Tech Gear I Am Using

I update this periodically. I have left the previous years below for historical purposes.


November 2020 Update

So only a month after my August 2020 posting (see below), I decided to ugprade my main desktop and laptop. I spent rather a lot, but these new machines have been excellent! I have upgraded my 2019 MacBook Pro 15" to Big Sur 11.0.1, which works great except for the fact that xhyve no longer runs. Until this gets fixed for Big Sur, I will keep the new Macs on 10.15.7 Catalina so I can run xhyve for FreeBSD emulation. If the new iPhone 12s had TouchID, I would have bought one. They really messed up in a masked Covid world by not putting TouchID back. I don't like FaceID.


August 2020 Update

As of August 2020, if I had to pick a short list of tech, I would spend $6,981 on: This assumes that the iPhone is my only camera. If I wanted to add a camera, I would maybe add a Canon EOS 6D Mark II due to its built-in GPS & 26 megapixels for $1,399, and then a few lenses. The EF 17-40mm f/4L would be good for the wide end at $499, a EF 50mm f/1.2L for $1,299, and a EF 135mm f/2L for $999. The final tele zoom is a hard choice: either a Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 for $1,199, or a EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS for $1,349, or a EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II for $2,199.

August 2020 Hardware

I use a few other machines on occasion: Other tech that I use a lot:

