My Life Stack
What’s a “Life Stack”? This is my “Life Stack”. I used to call it “Stuff I Use” but “Life Stack” sounds cooler. Either way, it’s a list of things that I use to manage my life or that I simply enjoy using.
Last updated January 2019
- Apple MacBook Pro (2016) — Great screen, awful keyboard, useless Touch Bar. - Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) — New to me. Running Linux. So far so good, except for the trackpad. - Apple 27″ Retina iMac (2017) — A monster with a big, beautiful screen. - Apple 27″ Retina iMac (2015) — An older monster with a big, beautiful screen. - Apple iPad Pro 12.9″ (2018) — I am not an iPad-only person. Not sure I ever will be but this is a great device anyway. The Apple Pencil #2 and the way it integrates with the new iPad is terrific. - iPhone X — It’s an iPhone. A really nice one. I put it in the Computing category but it goes in nearly every category. - Fujitsu ScanSnap — Super-fast and easy document scanning
Software (Work, writing, and “productivity” tools)
Here’s the software that I currently use on a regular basis.
- Emacs — “An extensible, customizable, free/libre text editor — and more.” - Org mode — Tasks, lists, documents, publishing, all in plain text. - TiddlyWiki — Single-file wiki with a kick. - [DEVONthink][devonthink] — Email Archives, Manuals, PDFs, Scanned documents. Years of archives remain searchable and synced across devices. - [TheBrain][thebrain] — “No limits Mindmapping” is right. I have years of “thoughts” collected and interlinked in TheBrain. - Bear — Bear is the app for notes that ticks more boxes than the many other options I’ve tried. If I’m not going to use Org-mode, I’ll use Bear. - [BBEdit][bbedit] — As much as I try to remain in Emacs for editing, whenever I need something fancy done with a lot of text, I turn to BBEdit. It’s the editor I’ve used longest. In fact, it may be the piece of software I’ve used longest, period. It remains truly great. - [Vim][vim] — I’ve used VIM for as long as I can remember. For a number of years it was my only editor, but today I use it mostly for quick local edits or for editing files on servers. - [LaTeX][latex] — I have no real need for LaTeX but it does such a great job laying out documents that I use it anyway. Mostly, this is done via Org mode but I also use LaTeX directly when I feel like being tweaky. - [iTerm2][iterm2] — I spend a lot of time in a terminal, and I use iTerm2 for that. - [Firefox][firefox] — My recent foray into Linux has made me ditch Safari as my primary web browser. Firefox is fast enough and I like their stance on privacy and security. They seem to have the right idea, anyway. - [Slack][slack] — People enjoy hating on Slack but it really is a wonderful replacement for the tangle of emails and reply-all threads that came before. - [Gitlab][gitlab] — We use a self-hosted instance of Gitlab at Fusionary and it’s transforming how we work. Issues, code, CI, and documentation all in one place is pretty great. - [Git][git] — For a long time I pushed Mercurial over Git, as it was simpler to use and understand. I lost, so Git is where it’s at. Git has gotten much easier to deal with in the past couple of years. - [Dropbox][dropbox] — Steve Jobs famously called Dropbox “a feature, not a product”. True or not, Dropbox is a pretty damn good feature. I still don’t trust iCloud. I trust Dropbox. - [1Password][1password] — Password management - [Chronosync][chronosync] — Helps me keep good drive and file backups - [Alfred][alfred] — Launcher and generally useful utility for all sorts of automation and shortcuts - [Keyboard Maestro][keyboardmaestro] — Macro wizardry. I wildly useful tool for automating things. I’ve also started using it as my text snippet expander and it works great for that, too. - [Tinderbox][tinderbox] — “The Tool For Notes” indeed. And so much more.
Photography ### Software - Lightroom CC — I hate the idea of keeping my library in the cloud, but love having everything available everywhere all the time. - [Capture One Pro][captureone] — Photo library and Raw file editor. - Apple Photos - For iPhone shots and keepers exported from Capture One - [Photo Mechanic][photomechanic] — Ingesting, tagging, renaming photos from cards. Nothing is faster or easier. I’d like to not need it, but trying to caption and tag dozens of photos at a time is an exercise in frustration in any other app. - [SilverFast][silverfast] — Scanning software for the Epson. I can’t tell you how much I hate it, but it gets me the best results. - [Alien Skin Exposure][alienskin] - Wonderful presets and a nice editing experience. - [Luminar][luminar] - I use Luminar as an editor plugin for Lightroom. Some of the filters are too much fun to resist. - Affinity Photo - Great for when I need to get “fancy”. I don’t enjoy Photoshop and this is a wonderful alternative.
Cameras I love cameras. Most of mine are old film cameras. Here’s what I’m using currently.
Hasselblad 500C/M and 503CXi
Medium format film cameras. Some cameras are iconic for a reason. The Hasselblad V series are iconic, beautiful, and superbly engineered. They also produce wonderful images, which is why they are my favorite all-around cameras.
The Leica Q is the first digital camera/lens combination from Leica that is both full-frame and even remotely affordable.
Even though I’ve tried to shelve 35mm film for a while, I can’t help but keep the M6 nearby. Sometimes I pick it up just to feel it in my hands. Leicas really are special cameras. They don’t really help me make better images, but they still make me feel like I could.
Great all-around digital camera. I have a few awesome lenses to go with it.
- [23mm f/2 R WR][23mm] — Small, light, fast enough. It’s my “standard” lens. - [16mm f/1.4 R WR][16mm] — I sure love this lens. Who knew I was a wide-angle guy? - [XF 56mm f/1.2 R][56mm] — A terrific portrait lens.
[23mm]: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1275473-REG/fujifilm_16523169_fujinon_23mm_f_2_r.html [16mm]: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1138987-REG/fujifilm_xf_16mm_f_1_4_r.html [56mm]: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1021630-REG/fujifilm_xf_56mm_f_1_2_r.html
Graflex Crown Graphic
Large Format Film Camera. This camera is a total pain in the ass to use, but I love it so. There’s nothing like a 4×5 negative.
Polaroid SX–70 and OneStep2
Like I said, I love cameras. Here’s a list of the ones I currently own but don’t use as often.
- Burke & James Press Camera — 4×5 film camera - Canon 1Ds — Digital SLR camera. Getting old, but what a beast it was in its day. - Canon AE–1 Program — 35mm Film SLR (My first real camera) - Canon Canonet — 35mm rangefinder camera - Canon EOS–1v — Damn good 35mm film SLR - Canon Pro-zoom 814 Electronic — Super8 movie film camera - Fujifilm X100 — Go-everywhere digital - Fujifilm X100T — Go-everywhere digital, updated - Graflex Speed Graphic — Large Format (4×5) Film Camera - Leica IIIf — Barnack! - Leica M3 — Rangefinder camera - Leica M4 — Rangefinder camera - Minolta Autocord — Medium format TLR - Nikon F100 — 35mm auto-focus film camera - Nikon F3HP — 35mm manual-focus film camera. Wonderful! - Olympus OM–1n — 35mm film camera - Olympus OM–2n — 35mm film camera - Olympus Stylus Epic — Compact 35mm film camera
Some miscellaneous photo-related support items
- Canon PRO–100 — Photo printer that I never use - Epson V750 — Flatbed film scanner. Works great for medium and large format. Less great for 35mm. - [Pakon Scanner][pakon] — For 35mm film scanning. Makes shooting color 35mm film worthwhile. Requires an old Windows computer running Windows XP, which sucks. - [Profoto D1 Monolights][profoto] — I’m fortunate enough to own a couple great monolights. I should totally use them more often.
I haven’t had a darkroom since my recent move, but here’s what’s in storage for when I make room.
- [Leitz Focomat v35][focomatv35] — 35mm auto-focus enlarger. Solid and reliable. It cost as much as a Volkswagon when it was first produced in 1979. It is an amazing device. - [Beseler 45MXT][beseler] — This is for printing medium and large format negatives. Mine is a little janky but works great overall. - [Leitz Focomat IIc][focomatiic] — Manufactured from 1956–1983, the Focomat IIc is a giant, over-engineered marvel of an enlarger. I bought mine as a fixer-upper from Craigslist and I still don’t have it working completely. When I do, I may be able to get rid of the v35 and possibly the Beseler.
