Tools / Gear

Physical world things

Backpack

I have Osprey Pandion 28L and I love-love-love it. Its build quality is excellent, it has a great organization, hip belt, and it has this “Integrated kickstand” thing, which PREVENTS THE BACKBACK FROM FALLING. This is an amazing feature and it means I can forget about always looking for something to support the backpack and just put it wherever I want to. I adamantly recommend this backpack. Here’s its product video.

Laptop

I use Lenovo Yoga 920. As of early 2018 this was the best available laptop in the category. Its successor, which everybody says is even better is Lenovo Yoga C930.

Note: your next laptop should be a 2 in 1.

Phone

I use Google Pixel, but this phone is pretty dated.

Computer Mouse

Hackers like to boast about knowing every shortcut and using keyboard for everything, distancing themselves from nontechnical users, who navigate exclusively via GUI.

I posit that computer mouse is one of the most important workplace investments you can make – even programming is much more like a videogame (which is played with a mouse), than a command line. The only thing that makes you continue using your laptop’s touchpad and prevents you from buying a mouse right now is status quo bias.

Logitech makes the best computer mice, period. I use Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum and I absolutely love it. It has a ton of customizable buttons, it’s super comfortable, and – Logitech’s killer feature – it has hyper fast scrolling wheel. See Linus’s review of it here.

For a wireless experience, check out Logitech G903 Lightspeed.

Headphones

Update: I now recommend Sony WH-1000XM3

I use Sony WH-1000XM2 (mid 2018).

I chose them instead of Bose QC 35 II or Sennheiser MB 660 UC MS. I’m convinced I made the right choice. The thing I love most about Sony is its sensor panel:

The only issue with Sony is that they half-assed the multiple device support.

I use headphones for several hours a day, listening to books / podcasts: during dressing, cooking, cleaning dishes; and in metro to cancel its noise.

I use Smart AudioBook Player for audiobooks and Pocket Casts for podcasts.

Chrome Extensions

Sorted by importance:

Computer Software

Note: I’m on Windows. I do really enjoy Windows and I really don’t like MacOS. I largely agree with this article on win vs mac.

Art / Design

Adobe InDesign: resume

Adobe Illustrator: vector drawings

Adobe Photoshop: editing photos

Adobe Lightroom: processing photos

Cloud

Dropbox: cloud storage for photos (because Google Drive has really dumb sync with Google Photos, e.g. if I delete a photo from Google Photos, then the copy of this photo from Google Drive is automatically deleted)

Google Drive: cloud storage for everything else

Editors / IDEs

Visual Studio Code

Windows Notepad: super quick notes

PyCharm: Python IDE (PyCharm is free for students)

LaTeX

LyX: for home assignments and small projects. LyX has two amazing features: it (1) renders LaTeX instantly, (2) has a ton of shortcuts, which speed up writing considerably, e.g. if I want to write “\frac{1}{2}“, in a conventional editor I would need about 13 keystrokes; in LyX it’s 5 keystrokes (Alt + M, f, 1, down, 2). Another example, “\alpha” — 6 keystrokes vs 3 keystrokes (Alt + M, g, a).

Note: I also have several custom shortcuts, which I find extremely useful. See them here. To find your user.bind file, open LyX –> Help –> About. Then navigate to LyX’s directory bind/user.bind.

BaKoMa TeX: for complex LaTeX projects. BaKoMa renders changes immediately, only requiring manual recompilation occasionally, which kills most other LaTeX editors.

Internet

Chrome

Learning

Anki: for things I want my memory be accountable about. (I wrote about Anki here)

Note: the best service to speed your touch typing up I know is keybr.

Media

VLC media player: video player. Features I use the most: (1) increase / decrease in viewing speed by .1 of the original speed; (2) simple switching of subtitles / audio tracks and the ability to delay them, if either is out of sync with the video; (3) ability to set volume above 100%.

PDFs

Adobe Acrobat DC

Productivity

Notion: my long-term notes base

OneNote: my long-term knowledge base

Todoist: best to do list manager

XMind: ZEN: mind mapping (for things that I want to retain from the courses I take but don’t want to put into Anki)

Reference Management

Zotero: collects references, parses metadate from pdfs, etc.