August 2020 Software

Here are the applications that I use, sorted from the most to the least, with their current versions as of August 28th, 2020.
  • Terminal 2.10 - Terminal continues to be the most important app that I use. It has excellent customization, is fast, and reliable. Indispensable.
  • Eddie 3.4.4 b773 - The program I am using right now to edit this file; its author Pavel Cisler recently added full Awk support for me! Fast, customizable, wonderful. Indispensable.
  • XRG 2.8.2 - This awesome utility is always running on my Macs. It shows CPU, memory, disk, & net activity, as well as machine temperatures, and the weather. The perfect dashboard.
  • cdto 2.6 - This awesome utility app allows me to click in the toolbar of any Finder window & voila - I am in a Terminal session with the directory set to that folder. Very handy.
  • Safari 13.1.2 - Still the best web browser around: fast, great bookmark & history support, and with iCloud, syncs to all my Macs and iOS devices.
  • Notes 4.7 - I use this more & more due to the ease of storing pictures, thoughts, notes with full syncing to iCloud. Fast.
  • Preview 11.0 - Almost all of my photo and PDF viewing is done with Preview. Quick to launch, and I do some photo editing in it as well. UI pretty good.
  • Tweetbot 2.5.8 - Mac Twitter client; another version is on my iOS devices. Pretty good link to what's happening. Good keyboard support. Hasn't been updated in awhile, but works great!
  • TextEdit 1.15 - A good rich text editor, Mac only. I wish it did two-column text like MS Word.
  • Dictionary 2.3.0 - An excellent and very useful tool, Mac only. Many languages to choose from, and Wikipedia! Very well done. A hidden gem in macOS. I wish I had this on other platforms.
  • VLC 3.0.11.1 - My main video viewer, supports many formats, UI needs work; I use it on macOS, iOS, Windows, Linux, & FreeBSD.
  • HandBrake 1.3.3 - My main video ripper, supports many formats, very well done; I use it on macOS, Windows, & FreeBSD. Only downside is you must setup your own libdvdcss in order to rip most commercial DVDs.
  • Free42 2.0.21 - A nice HP calculator emulator used daily; newer versions treat 0^0 wrong, so I am sticking with this one; I use it on macOS, iOS, Windows, Linux, & FreeBSD.
  • Bing bing.com - I have been using Bing for a year now instead of Google for general searches. Bing has a better UI and at least as good of results, occasionally better. Google has gone way downhill for a decade now, removing features like Image Search, and emasculating products like Google Finance. Google Docs are horrible compared to MS Office.
  • Google Mail gmail.com - Very reliable, this is the best of the free mail apps.
  • Google Maps - google.com/maps - The best online map, but Bing Maps is getting close. I had hoped that Apple Maps would become the clear winner, but Apple Maps is still horribly inaccurate, with a very substandard database of waypoints that are out-of-date, and many places are simply missing; Google Maps also has errors, just not as many as Apple Maps. Garmin has the best POI database that you can put on your computer.
  • Google Earth Pro 7.3 - fantastic for armchair exploring the world; insidious daemons always installed by the app lessens my opinion of it. In fact, Google has become evil, contrary to their own mantra, but there is nothing like Google Earth from anyone else that I am aware of.
  • Garmin Base Camp 4.8.8 - best points of interest database, better than Google. You must own a Garmin GPS in order to copy the maps to your Mac. The great thing about Garmin is that it does not require the internet! All of the data is local. Everything is better local.
  • Garmin Express 7.0 - Mac updater for GPS firmware as well as twice yearly map updates. Works well.
  • LibreOffice 7.0.0 - I occasionally use this on macOS; it is my main spreadsheet at present. Font sizes always seem off. Not a favorite, but better than Numbers. Excel is still the best, but I no longer use it because the fees are too expensive. I want to be able to put Excel on at least 3 Macs and 2 PCs for one fee. I only use one machine at a time, but I do not want to rent Office 365. So, I use Libre.
  • Firefox 80.0.0 - My 2nd favorite web browser on Mac, it is my favorite browser on FreeBSD & on the rare occasions I use Windows. Syncs bookmarks between all instances of Firefox. Cool.
  • LockRattler 4.26 - macOS app to stay current on Mac Gatekeeper and other little-known system security files.
  • Music 1.0.6 - The replacement for iTunes, still getting worse with each iteration. I play music using a command line tool more and more and use this less and less. Not recommended.
  • Mail 13.4 - this Mac mail program has been my favorite & has worked well until this Catalina version, which has bugs. Not happy about this. Worse than previous version. Thunderbird works better on FreeBSD.
  • Books 2.4 - I use this on iOS a lot as my PDF reader, but hardly ever on Mac. I had such high hopes for it, but it is one of Apple's worst apps: UI riddled with bugs and the inability to do basic things. Cannot edit metadata of several files at once. Metadata used to get mixed up in editing, but that has improved a bit.
  • Numbers 10.1 - Apple's attempt at Excel still pales by comparison; macOS & iOS. Needs to read/write Excel files rather than forcing everything to be imported and exported. Only spreadsheet I use on iOS, it is hard to use on a phone, but not too bad on an iPad.
  • Calender 11.0 - decent UI on Mac, iCloud syncing works well. Also use this on iOS, where the UI is horrible.
  • Contacts 12.0 - horrible UI on Mac, I only use this because the iCloud syncing is handy. However, UI on iOS is better.
  • Reminders 7.0 - handy, iCloud syncing nice; this Catalina version always wants to upgrade the format, which I don't want to do because I use this across many versions of macOS & iOS, so worse that the previous release.
  • Stickies 10.2 - Catalina screwed up the file format on this well done tool, and Notes organizes stuff better, so I don't use this much any more.
  • Geekbench 5.2.3 - Benchmarking app for macOS, iOS, Windows.
  • Cygwin 3.1.6 - the single most important app on Windows! My life is spent here when I must be on Windows. This gives me basic Unix tools, such as tcsh and vim. I can build my suite of tools here. I'd rather be on macOS though. It needs to support env -S.
  • TextPad 4.7.3 - on Windows, this app from 2004 still works in Windows 10, and is my programming editor of choice. Win32 is durable!
  • Visual Studio Community 2019 16.7.2 - intuitive IDE, jumpy text editor, good tools, still with good docs; for Windows 10 dev, this is it. Still pretty good, and it is the best benefit of using Windows.
  • Visual Studio Code 1.48.2 - better than Xcode, but getting huge. Not too bad of an editor. I use it on Mac once in a while, but Eddie is better, faster, cleaner. I do not use VS Code on Windows because there I have the real, full blown Visual Studio IDE.
  • Xcode 11.6 - 17GB and for that you get no decent docs anymore, a horrible UI, a very bad text editor, and overcomplication. It does have high quality dev tools under the hood (clang, Perl), so I use the Command Line Tools. I rarely install Xcode.app any more due to its huge size and underwhelming everything. Terminal is sooo much better. Xcode is Mac's Achilles heel. (Window's Achilles' heel is the whole Explorer UI.)

