There’s a long and strange tradition on the internet of providing ‘comprehensive lists’ of the tools you use. Software and hardware and packing lists and protocols.
I have mixed feelings about this genre. I’m inclined to think that, probably, way too much energy has been spent reifying and deifying the habits and tools of people who happen to have been ‘successful’. I doubt we need more. And, in the case of hardware and packing lists, it seems pretty plausible to me that this listicle genre is sustained (mostly) by affiliate links and the promise of a sniff at an oily rag.
But I’m a sucker all the same. I’ve read every ultralight hiking packing list I’ve ever come across. Cory Doctorow’s ‘Touring, Complete’ is one of the most enchanting pieces of internet marginalia this side of the Mississippi.
So, as at 2020-01-01, here’s my list. All the things that run my life. Link-filled but 100% Affiliate Free.™
Obligatory travel backpack breakdown included.
- Spacemacs for writing everything, reading most things, and tinkering.
- org-mode for managing tasks, with beorg on iOS.
- Zotero with betterbibtex for managing sources.
- Marvin3 for reading ebooks on mobile.
- R for most fast exploratory analysis/viz, with RMarkdown for a lot of writing, and the Hadleyverse to make it painless.
- Python (with the nltk, pandas, numpy, sklearn, tensorflow etc.) for everything fun and brain-bending.
- Clojure/Clojurescript (esp. quil, reagent, etc.) for genuinely painless, lispy hacking.
- Jupyter Notebooks for sharing thoughts.
- Signal for chat.
- Lenovo Thinkpad X280, running Ubuntu.
- iPhone 8.
- Beurer BM57 Blood Pressure Monitor.
- Garmin Forerunner 235.
- Sony WH-1000XM3.
- Logitech Laser Presenter R500.
All day, every day, I use an AlphaOneNiner Evade 1.5 Backpack (in Black 1050D Ballistic Nylon). On the surface, there’s not much to recommend it. It’s expensive. It’s heavy, even when totally empty. And it has an appallingly utilitarian aesthetic, with a weird EDC ‘operator’ subtext to much of its branding (though, I keep telling myself in desperate hope, not its actual design). Somewhat frustratingly, though, it’s also the best backpack I’ve used so far, and I’ve tried a lot of bags. Too many bags. An embarrassment of backpacks.
The A19 Evade 1.5 has enough pockets for me to give everything its own home, and enough space leftover for me to pack for travel. It’s tough. It’s flexible. I can shove it under an airplane seat, or a bus seat, or really any seat. This ‘shoving under seat’ is an action that I fantasise about a lot and actually undertake not nearly enough. Also, it has the best back ventilation I’ve ever used, making it a dream when cycling.
My bag always contains the following:
- A Lenovo Thinkpad X280.
- An electronics pocket, containing:
- A small writing kit, containing:
- Pilot G-2 05 pens (black).
- Spirax 100 page 8mm Ruled Reporter Notebooks (‘No. 563’). I use teeline shorthand in meetings (whenever it seems inappropriate to type) and burn through these.
- A case containing my Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones.
When I’m travelling, I augment the above with:
- A Dopp Kit, containing:
- 1-4 changes of clothes, each in a packing cube, each comprising:
- ExOfficio Boxer Briefs, Black (bought while the company still made quality clothes).
- Bamboo Men’s Business Socks, Black.
- Depending on weather/formality, one of:
- If I’m travelling in winter:
- An exercise packing cube containing: