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Working From Home 💻
Over the last two years working from home I have gradually upgraded my desk setup.
After spending far longer than I care to admit watching dream desk setups from various YouTubers , I have arrived at a work space that I am really pleased with and is a joy to work at.
- Laptop: 2019 MacBook Pro (i7, 16GB) . No complaints, a decent machine, although I’m oh so tempted to upgrade to those new MacBook M1X Pros 💸
- Desk: AMEIZO Electric Stand Up Desk Legs + Reclaimed wood desktop . I really appreciate having a standing desk when stuck in meetings all day. I would recommend buying the legs and desktop separately, sometimes it is cheaper, but also gives you more flexibility for choice of desktop. AIMEZO might not be the most recognisable brand but I have had no issues. I went for a reclaimed scaffold board desktop – definitely unnecessary with cheaper alternatives, but I love the aesthetic and it is a joy to work at
- Chair: HAG SoFi 7500 . An ergonomic chair is a must for working from home. It took me far to long to upgrade but I’ve never looked back.
- Keyboard: Dygma Raise . I used to get Carpel tunnel pain which was significantly improved when I moved to a split keyboard. Note, the Dygma Raise is a compact keyboard without dedicated arrow keys, however, it is fully customisable with powerful macros to supercharge your workflows. Would highly recommend. Plus it has cool RGB.
- Trackpad: Apple Magic Trackpad 2 - space grey . I wasn’t happy about having to spend an extra £20 just to have it in space grey (no wonder Apple is a money printing machine). But definitely the best track pad I have ever used and fits perfectly in between my split keyboard.
- Monitor: LG 34'' ultrawide monitor . I tried a few monitors before landing with this one. I’ve been really impressed with this monitor from LG. Looks incredible and includes enough screen real estate to have a code editor + StackOverflow side by side.
- Webcam: Sony A6400 Mirrorless Camera . OK, this one was controversial with my fiancée – “Why would anyone consider spending so much on a camera when the laptop already has one inbuilt!”. However, the difference between the Sony A6400 and even top end webcams is night and day. No regrets. Let’s just justify it as an investment in the future of working from home…
- Secondary Webcam: Logitech Brio . Previously I was using the Logitech as my main webcam. Works really well and worth buying if you are not willing to upgrade to a DLSR/mirrorless camera.
- Headphones: Sony MX2 noise cancelling headphones . Perfect for getting ‘in the zone’.
- Headphone Hook: Under desk headphone hook . Handy little hook under my desk to store my headphones. Cheap, but functional – highly recommend
- Camera Lens: Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN . Get that beautiful bokeh on your video conference calls (‘natural background blur’ to you and me)
- Capture Card Elgato CamLink . Connects HDMI output of my Sony A6400 to my laptop. Plug and play setup. Superior performance compared to using Sony’s webcam utility software.
- Monitor Arm: InVision Monitor Arm .
- Camera Mount: Tarion Tabletop Light Stand .
- Microphone: Shure MV7 . Excellent USB microphone comparable to the legendary Shure SM7B but without requiring all the XLR kit.
- USB Hub: CalDigit Element Hub . Really great compact hub, perfect for connecting my peripherals. Pretty expensive though, I managed to get it for ‘free’ using my employer’s work from home allowance. Not sure I would have paid so much with my own money.
- LED Monitor Lights: Govee Bluetooth LED Lights . I’ve definitely been watching too many tech YouTubers, but couldn’t resist adding some mood lighting to the back of my monitor. For £10 it is well worth it. Really happy with the outcome.
- Desk Mat: Satechi Eco-Leather Desk Pad 23'' x 12.2'' . Great quality and aesthetic.
- Laptop holder: MOSISO Vertical Laptop Holder . Does the job.
- Cable Management: Cable Raceway kit
- Mechanical keyboard switches: Cherry MX Brown keys lubed.
My Coding Workflow 🚀
My dotfile configurations are available in a repository on GitHub
In the last year I have really tried to move my workflow away from classic IDEs – such as VSCode – and towards a terminal only workflow using neovim and tmux.
I’m not going to lie, it was a steep learning curve. But after a few months I am really starting to notice dramatic improvements in both the speed and comfort of my workflow – vim keybindings are so powerful and quick compared to mouse clicking.
- Terminal: iterm2 . Obvious choice for MacOS.
- Terminal multiplexer: tmux . Simple, customisable terminal session and window manager.
- Shell: Oh-my-zsh as my primary shell. Although I have been trying out Fish shell recently and have been pleasantly surprised with its ‘out-of-the-box’ functionality.
- Primary Code Editor: NeoVim .
- Secondary Code Editor: VSCode . For some use cases I am still not completely comfortable going ‘full vim’.
- Python virtual environment and management: pyenv + virtualenv
. I find
condaunnecessarily bloated and less portable across operating systems. Pyenv is simple to use and my go to for managing Python versions and virtual environments.
Building a Second Brain 🧠
Last year I came across the concept of building a 'second brain' .
As someone whose livelihood relies on the ability to quickly find and action information on a wide variety of technical topics, I realised I needed to be more deliberate about storing information, ideas and resources for ease access at a later date.
“Your knowledge and experience are your most important day-to-day professional assets. Unfortunately, they’re expiring assets.” – The Pragmatic Programmer
My current knowledge management system involves the following tools:
- Roam Research . Note taking tool. All daily notes get dumped into Roam.
- Kindle Oasis . A game changer. I can actually remember what I read in books by highlighting key sections and exporting them to Roam. Also a joy to read from.
- Audible . For when I’m on the go.
- Readwise . For automatically syncing Kindle notes to Roam Research. (If you sign up using this referral link you get a free month of the subscription plan 💪)
Mac Apps 👨💻
- Moom . Window management tool for Mac. A joy to use, highly customisable and a must have for ultra-wide monitor screen. It’s not free, but for $10 you will easily make your investment back in time and efficiency savings.
- Alfred . Faster, better alternative to Apple’s default Spotlight search.
Running this Website 🛠
I make very little revenue (…none 😅) from this website, so keeping running and maintenance costs down is very important.
I manage to run this website basically for free using some amazing technologies. My only cost is the domain name fee of ~£6/year.
- Domain name (~£6/year): NameCheap . Pretty sure most domain name providers are the same, but I’ve had no issues with Namecheap and found it relatively straight forward to setup DNS records etc.
- Static site generator (FREE): Hugo . Open-source, quick and relatively easy to get started with. IMO, if you know at bit of coding and like writing in markdown, Hugo a much better alternative to commercial alternatives such as Wordpress, Squarespare, Wix etc.
- Code hosting (FREE): GitHub . User friendly, easy to use, unlimited free private repos. My go to for code hosting.
- Website hosting (FREE): Netlify (free tier). Netlify works great for website hosting. They have a generous free tier which is more than enough to get you going and it integrates seamlessly with GitHub for easy deployment upon committing to the master branch.
- SSL certificate (FREE): Netlify . Netlify offers free HTTPS on all sites – no excuses for not getting one!
- Image hosting (FREE): Cloudinary (free tier). Previously I was storing all images in my GitHub repo and serving directly from the website hosting server. This isn’t ideal as it bloats the Git repo and is inefficient for serving images. I moved to using an external static content hosting service, Cloudinary, which stores my images but also applies optimisations to improve image loading time and reduce the total bandwidth required to load pages.
- Email list (FREE): ConvertKit . Easy to create signup forms and manage subscribers.