    Here are the software tools that I use from a command prompt and in scripts. All of these I build myself regularly, and I use these more than the apps above. I use them on macOS, Windows via cygwin, FreeBSD, and Linux. I would use them on iOS but iOS sadly has no command-line world. These tools are listed alphabetically.

    Finally, I have my own suite of tools written in C, some of which are described in my book. I have worked on these since 1982!
    They build on Mac OS X (now macOS) using clang or gcc, MacOS 9 using MPW, Cygwin on Windows, Windows using Visual Studio, FreeBSD using clang or gcc, and Linux using gcc. They are:


    July 2019 Software

    Here are the software applications that I use, sorted from the most to the least, with their current versions as of July 1st, 2019. Here are the software tools that I use from a command prompt and in scripts. All of these I build myself regularly, and I use these more than the apps above. I use them on macOS, Windows via cygwin, FreeBSD, and Linux. I would use them on iOS but iOS sadly has no command-line world. These tools are listed alphabetically. Finally, I have my own suite of tools written in C, some of which are described in my book. I have worked on these since 1982!
    They build on Mac OS X (now macOS) using clang or gcc, MacOS 9 using MPW, Cygwin on Windows, Windows using Visual Studio, FreeBSD using clang or gcc, and Linux using gcc. They are:

    June 2019 Hardware

    Most of these Macs run macOS 10.14 Mojave. I use Eddie and TextPad for most text editing. I use Excel and Numbers for spreadsheets, Free42 for calculations, iTunes for music, Maps, Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, and Notes, but I use Terminal the most of any app for building software, running scripts, doing backups, etc.

    I use a few other machines on occasion:

    Other tech that I use a lot: At this point in time, if I had to pick a short list of tech, I would pick:


    17 May 2018


    Hardware


    C40


    My main computer ("C40") is a late-2015 27" iMac 27" with Retina Display (5120 x 2880 pixels).  It has a 4 GHz Intel Core i7 with quad cores and Hyperthreading, 16 GB of 1867 MHz DDR3 memory, a 3 TB Fusion drive, and AMD Radeon R9 graphics, specifically the M395 card with 2 GB of VRAM.  I have been using the included Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse, but I dislike both of them.  They do both charge via a Lightning cable, which is cool.


    The computer is on the whole excellent.  I have a short USB extension cord that I can plug in hard drives, iPods, and an Apple external USB CD/DVD burner with.  I leave a Lightning dock for my Apple iPhone 7 Plus 128GB to charge on plugged in, and I primarily use the built-in Gigabit Ethernet connection to my Apple AirPort Extreme router.  Only occasionally do I use the 802.11ac WiFi.


    I have a Sabrent USB 3.5" drive case always plugged in, currently with a Seagate 7200 rpm 8TB Barracuda hard disk ("B8") as my primary back-up drive via rsync.  I also rsync to a 7200 rpm 1 TB 2.5" red Hitachi drive ("H1"), to a black 2 TB WD drive ("W2U"), and a black 2 TB WD drive ("W2A") that I store in my Mercedes center console.


    C31


    My secondary desktop computer ("C31") is a late-2013 iMac 21.5" with 1920 x 1080 pixels.  It has a 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7 with quad cores and Hyperthreading, 16 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 memory, 1 TB Fusion drive, and Nvidia GeFore GT 750M graphics with 1 GB of VRAM.  It's Apple Bluetooth Keyboard is better than the one that came with the 27" iMac.  This keyboard and mouse use AA batteries.  I use its 802.11ac WiFi as its primary connection to the network.


    I have an HGST 4 TB external hard drive ("H4") for Time Machine backups of C31, as well as for rsync backups.


    M31


    My primary laptop is a late-2015 MacBook Pro 13" with a Retina display that can go up to 3360 x 2100 pixels.  It has a 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7 with dual cores and Hyperthreading, 16 GB of 1867 MHz DDR3 memory, a 512 GB SSD, Intel Iris graphics, and 802.11ac WiFi.


    I use a gold metal Western Digital 2 TB 2.5" hard drive ("W2S") as its primary rsync target.


