My Work Setup
This page details the specifics of the various pieces of software and hardware I use. I change things reasonably often, so this page will serve as a living document and a place to point people to when I get asked.
The Steelcase Leap is the primary competitor to the famous Herman Miller Aeron chair. I tested both chairs side by side and ended up liking the Leap better. I am delighted with my purchase and liked it way better than the Aeron due to the increased support.
I bought a solid-wood Maple U-shaped Desk with a hutch from the same place I bought the Leap, and the desk is a sturdy, well-made piece of furniture. It gives me plenty of space to spread out and work. I have no idea what the brand is to link to anything, but I love it.
I have three main computers that I use, each having different use cases. Windows is my preferred development environment, but open-source stuff runs smoother on Mac, so I ended up getting an iMac.
This machine is a powerhouse that I’ve upgraded to an i7 processor, 64 GB of RAM, 8GB video card, and 8 TB storage. I use this for .NET development, photo, editing, and pretty much everything on my routine day-to-day work.
It’s paired with dual 32″ LED monitors.
Alienware Aurora R10 (added 12/27/2020)
I’m trying to teach myself data science and machine learning. I wanted to get the NVIDIA RTX 3090, but it’s sold out everywhere. I found that Alienware was selling them as an option with their configurations, so I invested in a new machine. This config comes with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 64GB Dual Channel HyperX(TM) FURY DDR4 XMP at 3200MHz, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 24Gb GDDR6X, CPU Liquid Cooling, 1000W Power Supply, and 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD (Boot) + 2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s (Storage).
LG 43UD79-B 43″ Class 4K UHD IPS LED Monitor (added 10/4/20)
I am completely enamored with this upgrade. The monitor supports up to 4 devices connected, and I can now adjust my workflow to support my needs. I rotate between 2 quadrants for Windows on top, 1 for my iMac on the bottom, and one for my MacBook Pro to a full Windows screen to a three-quadrant split for Mac and Windows.
27″ Retina 5K iMac Pro 2016
Intel Xeon W Processor 3.2GHz; macOS High Sierra; 32GB RAM; 1TB Solid State Drive; AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 8GB HBM2. I use this as my primary dev machine for anything related to non-Microsoft development work, including PHP/Laravel, Python, and more.
I paired this with a Samsung 27″ LED monitor for a dual monitor setup, which I set up as a secondary monitor with my MacBook Pro.
9/1/2023 – My iMac Pro started developing issues with constantly crashing after many years of reliability. It is now replaced with the Mac Studio graciously provided by my job.
Mac Studio M2 Ultra (Added 9/1/2023)
The config comes with the Apple M2 Ultra with a 24‑core CPU, 60‑core GPU, 32‑core Neural Engine, 128GB unified memory, and 2TB SSD storage.
Satechi Stand & Hub with SSD Enclosure ($75.99) (9/1/23)
I wanted more ports on the front as I work with multiple drives and SD cards for photography. I also swap out things like my scanner so I decided to invest in the Satechi Stand & Hub as their website claims it’s compatible with the Mac Studio. As a bonus, it also supports up to a 2TB M.2 SATA SSD drive bringing the capacity of my Mac up to 4TB. Normally $99, but I got it with a 25% off coupon on Labor Day weekend.
IFCASE Aluminum Under Desk Stand Mount for Mac Studio M2 M1 Max, Ultra with Anti-Scratch Pad (Silver) (19.99) (9/1/23)
I bought this to be able to mount the Mac Studio and the Satechi Stand to the underside of the desk. I drilled new holes to hide the cables better to make things more neat. The mount is made from aluminum, matches well with the Studio Max, and fits the Satechi Stand perfectly.
WD Black 2TB SN850X NVMe Internal Gaming SSD Solid State Drive ($99.99) (9/2/23)
Purchased to install in the Satechi Stand. The drive was on sale and has performance of up to 7300 MB/s for read and write which was better than most other drives on the market. Normally $118 but Amazon had a $19 coupon which made it cheaper than most of the lower performance M.2 drives.
Elgato Stream Deck XL (199.99) – (9/2/2023)
I am going to try my hand at creating some video courses and decided to purchase the stream deck to help automate some workflows as many others swear by the device as a must-have.
Logitech Brio 4K Webcam ($181.04) – (9/2/2023)
My new LG monitor doesn’t include a webcam so I decided to splurge on a better one that supports tripod mounting as I’m going to try to create training materials and thought it’d be smart to be able to move it around for better angles.
Logitech for Creators Blue Yeti USB Microphone – ($70.22) – (10-12-2022)
I purchased this to help record myself to adjust my rate of speech in advance of starting to create training materials. I will also be using it in the training videos I create.