[focomatiic]: https://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/Focomat_IIc [beseler]: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/3991-REG/Beseler_8227_45MXT_Enlarger_Chassis_Only.html [focomatv35]: http://www.bonavolta.ch/hobby/en/photo/v35.htm
Lifestyle and Miscellaneous Hardware
- [Rega P1 Turntable][regap1] — I love listening to records. I love owning my music and being able to see as well as hear it. I consider the P1 to be a terrific value. Audio people call it a “budget” turntable but I prefer to think of it as a cheap, “high-end” turntable. I’ve used it nearly every day for almost a decade. - [Thorens TD 160 Turntable][thorens] — Classic turntable that I’ve somewhat restored. Sounds great but is a bit finicky. - [Rega Brio 3 Integrated Amplifier][regabrio] — Purchased in 2010 to go with P1. It has a good phono stage and still sounds great. I don’t feel a need to replace it. - [Roon Optimized Core Kit / NUC][rock] - This is my new favorite thing. It’s a tiny computer running the [Roon music software][roon] and it’s the best way I’ve ever had to listen to, organize, and discover music.
And the rest…
- Focal Chorus V Speakers — Pretty good floor-standing speakers in my living room. - Yamaha CD-S300BL CD Player — I still listen to CDs, so I bought a new CD player a few years ago. - Sonos wireless music system — Music everywhere in my house. I have a Play:5, several Play:3s, and an old and - Onkyo A-5VL — Drives the Thorens turnable in my home office. - Grado SR–80e — Best price/performance I’ve found in headphones. I prefer open-back headphones and these are great. - Apple AirPods — The most Apple-like device Apple has released in a while. They work great. I use them primarily for when I’m walking or when making phone calls. - Apple HomePod — I ended up with a couple of these. I prefer the sound to the Sonos and don’t really use the “smart” stuff at all. I stream from Roon.
[regap1]: https://www.amazon.com/REGA-Rega-RP1-Turntable-Gray/dp/B004B3GELG [thorens]: http://allforturntables.com/2017/04/26/for-vintage-lovers-review-the-thorens-td-160-mki-mkii-super-one-of-the-best-thorens-turntables/ [regabrio]: https://www.stereophile.com/content/rega-brio-integrated-amplifier-rega-brio-3-march-2007 [rock]: https://kb.roonlabs.com/Roon_Optimized_Core_Kit [roon]: https://roonlabs.com/
- Amazon Kindle Oasis (2nd gen) — Books on the go. I prefer real books but the Kindle sure is handy. I like the larger size of this model. - Kobe Forma ebook reader — An alternative to Amazon that works great with more formats - Amazon Echo — I have several, but am using them less recently. I don’t love using voice-controlled devices. ## Pen and Paper
- [Leuchtturm 1917 Notebooks][leuchtturm] — Better than a Moleskine and perfect for use as a Bullet Journal. - [Hobonichi Techo Planner][hobonichi] — Best little day planners ever. I’ve carried one for five or six years. I sometimes use them only sporadically, but I always come back. - [Field Notes][fieldnotes] - Always have a Field Notes notebook in my back pocket. It’s a way better capture tool than the iPhone - Montblanc Meisterstück rollerball pen — My all-time favorite. I’ve had mine for 20 years. It’s broken in 2 places but I still use it. - [Pelikan Souveran M400][pelikan] — Beautiful, classic fountain pen. I had the nib tweaked by Richard Binder and it writes like butter. - [Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni Pencils][hiuni] — I’ve come around on pencils recently. I find myself reaching for a pencil as often as a pen. More so, maybe. - [Caran D’ache Pencil Sharpening Machine][sharpener] — Overkill, but I love it. - [Olympia SM3 Typewriter][sm3] — My favorite typewriter - [Olympia SM9 Typewriter][sm9] — My second favorite typewriter