    SRT


    My secondary Mac laptop is a 2012 MacBook Pro 15" with a 1680 x 1050 display.  It has a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 quad core with Hyperthreading CPU, 16 GB of 1600 MHz RAM, a 1 TB Micron SSD, a DVD+DL burner, Nvidia GT 650 graphics with 1 GB, built-in Gigabit, and 802.11n WiFi.  This is the most recent "complete" Mac in my collection.  I wish I could get a new fast CPU version of this, with a 4K display, but still with Gigabit Ethernet, and a DVD drive.


    I use this, running macOS 10.13.6, as my iPad & iPhone sync machine.  I maintain an older version of iTunes, 12.6.3, that is the last version of iTunes to have the iOS App Store in it.


    C17


    My tertiary Mac laptop is a 2009 MacBook Pro 17", with a 1920 x 1200 pixel display.  It has a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Dual Core CPU, 4 GB of 1067 MHz RAM, a 750 GB hybrid drive, a DVD+DL drive, an Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics ship with 256 MB of VRAM, Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11n WiFi.


    This machine runs Mac OS X Mavericks Server.


    A53


    My primary FreeBSD machine is a 2012 Acer E1-531 laptop, with a 2.2 GHz Pentium B960 dual core chip w/2 MB of L3 cache, 4 GB of 1333 MHz RAM, a 250 GB Samsung SSD, a DVD burner, Intel HD graphics, and a 14" 1366 x 768 display.  It has 802.11n WiFi, but I almost exclusively use its built-in Gigabit Ethernet.  A53 runs FreeBSD-11-STABLE.  I backup to a pair of Seagate 1 TB 2.5" hard drives formatted UFS, alternating between them.


    I purchased this machine on 20 Nov 2012 by walking from Mühlbaurstrasse 2 to Einsteinstrasse 130 in München, and by paying &Euro;399 cash for it, and walking it home.  It has a German keyboard and I am quite sentimental about it.  The display isn't great, but FreeBSD runs nicely on it.


    L7


    My primary Linux machine is a 2013 Dell Latitude E7440 with an Intel Core i5-4300U at 1.9 GHz with dual cores and Hyperthreading, 8 GB of RAM, a Samsung 512 GB mSATA SSD, a 14" 1920 x 1080 HD touch display, Intel Pro Gigabit Ethernet, and Intel 802.11ac AC7260 WiFi.  I use the WiFi mainly.


    This machine runs Xubuntu 18.04, with Firefox 59.0.2 as the primary browser, and Thunderbird for email.  I have awk, curl, ffmpeg, grep, perl, wget, youtube-dl and other common tools via apt install.


    iPad Air 2


    I have a nice 64 GB iPad Air 2 in Space Gray that in 2015 replaced my original iPad.  I am running iOS 11.3.1 on it.  It is a great machine for browsing the web and buying things on Amazon.  It is not good for my main software development or analysis workflows, as there are no programming languages on it.


    iPhone 7 Plus


    I recently upgraded to an iPhone 7 Plus 128 GB in Space Gray for the bigger display and better battery life.  I abhor the lack of a 3.5 mm audio jack.  Everything else is excellent!  This runs iOS 11.3.1.


    iPhone 6


    My iPhone 6 128 GB in Space Gray was an exceptionally good phone.  It is now a backup device, more like an iPod Touch.  It runs iOS 11.3.1.


    Software


    macOS 10.13.6


    My Macs are running macOS 10.13.6.  The main bug that bothers me is that when on an APFS volume like my laptops are now using, Microsoft Office 2008 apps like Excel no longer maintain file create dates on saving a file.  This problem does not occur on HFS+ volumes that my desktops have.


    I use Mail, Messages, Safari, Notes, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts via iCloud all the time, across my Macs and iOS devices.  Occasionally I use Firefox 59.0.2.  I use Quartz 2.7.11 for X Windows occasionally.


    I use Tweetbot 2.5.4 for social media.  On non-Mac platforms, I am forced to use the Twitter website via Firefox. 


    I am not using iTunes 12.7.4 as much for music, as it becomes worse with each release since it peaked at version 10.7 back in 2012.  I am instead using my own command line scripts and tools more and more: play, playx.


