What's in my Toolbox 2014 Edition

Nothing sets my propeller-hat spinning faster than nerdgear. When people talk about how they work I decouple with my headphones and listen. Because, somewhere deep down, I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong.

Without further lolcats, here’s my toolbox at the start of 2014. Note I’m detailing my home kit, as I work there most of the time and talking about my County working conditions would needlessly depress you.


  • Lenovo z510 dual-core i5 Haswell laptop, 8GB RAM, SSD for OS
  • Dual 22” 1080P monitors
  • CM Storm QuickFire mechanical keyboard
  • Logitech M570 marble mouse
  • Blue Microphones NESSIE microphone
  • Logitech C920 HD webcam
  • M-Audio AV30 powered monitors
  • AKG M80 MkII earcans (big meh - won’t last the year)
  • Samsung Chromebook
  • Nexus 7 2013 model
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which will be crushed under heel when my Verizon contract is up)

We live in an age of insane personal computing power. So insane I downgraded my home rig. I went from a home-built quad-core i5 with discreet graphics and 16GB of RAM to a Lenovo z510 i5 laptop with a dual-core i5, integrated graphics and 8GB of RAM. It isn’t an even swap - Lenny has Haswell i5 with hyperthreading - but it’s a downgrade.

Other than the fact that it sips power, is nearly silent and doesn’t double as a space heater, I never notice the difference. OK, I rarely notice the difference (hi HandBrake!). But overall I’m very happy with this laptop. It stays chained to my desk, lid closed, powering my external monitors. It has a nice 1080p screen, so if I ever unshackled it from my desk I could do serious work at Starbucks. And here’s a free {“ PSA: if you’re on Linux and you’re not a gamer, always get Intel graphics. “}

I’m rocking my usual dual-monitor setup with a mechanical keyboard. One new toy is my Blue Microphones Nessie, which includes some auto-processing onboard (compression etc.). Beyond that not much has changed.

I use my Chromebook about as much as I use anything else. I love that plastic piece of shit. I almost bought a new Acer model with a Haswell processor, but then I caught a rumor of a $250 Samsung coming out with retina-esque resolution later this year.

For tablets I like my Nexus 7. My iPad rarely gets touched. It’s a tad big and heavy for reading, and the screen on my Nexus 7 is crazy good. That’s mostly a reading/entertainment device - people that say they do real work on tablets are probably crazy.


  • Kubuntu 13.10 64bit

I’m still rocking along with KDE and Kubuntu. I keep threatening to go to Arch. I installed it on a VM and a netbook just to prove to myself that I could. I like new stuff - I don’t want to have to wait 6 months for a new Kernel or software package and dealing with PPA’s can get old. The idea of a rolling release is very appealing. Maybe I’ll jump when I hit the 4-months-of-13.10 blues.

Dev Stack

  • Sublime Text 3 (beta)
  • Sublime extensions: Package Control, AdvancedNewFilename, AutoFileName, ColorPicker, DocBlockr, EditorConfig, Emmet, HTML-CSS-JS Prettify, LESS, Markdown Preview, Markdown Editing, Nettuts+ Fetch, Sidebar Enhancements, Sublime Linter
  • Kate, Notepad++ (Windows) and nano for quick edits
  • Grunt
  • Grunt extensions: grunt-contrib-watch, grunt-contrib-uglify, grunt-contrib-concat, grunt-contrib-less, grunt-autoprefixer, grunt-text-replace, grunt-contrib-imagemin
  • Git
  • Inkscape and GIMP for graphics
  • Google Chrome
  • Chrome extensions: LiveReload, PageSpeed Insights, REST Console, Screen Capture, Secure Shell, Web Developer

Yep, I’m a web dev. I do some shell scripting in Python and JavaScript (Nodejs), maybe even some bash to fling stuff around sometimes. When I do server side web stuff it’s often PHP, though I’m getting into Nodejs. I also do some DB and server admin, and I do “strategic planning”, which can appear indistinguishable from constipation. But I’m mostly a web dev.

I don’t think there’s a lot here that needs further explanation - if you’re a dev you know most/all of this stuff, if you’re not a dev you don’t care. Sublime Text is still the best editor I’ve run across, and I’m too old to learn Vim + a tiled window manager, though damn if that doesn’t look awesome.

I would like to point a finger and jump up and down about Autoprefixer if you haven’t heard of it. How would you like to never worry about browser prefixes again? Autoprefixer gives you that in a way you can control very precisely. By setting browsers: ['last 2 version', "> 5%", 'ie 8'] I’m prefixing for the last 2 versions of every browser, any browser with above 5% market share, and >= IE 8 specifically.

Everyday stuff I can’t live without

In no particular order:

  • Dropbox
  • TileMill
  • QGIS
  • GeoServer
  • Postgres
  • PostGIS
  • PGAdmin III (because psql is bullshit)
  • Octopress
  • Dolphin, the greatest file manager ever
  • SQLiteman
  • Bootstrap
  • Leaflet
  • jQuery
  • D3, even though it hurts my brain sometimes
  • Lots of Google services (Gmail, Docs, Keep, to name a few)
  • Feedly, so I can keep up with you people
  • Twitter, so I can mimic a social person

Stuff I want to like in 2014

  • A client-side MVC framework. I’ve played with Backbone, Backbone + helpers (because Backbone by itself is a bitch), Angular, Ember, and did the ubiquitous ToDo list app with some others. I’ve tried to like it. I just don’t. I end up with 3x the code and I’ll never be able to share it with co-workers because there’s too much magic overhead. Lots of people like this stuff, so it could just be me. Maybe in 2014 I’ll get it.
  • I want to do something with QT. I don’t do desktop apps or C++, so the odds of this happening are not great.
  • A serious Nodejs app, complete with a magical framework like Meteor. I’ve been waiting patiently for Python to eat my PHP addiction, but Nodejs gave it a beating for server-side web stuff. Actually ~10,000 beatings, all running concurrently. Maybe this year I’ll finally get off of PHP. I love PHP, but every time I tell somebody I did something in PHP I feel a little dirty afterwards.