[leuchtturm]: https://www.amazon.com/Leuchtturm1917-Medium-Size-Hardcover-Notebook/dp/B002TSIMW4/ [hobonichi]: https://www.1101.com/store/techo/en/2018/pc/detail_cover/pb18_jan.html [pelikan]: https://www.amazon.com/Pelikan-Souveran-M400-Black-Fountain/dp/B002MT02DM/ [hiuni]: https://www.jetpens.com/Uni-Mitsubishi-Hi-Uni-Pencils/ct/621 [sharpener]: https://www.amazon.com/Caran-Dache-Pencil-sharpening-Machine-455-200/dp/B0013F5R0Y/ [sm3]: https://typewriterreview.com/2013/02/28/olympia-sm3/ [sm9]: https://www.baty.net/2014/olympia-sm9/ [fieldnotes]: https://fieldnotesbrand.com/
Every Day Carry
- [Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic watch][tag] — No batteries, beautiful, and good to 300 meters in the water — because that’s handy right? - Apple Watch (Series 4) — The health stuff and proper notifications are handy - [Goruck GR1 backpack][goruck] — If I ever go outside I’m ready - [Benchmade Mini Griptilian AXIS Lock Knife][knife] — Always in my pocket. I never realized how handy a pocket knife could be until I started carrying one everywhere. - [Bellroy Note Sleeve Wallet][wallet] — Feels great, works great. - [Bellroy Field Notes Notebook Cover][bellroy] — A great way to carry my ever-present Field Notes notebook. - [Blunt Classic Umbrella][blunt] — Who knew a good umbrella would make such a difference? This is a very nice one. - [Filson original Briefcase][filson] — I’ve owned a number of bags and this one is the one I’ve settled on. Well-designed and very well-made. - [ONA Prince Street][ona] — Camera bag. Leather. Gorgeous. - Peak Design Everyday Messenger - 13″ — Camera and iPad to work and back.
Friday, January 18, 2019 - Added Emacs back :) - New bag
Saturday, December 08, 2018 - Added new iPad 12.9″ - Added HomePods - Replaced X-Pro2 with X-T3
Thursday, October 04, 2018 - Added Leica Q - Added Photos and Affinity Photo - Deleted Emacs and friends :(
Sunday, September 23, 2018 - Replaced Lightroom with Capture One
Friday, July 13, 2018 - Removed 12.9″ iPad Pro. I gave it to my dad. - Restored 1Password to its rightful place. Remind me to never switch password managers.
Friday, June 1, 2018 - Changed from 1Password to Dashlane for password management - Replaced LaunchBar with Alfred - Replaced Pass with YNAB - Removed TextExpander since I’m now using [Keyboard Maestro][keyboardmaestro] for text snippet expansion
[tag]: https://www.tagheuer.com/en-us/watches/aquaracer-calibre-5-automatic-watch-43-mm-way2010-ba0927 [goruck]: https://www.goruck.com/GR1 [knife]: https://www.amazon.com/Benchmade-Mini-Griptilian-Knife-Drop-Point/dp/B06XKRZX76 [wallet]: https://bellroy.com/products/note-sleeve-wallet/leather/teal#image-0 [bellroy]: https://bellroy.com/products/field-notes-notebook-cover-mini/leather/charcoal#image-1 [blunt]: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M3E26F8/ [filson]: https://www.filson.com/original-briefcase-1.html [ona]: https://www.amazon.com/ONA-Messenger-Antique-Leather-ONA5-024LBR/dp/B00N33F0SI/
[spacemacs]: https://spacemacs.org/ [orgmode]: https://orgmode.org/ [devonthink]: http://www.devontechnologies.com/products/devonthink/overview.html [vim]: http://www.vim.org/ [latex]: https://www.latex-project.org/ [iterm2]: https://www.iterm2.com/ [bbedit]: https://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/ [firefox]: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/ [slack]: https://slack.com/ [gitlab]: https://about.gitlab.com/ [git]: https://git-scm.com/ [dropbox]: https://www.dropbox.com/ [dashlane]: https://www.dashlane.com/ [chronosync]: https://www.econtechnologies.com/chronosync/overview.html [alfred]: https://www.alfredapp.com/ [keyboardmaestro]: https://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/ [tinderbox]: http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/ [thebrain]: http://www.thebrain.com/products/thebrain [ynab]: https://www.youneedabudget.com/ [captureone]: https://www.phaseone.com/en/Products/Software/Capture-One-Pro/Highlights.aspx [photomechanic]: http://www.camerabits.com/tour-v5/ [silverfast]: http://www.silverfast.com/ [luminar]: https://skylum.com/luminar [alienskin]: https://www.alienskin.com/exposure/ [1password]: https://1password.com [things3]: https://culturedcode.com/things/