Uses

Hardware, software, and gear I use on a daily basis

A comprehensive list of my favorite hardware, software, and gear, from the perspective of a Laravel/PHP and Vue/Svelte/JavaScript full stack developer, updated for 2020.

Work hardware

I prefer coding on Macs, exclusively. While I've coded successfully on PCs, I find that I'm a lot more productive, have a lot less frustrations, and my dev tools just work on a Mac.

  • Day job laptop: 2019 MacBook Pro 16" 2.4 GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 32GB RAM 1TB SSD
  • After-work laptop: 2015 MacBook Pro 15" 2.5 GHz 4-core Intel Core i7 16GB RAM 512GB SSD
  • Backup laptop (if all other Macs šŸ’„): 2014 MacBook Pro 13" 2.6 GHz 2-core Intel Core i5 8GB RAM 128GB SSD

Mac peripherals/accessories

  • Wireless keyboard: Apple Magic Keyboard 2 - best coding keyboard I've ever used
  • Wireless trackpad: Apple Magic Trackpad 2 - Apple has the best trackpad implementation of any manufacturer, and the wireless one is an absolute must for trackpad fans
  • USB-C dongle (for 16" Mac): VAVA USB-C Hub 8-in-1 4K HDMI, 1Gbps RJ45 ethernet port, USB 3.0, SD/TF card reader, 100W charging port
  • 16" MacBook Pro case: MOSISO MacBook Pro 16 inch Case, Crystal Clear - while the laptop was purchased by the company I work for, I wanted to protect it with a case as well as being able to put whatever stickers I want on it. I'm very happy with this case - it also comes with a screen protector and a keyboard cover if you're into that sort of thing.

Mac/development software

  • šŸ’µ IDE: PHPStorm - best IDE I've ever used, period. Has a ton of conveniences built in for great productivity. It's not free (nor expensive) but the price of entry is more than justified.
  • Code editor: VSCode - seems like everyone is using VSCode these days, for everything. It may be the best text editor in the world but it is not an IDE and it doesn't hold a candle to PHPStorm for PHP work, even with a bajillion extensions. I use it for non-PHP work, such as 100% JavaScript projects, Markdown, etc.
  • Terminal: iTerm2 - the old faithful. It's fast and has everything I need: tabs, panes, themes, etc.
  • Shell: zsh with oh my zsh and the Powerlevel9k theme
  • Coding fonts: JetBrains Mono, Fira Code
  • Favorite browser: Firefox
  • Design/vector: Figma, GravitDesigner
  • Presentation: Apple Keynote
  • Project management: Trello - I use it to manage my side-projects. I love the simplicity and the slickness of the UI. Too bad it got acquired by Atlassian (I hate all their products), but I hope it stays the way it is.
  • šŸ’µ Tinkerwell - probably the best tool to come out of the Laravel/PHP ecosystem. An offline REPL tool that you can use for rapid prototyping, and testing/validating PHP code snippets. At $15 it's dirt cheap for how much it has boosted my Laravel productivity.
  • šŸ’µ Pixelmator Pro - I was lucky to buy the Pro version on sale and it's the best $20 I ever spent on software. It has most of Photoshop's features in an offline, truly affordable package, with a simple UI and familiar key mappings.
  • Dash - offline documentation for the developer technology of your choice. Invaluable when traveling or when you don't have internet access.
  • Window manager: Spectacle - apparently there are better window managers but I got used to this one and it works fine for me.
  • Keyboard rebinding: Karabiner Elements - if there's one thing I miss on the Mac is middle-button click to open links in a new tab or to close a tab. I use Karabiner to remap the Caps Lock key to act as a middle-click. So if I hover over a link and tap Caps, it will open the link in a new tab. Likewise, Caps over a tab will close it.
  • Vanilla - hides the menu bar icons that you don't need to see all the time.
  • Kap - a tiny screen capture utility. I use it a lot for capturing animated portions of my screen, as explained here.

X-platform software

  • šŸ’µ Spotify
  • šŸ’µ 1Password
  • Google Docs
  • Google Keep

Gaming/entertainment hardware

I am a PC gamer thru & thru. I've never owned a console of any kind, and likely never will. I hand-build all my PCs, every 5 years or so.

