Uses

This page is an overview of the software, hardware and tools I use day to day. I’m always intrigued by the processes and tools that others use, so, I’m writing up my own to encourage others to do the same!

This site

This site uses WordPress. I like the idea of a simpler setup, but static site generators don’t handle comments – I love that people comment on my posts.

I’m hoping Ghost does native comments at some point because I’m hopeless with PHP but for now I’m stuck on WordPress!

I love RSS. I do that via Feedly and Reeder (Mac/iPhone).

My site is hosted with FastComet. I have been with them a few years now and they have been incredible. Here’s an affiliate link to them; I promise they are great!

Computing Hardware

For the ‘day job’ I use a 27″ 5K iMac or a MacBook Pro 16 when #WFH.

For personal work, I use a Mac Mini M1 with 16GB memory and a 1TB SSD. That’s attached to a 32″ 4K BenQ 3200u Monitor It’s one of only a few monitors that suit my needs and has a built in KVM switch (allowing me to use a single keyboard and mouse across two systems) so I can also use it as an external monitor for the work laptop when working from home.

Desk in dark with mood light
The monitor with it’s built in KVM lets me easily switch between work and personal

Peripherals

I have a few mechanical keyboards. My daily driver is a ZSA Moonlander with Kaihl Black switches. I also have a WASD Code keyboard with Zealio 67g switches and a Preonic which I’ve still not got around to using. I think having a column layout keyboard made learning Colemak easier. I convinced myself learning Colemak would make up for the typing speed I lost after losing a finger in a ring avulsion accident in 2020.

I use a Logitech MX Master mouse. I use the mouse less and less but this is as close to perfect as I think a mouse gets. I have a 2s version at work and a version 3 at home.

Sony XM3 headphones — the noise cancelling is worth every penny. The Sony XM3s developed a common manufacturing problem. I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone anymore. Plus they don’t allow easy switching between input sources. More about that in the linked review. For now I have picked up an inexpensive pair from Amazon made by ‘Botune’ that also have noise cancelling but only about 15% of the XM3 price.

A Brother HL3170 CDW laser printer. What a revelation owning a laser printer has been. I don’t print a lot, but fannying around with an inkjet is no longer something I concern myself with as ink spills, paper jams and dry ink are not a concern with a laser printer.

Text editor, fonts, OS and utility software

I change my text editor more often than you likely change your pants. Usually Sublime Text with LSP. But I also have spells with Neovim

I tend to use the Monokai Pro theme. but I’m quite happy with the latest Sublime stock ‘Mariana’ theme. I’m also rather fond of Tokyo Lights which is part of the Enki theme.

For editing code I like the JetBrains Mono font but occasionally use Dank Mono.

I use Hookshot or Rectangle for window management

Terminal wise, it’s iTerm2 for Mac or Kitty. I’m a fan of the Powerlevel10K ZSH theme. Alongside that I make use of fd, exa, broot, ripgrep and Zoxide. I use Homebrew to deal with installing those things.

For design, in the day job I use Sketch but it’s gone horribly bloated and slow. For personal projects I use Figma.

On a Mac I do almost everything via Alfred; I swear by the clipboard memory feature.

Browser

I tend to code with my editor on the left, browser on the right. I want to use Safari all the time but the dev tools are awful. Plus it has so many shortcomings regarding web platform features.

Chrome is greedy with resources and I worry about Google’s appetite for tracking everything we all do (he writes with Google Analytics on this very site). So for Chromium based browsing and testing I favour Edge.

That leaves Firefox which is great but no platform has it as the default rendering engine so you are always having to check other browsers anyway. So, I suppose Edge/Chrome and Safari. Bah!

Social Media

I don’t have Facebook. I do have Twitter but would be fine if it disappeared tomorrow.

Video work

I use a Sony A6000 with a Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC lens. To get around batteries running out I use a Andoer USB Dummy battery which connects direct to USB. The A6000 is mounted on a desk clamp arm, and captures 4K via a ZasLuke Game Capture card into the Mac. I have a SSL2 USB Audio Interface outputting to a set of PreSonus 3.5 BT speakers. I record with a sE7 XLR microphone on a mic arm, also mounted via a desk arm, and a Raleno LED light, also mounted via a desk arm. I wish I’d paid more and bought an LED light with a remote because it’s hard to reach and turn on!

I edit with Final Cut Pro directly from/to a 2TB external SSD drive I made with a separate enclosure and a Silicon Power PCIe M.2 NVMe 2TB SSD. For backup I have a Terramaster F5-422 NAS on a 10GB Ethernet with an OWC 10GB adapter for the Mac mini (10GB NIC wasn’t an option when I ordered!)

Desk and chair

The best investment I have made, kit wise, is the electronically adjustable standing desk/legs. I bought Flexispot height adjustable legs in an Amazon flash sale for about 260 GBP. Then added an inexpensive Bamboo top from IKEA for 50 GBP. I knew I was too lazy to work a manual adjustable desk and this has been great. I treated myself when I started writing the latest edition of one of my books in 2019 and it has more than paid for itself during #WFH.

I use the Autonomous ErgoChair 2. It’s excellent and fairly inexpensive considering the specifications.