Not every setup has 69 pieces of gear in it [Setups]

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Thad K's setup features 69 different pieces of gear.
Thad K's setup features 69 different pieces of gear.
Photo: Thad K

Thad K, a 63-year-old project lead and analyst for a U.S. Department of Energy contractor for the past 37 years, recently won an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth speaker from Cult of Mac. The little speaker had no idea what a legion of tech equipment it was about to join — 69 pieces of gear in Stockton, California.

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Thad rocks a towering computer setup, so we decided to feature it in interview format because he describes it well.

And would you look at that, down the page a ways? This may be the first time a Setups gear list has appeared in perfect alphabetical order. This is surely the longest one ever, too. And he sent it to us in a spreadsheet — truly a marvelous compendium of productivity.

Q: How is your setup well-suited to what you do? What issues did this setup solve for you and how?

A: I have been working on the Mac platform since 1987, when I first got hold of a Mac Plus at work. I have done everything from desktop publishing to music and video production (and work too). In 2012, I got my current Mac, a 27-inch iMac with a 32GB memory upgrade.

Over the course of time, I have used several different monitors as a second monitor but have been hooked on the Apple Thunderbolt Display 27-inch. For some projects I can use my Apple 23-inch Cinema Display as a third monitor, if needed.

Over the past few years, I have been creating video and audio projects for my employer, school and family. Using Final Cut Pro for my video work, I quickly realized that I needed much more hard drive space. I have purchased several 5TB LaCie drives and a WD 8TB drive to store my files on, as they can easily reach into the several TB range. I also continue to do desktop publishing and all sorts of odd jobs on the computer.

There's a gadget everywhere you look, basically.
There’s a gadget everywhere you look, basically.
Photo: Thad K

This setup allows me to pretty much do anything on my iMac. I can digitize videos from VCR and camcorder recordings, watch broadcast TV, play and record music and narrations, podcast, read nearly any type of file, work, play and be as creative as I want to be. And play Halo!

As I work from home, I need to keep my personal computer system separate from my work computer system. The MacBook Pro and 23-inch monitor are my primary work station for my profession. It took some creativity to work the laptop into my existing setup and with the laptop stand over my QS-7, I made it work.

Q: Tell us what you like and dislike about your setup.

A: With the hardware and software I have, I am able to pretty much do anything. I love the flexibility and ease of use on the Mac platform.

However, with all this, I have invested countless hours learning about the Mac. I have attended everything from MacAcademy in the 90s to the Apple Certified Technician Program and more. I enjoy the flexibility of being able to do whatever I need to do on the same computer.

This would be the podcasting area, mainly.
This would be the podcasting area, mainly.
Photo: Thad K

I love my current setup but I also realize I am maxed out on High Sierra. I am hesitant to purchase a new Mac as I have invested a lot of money into software and hardware for my Mac. It was a tradeoff to either remain up to date with the MacOS and constantly upgrade and update components and software or to be comprehensive with my system.

As I am somewhat limited on room space, the only other thing I dislike about my setup is that I could easily use twice the desktop space as I have now. However, from my time in the Nuclear Navy Submarine Service, I’ve gotten good at fitting 10 pounds into a 5-pound sack.

Q: Fill us in on any special touches you’ve added or items you realized you could live without.

A: As you can see from the photos, I am not a minimalist. I tend to go all out on things. I read many online magazines each day. The best is Cult of Mac, of course.

What I look for is new useful technology or peripherals that can be used on my Mac and I find a way to use it. I’ve been doing this for many years and what started out as a single computer has grown into what you see here.

I have been working from home since March, 2020. Since then, I have added some items to enhance my work at home experience. I’ve added lights under my desk to give me some mood-changing light. I’ve also added chargers and stands for my phone and iPad. I rearranged all my gear to be within arm’s reach.

If there is one thing I can’t live without in my current setup, it would have to be a second monitor and the extra hard drive space. OK, that’s two, but who’s counting.

Q: What challenges did you face getting to where you are now with your setup?

A: There has been some cost associated with having a setup like mine. It took me nearly a decade of slowly acquiring what I currently have. Let’s just say I could have bought a nice new car instead of all my gear. (And taken a Hawaiian vacation to boot!)

Q: If you’re not quite done with your setup, what’s left to do? Looking forward to new equipment?

A: I am done with my current setup. It does everything I need it to do. For those things requiring Catalina or higher, I can use my MacBook Pro.

My plan is to purchase a new M1 iMac when the 27 inch or larger model comes out. I’ll probably wait for the second generation to ensure all the bugs are cleared and new peripherals are on the market. At that time, I’ll have to start the whole process of upgrading my gear. It will keep me busy and somewhat sane for the next 10 years.

Q: Feel free to fill us in on some biographical details — focal points of your career, where you’re from, married/single, family, pets, how you like where you live now, etc.

A: I’m married with seven great children and six grandkids in my life. I have a dog and live next to a lake. Somedays, I slap myself and wonder if I am dreaming. Then I ask myself why I slapped myself and you know how that goes.

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If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.