InnoGear Mic Stand – ($21.99) – 10-12-2022
Not a great purchase. The knobs do not keep the arm folded when not in use, even with the microphone removed. I was hoping to keep the arm mounted and just swivel out of the way. I’ll make do for now, but will probably invest in a better arm after I get some videos created.
FULAIM Boom Mic Arm ($61.27) – (9/22/2023)
The InnoGear was too problematic so I purchased this Mic arm and it’s superior in every way. It actually works really well. It mounts to my desk which has a bullnose edge, and the arms are super solid. They hold position without needing to adjust any knobs and support the weight of the Yeti really well.
LG 49WL95C-W Ultrawide Dual QHD Monitor 49″ – (9/1/2023)
I decided to splurge on the Ultrawide as I’m often working in applications side by side while creating and referencing documents and/or coding. This has been absolutely game-changing for me. If you want true 5K, see notes about cable as none of the included cables worked for me, nor did any of the other cables I had including 8K.
Maxonar USB C to DisplayPort, 8K 60Hz Type C to DP Cable 6.6FT
If you want to connect your Mac Studio Ultra to this monitor and want to utilize the 5k resolution, the only cable that worked for me was this USB-C to Display 8k cable. None of the HDMI cables (including 8k) I tested worked but I’m still not sure why.
MELIFO Curved Monitor Light Bar PRO – ($99.00) (9/27/2023)
I bought into the monitor lightbar craze and ended up purchasing a knock-off version of the popular BENQ lightbar that I’m actually really happy with overall. The package I received appeared to be a return as things weren’t sealed and the remote didn’t come with a battery cover.
Yamaha SR-C20A (Added 9/20/2023)
The audio on the internal speaker for the LG monitor didn’t work great so I decided to get a speaker. With the size of the monitor, a soundbar seemed more appropriate since it could sit on the desk under the monitor. I needed something that would work with meetings and video calls, so I worked with Crutchfield who were very helpful and they recommended the Yamaha soundbar. I’m very happy with the purchase and it works well with the Logitech Brio for meetings.
MacBook 15″ Pro 2015
Retina display, Quad-core Intel Core i7 2.8GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB PCIe-based flash storage.
Synology 8 bay NAS DiskStation DS1819+ ($949.99) with 4 WD Red 10 TB drives ($1,236.81) & DS1813+($977.98)
I have two 8-bay Synology that I use as my first level of backup for all machines. I use Synology Drive to sync files between my devices.
Drobo Pro FS – 8 Bay
The DroboPro FS was my first NAS system, and it was a terrible purchase. On paper, it sounded great with features including hot-swappable drive support, data recovery, fault tolerance, etc. What ended up happening is far from the truth. I’d periodically lose files after rebooting the unit.
Update 6/12/20 – To make matters even worse, Windows just killed support for SMBv1, and the Drobo isn’t getting any more updates, so it’s going to be even more useless soon. I’m moving all my data to my Synology and may invest in a replacement Synology unit using the same drives. I definitely will never invest in another Drobo product ever again.
2021 – I officially replaced the Drobo with a Synlogy DS1819+ and just disposed of the Drobo. Won’t ever get another product from them.
TaoTronics SoundSurge 60 – $40
I am not an audiophile, so I can’t justify spending a lot of money on headphones. For years, I had a Sony headset I bought at Best Buy, which was wired but did everything I needed, including noise cancellation. Sadly after about ten years, it finally broke. My needs are pretty basic, and I just wanted headphones that have excellent audio quality, Bluetooth and wired support, active noise cancellation, and good battery life. The TaoTronics SoundSurge 60 showed up on a deals site with great reviews. At $40, I pulled the trigger and am extremely happy with the quality. It folds compact, has a long battery life averaging about 10-12 hours of usage, and the active noise cancellation is powerful. When traveling on airplanes, turning on ANC means instant silence from the cabin noise.
Sony WF-1000XM3 – $180
My previous earbuds were the ENACFIRE F18, which I purchased during Prime Day for about $25. They lasted about two years but had intermittent issues. The sound would frequently randomly drop in one ear and require a head bobble to get sound restored. The battery life averaged about 2 hours in use and dropped to about 30 minutes after two years. I use my earbuds on my daily commute, so I decided to get something with better battery life and active noise cancellation. Being contradictory to my previous statement, I splurged on a better set of earbuds and settled on the popular Sony WF-1000XM3. Ironically, I find myself not trusting ANC on the commute because I’ve missed important announcements such as train delays.
