What I Use: 2022

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Since it’s been a good six years since I did one of these, here’s what I am using in the year 2022 as far as tech and tech-adjacent things.

Hardware

Everyday Use Machines

  • Macbook Pro 16-inch, 2021 - This is my primary work machine provided by DealNews. I am going to do a separate review of it, but to say I am pleased with it is an understatement.

  • iMac 5k 27-inch, Mid 2018 - This is my home desktop. It has also had a series of upgrades:

    • 27-inch LG UltraFine 5K Display for a second monitor.

    • 64gb of RAM - I maxed it out.

    • OWC Mercury Helios S3 External PCIe Enclosure - after reading countless horror stories of people trying to upgrade their thin iMacs with SSDs only to have the screen fall out, I decided to do this instead. Inside is a PCIe card with an SSD on it. This ended up being far faster than the dumb fusion drive inside the machine, and far safer than digging around inside the iMac’s innards.

    • Magic Touchpad - Prefer this over a mouse, hurts my wrist less.

Servers

A previous version of this article had a Dell Poweredge R710 powering this blog and some other sites. These were all migrated to a Linode droplet.

  • Homebrew Linux Machine from mid 2017 This machine has a 32TB RAID array in it that powers Plex for our entirely digital media library as well as providing a file store. Runs Ubuntu Linux Server 18.04LTS.

  • Homebrew Linux Machine from mid 2021 Runs a variety of small network services in our home. Runs Ubuntu Linux Server 18.04LTS.

  • Homebrew Linux machine from mid 2016 - At one time this machine ran our TV system using TVHeadEnd. As I have moved beyond using that, it’s currently not doing a lot, but is about to be repurposed into a network video recorder for security cameras. Runs Ubuntu Linux Server 18.04LTS.

Networking

  • Arris SB6141 Modem - Replaced in 2016 after a lightning strike killed my SB6120. It continues to work and I continue to not mess with it. I did buy a spare SB6141 I found at a thrift store so that I have a backup in case this one also fails.

  • Homebrew pfSense router from early 2021 - I replaced my previous pfSense router with a new one in early 2021 after the network card on the previous one failed.

  • Ubiquiti UAP-AP-AC Pro Access Points - See this post for more information. I’m currently running four access points to cover my house.

  • Ubiquiti USW-48-POE - I upgraded my mishmash of switches to a single 48-port PoE switch that can provide power to the access points directly, so that I no longer needed the PoE injectors. Soon it will also provide power to security cameras.

  • HDHomeRun Connect - Provides antenna TV streaming to devices on the network. Using the Channels app on AppleTV, we can watch live TV. Plex is also configured to use them as well so that we can record shows for later watching.

Mobile

  • iPhone 13 Pro - Just purchased last year. I usually upgrade phones every two years, so I will probably get a new one next year.

  • iPad Pro 2021 - Just purchased last year. I primarily use my iPad as a consumption device and for reading, so I only upgrade it when there’s a compelling reason to.

Smart Home

  • Ecobee Thermostats - After having countless problems with Nest thermostats, I switched to Ecobees and have been very pleased with them. I especially like having sensors I can place in different rooms to better ensure accurate temperatures.

  • Sensibo Mini Split Controller - The front office area has a separate mini-split. This allows it to be controlled from a phone or Home Assistant.

  • Home Assistant - I jumped from the SmartThings ecosystem to Home Assistant a few years ago and have been very happy with the changes.

    For the first couple years, I ran Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi 3. Experience has shown me that the lifespan of a SD card in a Raspberry Pi is about 2 years, so I recently moved this to a small form factor PC. It’s an ancient Celeron from 2012, but for Home Assistant this is plenty good enough.

    Smart Home stuff connected to Home Assistant:

    • 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!

  • MyQ Garage Door Controller - I can open and close my garage door remotely, and it work with Home Assistant.

  • Cheap AliExpress IP Cameras - It’s worth pointing out that I have these cameras on a separate subnet that does not allow any access to the Internet. In order to view the cameras I have to use VPN. So I am not worried about how badly they are likely backdoor’d by China.

  • Raspberry Pi Powered Automatic Pet Feeders - :)

Entertainment

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

  • Logitech Harmony Elite Universal Remote - though with this being discontinued along with the entire Harmony ecosystem, I am eventually going to need to find a replacement. Worth mentioning, we rarely use the actual remote, we mostly interact with it via Alexa.

  • Plex - We have a fully digital multimedia library and we use Plex to access the media.

  • Channels - All the AppleTVs have Channels installed for watching live, over the air TV. I have two antennas in the attic wired to the HDHomeRun, which can be accessed either from Channels or Plex. I like Channels’ interface better.

  • Sonos - Most rooms in the house have a Sonos-compatible speaker in them. Most are Symfonisk speakers from Ikea.

Software

Desktop

  • 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: Fantastical - I have yet to find a Calendar app that does everything I want. Busycal and Fantastical are the closest.

  • Code Editor: Visual Studio Code (Free) - After using Atom for awhile I, like seemingly half the web - am using Visual Studio Code. Kinda hard to believe that an open-source tool this great came out of Microsoft. I have too many plugins to list, but I use the Monokai Dimmed theme, VSCode Icons icon theme, and JetBrains Mono as my font.

  • 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.

  • 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: Slack (Free, web/app based) - Work uses Slack, so I do too.

  • Twitter: Tweetbot ($9.99, Map App Store) - I have been a Tweetbot user for many years. Tweetbot comes with a lot of really nice features for power Twitter users.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sync: Resilio Sync (Free) - I long used Dropbox for syncing, but their aggressive pricing changes forced me to migrate everything to Resilio Sync. I run a master Sync instance on my file server, and all the laptops and desktops keep in sync with it.

  • Shell: zsh (Free) - I had been using bash since I first started using Unixen, but this last year I finally jumped to zsh. I use Oh My zsh as well.

Other apps I use:

  • Alfred - It’s great and still beats the built-in launcher.

  • Bartender - Keeps the Mac menu bar from getting too out of control.

  • Docker for Mac - everything is containers now. :)

  • f.lux - an app that adjusts your screen color depending on the time of day. I literally cannot use a computer without this app. Even though Apple has Nightshift built in, f.lux is still better.

  • Hammerspoon - Really useful app that allows you to automate tasks on your Mac using Lua scripts.

  • Little Snitch - A firewall app for Mac. It’s amazing how much stuff talks to the Internet without you knowing.

  • RadarScope (Mac App Store) - I live where the weather might kill me. This lets me keep an eye on it.

  • Rectangle - Useful for managing windows on the Mac. Provides lots of keyboard shortcuts for keeping things orderly.

  • Viscosity - an OpenVPN client, for connecting to my home VPN.

  • VLC Player - the play anything media player.

Mobile

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.

  • V for Wikipedia - a Wikipedia reading app with a really nice user experience.

  • Waze - I don’t drive anywhere without Waze. Useful for telling me where the traffic (and cops) are.

Other Stuff

  • Ender 3 Pro 3D printer - I bought an Ender 3 a couple years ago to get into the 3D printing hobby. I have since heavily modified it, primarily with the goal of making it quieter:

    • Noctua fans to replace the stock fans in all places.

    • Relocated the mainboard to the back in a custom-designed case that also has a Raspberry Pi running Octoprint.

    • Custom vibration-isolating feet.

    • LED lighting.

    • Camera monitoring system.

    • Filament scale system.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Rob! I'm a blogger and software developer. I wrote petfeedd, dystill, and various other projects and libraries. I'm into electronics, general hackery, and model trains and airplanes. I am based in Huntsville, Alabama, USA.

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