I Use This
A list of the gear I use day-to-day
Just in case you’re curious, here’s a description of the various hardware and software I use to work and play.
This is a work in progress, but over time should reflect the entirety of my toolset. My hope is to keep this up-to-date because things change regularly. If there’s something you’d like to know and you don’t see it here ask in the comments at the bottom of the page!
I realize that the following is a ridiculously large menagerie of gear. That’s an occupational hazard. I review more gear than the average bear, but I do keep the stuff that suits me best. One small point, I almost always buy all the gear I use. I generally don’t ask for or use review units or loaners. I think it gives me a more realistic idea of what owning this gear is like, and this way I’m not beholden to anyone. Any exceptions are indicated below.
I have a ~300 sq ft office with several book shelves and a built-in desk in the bay window. There’s a comfy armchair and ottoman I’ve had for years, a less comfy chair from the studio, a couple of side tables, and a six-foot standing Duramax rolling workbench that’s currently devoted to my mask making.
The little aluminum stand on the ottoman is something Dick DeBartolo recommended and I use all the time, it’s the iVoler Adjustable Aluminum Laptop Computer Stand.
My main desktop in the office is a
- 2018 iMac Pro running a 10-core Xeon W with 64 GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and a Radeon Pro Vega 64.
Two additional 27" Apple Cinema Displays are connected to the iMac along with considerable external storage including a dual-drive Oyen Digital MiniPro 8TB RAID 0 that backs up to a 5TB Drobo mini USB drive with 4 SSDs. There’s also a 4TB Seagate drive which is used for Apple’s Time Machine backup. The internal drive in the iMac doesn’t contain any data - just the operating system and apps.
- The fourth screen on the far right is an inexpensive 21" Acer monitor attached to a System 76 Meerkat i5/32GB/2.5TB NUC running Manjaro Linux Gnome edition.
When I’m not sitting at my desk, I primarily use one of my more portable 13" devices:
- A 2020 Macbook Pro 13" running Apple’s M1 processor with 16 GB RAM and a 2 TB SSD (these days my go-to device).
- A 2020 Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition with an Intel i7, 16 GB RAM and an aftermarket 2TB SSD. It’s running Manjaro Linux with the Gnome DE.
- A 2020 iPad Pro 12.9" with the Magic Keyboard.
There’s also a 2016 17" System76 Oryx Pro i7/32GB/2.5TB/GTX980 laptop. It weighs about 10 pounds but I don’t have the heart to give it away. It’s running, you guessed it, Manjaro Linux Gnome Edition.
All my systems have synced Document, Source Code, and dotfile directories using the excellent and free open-source SyncThing. I keep system build instructions and scripts in Notion which I also use for all my note-taking.
An emacs daemon is always running on the Beast so it’s easy to jump into any post exactly where I left off from any system. This web site runs on hugo, so I simply save the markdown file, rebuild the site (it takes about 200 milliseconds to rebuild it from scratch with hugo) and jump back into emacs (^XS ^Z hugo fg - it’s practically muscle memory). If you see any stray XSs in any of the posts you’ll know I accidentally hit the shift key instead of the Control key. To avoid this I always map Caps Lock to the control key. The other tmux panes monitor the five Minecraft instances also running on the server (using Spigot), WeeChat IRC logged into the TWiT IRC channel, and our Jitsi videoconferencing server.
My daily carry is an iPhone 12 Pro Max in a leather wallet case from Pad & Quill. I also carry a Google Pixel 4XL Android phone and Samsung Galaxy Fold2. I’m wearing a Series 6 Apple Watch.
I also wear an Oura ring for health and sleep monitoring. During the Covid-19 quarantine this ring is particularly useful because it monitors changes in my body temperature. Disclaimer: Oura used to be a sponsor and they gave me the ring.