Fujitsu iX500 ScanSnap – ($411.99) – (9/26/2018)
I have many owned document scanners over the years but this one has been the most reliable. I purchased it in 2018 and have used it regularly since to scan documents to searchable PDFs so I can get rid of paper copies of documents.
Brother HL22700-W – (~$80)
I’ve had this printer for over 10 years and it’s still on the original toner cartridge. I haven’t printed color documents in a very long time so this printer has done its job well. I bought it because it supports wireless but no matter what I do, I cannot get it to join my network.
iPad Air Gen 5
I use this for testing work, playing games, and reading books and movies when traveling.
2015-2022 – Free Community Edition (Updated 9/1/2023) I have all three versions installed side-by-side to maintain various projects and codebases. None of the other IDEs hold a candle to how productive and enjoyable development is in Visual Studio + Resharper. I no longer maintain multiple versions of Visual Studio and now just use Visual Studio 2022 with Resharper.
Visual Studio Code – Free
When I’m not using JetBrains tools, I’m using VS Code on my Mac for quick coding work.
Github/Bitbucket – Free
I use GitHub for my free projects and Bitbucket for my private ones.
JetBrains Toolbox – $149.00/year
I use many of the JetBrains tools, which is one of the most useful subscriptions I have.
Having worked with Visual Studio with Resharper for so long, I can no longer use Visual Studio without Resharper, as the keyboard shortcuts are all in muscle memory. During an interview, I completely blanked on writing a for loop in code because I got so used to Resharper’s templates.
PhpStorm is my favorite PHP IDE for working with Symfony, Laravel, Drupal, and WordPress.
I use PyCharm when developing Python code. I’m currently learning Machine Learning and Data Science stuff for work, and Pycharm is a massive time-saver for things like working with Jupyter notebooks, Flask, and more.
Notepad++ – Free
Notepad++ replaces regular Notepad on Windows and serves as my default text editor. I use it for just about everything for quick editing.
Free $53.30 I use the free version of BBEdit for general code and text editing on Mac since they discontinued TextWrangler. I upgraded to the paid version for version 14. I use BBEdit to jot random notes and the new feature to automatically title files in the list. I found I was also using BBEdit daily and felt it was important to support the developers.
SMSS/MySQL Workbench – Free
When working with Microsoft SQL, I use SQL Management Studio ApexSQL tools, especially Autocomplete. When working with MySQL, I use MySQL Workbench.
MAMP Pro – $34.50 for MAMP 5.0 upgrade
I bought the subscription to MAMP Pro only because it saves so much time in getting development environments set up and running.
Insomnia – Free
I use the free version to test REST APIs I build quickly, which helps isolate issues.
Draw.io – Free
When I do diagrams or technical architecture planning, I always end up turning to Draw.io. I cannot say enough good things about it. It’s a free open-source project, but it’s so well made, and both the template and symbols library are extensive. I’ve used Visio, Gliffy, and a few others and always end up coming back to Draw.io.
toast.log -$5 (added 9/8/2020)
I bought this on a whim on a pre-order because it looked extremely promising. Not having to have the console open but being able to see console.log messages while developing sounded extremely useful. During the pre-order, it was $5, so I figured why not? I use it daily now in my development, and it’s a simple quality-of-life improvement.
Responsively – Free – (added 10/20/2020)
I just discovered this tool and I’m finding it invaluable for front-end development testing. It lets you preview multiple resolutions and auto-scroll at the same time to view content across different screens. Highly recommended if you do any kind of front-end dev.
$60/year $140/year (Updated 3/25/23)
My second level of backup. Backblaze is affordable and is a set-it-and-forget cloud backup solution. When consulting, I recommend this to everyone. It’s saved so many people from losing work and essential files that it’s an easily justified yearly expense.
3-25-23 – I added Backblaze to my iMac Pro so I’m now backing up two computers. I turned on 1 year of history on one computer.
Synology C2 – €139.98/year for 2 TB
I replaced Glacier with Synology’s C2. it’s predictable pricing, and I can restore data faster and more reasonably in the case of data loss. I’m using this to back up essentials, including photos, my Synology Drive files, documents, etc.
ServerAvatar ($447 Lifetime Deal) – Added 9/2/2023
I don’t know how I overlooked adding this to my list, but this is a lifetime deal I purchased in 2021, and I use it almost daily. It lets me spin up servers and websites for both web and production securely. One of my best purchases as it saves me so much time.
DigitalOcean – Varies, but averages $30/month.
For anything that needs to run on Linux-based systems (including this blog), I use DigitalOcean. Most of my work runs perfectly fine on the $5 droplets. (3/1/2023) I switched from DigitalOcean to Hetzner for hosting. The servers provide the same performance but are much cheaper.
