My Work Setup
This page details the specifics of the various pieces of software and hardware I use. I change up things reasonably often, so this page will serve as a living document and a place to point people to when I get asked.
I have 3 main computers that I use, each having different use cases. Windows is my preferred development environment, but open-source stuff just runs smoother on Mac, so I ended up getting an iMac.
This machine is a powerhouse that I’ve upgraded to i7 processor, 64 GB of ram, 8 video card, and 8 TB storage. I use this for .NET development, photo, editing, pretty much everything on my routine day-to-day work.
It’s paired with dual 32″ led monitors.
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.
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+
I have an 8 bay Synology that I use as my first level of backup for all machines. I use Synology Drive to sync files between my machines.
The competitor to the famous Herman Miller Aeron chair. I tested both chairs side by side and ended up really liking the Leap better. Extremely happy with my purchase.
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.
Visual Studio 2015-2019
I have all 3 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 use Github for my free projects and Bitbucket for my private ones.
I use many of the JetBrains tools, and this 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.
An IDE for developing Python code. I’m currently learning Machine Learning and Data Science stuff for work and Pycharm is a huge time-saver for things like working with Jupyter notebooks, Flask, and more.
Replaces regular Notepad on Windows as my default text editor. I use it for just about everything for quick editing.
I use the free version of BBEdit for general code and text editing on Mac since they discontinued TextWrangler.
When working with Microsoft SQL, I use SQL Management Studio ApexSQL tools, especially Autocomplete. When working with MySQL, I use MySQL Workbench.
I bought the subscription to MAMP Pro only because it saves so much time in getting development environments set up and running.
I use the free version to quickly test REST API’s I build and it’s really helpful in isolating issues.
My second level of backup. Backblaze is affordable and is a set it and forget cloud backup solution. When consulting, I recommend this to literally everyone. It’s saved so many people from losing work and important files that it’s an easily justified yearly expense.
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 droplet.
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 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’ve used Dropbox for as long as I can remember, and at one point had a paid subscription, but am slowly switching away to use Synology Drive instead.
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.
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.
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.
Private Internet Access
VPN tool for when I’m on a public network or want to 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 it subscription expires, I may just switch to Google Docs fully.
I missed this when it was on Kickstarter, and I totally regret not getting sooner. Totally worth every penny for using standard icon glyphs across my work.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 being 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.
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 Macs and Windows machines, reliably.
I use a bunch of the apps in SetApp so paying 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.
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 to listen to. I purchased this as a lifetime deal.
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.
I bought this to use for offline documentation but I barely use it because searching 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 direct from existing markdown files. This is one product I should’ve asked for a refund for.
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.
Adobe Photoshop CC
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 for managing all my photography work. I use 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.
I use ShortPixel to optimize and compress images on all the websites I build. Really great for optimizing raster images like PNGs and JPEGs. Reduces the file size dramatically with no discernible difference in quality. I typically use the CLI tool.
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.
These applications don’t fall into other categories.
I used to use a lot of the tools more but I’m 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 with.