Tool Report: 2016
In the style of CGP Grey, I decided to create a report of the tools I use today. This list serves both as an insight into how I live my life and as a good place to refer to whenever I’m asked about certain tools. I’m also hoping that in a few years from now, I’ll check back on this list and reflect on the changes to my life and work styles.
All Tool Reports:
- Reading / Listening
- General Hardware
I practice Getting Things Done to manage my day-to-day tasks and activities. I use FacileThings to manage all my actions, someday/maybes, projects, etc.
I like that it allows both the “runway” level focus (tasks, etc), but also provides a way to align tasks with goals, visions and areas of responsibility. I also like its very capable “routine” features - between taking my dog to the vet and remembering to do laundry I’d say that about 80% of my total actions are routines.
I use Gmail as my one and only mail client.
At work, I sometimes use ClearFocus: Productivity Timer as a Pomodoro timer, to work in 25 minute segments. The app is basic, but beautiful, and gets the job done.
If I really, really need to concentrate, and regular music distracts me, I put on my noise canceling headphones (see below) and listen to some “white noise”. My current track is Large Hadron Cuddler, but I’m thinking about trying some nature noises instead.
I don’t really like Evernote, but I use it to “scan” documents and store them. This is useful because FacileThings has Evernote integration, so I can snap a document and use it as reference material.
Google Drive / Sheets
I use Google Sheets to track my health measurements, but not so much otherwise.
IFTTT (If This Then That)
IFTTT is a great tool for integrating different services. I use it to automatically create a project in FacileThings whenever a Pull Request is open in one my projects, to record body measurements in Google Sheets, etc.
Anki / AnkiDroid
About a year ago, I took a course in Spoken Arabic. I use Anki daily to memorize vocabulary and grammar. It’s a great application (both desktop and phone), but it’s very… involved. I have over 1000 notes in my system.
Reading / Listening
Whether I’m driving, walking the dog or doing the dishes, I’m most likely listening to a podcast. I like Pocket Casts because they have a very polished UI and they allow to cast the audio to a Chromecast or Android TV device.
Here are the podcasts I’m currently subscribed to, in order of descending preference:
- Hello Internet
- This American Life
- Planet Money
- Israel Story / סיפור ישראלי
- The Biggest Problem in the Universe (canceled)
- The Dick Show
- 99% Invisible
- The Best Debate in the Universe
- The Official GTD Podcast
If I’m not listening to a podcast, I’m probably listening to an audio book, and Audible has a huge variety of them. I used to have a subscription, but I noticed that it’s usually cheaper to buy the kindle version of a book and add narration than it is to buy just the audiobook or pay for a subscription. It’s a really weird pricing model, but that’s the way it is.
Whenever I actually read and not listen to a book, I do it on my Kindle Paperwhite. If the book is really good, I might also continue reading on the Kindle app for Android instead of working.
Google Play Music
Like some other tools here, I don’t really like Google Play Music, but these days syncing my music is mandatory, and Google Play Music had the best upload and automatic sync experience of all the apps I tried.
If I’m just procrastinating on the internet instead of working, I’m probably reading articles from:
I use different headphones for different purposes. If I’m at work and I want some god damn peace and quiet, I put on my Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Canceling Headphones.
Whenever I’m out on the town, walking the dog, riding a bike or even doing chores at home, I use Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones. They work on bone conduction, so that your ears are free to hear cars coming to run you over, or your daughter waking up from a nap in her room. Also, wireless.
If I want both a wireless experience with minimal form factor and being disconnected from the world around me (like at the gym), I use the Plantronics Back Beat GO 2 Bluetooth Earbuds.
Finally, if I want good quality sound without worrying about battery life or hauling the huge Bose headphones (like when I’m on an airplane), I just put on some generic in-ear silicon tipped headphones.
Although Google confirms the Nexus Player has been discontinued, it was a pretty solid Android TV device for a pretty cheap cost, and I still use mine. Too bad it doesn’t have an Ethernet port, though.
Plex is a media server you can run locally and then access from any web browser or (like I do) Android TV. I use it to watch downloaded (totally legal) movies and series and my TV.
Netflix is relatively new in Israel and unfortunately it only allows access to very limited content, compared to what it provides in the US. It is still useful though, especially for its self-produced content.
My baby daughter is little over 3 months old and taking care of her is still a mystifying task. There are two apps my wife and I use to do this:
Feed Baby is a tracker app for babies. It helps you to conveniently track feeding time and duration and diaper changes (including their, ahem, content). It actually has many more tracking categories such as sleep, medicine, showers, but we found that feeding and diapers are enough for us. It syncs between phones so my wife and I can get a nice overview of our daughter’s day when we “switch shifts”, so we don’t have to rely on memory. It really helps in diagnosing why a baby is crying, since you can tell when they were fed, when was their diaper changed, etc.
Hubble is an app that streams live video from a Motorola monitor. While we usually use the provided “parent unit” at home, it’s nice that you can watch the camera from a longer range.
Let’s get down to business!
PyCharm is my favorite Python IDE. It has a great interface, a really customizable configuration and most importantly - a pretty solid Vim plugin (IdeaVim).
When I need to edit one-off files (or posts for this blog) I use Sublime Text 3. It has a reasonable Vim plugin (Vintage).
I use Github for both public and private repositories need. While I prefer Mercurial over Git (yes, I mean that), Github is so good that it’s worth suffering Git for (pitchforks in the comments, please).
I currently have a (black) Nexus 5X running Android 7.0. Man, I love me some USB Type-C!
My custom built Desktop is running Windows 10 and contains:
Although I have already paid for a new desktop which is being assembled as we speak. It will have to wait for the next tool report, though.
My laptop is a Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1. I just love those little, err…
I currently have a new TP-Link Archer C7 v2, running a LEDE aftermarket firmware which, incidentally, I compiled myself. Exciting stuff.
Having a different password for each login is secure, but hard to organize. I use 1Password to generate random, secure passwords while storing them in vault that is itself secured by a very strong password which is the only one I need to remember.
F.lux makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. I’ve been using it for years and it has definitely improved my sleep.
When I’m not programming or writing blog posts, I play video games (also, to a lesser extent, spending time with my wife and daughter or play board games).
My current recommendation, plus the reported time I spent on them, according to Steam:
- FTL: Faster Than Light (342 hours)
- Civilization V (653 hours)
- Massive Chalice (257 hours)
- RimWorld (222 hours)
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook