What I use: 2016

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Since it’s been awhile since I wrote a post about what I use in regards to software, hardware, etc. Perhaps it’s time that I did that again. So here’s a list of what I’m using in 2016:


Everyday Use Machines

  • Macbook Pro 15-inch, Mid 2015 - This is my primary work machine provided by DealNews.
  • Macbook Air 13-inch, Mid 2013 - This is my personal machine used primarily for travel and conferences. It’s light and has a good long battery life.
  • iMac 27-inch, Mid 2011 with 27-inch Thunderbolt Display - This is my home desktop and my oldest currently-used machine. I just put it through a big round of upgrades including maxing the RAM to 32gb and installing an SSD. It feels like a brand new machine now. I figure I can get a few more years out of it before it needs to be replaced.


  • Dell PowerEdge R710 - The machine that powers this site and a handful of others. Upgraded from a SC1425 in December that was right on the edge of complete failure. Runs Ubuntu Linux Server 16.04LTS.
  • Mac mini, Late 2012 - This machine runs the home media system (streaming to a bunch of Apple TVs) via Plex and serves eBooks from calibre.
  • Homebrew Linux machine from mid-2015 - Runs a variety of small network services in our home. Runs Ubuntu Linux Server 16.04LTS.
  • Homebrew Linux machine from early-2015 - Sits in my office at work and provides a few remote services. Runs Ubuntu Linux Server 16.04LTS.
  • Drobo 5N NAS - Upgraded from a Drobo FS in 2015, and it was totally worth it. Much faster. Also runs Bittorrent Sync and a few other things.


  • Arris SB6141 Modem - Just replaced this recently after a lightning strike killed my old SB6120.
  • Homebrew pfSense router from 2016 - See this post for more information. I ended up building a new pfSense machine in August of 2016 due to a lightning strike damaging my old one.
  • Ubiquiti UAP-AP-AC Pro Access Points - See this post for more information. I’m currently running three access points to cover my house.
  • Wifi Texas WS-GPOE-6-48v60w PoE Injector - Rather than have an individual injectors for the access points, this provides 6 PoE ports for the access points.
  • HDHomeRun Connect - Provides antenna TV streaming to devices on the network. I can record antenna TV via the Elgato EyeTV app and stream to any of the AppleTVs or iDevices by Channels.
  • TP-Link Switches - They’re cheap and do a good enough job for a home network. I do miss the metal-enclosure Netgears, though. Those were good switches.


  • iPhone 6 - I usually upgrade on major versions, so I’ll probably get an iPhone 7 this year.
  • iPad Pro 9.7 - Just purchased earlier this year.

Smart Home

  • Nest Thermostats, two 2nd Generation - Although I definitely have a love/hate affair with these and I’m considering replacing these with ecobee3’s.
  • Samsung SmartThings Hub - Controls about a half-dozen Z-Wave switches as well as door locks and sensors.
    • KwikSet SmartCode Locks - With keypad and Z-Wave control.
    • GE Z-Wave Switches and Dimmers - A few of these strategically placed to control things like porch lights and eave lights.
    • Monoprice Door Sensors - Sensors on all the outside doors as well as garage doors.
  • Rachio Irrigation Controller - Runs our irrigation system. I can control my sprinklers from my phone!
  • Linksys WVC54GCA Webcams - I’ve been using these aging cameras for years to keep an eye on the house when we travel. They need to be replaced with something newer and more modern.


  • AppleTVs - Each TV in our house is equipped with an AppleTV (all 4th Generation ones now).



  • Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox (Free)

    Firefox is my everyday use browser because of its extensibility, but I also extensively use Safari and Chrome for development. I find that Chrome has the best developer tools.

  • Email: Mail.app (Built into Mac OS X)

    Nothing has been able to surpass the built-in E-mail program for me in regards to ease of use. More to the point, I’ve yet to find a compelling reason NOT to use this app.

  • Calendar: Calendar.app (Built into Mac OS X)

    As with email, I’ve yet to find a use case that compels me not to use the built-in Mac calendaring tool.

  • Code Editor: Atom (Free)

    In the last year I finally switched away from Sublime Text to Atom. There are several reasons, but it boils down to that, because Since Sublime is not open source, I do not have long-term confidence that development of it will continue. Updates seem to be very intermittent as is. Also, plugins for Sublime Text are highly varying in quality and feel hacked in. While Atom is not as fast as Sublime Text, it makes up for it in extensibility - packages management is directly built-in.

