brainers. One can easily find a 22″ LCD flatscreen for around $300. That would pay for itself in a day or so if you consider your time savings.

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