Blogging with Macs: An Interview With J.D.

Over the last few years the blogging community around the internet has grown at an outstanding rate. Blogs can be found on almost any topic and the number of Blog readers seems to increase daily.One individual who has come to experience a great deal of success with his Blog is J.D. from

His blog is devoted to personal finance and includes a continual update of interest approaches to managing your money. J.D. writes of his own experiences, reviews personal finance books, and invites other knowledgeable bloggers post articles on to share with other individuals ways to control your personal finance.

GetRichSlowly currently has roughly 47,000 RSS subscribers.J.D. often mentions his use of Apple products in his financial posts so I asked him if he could share some of his thoughts with others about Macs and how they play a part in his blogging efforts. Below is his responses to these questions:

I’ve noticed in a number of your posts you mention your fondness of Apple products. How long have you been a Mac user and what products do you currently have?

My father bought our family’s first Apple in 1978: an Apple II. He wouldn’t buy me any games, though, so I had to program my own. I learned Applesoft BASIC and even some Assembly Language!I bought my first Mac in 1989, during my sophomore year of college. (In retrospect, this was a dumb move: one of my first steps into debt.) I’ve owned a variety of Macs since then (including my beloved Apple Macintosh Peforma 640CD DOS-compatible personal computer from 1995). The two active machines in our household are a refurbished single-processor 1.8ghz g5 desktop and a 2.33ghz 17″ MacBook Pro. We have a couple other older machines that are gathering dust. (My wife uses an old 12″ Powerbook in the kitchen exclusively for recipes!)As a Mac fanboy, I have the requisite support products: Airport Extreme, an iPod, an iPhone.

Since you started blogging, a lot of new hardware and software have been created. What tools do you use that you couldn’t do without now?

The only “I can’t live without it tool” for me is BBEdit. I work almost completely in this text editor. It’s where I live. (I purchased BBEdit during that brief lull during which Bare Bones didn’t have a free product. If I were starting now, I’d be frugal and go with TextWrangler.) I also use Photoshop frequently. (Though, again, if I were starting now, I’d just use Photoshop Elements.) Finally, Transmit is my FTP client of choice.

Now that you’ve got a number of different web sites going (GRS, GFS, AI, Foldedspace) have you tried using iWeb or any other Macintosh based web authoring tool? If so, what have you thought of them?

I have not. Well, I did try iWeb briefly, but it gave me the willies. I think and compose in HTML, and want to work directly with the text files. I don’t want things abstracted.

You’ve mentioned a Podcast in the past, and I remember listening to you testing out some software on your Forums. As you move towards a professional blogger, is a podcast something we’ll be seeing in the near future for GRS? If so, while you use Garageband, different software, or a combination of both to help you make your podcasts?

Yes, I do hope to produce a podcast in the future. I’m completely ignorant when it comes to podcasts, though, and so my idea of what they sound like is NPR-esque. (I think of “This American Life”.) People tell me this is wrong, but I don’t know in what way it is wrong. I need to learn more about them before I actually do one.I intend to use a setup like the one Matt Haughey uses. Matt lives nearby and has been a great help — I’m hoping he’ll let me pick his brain once again.

Since one of your most popular sites,, is based on being thrifty, eliminating debt, and controlling finances; have you had any struggle with owning an Apple Computer given the higher price tag than many PC options?

Yes and no. I don’t actually struggle with the price vs. equivalent PC options. I’m willing to pay for the relative peace of mind. (Macs aren’t perfect, as I tell my friends who are considering purchasing them. They crash. I dread that slow-scrolling “grey screen of death”. And Safari crashes a lot, though less often than it used to.) I often say of the Mac, “It just works”, which is essentially correct. My computer just does what I want it to do without a lot of messing around. For me, this is worth any premium I pay over the PC world. Also, the user experience is more to my taste.The problem I do have with spending on Macs, however, is that I always want the latest and greatest. Since starting Get Rich Slowly, I’ve been able to resist my yearly urge to upgrade. I bought a 17″ MacBook Pro early in the blog’s existence, but since then I’ve resisted the pull to purchase a new machine.

Do you use software like Pages or MS Word to draft your blog posts, or do you write them online using your blog’s post editor?

NEVER draft a post online. I learned that years ago when I was first using blogger. NEVER draft in your blog software. Draft elsewhere and then cut-and-paste.As I mentioned earlier, I draft completely in BBEdit. It’s actually a head-ache when people send me guest entries as Word files. I have to convert them to text, hand-formatting everything.

If you could have any Apple Product right now, what would it be and why? What makes it of more interest to you than other Apple products?

An actual Apple product? I’d probably take a pimped-out 15″ MacBook Pro. I work on a laptop. After using this 17″ machine for nearly eighteen months, I realize that it’s too big and bulky. (Also, to be honest, the fit and finish on this computer are below Apple’s standards.) I’d rather have the next size down.The theoretical Apple product I’d like to have right now is a 12″ MacBook Pro, but with a similar screen resolution to this 17″ machine. Yes, I know things would be tiny. I don’t care! I’d want for this theoretical machine to have 4gb of RAM. Give me more RAM!

How important have RSS feeds been to the success of GRS? What RSS Software do you use to keep up with site you subscribe too? What do you like about it?

Interesting question. The feeds that I subscribe to were instrumental in the site’s early success, I think. They allowed me to track new and interesting stories about personal finance. I still use them to mine for things when I’m stuck. I have a couple of clever (but secret) techniques for finding non-obvious stuff via RSS, which is nice. I’m kind of on RSS overload right now, though, and I need to severely prune. I need to subscribe to only the essentials.On the flip side, encouraging GRS readers to subscribe has been instrumental to the site’s continued success. It’s enjoyed tremendous growth because I feature the feed prominently.

Is there anything else about Macs that you’d like to add?

As I mentioned earlier, Macs aren’t perfect. They crash. They can seem expensive. Apple’s software may be lovely, but it’s frequently so “intuitive” that it becomes counter-intuitive — it can be impossible to figure out how to do even the simplest things. That’s not good. Mostly, though, I love my Mac because it lets me work the way I want to work, where I want to work, when I want to work. The OS doesn’t get in the way of my productivity. I’m never having to fight with it. (I recently set up a new Windows Vista machine for our new salesman at the box factory. I’ve been fighting with the OS for the past week trying to get things right.)I’m not a Mac zealot. I like them, but I think either a Mac or a PC can do the job for most people. For me, however, the Mac feels like home.