Completely inspired by Chris Wiegman’s My Development Toolbox – 2020, I thought I would do something similar since my normal living from a laptop lifestyle has dramatically changed. Unlike Chris, development is not a core part of my day-to-day. It’s really about email, scheduling, content, and flexibility. I need to be able to gather, evaluate, and write all day long as well as connect with people, spread the word on social, evangelize, speak, oh and of course Zoom.
Really since the advent of the iPhone, I’ve been slowly becoming completely Apple-ed. It did start prior to the phone when I wanted a Linux-y device for development without all the tweaking, fiddling, and recompiling of Linux kernels and such (it’s become a lot more user friendly but I’d rather cook or garden).
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Prior to this year I was a MacBook Pro user of various flavors, when the latest iMac came out (and being in need of a replacement main computer), I went with the new 27″ iMac. The retina 5k screen is gorgeous and spacious. I’ve never really enjoyed multiple monitor setups so one screen to rule them all is preferred. Also with the latest iMac it has a much improved 1080 camera for Zooming. There will be an update to the best webcam setup because of this – not that I still don’t use that often for recording presentations but the convenience of the built in camera is great for meetings. I still run the internal camera through ManyCam for adding effects and no longer is the CPU pegged and fan running. Yay!
Travel is not happening and the bang for the buck is absolutely worth it. I haven’t given up on being mobile. The original iPad Pro 12.9″ I have has become insanely more useful due to mouse/pointer support and the Magic Keyboard released this summer. Let’s be clear, it’s not a laptop. Full stop. But it is an infinitely more work friendly iPad. I can roam indoors and outdoors to consume and create a ton of content very easily. It still doubles as my Filmic viewer when required and with iOS Shortcuts it’s become insanely useful. The best part is if I need something hardcore done, I can connect to the iMac via Parallels Access.
Since we are still in Apple land, the phone is an iPhone X, it’s so good for everything in the Covid age that I will probably even skip the iPhone 12 (already skipped the 11 even though I used to upgrade annually). Also the immense amount of synching between all three devices just works. I can’t tell you how often I use AirDrop as well as Copy/Paste across devices.
The last critical component is the Netgear Nighthawk R7000. Blazingly fast and great distance for three people online 24/7 who are remote learning, Zooming, streaming, etc. What I also really like is the built-in VPN – which was much more useful when I actually left the house.
Some of the software has certainly been touched on above but outside of the standard Apple universe of software, there are critical third party applications the get used.
On the development side of the universe there’s Transmit for file transfers, Coda for coding, MySQL Workbench for MySQL database access, and SQLPro for MSSQL. On the iPad I use SQLPro Studio for both MySQL and MSSQL. As much as I would like to be an open source purist, these tools are worth the money. Continually updated, great support, and just work.
The more mundane daily software for to-dos, email, calendaring, and browsing are mostly third party. I’ve eschewed stock Apple for these for a while, sometimes because of specific and unique features, others because of better iOS/iPadOS/MacOS interoperability. Todoist is simple, friendly, pretty (since I stare at the screen all day long pretty matters). It’s also got hooks and extensions into other apps. Spark Mail is an absolute must, where Todoist is a slight luxury, email management is really important. Snoozing emails, email templates, etc. are big pluses over the stock Mail app. The last big application is Fantastical as the stock Calendar replacement. Fantastical has one feature that I absolutely cannot live without – Combine Identical Events. My preferred browser is Safari. It’s fast and not a frightening resource monster. For that monster, I do have to use Chrome given certain sites, especially Google Apps which just doesn’t play as nice with Safari as I would like (surprise surprise). I’m curious about using Firefox more but with Safari cross Apple integrations it’s not likely.
The other applications in constant use are Slack, ManyCam, and Smultron. Slack we all know. ManyCam I use to tweak my video from the iPhone and/or now built-in FaceTime camera. The last you may have never heard of but it’s a text editor which I started using years ago. It’s got a ton of features I never use but what got me hooked when I started using it was insane speed on HUGE text files. I can’t even remember now what the project was but to this day it’s fast and uncomplicated. Lest I forget, 1Password, DropBox, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Office 365 (this is primarily a legacy habit and I could see dropping in the near future but I love Excel).
This is where it gets interesting and fun. Daily workflow includes this site. I’ve already touched on some of my indispensable more cloud based tools like DropBox, Adobe, Office but hosting and SaaS tools are critical. I host at Convesio which has Human Presence built in. As the site grows in specific ways Omnisend is part of the in-development stack. Termageddon runs my privacy policies. Of course I load test, and Supervisor is my go to. But my absolute favorite indispensable web application is Zapier. This runs so many things from content curation to content generation to social media to contact management. It’s great and I’m hooked.
See You Next Year
Well maybe I won’t wait that long to update but I really like how Chris ends his piece, “this is my toolbox, not my life.” So I’ll leave it at that.
Wow I almost forgot something so seamless that I haven’t thought about it in a long time. I have calendars across multiple account (and that why Fantastical’s Combine Events is very important) but how do I do that without pulling out my hair? SyncThemCalendars! It’s a service to connects one calendar to another, this is important so I can block out time. It’s highly configurable and honestly couldn’t live without because of its convenience.