What I UseApril 2, 2022 https://blog.arranfrance.com/post/what-i-use/ Here is a non-exhaustive list of the things I use every day either for fun, writing code, or just doing “life things”.
This post is up-to-date as of September 2023.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the things I use every day either for fun, work, writing code, or just doing “life things”.
This list won’t encompass: things I use so rarely they’re not worth mentioning. I also intend to write a list focused on how I build the world of Valinde and run and plan TTRPGs sessions at some point in the future, so you won’t find any information on those tools here. I also plan to write a few posts exploring thing like my personal Kubernetes infrastructure, and any custom tools I’ve made, so they’re excluded here as well.
#Bags for Carry and Travel
- Regular Rucksack: Tom Bihn Synik 30 in Ballistic/Halcyon. Includes a large Snake Charmer, small Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch, and All-Fabric 3D Organizer Cube for organization. This carries my Steam Deck, my headphones hard case, normally a few board games, my laptop in a Tom Bihn Cache, water bottle, and all of my various charging-wires and cables. This is big enough to pack for an extended weekend1 but also has the versatility to packs down well if I need to carry a lighter load.
- Travel Bag: Tom Bihn Tri-Star in 1050 Ballistic. Includes Tri-Star packing cubes, a Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, and a Travel Laundry Stuff Sack. I use this for trips longer than a couple of days, or if I’m travelling overseas. This has the bare minimum of structure needed in a bag to allow it to be packed super efficiently but have structure beyond just a bag with a single section.
- Small Daypack: Tom Bihn Daylight Backpack in Halycon. I pack this when travelling for extended periods to have a backpack to use whilst I’m for the day with. It rolls up to take minimal space.
- Camera: Tom Bihn Co-Pilot in 525 ballistic. I use this primarily to carry camera equipment. I’m experimenting with which inner bag to use inside the Co-Pilot’s main pocket to provide protection. Currently, I’m alternating between using a Tenba BYOB 9 and an Ape Case Cubeze 39.
My office serves as a place for me to work, play TTRPGs, and film YouTube videos.
- Computer: My main day-to-day Windows PC is an older Ryzen 5 3600X / RTX 2070 Super build 2. This is hooked up to three screens: two older ASUS VC239H screens (1080p) and an AOC AG273QX (1440p / 165hz / HDR) which I use as my primary display. The secondary screens are mainly for having a browser or chat open whilst playing games or on a video call, or for having a lot of information open whilst playing TTRPGs. These are all mounted on Duronic desk mounted monitor arms.
- Keyboard: TADA 68 3 with Gateron Browns.
- Mouse: Corsair Scimitar PRO RGB. This is a mouse designed for gaming which has twelve buttons on the side of the mouse. These days I don’t make much use of the keys on the side, given the software for the key-mapping and managing the profiles on the device is frustrating. The mouse itself though is incredibly well-built and is a joy to use.
- Headphones: Philips SHP9500. I bought these to replace my Bose Quiet Comfort 25 which were falling apart and seemed unlikely to be salvageable. I specifically got them because of their open back design, which means I can talk to other people in the room whilst using them, but they bleed a lot into my microphone when on calls.
- Headphones: Sony MDR-7506. I bought these to use specifically for calls. They have better isolation than my Phillips headphones but lack comfort.
I have two cameras, my main full-frame camera for photography and video, and my APC-C camera which is used as a second angle and camera for calls.
- A-Camera: Panasonic Lumix S5 II. This camera is amazing value and has video features that you don’t find in other cameras at much higher price points. It’s a full frame camera, that is capable of shooting 6k “open gate” video, has 10-bit colour, and a host of other fantastic video features.
- Lens: A kit lens, the Panasonic Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6.
- Lens: A kit lens, the Panasonic Lumix S 50mm 1.8.
- XLR Input: The Panasonic XLR1 Audio Adapter. Capable of recording two separate XLR inputs at once into the S5 II to avoid having to sync in post. I pair this with a gain boosting FetHead for my dynamic mic as the preamps on the XLR1 aren’t the cleanest at high gain.
