My setup

The hardware I use

For the last year or so I’ve used a Surface Pro 4 as my work computer, but after a number of hardware and software issues I’m in the process of swapping to a generic Dell laptop that I like a lot more than I thought I would. It’s heavier, but I don’t have to carry a load of adaptors and dongles around any longer because it has all the right ports. I use it with two monitors, and I’m starting to think I might need a third, or at least space to utilise the laptop screen as well.

My home setup is also in a state of flux. My main computer until 2 months ago was a 2011 Mac Mini, but after a number of issues with that I decided to try and replicate my work setup as much as possible, which lead to me installing Windows 10 on my Thinkpad X230 and connecting it to two monitors. That experiment went OK, but I found myself using my Ubuntu desktop more and more, so I’ve just switched to that for now. It’s only a couple of years old, and was pretty much built from scratch, and while it was built as a server it handles anything I throw at it fine.

As far as peripherals go, I use a generic Microsoft mouse and a Logitech solar powered keyboard at home, and the same mouse plus a Microsoft keyboard at work. The Logitech keyboard can handle three inputs, which means I can toggle between my two main computers, plus my work machine for days when I’m working from home.

At home I also have an array of older laptops, and a growing collection of small computers that started with a single Raspberry Pi and now includes a variety of other things that are used as media players, web servers, and low-powered alternatives to my main computers. I’ve just started using one of my older laptops as a remote desktop client when I’m in other parts of the house, which works surprisingly well considering it’s nearly 10 years old.

For playing my growing record collection I have an Ion Audio profile record player that will plug into my computer to record from vinyl and also plugs into my stereo.

I also have an iPad and iPhone, which I use pretty much every day. These are generally the only two devices I always carry with me when I’m travelling.

The software I use

At work I’m running Windows 10, which I’m now completely comfortable with.

At home It’s a mix of Ubuntu, Windows 10 (occasionally), MacOS (occasionally), iOS, LibreElec and Raspbian. This is why I have so many computers.

Other software I use that I feel is somewhat noteworthy includes:

  • Evernote – I use this on every device I own, mostly to take notes in meetings and training sessions, and then to revise/reflect later. A lot of my notes are now photographs of whiteboards and other hand drawn scribbles, which Evernote handles very well.
  • Atom – A text editor that handles Markdown well, and can preview and export to PDF. I also use Pandoc to convert to PDF, HTML and/or .docx if required.
  • Byword – another Markdown editor that I’m using on iOS.
  • Trello – I use this for my to do list, and it’s a good way to visualise the planning and execution of any task based work. It’s probably the web app I use most at the moment.
  • Dropbox – Cloud storage and syncing software to ensure I can access everything everywhere.
  • IFTTT and Buffer – To automate as much as possible. Between them they handle a lot of the seemingly clever things in my digital life, and explain why I seem to be able to post to social media sites at times when I appear to be elsewhere.
  • Virtualbox – Because no-one needs as many physical computers as I had before virtualisation was a thing.

My dream setup

I’m not sure anymore. My setup is in such a state of flux that anything I write now is likely to be out of date within days.

That said, I am enjoying being back on Ubuntu again, and am eying the Thinkpad X280 enviously as a possible replacement for my 5 year old laptop. If only it was a little more upgradeable then I would be very tempted to buy one. I would also like my monitors at home to be the same size (although they are the same resolution which helps a lot).

Last updated 24th March 2018