Total Spend from 3/1/2016-6/1/2023: $2,772.22
Hetzner – Varies, about $15.21 (3/1/2023)
I switched to using Hetzner for my dev work. All my sites have been switched from DigitalOcean to here. I currently run two servers, one for production sites (including this blog) and one for development projects. I’m paying 1/2 the price of DigitalOcean but my production server has more resources than the old DigitalOcean server.
Sentry.io – Free
Sentry is open-source error tracking that provides visibility across your entire stack, giving you the details you need to fix your bugs. I use this for every project I work on
with the on-premise hosted version on a $5 Droplet. I switched to the hosted version as I wasn’t hitting anywhere close to the free limits, and there was no point in spending the $5 a month.
Logrocket – Free
Logrocket is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for my side projects, especially when paired with Sentry. It provides the ability to replay bugs and see what the user was doing by tracking logs, stack traces, and a video snapshot of what the user was doing before the error occurred. It helps track down bugs, and user-reported issues, even while in the development phase.
LastPass – $60/year Family Plan (ended
I recently switched from RoboForm to LastPass to manage my passwords and keep things organized and secure. Overall, LastPass has a much friendlier UI than RoboForm. I’m going to evaluate Bitwarden next as I definitely have issues with LastPass and their support is pretty terrible.
I reported a UI bug on the website (search for a string, delete or update a password, and the UI doesn’t refresh) and they reported it was functioning as expected. In another bug, shared passwords came over as blank. LastPass’s documentation said the fix is to revoke and re-send the password which I tried with no luck. Reaching out to support, I explained I already followed the instructions in the article. Their solution? A link to the same article I had already explained I followed.
1Password – $60/year Family Plan (added 12/1/2023)
I switched from LastPass to 1Password. I tested Bitwarden and was not happy with the experience. The UI on all platforms is definitely subpar for the average end user and I didn’t get past a few hours of using it. I then tested 1Password, and the entire experience has been a breath of fresh air. It addresses all the pain points I had with LastPass. I’ll write a blog post detailing my experience.
Dropbox – Free (Updated 9/1/2023)
I’ve used Dropbox for as long as I can remember, and at one point had a paid subscription, but switched back to the free plan and now am slowly switching away to use Synology Drive instead.
9/1/2023 – I have fully switched away from Dropbox to using a combination of pCloud and Synology Drive.
pCloud – $599 Lifetime – Family 2 TB + Encryption (added 10/31/2021)
Dropbox’s limitations were getting annoying on the free plan so I purchased a lifetime subscription to pCloud to use in conjunction with Synology.
AWS S3 – $.50/month
I’m using S3 buckets to store automated backups of things like my WordPress sites.
My third-level backup, and this is my final disaster recovery plan if everything else fails. I hope never to need to use it as it’ll cost a lot to do a restore. I’d love to find a better option but haven’t been able to do so. I finally gave up on Glacier after running into a situation where I needed it. An app went rogue and deleted files on my desktop, which replicated to my local backups. I did a restore from Glacier, and it was excruciating. There’s no web UI, so I had to use a 3rd party tool. It took hours to get my bucket info and then another day to restore the files in question. Deleting my backups took over a week, and it ended up costing me close to $150 to delete everything.
Evernote is an application software designed for note-taking, organizing, task lists, and archiving. I purchased a Plus subscription to it and use it for personal and work. I use the Evernote browser plugin nearly every day to save reference content and recipes.
Update 8/1/2022 – I canceled my paid plan and switched to Notion.
Free (Added 8/1/2022) $96/year
I tested Notion and have switched from Evernote over.
I’m currently on the free tier but plan to upgrade to the paid plan in the near future. The import from Evernote doesn’t work and their support team wasn’t very helpful in getting it resolved which is the only reason I haven’t already upgraded to the paid version.
Update – 1/5/2023
I finally found a way to import my Evernote documents to Notion. This free, open-source tool just saved me a bunch of time, and unlike the official importer, actually works. https://github.com/vzhd1701/enex2notion I sent vzhd1701 a cup of coffee and switched to a paid plan on Notion for $76 for the first year.
Trello – Free – Update 10/19/2022
I’m on the free plan, but I use this to keep ideas and projects organized. I mainly use it to brainstorm and collect my thoughts. I hit the limits of the free tier after Atlassian acquired it and was no longer able to use Trello. I switched to Taskade.
