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 red chair is a Capisco by HAG, a gift from our sponsor Fully.com. It’s designed for sitting backwards or forwards and raises to a suitable height for the high workbench.
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.
Audio from the iMac is sent to a pair of Audioengine 2 wired speakers with an Audioengine S8 subwoofer beneath the desk. I use a Matias Ergo Pro keyboard (Disclaimer: Matias is a sponsor and they gave me the keyboard for the campaign. I refused to give it back.) and a Logitech G900 mouse.
- 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 Air running an i7 with 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD.
- A 2020 Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition with a somewhat faster 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 new 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. These are stored on pCloud where I have a lifetime subscription to 2TB storage. The lifetime subscription and full Linux GUI and CLI support were deciding factors in choosing pCloud. I keep the dotfiles in pCloud’s encrypted folder (another nice feature). The synced directories mean I can resume work on any system at any time. It takes me about half-an-hour to spin up a new Linux system with all my programs and files. I keep the instructions and scripts to do this in Notion which I use for all my note-taking. We’re even starting to use Notion in show production.
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 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), and our Jitsi videoconferencing server.
My daily carry is an iPhone 11 Pro Max, although it’s in the shop right now due to video issues, so I’m happily using the new iPhone SE that Mint Mobile gave me for their campaign until the 11 Pro is fixed. I also carry a Google Pixel 4XL Android phone. I’m wearing the titanium verion of the Series 5 Apple Watch. For headphones I prefer the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
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 have three Sony Alpha cameras with a variety of lenses. I shoot stills with the A7RIV 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.
For shooting video in the office, I use three Sony A7s connected to a Blackmagic Designs ATEM Mini switcher. If I’m not streaming live through the iMac with this setup I can record using a Black Magic Video Assist 1080p monitor and recorder.
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.
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.
I haven’t yet figured out how I’ll do audio when shooting video in the home studio - but I have a wired Sennheiser lavalier mic and a Sony Digital Shotgun mic so I’ll probably use one of those.
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 the Xfinity X1 box (for cable TV), an Nvidia Shield 2, an Xbox One S, an Apple TV, and Sonos Connect. The 5.1 audio comes from Aperion Audio’s Intimus speakers (L, R, Center, L-R Surrounds, and a sub).
My preferred wired headphones to use with this system are the HiFiMan HE-560s.
Everything is wired to a Comcast Business class connection with a Netgear CM1000 cable modem and Orbi RBR850 Wi-Fi 6 router via a TP-Link 24-port gigabit switch.
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, streaming 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 iOS Today, Windows Weekly, Security Now, Ask the Tech Guy, and Hands On Mac. I use a 2016 5K iMac there, as well as a 2017 Lenovo T470s running Manjaro Linux Gnome Edition. I keep my only Windows machine there, too, it’s a tiny 2015 GPD UMPC from Pocket Computers.
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, until the lease runs out later this year, I drive an Audi A8L. I’m hoping to replace the Audi with a Ford Mustang Mach-E. We really like electric vehicles. Maybe that’s because we have 30 solar panels on the roof from Solar City so much of our power comes free from the sun. We’re planning on adding a Tesla Powerwall so that we can be more self-sufficient. Our house is on a well and without electricity we have no water.