Tools / Gear

Physical world things

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 video game (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 Lightspeed and I absolutely love it. It’s wireless, 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 wired (and much cheaper) version, check out Logitech G502.

Headphones

People radically underestimate how good wireless headphones are.

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, @Voice Aloud Reader to turn epubs and pdfs into audiobooks (this is how I consume most of the books these days – technology is amazing!), and Pocket Casts for podcasts.

Laptop

I use Lenovo Yoga 920. As of early 2018 this was the best available laptop in the category. While this laptop is really good, I’m not going to buy another Lenovo ever.

  1. It has problems with going to sleep and 50% of the times wakes up and reboots closing everything and not infrequenly launching the blue screen of death.
  2. Lenovos have shitty wifi cards. When I play shooters I get periodic lags and sometimes wifi just drops randomly. My wife had a different Lenovo laptop for a while and there wifi dropped several times per hour. It was unusable. While looking at Lenovo forums these problems seem to be widespread accross their entire lineup

Monitors

3840x2160 16:9 Samsung U28E590D 28". It was the cheapest 4K monitor available in early 2020 (~$250) and it is amazing. I didn’t realize just how better it would be to work on a 28" monitor compared to my 12" laptop and the productivity gains have been amazing. I recommend this monitor strongly.

If I were buying a monitor today and had a bit higher budget, I would probably go for 3440x1440 21:9 Xiaomi Mi Surface Display 34". I’m almost satisfied with the width of Samsung but would appreciated a bit more space to be able to place three apps side-by-side comfortably.

If I had unlimited budget, I would probably buy LG 34WK95U 34" with 5120x2160 resolution.

I also have a super cheap 1920x1080 16:9 monitor that I put vertically and which I find very helpful, since I have 4-5 static windows at any given time (productivity google sheet, todo list, paint with current task and next steps, roam research, and file explorer; if I don’t have my todolist, paint, and productivity google sheet open at all times, I just forget about whatever I’m doing and get lost…)

Phone

I use Google Pixel. It’s the best phone I’ve ever used but I obviously can’t recommend it, since it was released in 2016.

My current recommendation would probably be Pixel 3a.

External Battery

ZMI PowerPack 20K Pro. Super useful. Charges my laptop fully and my phone ~6x. I didn’t imagine that this level of freedom from sources of electricity when I’m not home is possible.

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.

Chrome Extensions

All of them are important but without the first two I would not be able to live at all:

Computer Software

Note: I’m on Windows. I do really enjoy Windows and I really don’t like MacOS.

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)

Divvy: essential tool for a big monitor. Makes window management super easy. My settings are on the picture below.

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

Art / Design

Adobe InDesign: resume

Adobe Illustrator: vector drawings

Adobe Photoshop: editing photos

Adobe Lightroom: processing photos

Backups

Backblaze

Cloud

Dropbox + Google Drive: for weird historical reasons. If I were starting right now I would just use Google Drive and make sure to backup everything I have there

Ebooks

Freda

Editors / IDEs

Visual Studio Code: for almost all code (it even runs Jupyter Notebooks and connects to WSL!)

Windows Notepad: super quick notes

PyCharm: Python IDE (PyCharm is free for students)

Internet

Chrome

Learning

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

Note: the best service to speed up your typing 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%.

Handbrake: for video conversion and compression

OBS Studio: for streaming and recording screencasts of myself

PDFs

Adobe Acrobat DC

SumatraPDF: super light pdf read. For times when I don’t want to use Adobe Acrobat

Productivity

Amazing Marvin (referral link): best to do list manager

Simplenote: for notetaking on my phone (on my computer I almost exclusively take noted in notepad)

Security

KeyPass 2: password manager

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 didn’t like it at all.

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. No joking – this is critical for me

Audio

Smart AudioBook Player: audiobooks

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

@Voice Aloud Reader: turns epubs and pdfs into audiobooks (this is how I consume most of the books these days)

Books

Amazon Kindle: for Amazon books

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

Cloud

Dropbox: + Google Drive

Internet

Chrome

Learning

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

Navigation

Minimal Compass

Maps - Navigation & Transit by Google

Yandex.Metro: moscow metro map

Uber

Yandex.Taxi

PDFs

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Productivity

Simplenote

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

Repeat Alarm: for when I need repeating alarms, e.g. to remind myself to check something every 2 hours

Security

KeePassDroid: password manager. A companion to KeePass 2

Social Media / Messengers

Messenger Lite: Free Calls & Messages

Telegram

VK

WhatsApp Messenger

Twitter

Flamingo: my favorite twitter client which doesn’t mess with my timeline. Unfortunately, unpublished at the moment but I’m sure there are alternatives

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

Utilities

CamScanner: for turning paper documents into pdfs

Total Commander - file manager

Wellbeing

Flo: my so’s menstrual cycle tracking app


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