What's in My Toolbox

In the interest of science and whatnot, here are the shiniest tools in my toolbox at the moment.


  • Hardware: The Dark Tower (Core i5 Quad, 8GB RAM, ASRock P55 Pro, Intel SSD 40GB system, generic 250GB spinning platter data, some old Nvidia card, Antec Sonata II case, 2x ASUS 21.5” 1080P monitors)
    I built it, so of course I have a parent’s partiality, but this thing smokes. Sub 10-second boot time (Ubuntu), applications launch off the SSD so fast I fear they are going to crack a monitor, and it’s almost silent. It’s where I get most of my work done. At my actual place of employment I’m haunted by an ancient Core 2 Duo laptop rocking Windows XP that doesn’t meet the minimum specs to run ArcGIS Desktop, and there are no replacement plans on the horizon. The motherboard cracked last year from my constant abuse and to my astonishment they put in a new motherboard and brought it back to me. I think this is Mecklenburg County’s way of asking me to work at home more.

  • OS: Ubuntu Linux 11.04 Beta (64bit)
    I’ve been using Ubuntu since Breezy, but I was worried about the new Unity interface. I even tried to see if I could live with KDE 4.6 for a few weeks (answer: no). I tossed the 11.04 Natty beta on the Dark Tower and it took me about an hour to fall in love with Unity. One reviewer said “after a while Unity disappears”, which I think is exactly right. It’s the most productive desktop environment I’ve used. I think my mouse usage has been cut in half.

  • IDE : Komodo Edit (with Zen Coder, TODO Helper, Klint extensions)
    This has been my top IDE for quite a while now, and v6 has made it even better. It’s the perfect balance of IDE niceties and not trying to out-think me or get in my way (I’m looking at you Visual Studio). Plus it’s cross-platform, so whether I’m on Windows or Linux I’m using the same IDE.

  • Text Editor: gedit (with a bunch of extensions)
    You can’t really go wrong with gedit, and I’m not the kind of cat that will belly up to emacs or vi. I used Kate during my ill-fated 3 week adventure with KDE 4.6. Not my cup of tea. If you’re on Windows, Notepad++ is probably the best you’re going to get (gedit on Windows is sluggish and many of the plugins don’t work).

  • Favorite Server Side/Scripting Language: Python

  • What I Really Secretly Use a Lot: PHP
    I know, I know. It’s a guilty pleasure.

  • Versioning System: Mercurial
    Big love for Mercurial. I want to fiddle with Git, but Mercurial is so nice I’m having a hard time finding a reason.

  • Desktop GIS: QGIS
    Yep. Unless I have something Esri specific to do (read: monkey with proprietary data formats or manage a server product), I’m using QGIS. I recently had to do some “real” GIS work, and I decided to park in front of QGIS and not leave until I figured out how to do everything I needed to do. I’ve been hooked ever since.

  • Database: PostgreSQL/PostGIS
    Best. Spatial. Database. Ever.

  • Map Server: GeoServer with GeoWebCache
    And I don’t even like Java. It’s that good. And it keeps getting better.

  • Client Libraries I’m Constantly (Ab)Using: jQuery, jQuery UI, OpenLayers

  • Random Thing I Can’t Live Without: Dropbox
    Any project I’m working on lives in my Dropbox folder. Whatever computer I happen to be sitting at - The Dark Tower, my work POS, my Netbook - all instantly have the same up to date code. I’ve had Dropbox for a long time, but my bird-like brain didn’t think about putting my projects in there until the last few months. I have Apache on all my machines serving up my projects directory in Dropbox, so wherever I plop down to work, http://localhost/projects/ is looking at the same code, and everything I need is everywhere I am. Awesome.