- B-Camera/Webcam: Sony ZV-E10. This camera is the cheapest interchangeable lens “entry” level camera by Sony, who at least at the time of purchase have the best autofocus. It’s capable of shooting 4K 30 FPS video. I use it as my webcam, via HDMI capture, but also use it as a B-camera for shooting video for YouTube.
- Camera Cage: Small Rig ZV-E10 Camera Cage with Grip. I got this used and cheap to always have an Arca-type quick release plate for moving the camera between different mounts. I imagine the various connectors will come in handy at some point.
- Lens: The ZV-E10 Kit Lens, the Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS zoom lens. This was the lens I got when I got the ZV-E10. It’s cheap and it does the job!
- Dummy Battery: Gonine AC-PW20 AC Power Adapter NP-FW50 a cheap and functional dummy battery.
- Teleprompter: Padcaster Parrot. A cheap and reliable teleprompter that uses my phone to display the words. Comes with quality beam splitter glass.
- Mount: Elgato Master Mount L with Elgato’s Solid Arm. This allows me to capture just above the computer’s monitor for a natural framing and I have a second for overhead shots for YouTube.
- HDMI Capture: Elgato Cam Link 4K. Pretty much the standard capture card to purchase at my budget, no real complaints.
- Key Light; Elgato Key Light. I bounce this off the wall to create a soft key light.
- Key Light: Elgato Key Light Air4. I use this as a fill light.
- Background Lights: Elgato Light Strip. I’m still playing around with these, but they add some nice background glow. I’ve attached them to the bookcase behind me but unfortunately the sticky back hasn’t stuck well to the bookcases and they often fall down.
- Camera Light: Elgato Key Light Mini. This fits onto the top of my camera via the Elgato Cold Shoe to provide some extra directed light when filming YouTube videos, or it can be used freestanding to provide extra light.
- Streaming: Elgato Stream Deck. I use this for managing OBS when streaming, for controlling my lights, and for sending Discord messages whilst running TTRPGs.
- Microphone: RØDE Procaster with a WS2 Windshield. This thing has fantastic build quality and provides fantastic sound quality and a broadcast feel. If you’re interested, here’s a comparison video by Podcastage where you can hear it against much more expensive microphones such as the Shure SM7B.
- Boom Arm: Elgato Wave Mic Arm LP. Specifically chosen for not being overly branded and being both affordable and a low profile arm which doesn’t seem to be a common combination.
- Mount: The mic is mounted to the boom arm with a RØDE PSM1 shock mount as the Procaster is sensitive to handling noise and I want the freedom to be able to move the boom arm around without it being heard by my audience.
- Audio Interface: Wave XLR. This interface is designed for single XLR input and comes with the fantastic Wave Link software and the impressive clip-guard functionality. I pair it with the RX Mouth De-click, Rough Rider 3, and Renegate VSTs to produce a solid hopefully podcast-worthy sound for all my video calls, streams, and RPG sessions.
- Noise-Cancelling Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3. These are incredible headphones, best I’ve ever owned both in terms of noise-cancelling and audio quality. These don’t pair or play nicely with Ubuntu, so I use them almost exclusively with my phone.
- Note-Taking: reMarkable 2 is an E Ink device for note-taking. It transforms the way I work as I love the physical part of writing, but hate managing multiple notebooks. I am grandfathered into their cloud sync plan which I do not think is good value and wouldn’t otherwise purchase. I use a Lamy al Star EMR stylus instead of the official reMarkable pen.
- Phone: I use a Pixel 3A. It’s a little long in the tooth and the screen is cracked after an unfortunate incident on the stairs at Vauxhall station, but I like the Pixel line (mainly for the updates) and I love the headphone jack!
- Gaming: I bought a Steam Deck 512GB primarily for playing digital board games in bed but ended up using it more on my commute into or out of London.
- Gaming: For the living room, I have a newer Windows PC with a Ryzen 7 5800X / RTX 3080 in an ITX form factor. This is hooked up to a 4K/60Hz TV.
