Stuff I Use
I like finding and using new tools to do things. The Setup in particular contains great interviews of people in diverse areas discussing their tools. This is my setup: the stuff I use.
What’s in my Bag
Ever since I was 10 I’ve been writing with PaperMate Clearpoint 0.5mm mechanical pencils on blank computer paper (lines get in the way of math!). More recently I’ve been carrying a single Moleskin sketchbook for meetings and research notes. The size is perfect for an all-in-one notebook, and the paper in the sketchbook from the Art Collection is 111lb, which is much thicker than the average Moleskin notebook (it irks me when ink or pencil bleeds through paper).
On my homepage sits many of the mobile versions of the desktop services I use on OS X, but notable mentions include Fantastical for calendar and reminders, Dark Sky for down to the minute weather predictions (necessary for taking bike rides on campus), Inbox by Gmail for email, and the data-centric alarm clock Sleep Cycle.
I also wear a space gray Apple Watch Sport with the red sport band. Necessary? No. Stylish? A little. Convenient? Certainly.
If I’m working, driving, or biking, I’m probably listening to music on Spotify. I rely on Dropbox as my primary digital workspace. For getting things done I use Trello to organize coursework, research, and projects while occasionally creating simple lists in Wunderlist. I prefer Trello to other GTD services as it can export specific tasks to my calendar while preserving the task’s due date, time, and notes.
While browsing the internet and Twitter on Tweetbot, I constantly save things to my Pocket to read whenever I get a few minutes, whereas I typically store long-term articles and ideas in Evernote. I also use 1Password for saving passwords and Mint for tracking money. Slack is always open, and IFTTT can be handy too.
I write journal entries in Day One that contain research notes, a days summary, and interesting quotes and pieces I read. I’ve used Day One off and on for a few years but during the summer of 2015 I started writing daily entries to log every day of my time as a Ph.D. student so that upon graduation I can look back and remember the details, both big and little. I believe daily writing also helps one communicate more effectively and easily.
For AI and analytics research, I mostly use Python, and for data visualzation I program mostly for the web (HTML, CSS, JS, and D3). For more mathy things, I’ll default to Mathematica for continuous problems and MATLAB for discrete ones.
For 3D printing I use Mathematica and OpenSCAD to generate models, Blender for renders and model/mesh manipulation, and Makerware for print preparation. If you are interested in creating your own models, Tinkercad is an easy-to-use, free modeling application that runs in the browser—no downloading required!
I tried Pixelmator instead of Adobe’s CC to avoid cost, and it’s been a great tool for visual mock-ups and light photo editing. I also prefer Alfred over OS X’s Spotlight to open files, launch applications, and search the internet, because it’s fast—really fast.
As I already said, I spend a majority of my day listening to music. So on both sides of my desk sit KRK Rokit 5 studio monitors with an accompanying Rokit 10s subwoofer. I run audio from my computer through a Presonus Firestudio.
I carry Shure SE215 isolating headphones/earbuds with me at all times as they provide excellent sound on the go, block out exterior noise, and most importantly never fall out of my ears.
As an amateur photographer, I’m shooting with a hand-me-down Nikon D80, but I always have my iPhone on me to snap a quick picture. A subset of my pictures are macro shots of 3D printed models, so a light tent is my most used accessory.
I received a Sonor Force 2001 drum set when I was 10, and I still play it today. I play Sabian AA and AAX cymbals and Evans drumheads. My drumstick of choice is the Vic Firth 5A. For quieter jam sessions, I make less noise on a Roland electric drum set.
I found Microsoft’s ideas more innovative than Sony’s regarding the future of the living room so an Xbox One serves as my main entertainment system to play Halo, watch Netflix, and cheer on the Georgia Bulldogs on gameday. A Chromecast sticks out of my TV too.
When trying to relax, there is no better companion than an Eno hammock.