Stuff I use

May 06, 2020

Stuff I use
May 06, 2020

Stuff I use💻🖥️🖱️⌨️

This is gonna be a post all about things I use and endorse. I find that pretty often I have conversations about a problem I've found an effective solution for and I wanna share my whole setup at once. So from now on I am just going to link people to this post and save some time!

So let's get to it.

Fastmail

The way we think about email has changed so much in the past decade that, unless you've made a deliberate effort to change it, you're probably limping along the same solution you came up with when you registered your first gmail account. I was too.

And that'll work for a while, but what I've noticed is that I'm now on so many mailing lists for promotions, newsletters, junk mail, spam, and junk mail (not to mention spam and junk mail) that my inbox has become more of a stream of information that quickly gets out of control. If I don't check it and cull unwanted emails every day there's a real possibility I'll miss one that came from an actual human.

That sucks! But moreover it's not a problem that most email providers find profitable enough to solve. That all changes with fastmail. Their robust system of rules combined with dead-simple folders makes organizing emails and sorting through them.. kind of fun? Maybe that's just me.

Along with this, they also let you specify tons of aliases and sending identities, so you can have as many emails as you want that all go to the same inbox.

If you're also looking for a calendar integration, it has that, and notes too! You can link your custom domains and even serve a static website out of your inbox, somehow. I haven't messed with it much. They support 2FA and yubikey for authentication, and you can also change your login to something other than your email -- so if someone were trying to steal your fastmail account, they'd have to know not just your email address but your specific login, your password, and steal your keys. It's good, folks.

So if you're looking for a good chance to get your online identities under control, I recommend spending the $5 a month for their service. Also, they won't scan your email and sell the contents to advertisers, so that's another plus.

1Password

This is in the same theme as the last product: you have too many logins. Do you remember all your passwords? If you do, you're probably using variations on the same one (or the exact same one 😱) everywhere. Don't do that. Because there are so many breaches, and there are going to be more. You can go ahead and assume that your login is going to become public record.

Head on over to haveibeenpwned, a service that collects and analyzes these breaches, type in your email and weep -- there's a good chance it already is.

So you need to be using a password manager, firstly to generate strong unique passwords that you don't have to remember, and more importantly to re-generate them when you get pwned.

1Password has a a number of useful categories and allows endless customization of every entry. So if your favorite recipe-sharing website has a separate username and email field, gives you backup codes, security questions, and requires a one-time-password, this can ALL be done inside 1Password.

You can also store secure notes and documents (useful with tax season right around the corner), server credentials, credit card numbers, software licenses and much more. And if their built-in categories aren't enough for you, you can attach arbitrary tags to each entry so you can organize them however you need.

The app will let you know when your password is weak, or if you have a login to a service that supports 2FA but you haven't enabled it. $3 a month, or $5 if you get a family account.

Topre Keyboards

The Happy Hacking keyboard is a staple among software developers, for a number of reasons that mostly boil down to: it's fun to type on and it looks cool. But they are also configurable with dipswitches on the back, feel amazing to type on, and somehow are not terribly loud. (This last point might appeal more to your roommate or open-office pod-mates than you.)

My realforce tenkeyless

By default the HHKB puts the control key right where it should be, next to the A key. Who uses capslock anyway?

So far these are the only mechanical keyboards that I can recommend to somebody who has never used a mechanical keyboard before and almost guarantee they'll enjoy it. The switches are unique in the mech world in that they actually do have a rubber dome with a spring under them -- so they don't feel terribly foreign to newbies. This also provides a sort of "pop" after you bottom out the key which is not often found in other boards.

The pricetag on these is the biggest drawback. If you check around on eBay or trading forums you can usually find some better prices though, and for something you're gonna use for hours every day, I personally think it's worthwhile to spend a few extra bucks.

Logitech MX Master 3

This is an excellent mouse. Feels good in your hands, it's wireless but has options for a universal USB receiver OR bluetooth (convenient when you have 3 machines you use it with regularly).

MX Master

Here's a picture of mine. It's actually not the MX Master 3 or even the 2, it's the original -- and yes, I got it specifically because the stone color matched really well with my HHKB. But the mouse has remained largely the same through the upgrades, which have mostly been replacing pieces that were prone to break under heavy use. I'd go with the 3 personally if I were buying it now.

In terms of physical features, the biggest feature that I had never experience but now cannot live without is a free-spinning scroll wheel. When you just need to get further down into that 9000 line controller file, just let 'er rip and take your hand off. The best part is stopping it -- it makes a really satisfying thunk sound that I sometimes just do to fidget when I'm bored. It has a little button you can use to change the wheel from free-spinning to line-by-line if that's more convenient for what you're doing.

It also has a gesture button, forward and back-buttons, and side-scrolling wheel all in reach of your thumb. Clutch.

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