Taskade – $224.10/Lifetime – Added 10/19/2022
I bought a lifetime deal with Taskade and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite organizational tools. It does everything Trello does, but also offers mind maps, and more. It helps organize task lists, take structured notes, manage projects, and collaborate with others. I’m using it to get myself more organized, brainstorm, and track progress.
Private Internet Access – 99.00 for three years
VPN tool for when I’m on a public network or test what a site looks like from another country.
Microsoft Office 365/Google Docs
I find myself switching between the two products depending on what I’m doing. For personal stuff, I’ll fire up a Google Doc if I need to do something quickly or collaborate with someone on a document since it’s free with Gmail. If I’m doing business-oriented work, I’ll usually Word/Excel. I have a paid subscription to Office, but when the subscription expires, I may switch to Google Docs entirely.
FontAwesome – $60/year
I missed this when it was on Kickstarter, and I regret not getting it sooner. Worth every penny for using standard icon glyphs across my work.
Cloudflare/Namecheap/Name – $10/year per domain
I wrote a post about why I’ve switched most domains to Cloudflare. A few domains are left on Namecheap and Name as Cloudflare does not support the TLD yet, and I’ll move them once Cloudflare adds support.
Grammarly – $62.98/year
Grammarly is a handy tool, but one I only use when I have the license active. Grammarly’s regular price is $150 a year, but I don’t think it’s worth more than $70 a year. I end up buying the subscription when it goes on sale, which is pretty much every year.
The biggest ding for this is that it doesn’t work with WordPress, which is where I do most of my writing. Update 5-21-2020 – The latest version of Grammarly’s Chrome plugin does work with WordPress Gutenberg blocks, which increases the value added to my daily use.
MXRoute – $10 every three years
I use MXRoute for my custom domain email hosting. I’m a massive fan of the service and the support they provide. As they provide unlimited forwarding, I set up an alias for each company I sign up to limit the amount of spam I get. If I need to send an email from the alias, I’ll set up a temporary mailbox. Great value for the extremely reasonable rates they charge.
RemotePC – $60/year – Cancelled 8/01/2022 I used to have a paid subscription to Logmein before raising their prices to an unreasonable price. I miss it for the convenience, but $35/month per computer for something I use four times a month at most is stupid. I switched to Teamviewer, but they got extremely annoying with their constant “Commercial Use detected” warnings. They’d review the logs and see I used it in the terms and reset my account only to have it happen again. RemotePC was to access my home computers when on the road. Most of the time, it’s to test something not working on my company’s network to eliminate the possibility of it being a network issue. Since switching to working from home, I haven’t had a need to remote into my computer so I let this subscription lapse.
GetScreen.me – $297/Lifetime (added 7/1/2021)
I often have to provide support for friends and family and I’ve been using RemotePC but it’s been cumbersome for some of them to use. I just tested GetScreen and pulled the trigger as it’s lightweight and easy to use. Having it be browser-based is even more impressive as it means I don’t have to have a client installed and can help people from anyone’s computer as long as I have my login. This is light years ahead of Teamviewer as well.
Lambdatest – $90/year
Perform Automated and Live Interactive Cross Browser Testing on 2000+ Real Browsers and Operating Systems Online. I bought a deal on Black Friday a few years ago that grandfathers me in for $90 a year. I don’t use the tool often, but it’s useful to test sites when a user reports a bug.
BigMarker – $699 Lifetime
BigMarker is a browser-based, no-download webinar software. I use this for quick meetings but hope to use it for products I’m building once launched.
Trackmysubs – $15 Lifetime
I use Trackmysubs to track my active subscriptions. I configured alerts to remind myself when subscriptions will renew so I can review and decide if they’re still worth keeping.
Blinkist – $39.99/year (Referral link)
Blinkist is one of my favorite services that I use regularly. It summarizes popular books into 15-minute digests that you can read or listen to. I typically prefer to read, but on long car rides, I listen to the digests with my wife. My typical workflow has been listening to the digest, and when the digest has good material, I read the book. It’s saved me from wasting time on some books that easily fluff material.
Amazon Prime – $119/year
It comes with a bunch of stuff but I mainly use it for the free shipping. I rarely find myself using Prime Video as the movie and TV show selections are generally what you’d find in the big bins at a dollar store.
T-Mobile – $183.39/month
I paid for a five-person family plan, and one person got a new phone, which I used the split payment plan for. Otherwise, it would be about $167.69/month.
$12/year updated 5/21/2020 – $48/year
I have T-Mobile as my cell phone provider, and Netflix comes as a part of the package.
Netflix raised their prices, so I’m paying about $12 a year out of pocket. I upgraded my Netflix plan to the premium HD plan supporting 4 devices so I’m now paying about $48/year extra.