Security

Electrum: bitcoin wallet

KeyPass 2: password manager

ProtonVPN: VPN

VeraCrypt: sensitive data storage

Utilities

AutoHotkey: runs a script that remaps Backspace to CapsLock and “==-” into “—” (link to my script)

Ditto: clipboard manager (e.g. allows to recover pictures that you copied previously)

Git Bash: console

LinkChecker: checks links on localhost for brokeness

percentage: shows battery percentage in the tray

Total Commander: file manager for when Windows File Explorer is not enough (e.g. need to mass rename files according to same pattern)

T-Clock: lets me configure the tray to display current date in YYYY-MM-DD format

Phone Apps

Why Android and not iPhone?

I use a Google Pixel with clean Android on it. I tried to use an iPhone for about a month and I found it quite literally unusable: iPhone always turns off after ‪3 mins outside at -10C‬ or ‪5 mins outside at -5C‬. Google this if you don’t believe me.

There are also some very unpleasant design choices in iOS:

  1. you can’t manage your filesystem on iOS

  2. you can’t place icons wherever you want on iOS

  3. you can’t export photos on Windows without losing your sanity on iOS

  4. you can’t show time with seconds in the notification bar

Audio

Smart AudioBook Player: audiobooks

Pocket Casts: best podcast player for Android. Trims silence, boosts voice, increases the speed up to 3x

Books

Amazon Kindle: for Amazon books

Moon+ Reader Pro: for all other books. This app is amazing

Cloud

Dropbox: cloud storage for photos (because Google Drive has really dumb sync with Google Photos, e.g. if I delete a photo from Google Photos, then the copy of this photo from Google Drive is automatically deleted)

Google Drive: cloud storage for everything else

Internet

Chrome

Learning

AnkiDroid Flashcards: spaced repetition flash cards, a companion to Anki. See my post on Anki here

WolframAlpha: builds graphs, solves equations, etc. A companion to WolframAlpha

Navigation

Minimal Compass

Maps - Navigation & Transit by Google

Yandex.Metro — detailed metro map and route times: moscow metro map

Uber

Yandex.Taxi Ride-Hailing Service

PDFs

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Productivity

Google Keep: note taking. I love this app both for its simplicity and functionality. One of my favorite features is the ability to “pin” selected notes, so that they stay at the top

Inoreader - News Reader & RSS: RSS app. Switched to it from Feedly

Todoist: To-do lists for task management & errands: a companion app to Todoist

Hourly Reminder: announces time with pre-determined intervals. I set it up so that during the day it tells the time every 30 minutes and it turned out to be very helpful. Try it!

Security

KeePassDroid: password manager. A companion to KeePass 2

ProtonVPN - Free VPN made by ProtonMail: VPN. A companion to ProtonVPN

Social Media / Messengers

Facebook: I dislike Facebook’s official app and check my feed from the browser

Messenger Lite: Free Calls & Messages: lite version of Facebook’s messenger. I prefer it to the standard one

Telegram: my preferred messenger. PSA: if you want to create a group chat for any purpose, do it on Telegram

VK

WhatsApp Messenger: the old people’s messenger

Twitter

In order to not get distracted by twitter I have two twitter apps: I can check Flamingo whenever I want, but I’m not allowed to look at notifications / DMs (which is easy, since in Flamingo notificatons and DM don’t have counters); I can check official app only during long breaks and look at notifications / DMs

Flamingo: my favorite twitter client, which doesn’t mess with my timeline. Unfortunately, unpublished at the moment. I’m not aware of good alternatives

Twitter

Utilities

CamScanner: for turning paper documents into pdfs

Guitar Tuner Free - GuitarTuna

Image 2 Wallpaper: lets me be extremely specific about how I want my wallpaper to look like

Parrot Voice Recorder

Past Recorder

Snapseed: lets me be extremely specific about how I want the photos I took to look like

Splitwise: makes splitting up the bills / having a joint budget almost effortless

Total Commander - file manager

Wellbeing

Flo: my so’s menstrual cycle tracking app. I have it installed as well and it’s really handy


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