I use a couple of different camera systems. I shoot stills with the Sony A7RIV mirrorless camera typically with Sony FE 24mm f1.4 GM or Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 FE lenses. My daily carry for street photography is a Leica Q2 with its fixed 28mm F1.7 lens. I carry the Leica in a beautiful case and strap from Angelo Pelle. A beautiful camera deserves a beautiful case.
I use an inexpensive Bernina b35 Bernette sewing machine from Sewing Arts in Santa Monica. I also get the fabric and tools I use to make Covid-19 masks there. Of late I’ve taken to wearing a hard shell O2 Curve respirator with a surgical mask over it (respirators filter incoming air, but have valves for outbound air, so to protect others I cover it with another mask).
For Zoom calls and audio recording on the iMac, I use a Heil PR-40 mic. It’s connected via USB using a SoundDevices MixPre-3. As I do in the studio, I use custom-molded in-ear monitors from JH Audio or AKG K240 headphones.
When I do radio shows from here, I use the same gear connected to a Comrex Access2 audio codec over IP. We’ve replaced ISDN in the studio with a similar unit. Although these devices use the public Internet instead of direct ISDN lines, they work just as well.
On the other side of the office, there’s a 55" curved Samsung OLED which I bought in 2013 for a ridiculous amount of money. It’s connected to Denon AVR S910W A/V receiver which feeds it signals from a HDHomerun Prime (for cable TV), an Nvidia Shield 2, an Xbox One S, and an Apple TV. I use Elac Debut 2.0 bookshelf speakers here. In the living room there’s a full Elac surround system paired with a Hisense 100" short throw projector and screen.
My preferred wired headphones to use with this system are the HiFiMan HE-560s.
I recently upgraded my home network to Ubiquiti gear including the UDM-Pro router, a 48-port PoE switch, and five UniFi AC HD wireless access points connected to Comcast 1000/40 consumer Internet. All the various media centers and computer workstations are hardwired with Ubiquiti PoE managed switches.
There’s a wine closet in the office, which besides wine, houses a Synology DS1019+ 5-bay NAS with 32TB of storage. It runs a Plex server, along with the usual NAS facilities, including backup for the other computers in the house. The Synology syncs to a Synology DS1515+ NAS at the studio using Hyperbackup.
In Studio A at the TWiT Eastside Studios, where we shoot This Week in Tech, MacBreak Weekly, and This Week in Google, I use a Heil PR-40 mic and JH Audio in-ear monitors. The big computer in front of me is a 2019 Lenovo A940 all-in-one with an 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8700 Processor with a 27" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS display, 32 GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It’s running Manjaro Linux with the Gnome desktop.
The TWiT Wiki has a fairly up-to-date description of the hardware we use to stream the shows. The short version is that we use multiple Canon Vixia consumer grade camcorders, switched with a Newtek Tricaster 2 Elite, streaming live to Twitch, Ustream, and YouTube Live via an Amazon Elemental. The shows are recorded using decks from Sound Devices. Editors use Adobe Premiere on Dell Precision Workstations. Our audio uses Telos’s Axia digital over ethernet.
Studio B at the TWiT Eastside Studios doubles as my office. I shoot The Tech Guy radio show there, along with Windows Weekly and Security Now. I use a 2016 5K iMac there, as well as a 2017 Lenovo T470s running Windows 10.
When I need to record audio I use Twisted Wave on the iMac. My Heil PR-40 mic is connected, as it is at home, using a Blackmagic Designs MixPre-3. I’m wearing AKG K240 studio headphones.
When the weather’s nice, I ride to work on a Radpower electric bike, the Rad City Step Thru. We own two old-school Segways which we mostly ride for fun. Lisa drives an electric blue 2019 Chevy Bolt and I’m expecting to take delivery on a Ford Mustang Mach-E any day now. We really like electric vehicles. Maybe that’s because we generate and store our own electricity with 60 solar panels on the roof and two Tesla Powerwall batteries. Our house is on a well and without electricity we have no water.