Sidekick.ai – $99/Lifetime – 10/21/2021
I just started using Sidekick and it’s already proving to be an insanely awesome scheduling tool and it actually makes scheduling a breeze. My current use case is I have 3 calendars – one each for personal, work, and consulting. When trying to schedule meetings, it’s been a challenge to give time from all 3 calendars. Sidekick is able to register all three and then show availability on each. Another really unique feature that I’m finding invaluable is the teams’ pages. I can invite people I work with, and as long as they connect their calendars, it allows someone to book a time that’s available for all people on the team.
Beagle Security – $265.50/Lifetime
I bought a lifetime deal with Beagle Security so I can run basic security scans on my projects. It’s not something I use every month, but it gives me peace of mind that basic security is covered in my work.
Burner Mail – $49/Lifetime
I’m using Burner Mail to generate emails for services I won’t use often or don’t trust to spam me. For example, I generated an email for Toyota when I was interested in getting quotes on a car. The salesperson refused to quote me but would spam me saying “I have a great deal for you but if you don’t respond now, it’ll get sold to someone else.” I unsubscribed but would still get emails from the dealer so I just deleted the burner.
Arc Browser – Free (Added 9/1/2023)
I switched from Chrome to Arc on Mac and it has changed my workflow entirely.
Vivaldi – Free (Added 9/1/2023)
On my Windows machines, I from Chrome to Vivaldi as my primary browser.
Alfred – ?32.00 Lifetime
I can’t use a Mac without Alfred anymore because it’s become such an indispensable part of my workflow. Check out my list of must-have powerpack recommendations to make it even more useful.
Station – Free – updated 9/1/22 I use Station nearly every day as it lets me consolidate quite a few web apps I use in one place. I keep Android Messages Web, Trello, Brain.fm, and a few other sites loaded in it. Station was abandoned by the dev team and turned into open source but half of the apps don’t work anymore. I switched to Rambox.
Rambox – 9/1/22 – $168.00/Lifetime
I switched from Station to Rambox, which allows me to consolidate quite a few web apps I use in one place. I keep Android Messages Web, Brain.fm, and a few other sites loaded in it.
iTerm 3 – Free
I use iTerm 3 with my dotfiles, which has a lot of great features/functions and shortcuts to help make me more productive on Mac.
Fig – Free
Fig adds autocomplete to the command line.
Spectacle – Free
I’ve been using Spectacle since I first got a Mac. It lets me move and resize windows easily and gives me a true full screen that lets me flip between windows instead of the weird Mac version of full-screen.
Synergy Having multiple machines, I love having the ability to share one mouse and keyboard with both my Macs and Windows machines using Synergy. I paid for the license, but to be honest, it’s not great. The developer running the project seems to be causing chaos while trying to figure out how to monetize the app. I’m finding Synergy can work fine some of the time but then randomly goes buggy with the mouse jumping around randomly with no rhyme or reason. I haven’t found a suitable replacement for it, but the price was a one-time fee, so I’m stuck with it for now.
ShareMouse (9/6/2019) – $184.96 for 5 years
I found ShareMouse and gave it a shot using the free trial. After the free trial period, I pulled the trigger on purchasing it. Thus far, it just works without any of the glitches I’ve been experiencing with Synergy. I now can share one mouse and keyboard with both my Mac and Windows machines, reliably.
SetApp – $107.88/year
I use a bunch of the apps in SetApp, so paying for the subscription is cheaper than getting the apps individually. The apps I use most are Declutter, CleanMyMacX, Flume, Rocket Typist, Forecastbar, Timing, InstaCal (seriously, it’s 2019, and Apple still doesn’t have a quick view calendar?), CodeRunner, Paw, Marked, Bartender, and a few others.
Numi – $20
I got this through SetApp but I am finding this app so useful. It’s a natural language calculator with a ton of useful functions. It does currency conversions, and so much more.
Brain.fm – $25 Lifetime Deal
Brain.fm is a streaming music service that uses things like binaural beats to help you accomplish specific tasks. I mainly use it when coding with the Focus beats. I don’t know if any of their claims are accurate, but I find it helps me stay focused, and the music is pleasant. I purchased this as a lifetime deal.
Adguard – $29 Lifetime Deal for two computers and two devices
AdGuard is the best way to get rid of intrusive ads and online tracking and to protect your computer from malware at the OS level. I use this in combination with uBlock in the browser. I also use it on my phone to prevent ads in most apps.
Dash – $29.99
I bought this to use for offline documentation, but I barely use it because searching on Google is 100x faster. Adding custom docs turned out to be much harder than it should be. It’d be more useful if it could load things like documentation directly from existing markdown files. Dash is one product I should’ve asked for a refund.
