💻 Tools & Tech

As a software developer and all round geek I am always looking for the best tech and applications to improve my productivity. This page is always kept up to date with all my favourites.

My Favourite Gear

📱 Phone

I made the switch to an iPhone in 2016 after all my other smartphones either broke or started running slow. Since then I have gone all in on the Apple ecosystem as I now have a Macbook Pro, iPad and an Apple Watch.

My current iPhone is the iPhone XR which I have had since 2019. I like the design of the iPhone 13 but I can’t justify getting a new phone at the moment while my XR works perfectly fine. I can’t see myself moving away from an iPhone at this point as I have come to rely on the easy connectivity between everything.

📓 Notebook

If I am at my desk and want to quickly take note of something I still use a traditional notebook. However, if it is a note worth keeping then it goes into my digital note-taking system.

I have a couple of brands of notebooks that I always gravitate towards. I like the soft covers you get on the Moleskine and Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks, so I tend to switch between the 2 depending on what is available when I come to buy one. I generally go for A5 ruled notebooks as I only use them for quick note-taking. Leuchtturm also do a pen loop that sticks to the back cover of your notebook which is handy.

⌨️ Keyboard & Mouse

I recently switched from an Apple-style keyboard to the Keychron K1 v4. This is my first mechanical keyboard and I wanted one that was low profile so it wasn’t such a shock moving to the clicky keys. This model comes with RBG lights when you type which is a fun addition. Mechanical keyboards are generally quite expensive but this one is under $100.

I am still using Logitech MX Master 2S for my mouse. I have fairly large hands and I find a lot of mice uncomfortable to use but the MX Master is big enough to fill my hands. The side scroll is particularly useful when editing videos or scrolling around spreadsheets.

📝 iPad

I am using the 2nd generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro which I bought back in 2018. As with all Apple products, it is still working perfectly 4 years on so I can’t justify upgrading it yet. I mostly use the iPad as a consumption device, the size is perfect for reading magazines and articles.

I originally bought the iPad and Apple Pencil to use as my primary note-taking device. Even with a matte screen protector and apps like Notability, I don’t find it as comfortable as writing on paper and I found myself taking fewer notes. For diagrams, the iPad shines and you can easily edit as you go.

I also use my iPad when playing the guitar to reference guitar tabs and music.

🖥 Desk Setup

Since 2018, I have been fortunate enough to have my own dedicated office at home and I have been filling it with things that give me joy and inspiration. I am a big superhero fan and loved Back to the Future when I was a kid so there are a few movie-inspired pieces dotted around (such as the Playmobile DeLorean, Lego Iron Man and Superman Coasters).

I am still using the MacBook Pro I bought back in 2016, although after using an M1 MacBook Pro at work there was a night and day difference in performance. The new Apple chips are noticeably faster and I can see it would make a big difference to the time it takes me to produce YouTube videos for my channel.

I currently thinking of getting an M2 Mac Mini when they come out combined with a Macbook Air. I don’t need the power of a Macbook Pro in a portable device anymore and the battery life in the Macbook Air is incredible.

My desk is made up of a wooden kitchen worktop and a couple of Alex units from Ikea. Most of the desk is taken up by my two 27-inch 4K Dell monitors. If I was to buy a new monitor now, I would probably go with just one ultra widescreen monitor. I am using a Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock to power my 2 monitors so there is just one USB-C cable to plug into my laptop.

Lastly, I have a few RGB lights in my office to give it that tech look 😎. I have a Govee Light Strip on the back of my desk and a couple of Govee Light Bars on either side.

⌚️ Apple Watch

After resisting the Apple Watch for many years I finally succumbed with the Series 7. The fact that I can even use it to track my activity when I go swimming which is a big plus. The Apple Watch is a nice-to-have luxury but being able to quickly get notifications and even answer phone calls hands-free is particularly useful.

To avoid getting notification burnout I did turn off all notifications to my Apple Watch apart from the important ones like messages and bank notifications.

🎬 YouTube Gear

In 2022, I started my YouTube channel and to ensure at least a base level of quality I invested in a few bits of kit. I am still very much a beginner when it comes to YouTube and I plan to upgrade my equipment as my channel gets popular.

It is said that people will sit through poor video quality but not poor audio. When I started working more from home in 2019 I upgraded my microphone to a Blue Yeti X, which allowed me to keep my laptop closed. I could have gone with any external microphone but I wanted something decent as I knew I would be doing YouTube videos in the future.

For the video, I am still recording with a webcam. I am using the Logitech Brio 4K. Out of the box, the video quality isn’t great but there a quite a few YouTube videos on how to set it up so it looks better.

One of the main things that affect video quality is the lighting. You need a lot of light to get a good picture, which if you have ever taken photos in low light before you can probably attest to. For now, I have a fairly cheap soft box lighting kit from Amazon but I will likely upgrade this in future.

📚 Reading

I think reading is one of the greatest equalisers, there is so much knowledge to be gained from reading books. I go through fits and starts with reading, sometimes I will read 3 books in a week and other times it will take me a month to finish one.

I generally prefer reading physical books but I also have a Kindle which is great for my digital collection and for taking quick highlights. There are quite a few different models of Kindle now but I am currently using just the basic model.

If you are interested in what I am reading you can check out my recommendations and book notes.

My Favourite Apps

🧑‍💻 IDE

My IDE of choice is Visual Studio Code, although it is more of an extended text editor than a full-blown IDE. I switched to VS Code at the same time I moved to Mac in 2017. I love the fact that I can use one code editor for all the languages I work with.

One of my first YouTube videos was on tips and tricks for VS Code.

🗒 Note Taking

I have started putting together what they call a “Second Brain” on my computer in Obsidian. I have used a few note-taking apps over the years such as Evernote and Notion but I have finally decided on Obsidian to store all my digital notes. I like the fact that Obsidian stores everything as files, so there is no worry about platforms going offline in the future and losing all my notes.

I still use Apple Notes for my fleeting notes, shopping lists or quick blog post ideas on the go. If a note is on something I have learnt then this will go into Obsidian. If you are interested in building your own Second Brain then I would recommend reading Building a Second Brain and How to Take Smart Notes.

📔 Highlights

I realised a lot of what I was reading I would forget in a month or two. At a minimum, it takes me about 3 hours to read an average book. If I have to reread every book to remember what I had learned it is a huge waste of time. To combat this I have started taking highlights and notes as I am reading.

I can do this quickly when reading on my Kindle but for physical books, I use Readwise. Readwise lets you take a photo of the page you are reading and then easily highlight text and add notes. This is then synced to my “Second Brain” each time I open Obsidian.

For articles and Twitter threads I find interesting I use Matter. Once in Matter, I can take highlights which then get synced to Readwise and then to Obsidian. Matter is particularly great at expanding Twitter threads.

🎥 Video Editing

I started editing videos with iMovie but I have since upgraded to Adobe Premiere. I had originally planned to get Final Cut Pro but with Adobe Creative Cloud you get all of their apps including Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. I was already using Photoshop and I managed to get a discounted subscription for my first year.