The tools I use – a holiday gift guide

As a writer, an Apple fan and a nerd, I know what writers, Apple fans and nerds like to receive as gifts. What follows is a list of the tools I use every day to work at TUAW and here at 52 Tiger, with a few stocking stuffers thrown in for good measure. Keep them in mind while shopping for the Apple-loving, nerdy writer on your list.

There are no referral links in this list. I make no money off of any purchase you make. However, I do use and love every item listed here. They all have my full, honest recommendation.

Hardware [1. I can’t list the computer, keyboard and mouse that I use because they’ve all been discontinued. My computer is a 20″ G4 iMac, my keyboard is an Apple Extended Keyboard II (connected with a likewise-discontinued Griffin iMate) and my mouse is an Apple Mighty Mouse. Why do I use such old equipment? Look here.]

iPhone 4 ($199 16GB model). In short, it’s the best computer I’ve ever owned. To say that I use it for everything is not hyperbole. Writing, online meetings, entertainment, finances, camera, project management, iPod, TV remote…and sometimes I’ll even make a phone call.

iPad ($499 16GB model). Some say, “Pfft. It’s just a big iPod touch.” I say, “Wow! It’s a big iPod touch!” This is the device I’ve wanted since I read The Martian Chronicles as a 13-year-old. It is at once futuristic and cozy, powerful and personal. The iPad is the start of a computer revolution like the Macintosh before it.

Apple Bluetooth Keyboard ($69). I enjoy working on my iPad but the onscreen keyboard is best for typing in short bursts. Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard is easily paired with an iPad and makes for a slim, lightweight travel companion. Prop the iPad in a stand/case (see below) and you’re ready for some serious writing.

DODOcase ($49.95). This beautiful, Moleskine-inspired case looks fantastic and is hand-made in San Francisco (here’s my TUAW review). Despite the fact that it’s not an impact case, it saved my iPad’s life. I immediately ordered another.

RadTech Omnistand ($59.95). When completing tasks while away from my desk that my iPad can’t handle, I use a RadTech Omnistand with my old MacBook Pro. It sets up quickly, is perforated to allow air flow and stashes away neatly when not in use. Plus, the various viewing angles make it comfortable for almost anyone.

Software – Mac

Dropbox (Free for 2GB of storage, $9.99/mo for 50GB and $19.99/mo for 100GB). What would you pay for actual magic? Dropbox’s usefulness is so far-reaching, it’s almost supernatural. When Dropbox isn’t busy beating up iDisk and taking its lunch money, it’s making people’s lives much easier.

Transmit ($34). The folks at Panic have produced the only FTP/SFTP/S3 app you’ll ever need. It’s lightning fast and offers cool features like Transmit Disk, which keeps your favorite destinations mounted on the desktop, even when Transmit isn’t running.

Billings ($39.95). Marketcircle’s invoicing and time-tracking software is all I need. With support for repeating events, one-click invoicing, beautiful templates and an unobtrusive time tracker, it gets the job done easily. I’ve used it for years and wouldn’t want to go without.

Software – iOS

Colloquy ($1.99, universal). IRC is admittedly a bit old school, but I depend on it as my virtual office. You’ll not find a better iOS client than Colloquy.

Twitterrific (Free ad-supported, $4.99 in-app upgrade to premium). I’ve tried nearly every Twitter iOS app there is, and always end up back with Twitterrific. Its color-coding, multiple themes, Instapaper support and tweet filtering have got me hooked.

PlainText (Free!) My favorite text editor for the iPad. Here’s why.

Stocking Stuffers

Here’s the fun stuff. I’ve got a serious notebook fetish. Field Notes Brand, Rhodia and Moleskine are my favorites. The good news is that you can get both a Field Notes and Rhodia notebook in a tidy bundle from Idea Cafe.

Movie Peg. These things are insanely useful. I use mine when watching movies by most often to prop up my iPad when cooking with an app like Epicurious.

Adagio Tea has been my tea source for years. The Citron Green Tea is stellar.

Pilot G2 pens. Among nerds, selecting pens is a personal decision, so it’s probably useless to make a suggestion. Still, this is my all-time favorite.

There you have it! I hope you found something useful.