Any.Do – Free Plan
I use Any.Do to-do my task management. It has some useful features other to-do apps don’t offer. The mobile version prompts me every morning to plan out my day. If you miss a call, Any.Do can prompt you to remind yourself to call back. Update (9/18/2021) – I realized I haven’t used Any.Do since Covid started and switched to Taskade.
Krisp.ai – $39 Lifetime – (added 5/21/2020)
I bought a Lifetime deal on this app and have started using it more now that I’m mostly remote. It eliminates background noise in conference calls supposedly trained using deep neural networks. I’ve tried it sitting out on a patio, and no one mentioned hearing background noise like they normally would, so I believe it works.
Fences – $9.95 (Added 9/8/2020)
I completely forgot about this tool as it’s one that just works and runs in the background. I’ve been using Fences to keep my desktop organized for years now and it’s one that I wish I had a Mac equivalent for.
MuteDeck – $39.99 (9/30/2023)
I bought a license to Mutedeck so I can control my meetings using the Stream Deck. It works well and it saves me time so it was worth the one-time fee.
Adobe Photoshop CC – $90/year for Photography Plan (includes Lightroom)
I have a subscription to Adobe Photography Cloud, which gives me access to Photoshop and Lightroom. I use Photoshop primarily to edit photos I take but occasionally for minor web work.
Adobe Lightroom Classic CC
I use Lightroom to manage all my photography work. I use the Classic version as I can’t stand the cloud version of Lightroom. It lacks the features and precision control I have become accustomed to, and I’m not interested in paying for storage to Adobe when I have plenty locally.
ShortPixel $25 – Lifetime Deal
I use ShortPixel to optimize and compress images on all the websites I build, and it’s great for optimizing raster images like PNGs and JPEGs. The service reduces the file size dramatically, with no discernible difference in quality. I typically use the CLI tool for my work.
I use DepositPhotos for all my stock image needs. It’s not often, but whenever it comes up, I’m able to find whatever I need quickly, and I’m not worrying about licensing issues. Great for mock-ups, placeholders, marketing assets, and websites I’m building that need royalty stock imagery.
AudioHero – $117 for 9000 Credits
I bought credits to AudioHero to get access to 250,000 premium royalty-free music tracks and sound effects that are licensed with all media and worldwide rights. The credits don’t expire.
These applications don’t fall into other categories but are free.
I used to use a lot of the tools more, but I find myself needing them less as everything moves to the cloud. ProcMon and a few others are still useful for debugging issues with my PC, but even those issues are rare now.
I use many of the tools from the site, but the most useful ones are the password recovery tools. I often have to deal with friends/family/customers who forget passwords but have them stored on the machine they need me to help fix.
Muzzle – (added 5/21/2020)
I’m currently working remotely due to the coronavirus situation. I’m doing a lot more screen shares and presentations, and nothing is more embarrassing than when a notification pops up that shouldn’t be there. A co-worker shared Muzzle, a simple Mac app to silence notifications while screen sharing for work. So far, it works flawlessly with Slack, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.
WordPress – Added 11/23/2022
I do quite a bit of work with WordPress so I decided to organize the info and give WordPress its own section.
Modula – $39 Lifetime
I had a subscription to the Next-gen Image Gallery (now Imagely) WordPress plugin, which was $69 a year for my photography blog. It’s super bloated, and I was only using basic image gallery functionality. I got the opportunity to buy Modula, which did the same thing but for a one-time price of $39 and didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. I replaced Imagely with Modula, and the site performance improved drastically without sacrificing any functionality, not to mention I got the cost savings of $138 over three years.
Brizy – $299 Lifetime (added 10/04/20)
I bought Brizy as a lifetime agency plan for a project a while ago. I mainly purchased it because it’s an alternative to builders like Elementor. I used it to save time building a single landing page for a client and then promptly forgot about it until this week. I ended up remembering I had it and used it for another project where they didn’t have a large budget and built a full site in under five hours, which was pretty impressive to me. I’m hoping to use this on a few more websites shortly now.
Update 6/08/21 – I’m not using Brizy anymore due to some performance and feature issues as well as bugs. The support hasn’t been great and the response is usually the generic “We’ll add this to our feature requests” which never gets resolved. I ended up migrating the one site we did in Brizy to Divi.
Divi – $187 Lifetime (added 06/08/21)
I bought Divi due to the great reviews as an alternative to Elementor and even Brizy. It’s more feature-filled than Brizy and has a really strong third-party add-on community that provides more options. It’s really flexible and being able to use it on multiple sites means I can rapidly build sites for smaller clients who need something quick and simple.