- Computer: Dell XPS 13 Laptop (9370) running Ubuntu. This isn’t the perfect machine, but it’s very close. Its 512 GB SSD size is a little too small, the screen minimum brightness is a little too bright, and the webcam is below the screen providing incredibly unflattering upwards angles if used, but otherwise the machine is rock solid. I use the XPS 13 for all my coding outside my full-time employment and for general day-to-day use.
- Reading: I have an 8th Generation Kindle Wi-Fi without backlight which I primarily use for reading long-form books. I’ll pick this up and charge it when there’s something to read, read the book over a few days, and then put this back on the shelf. My two complaints are: there are no physical buttons (I loved my Kindle Keyboard) and that it is the only device I regularly use that needs a USB B Micro cable for charging instead of USB-C.
- Web: Notion for storing long term notes and information. I treat this like my own personal knowledge base. I’m considering replacing this with Obsidian.
- Web: Gifster for managing my wish list and buying gifts for friends and family.
- Web: Feedbin for subscribing to blogs and managing my RSS feeds.
- Web: Board Game Geek for managing my board game collection.
- Web: iCheckMovies for tracking the films I’ve seen.
- Web: Gixen for sniping eBay auctions.
- Web/Android/Chrome/Firefox: bitwarden for storing, remembering, and managing all my passwords.
- Web/Android: Fastmail for hosting my email.
- Web/Android: Google Drive for file storage, Google Calendar for sharing calendar invites, and Google Docs/Sheets/Slides for documents.
- Web/Android: League of Comics for tracking my comic collection.
- Android: BG Stats for storing my Board Game plays and syncing them to Board Game Geek.
- Android: Nano Teleprompter for reading scripts when recording YouTube videos. It has a really handy sync functionality with Google Docs.
- Android: Pocket Casts for subscribing and listening to podcasts.
- Android: Readably 5 for syncing and reading feeds from Feedbin.
- Android: Primus for selecting a first player for board games.
- Android: FitNotes for tracking my gym progress.
- PC: Backblaze for storing backups of important files
- PC: inSync a replacement for Google’s terrible Google Drive client.
- PC: OBS for managing streams and video capture.
- PC: Backblaze for backing up my PC.
- PC: Affinity 2.0 for creating documents and editing images.
- Version Control System Tool: I use git, to version all my projects. I mainly use the
gitcommand line tool for simple and mundane tasks and fall back to GitKraken 6 for visualising changes, more complicated rebases, or composing longer commit messages. All my projects are stored on GitHub.
- Editor: I use Visual Studio Code for editing across all of my projects. It “just works”.
- Terminal: Starship is my “prompt” of choice. It provides contextual information like my current Kubernetes context, Git status, Node.js version, and AWS cluster.
- Terminal: Scotty lets me jump to any directory based on fuzzy matching.
- Terminal: nvm helps me manage Node.js versions across projects.
- Terminal: ngrok allows me to develop applications locally that need to be connected to via the internet.
- Small Command Line Utilities:
- Insomnia for testing and storing web requests.
- DB Browser for SQlite as a GUI for managing SQLite databases
- Robo 3T for managing local MongoDB databases
- Gandi.net is my domain registrar of choice. I could spend less money on domain names, but they provide a quality and reliable service.
- Cloudflare manages all of my DNS.
- AWS is used for S3 and the odd Lambda 7. My AWS setup isn’t the most straightforward and clear, and would benefit from being revisited.
- MongoDB Atlas manages the MongoDB databases for Jonathan’s Movies.
- upstash manages the Redis server for Jonathan’s Movies.
- Digital Ocean manages my Kubernetes cluster, which hosts the vast majority of my applications.
- Netlify hosts the vast majority of my static sites, including this blog.
- Render hosts Redis for my Valinde/Thunderstrike sites.
- Dockerhub stores my container images.
- FeedPress emails subscribers and hosts my RSS feed.
- Supabase hosts the Postgres and authentication infrastructure for my Valinde/Thunderstrike sites.
No longer listed on play.google.com. ↩︎
I don’t really have any workloads that benefit from lambdas but I used to use them for scheduled tasks. My default for this is now to use a Kubernetes CronJob. ↩︎