PC peripherals

  • Monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG349Q 34ā€ Curved G-Sync Gaming Monitor 120Hz 3440 X 1440 IPS - my monitor is actually a slightly older version of this, that only goes to 100Hz but it doesn't matter because I'm one of those who can't tell the difference. I use it for both gaming and work and it has been amazing for over 3 years now. On Mac, for example, I can easily split it into 3 columns using Spectacle. Combined with my laptop's screen, it's like having 4 monitors.
  • Keyboard: Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum RGB mechanical - can't really recommend this keyboard, even if it were still produced. It was overpriced and it doesn't use Cherry switches, rather Logitech's own implementation. I find it bad for typing but OK for gaming.
  • Mouse: Logitech G305 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse - I'm one of those gamers who prefers a minimum amount of buttons. The G305 is light and lag free.
  • Mouse pad: Yicaihong Metal Aluminum Medium 9.45X7.87 Inch - great, inexpensive, solid, compact, dual-surface pad. I use the synthetic leather side which has really good traction, whether for gaming or otherwise.
  • Wireless headphones: Sennheiser RS 180 digital wireless headphones - I've had these for over 5 years and, while initially pricy, they've paid for themselves many times over. I use them daily on my PC for everything that produces sound - movies, music, youtube, games, etc. The closest modern equivalents are Sennheiser RS 185 or Sennheiser RS 175.

PC software

  • šŸ’µ Backblaze - cloud backup. Very inexpensive for the peace of mind it offers. I use it to backup my PC where I keep lots of "important" data such as photos, documents, and other digital junk. It has literally saved my šŸ„“ a few years back when my main data HDD died and I was able to restore everything from the cloud. I do keep offline backups as well but cloud backup is just one facet of a comprehensive strategy.
  • šŸ’µ Cyberghost VPN - dare I call this the best VPN ever? I've been using it for years and it has delivered in spades: inexpensive (if you buy a multi-year plan it ends up being < $3 / month), fast (I get almost the same speeds as I would without it), vast choice of country IPs, and incorporated outside the US for extra peace of mind.

Phone

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8 - Despite my love for Macs, I've never been a huge fan of iPhones/iOS. The Note 8 is the best phone for me at the moment. It may be several generations behind modern phones but I love the stylus and how well Samsung integrated it with the software. The battery and speed are still good, it has a headphone jack, and it takes decent photos. I'm planning to hang on to it for as long as possible, especially considering the initial price. After that it gets tricky. I would very much like to continue having a stylus, but I don't like the direction Samsung is following with their phones, and the prices are becoming ridiculous. There's a chance I may switch to an iPhone in the future.

Other gear & accessories

  • Standing desk: ApexDesk Elite Series 71" wide, electrically adjustable. Fun fact: I've never once used it in the standing position.
  • Soundbar: TaoTronics Gaming Computer Speaker - I bought this sound bar to use it with my Mac but it's the first TaoTronics device that disappoints. I suppose the sound is somewhat better and louder than the MacBook speakers but it has too many issues to recommend.
  • Headphones: TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones - pretty happy with these. I use them almost daily and they do a passable job for what I paid. The noise cancelling is decent for a moderately noisy environment and so is the sound quality. The battery lasts all day too.
  • Lamp: TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp - really good LED lamp. It's light, compact, versatile, and uses touch controls that work really well. Speaking of controls, it has 5 settings each for color temperature (cool -> warm) and brightness.
  • Time machine HDD: WD Elements 1TB - I only need 1TB for my 2015 MacBook Pro backups.
  • Backup HDDs: WD Elements 4TB - I use 2 of these for my PC backups.
  • Watch: Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire - I wear my watch almost 24/7. It's not a true smart watch, but it's the best option for someone who's into a variety of outdoor activities (cycling, hiking, skiing, occasional swimming and paddle boarding). It displays my phone notifications, has built-in maps and GPS, tracks steps and sleep patterns, the battery lasts almost 2 weeks, and it's super tough to boot.
  • Electric duster: CompuCleaner 2.0 - may sound like an odd one, but it's definitely computer-related and an awesome tool for any computer geek's arsenal. Say goodbye to those asthmatic air cans. This baby blows air like a jet engine, and that's just on the low setting! I use it to clean my keyboards, internal components such as the GPU or CPU radiator/fan, the inside of my Macs (you'll be surprised how much dust can build up over time), and so on.