    Plugins I use:

    • atom-beautify
    • autoclose-html
    • autocomplete-php
    • docblockr
    • editorconfig
    • file-icons
    • merge-conflicts
    • sync-settings
    • tree-view-git-branch
    • tree-view-git-status
    • tree-view-open-files
    • Isotope theme (with a few custom hacks)
    • OneDark syntax theme


  • Terminal: iTerm 2 (Free)

    The built-in Terminal.app has gotten better over the years, but I’ve been an iTerm user for so long that I really don’t have a good reason to switch back.

  • RSS: Reeder 3 ($9.99, Mac App Store)

    I switched from ReadKit to Reeder, powered by a Feedly account to handle synchronizing between machines. I find that scanning and reading is faster with Reeder.

  • To Do List: Things ($49.99, Mac App Store)

    Now, $50 is a lot of money to spend on a to-do list app. I don’t think I spent that much - I think I caught it on a sale. Still, this is a good app.

  • Instant Messaging: Adium (Free) and Slack (Free, web/app based)

    Even after all these years, Adium is still the gold standard when it come to chat apps. Work has switched to Slack, which is awesome.

  • Twitter: Tweetbot ($9.99, Map App Store)

    I finally switched away from the official Twitter app (formerly Tweetie) after Twitter seems content to let it languish without updates. Tweetbot comes with a lot of really nice features for power Twitter users.

  • Sync: Dropbox (Free) and Bittorrent Sync (Free)

    I’ve long used Dropbox for syncing, and I still have some apps that are powered by Dropbox. However, I predominantly now use Bittorrent Sync for all my syncing needs. I like that there are no central servers storing your stuff, and you can sync as many folders as you like, wherever on your filesystem they are.

  • Password Manager: 1Password ($49.99, Mac App Store)

    Nothing much can be said about 1Password that hasn’t already. It’s awesome. Command-/ and you fill in the data on any form. Also useful (and dangerous) for shopping when you add your credit cards.

  • Bittorrent Client: Transmission (Free)

    Transmission is proof that you can do cross-platform software and not have it be terrible.

  • Notetaking: OneNote (Free)

    I was a longtime EverNote user, but their new aggressive pricing structure forced me to consider alternatives. I find that, surprisingly, Microsoft OneNote is actually a surprisingly good notetaking client.

Other apps I use:

  • Alfred, the launcher app, finally displaced Quicksilver. It’s free, but you need to buy $28 powerpack for it to be truly useful.
  • Caffeine (Mac App Store), a neat little app that disables sleep/screen saver on click.
  • ControlPlane, a great app that lets you take actions based on changes to your computer (such as IP address).
  • f.lux, an app that adjusts your screen color depending on the time of day. I literally cannot use a computer without this app.
  • RadarScope (Mac App Store). I live where the weather might kill me. This lets me keep an eye on it.
  • SourceTree. I usually interact with Git on the command line, but sometimes it’s nice to use a GUI client.
  • Übersicht. A great app with a very unfortunate name that is difficult to Google. It’s a bit like GeekTool, but uses Chromium, so you can use JavaScript and CSS to style your widgets.
  • Viscosity, an OpenVPN client, for connecting to my home VPN.
  • VLC Player, the play anything media player.


Many of the desktop apps above also have companion mobile apps that I also use. Here are a few that don’t.

  • Marvin, an eBook reading app. Supports OPDS, which lets it talk to a calibre library on one of my servers.
  • Waze. I don’t drive anywhere without Waze. Useful for telling me where the traffic (and cops) are.
  • Wikipanion, a Wikipedia reading app with a really nice user experience.


  • GitLab (Free)

    I run a Gitlab Community Edition installation for managing a lot of my software projects before they’re ready to be pushed out to Github.


  • Buffer (Free)

    Buffer is a social media manager. It allows me to queue up a bunch of updates to have posted during the day. I’m also a big fan of how they’re running their company - radical transparency at all levels.

  • MyFitnessPal (Free)

    Been working on losing weight and getting in shape, and MyFitnessPal is a big part of that. I track everything I eat and do and it acts as my conscience when eating food.

  • TripIt (Free)

    A great product for managing travel. Simply forward it your travel confirmations and builds an itinerary for you with all your information in one place. Also has mobile apps.

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