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The Tools I Use

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Here's a list of software and hardware that I use on a regular basis as a developer and content creator. I will be keeping it updated.

Quick Jump: OS | Code Editor and Terminal | Notable Apps | Computer, Desk and Phone | Recording and Music

Every once in a while an email rolls in where someone asks me about my development environment or has questions about certain hardware.

I thought it would be fun to list out everything I use here. Keep in mind, I change things around quite a bit, but I will keep this article updated.

If I missed anything, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the post.

Demo Videos

Over the years I’ve recorded a couple of videos that pull together the tools that I use from this post so you can see how they all fit together and how they work in practice.

Just a heads up, this blog post will always have the latest updates on the tools that I use. That’s because I don’t record a new video every time a single tool changes.

OS

Code Editor and Terminal

  • Code Editor
    • I used Sublime Text 3 for a really long time.
    • Then I switched to VSCode in June 2018 and it served me well for a while.
    • As of February 2019 I’ve switched to using Vim due to VSCode’s shortcomings when it comes to writing (which I do a lot of!).

There’s also my dotfiles on GitHub which has the most up to date settings for these tools and a guide on how to install all of the Linux tools quickly.

Notable Apps

  • Most of my web app development is done inside of Docker. Here’s a guide on how to get Docker and Docker Compose working with WSL 1, although nowadays I use WSL 2 so this guide isn’t as important anymore.

  • Ditto to manage multiple clipboards. It’s super handy and I wrote about clipboard managers here (they will save you a lot of time).

  • For searching and launching applications I used Keypirinha for a long time but then in May 2020 I switched to using Microsoft PowerToys which has an app launcher.

  • For setting custom global hotkeys, Auto Hotkey has served me well.

  • For quickly resizing windows to a specific height and width or measuring / positioning a window I use Sizer. It comes in handy for screenshots and recording videos.

  • For browsers I’ve used Opera from about 2006 to 2014, then I tried FireFox for a year and now I use Chrome. I’m happy with Chrome in terms of performance.

  • I do most of my training / consulting sessions through Google Hangouts, and I use this nifty Chrome extension to run it as a standalone app. It’s great for quick chats too.

  • Momentum is another really cool Chrome extension to keep you on track. I wrote about that in a post on defeating procrastination a while ago.

  • My favorite IRC client is HexChat. I spend a lot of time on IRC which I’ve written about.

  • For password management I use a command line tool called pass. Currently at 300+ passwords.

  • I love listening to music and I’ve been using foobar2000 since the early 2000s. It’s a light weight audio player (uses ~5mb of RAM) with a minimal but nearly perfect UI.

  • To quickly view and resize images I’ve been using IrfanView since the early 2000s. It’s very minimal and has useful batch operations.

  • For image editing like creating Youtube thumbnails and blog post images I use GIMP. If I ever switch to native Linux, it works there too. That’s the main reason why I use it.

  • For finance tracking and accounting I like GnuCash. It is way better than Excel for basic accounting (IMO) and it’s open source.

Computer, Desk and Phone

  • I also run a CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS battery backup. It’s been running like a champ for 9 years and has saved my work from power outages countless times. I keep my workstation, 1 monitor and cable modem + router connected to it. It lasts about an hour under normal load. I mainly went for the PFC model for the peace of mind.

  • In addition to the above I use a Huion H610 Pro drawing tablet and stylus. I’m not an artist by any means but it’s excellent for writing hand written slides and notes. Some of my blog post images were drawn with it.

  • I also use a modified Toshiba Chromebook 2 CB35 (2015) to run Linux. It’s great for a portable device which doubles as a $350 laptop capable of doing development work on the go. I do a lot of reading and some coding outside with this device. I wrote a massive guide on how to set that up.

  • I wanted to try standing, so I built a custom standing desk. I’ve been standing at my workstation nearly full time since the start of 2016 and I still do today. The screenshot in the above link is a bit old. It’s been modified to have a shelf for the drawing tablet and those aren’t the monitors / mic I use today.

  • I am a big fan of whiteboards, so I put together an 8x4 foot whiteboard for about $15. That post also shows the latest standing desk modification, monitor and mic that I use.

  • I’m anti-smartphones so I use a LG Xpression 2 slide out phone. Although I do have a TracFone Samsung Stardust for when I need data on demand. I also use it as an MP3 player on the road.

Recording and Music

  • I’m a HUGE fan of Camtasia 9 for recording screencasts. It’s what I used in my latest Docker course and will be using for future courses. It easily saves me dozens of hours of editing for each course. It also works for MacOS and Windows, and you can use 1 license on more than 1 machine.

  • I use a Logitech c920 webcam for recording video. It captures 1080p video and looks reasonable enough with a few LED light bulbs.

  • I use an Audio-Technica AT2005 dynamic microphone. In my opinion it’s the best screencast / podcast microphone you’re going to find unless you spend $600+. It’s what I used for the Dive Into Docker course (and all courses in the foreseeable future). I also use a Dragonpad pop filter and this boom arm. The arm really helps with positioning and reducing keyboard noise.

  • Audio Processing

    • REAPER is the only audio processing software that I use. It's a DAW and lets you process audio in real-time. That is super important since I record so much audio for my courses because it cuts down a lot of time on post-production editing.
    • As of late 2018 I picked up a Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen USB audio interface and a dbx 286s pre-amp and processor to go with it. This allows me to process all of my audio in real time without needing additional software or complicated audio redirect tools. I have not recorded any courses with this set up yet but you can check out my recent Youtube videos to hear it in action.

  • I do all of my audio editing and music listening through a pair of Sony MDR V6 headphones and I’m extremely pleased with them. I wrote a huge guide on how to pick headphones before, so check that out. I think I will use these headphones for the rest of my life.

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