Divi Supreme – $197.10 Lifetime (added 11/23/2022)
A collection of Divi add-ons that gives you extra components. I sometimes think it’s crazy I paid more for the plugins than I did for Divi but both have paid for themselves multiple times over.
WP Rocket – $224.10/Lifetime – Added 10/12/2022
I switched to WP Rocket after testing it on a site and seeing the performance gains. WPMUDev’s Hummingbird never works quite right or breaks everything when enabling advanced features like minifying or merging CSS/JS. WP Rocket seems to handle it perfectly without any real additional tweaking needed.
WP Vivid Backup $239.20/Lifetime – Added 11/23/2022
This plugin is one of the best WordPress backup plugins I’ve used, period. I haven’t seen many that automatically backup prior to an upgrade
Duplicator Pro ($549.00/Lifetime) – Added 9/2/2023
I use Duplicator Pro to move sites from dev to production (or vice versa) without worrying about changing URLs.
WPMU Dev – $199.00/year
I use the WPMU Dev plugins on pretty much every WordPress site I develop or manage. The main plugins I use are Defender Pro, Hummingbird Pro, Snapshot, and Shipper Pro, Smush Pro.
This subscription is becoming less valuable since they deprecated all of the other plugins, and I am currently evaluating replacements. Update: 11/23/2022 – I might end up canceling this one next year. I’ve replaced most of the plugins as the WPMU Dev ones don’t work well anymore. They’re focusing more on their hosting than building quality plugins.
Hummingbird Pro breaks every site I’ve tried it on. Replaced it with WP Rocket
Snapshot 4 requires you to go through their servers in a cash grab since they only give you limited space. When using the white-labeled version, it puts all the client copies into my storage. Version 3 didn’t do this and they won’t change it. Replaced it with WP Vivid Backup.
Shipper Pro – Never worked on any site. Literally none. It didn’t matter whether I used the local version or API. Support couldn’t help me get it working. – Replaced it with Duplicator Pro.
Airbnb – Added 10/12/2022
My wife and I purchased our first property overseas and rent it out on Airbnb. I thought it might be helpful to list this I use specifically for Airbnb.
Hospitable – $25/month
I use Hospitable as my Channel Manager. I looked at Guesty and they told me I wasn’t large enough and stumbled upon Hospitable. Overall, it’s a very solid platform and helps to sync availability between Airbnb, Booking.com, and VRBO. It has automation tools that allow me to notify my property managers of bookings, and send templated messages. The integrations library is building which offers more functionality to make this a valuable tool. It integrates with Pricelabs and Schlage. The Minut integration isn’t available yet.
Pricelabs – $9.99/month
Pricelabs sets dynamic pricing for the property. I evaluated Wheelhouse and went with Pricelabs because they were cheaper at $9.99 and appeared to do the same thing. I plan to test Wheelhouse and see if it makes any difference to justify the price difference.
Minut – $15/month
We had some problematic renters who threw parties in our condo. We received multiple noise complaints from people blasting music at 4 a.m. I decided to try a noise monitoring system. This is new for me and untested. I prepaid for the year and got the device for free. I’ll see how it works out, but hopefully, I won’t have to use it.
Schlage Encode Lock – $268.73
I wanted to set up a keyless entry to get into the condo and went with the Encode lock. The other Schlage lock required a hub to connect it to the Wi-Fi and it seemed like an extra, and unnecessary, point of failure.
Home Assistant Yellow – $196.38 (added 2/15/2023)
I use Home Assistant for advanced home automation routines. I had it running on a Raspberry Pi but I decided I wanted to support the project so I bought one of the yellows.
Pihole – (added 2/15/2023)
I run a pi-hole on a raspberry pi but I have not deployed it to my full network yet. Will update this when I fully deploy it.
1,588.19 $3,974.82 (10/31/2021) $3,831.88 – 9/2/2023
$1,049.99 $2800.44 (10/31/2021) $3,744.93 (9/2/2023)
$416.38 $2,374.50 (9/2/2023)
Airbnb: $868.61 (9/2/2023)
After detailing all this, I may have to revisit some of the yearly costs.
- Is the value WPMU.dev offers worth it considering how expensive it is to everything else?
Update 6/12/20 – I’m going to cancel this subscription before my next renewal. They sunsetted most of their plugins and the few left have started adding features that only work on their hosting which I will never need to use.
Update 12/27/20 – I learned my license is unlimited and includes the white label option so I can use it for my consulting side projects so I will be keeping it to use on client projects.