    Eddie 3.3.3 v692 is my main text editor.  I rarely use Microsoft Word.  I primarily use Apple's TextEdit for most things (such as this document).  I still love Excel over Numbers, and I never use PowerPoint or Keynote.


    I use Apple's Preview probably more than any other app on my Mac, because I am always reading PDFs and cropping photos.  It is quite fast and nice.  Rarely I will downshift to my own build of mupdf if Preview chokes on a PDF.


    I use Google Maps over Apple Maps most of the time, Google Earth Pro occasionally, and iBooks very rarely.  It is horrible and should be put back into iTunes.


    I use Free 42 2.0.16 all the time on my Macs, as well as on Ubuntu and FreeBSD, and iOS.  It is my favorite calculator.  I also use emu48 here and there.


    Oh, Terminal is probably my single most used app on the Mac, as it is the gateway to all of my command line tools.  Xcode 9.4.1 is on the system, but I only use it to pretty-print code to PDFs.  That's it.  Everything development-wise is done in Terminal using the Xcode 9.4.1 command-line tools.  This is my happy place.


    I also use XRG 2.5 as my main system dashboard of how much memory is being used, what the CPUs are doing, etc.  This is an absolute must have up all the time.


    Rsync


    My single most important piece of software is my custom rsync tool.  My version of rsync copies Macintosh resource forks (not so important any more), and file creation dates (very important to me).  I have been using a build of rsync 3.0.4 that I made in 8 Sep 2008 for nearly a decade (3504 days).  On April 13th, 2018, I finally moved forward to a new custom rsync based on rsync 3.1.3, but it continues to support Mac extended attributes.  It also is now a 64-bit executable, so it is ready for a 64-bit only world that will most likely be here soon. It was build with Xcode 9.3 tools.


    Agrep


    I have my own 64-bit build of agrep 2.04 from March of 1992!  I had to clean up the K&R style the other day to get it to build with clang, but this tool continues to be useful.


    Awk


    I have my own 64-bit build of awk version 20121220, in 64-bit.  It is my most common scripting language of choice.  If things are very complicated then I move to Perl.


    Curl


    I have my own 64-bit build of curl 7.59.0.  I don't use it as much as wget, but occasionally it works where wget doesn't.


    FFmpeg


    I use a 64-bit version of ffmpeg 3.4 that I built with Xcode 9.2 tools.  I extract MP3s from videos or convert video formats with it.


    Grep


    I use a 64-bit version of GNU grep 3.1 that I built with Xcode 9.4 tools.  It does not work on Mavericks due to using an API that is soft-linked.  Arggh.


    Mupdf


    I have my own 64-bit build of mupdf 1.10a.  I don't use it much but it is nice to have a 2nd PDF reader on the system.


    Perl


    I have my own 64-bit build of perl 5.26.2.  I rely heavily on Image-ExifTool (v 10.80) for setting create and mod dates on PDFs via its exiftool.  I built this with Xcode 9.3.


    Qemu


    I have my own 64-bit build of qemu version 1.2.  I use this to run virtual instances of FreeBSD on the Mac, currently the FreeBSD 11.1-STABLE-20180329 snapshot, with xorg, icewm, Firefox, etc.  Occasionally I will run OpenBSD, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, or other OSes.  It is a great way to sample them without reformatting drives.  My build is from 12 Sep 2012, but there are too many new dependencies to make me want to upgrade it.


    Sqlite3


    I have my own 64-bit build of SQLite version 3.23.1.


    Wget


    I do more and more downloading of things with wget, currently a 64-bit version of 1.19.4.  It supports openssl 1.0.2n.  I built this with Xcode 9.2.  It needs a wgetrc file with "check-certificate = quiet" in it, which is a pain.


    Youtube-dl


    I am downloading more and more videos via this handy tool.  It is updated often.  2018.05.01 is the current version.  (In fact it was updated while I was writing this document!)  I downloaded about 200 GB of iJustine videos in one day with this awesome tool.  I watch all YouTube content offline via this tool.  If I like it, I archive it, otherwise I delete it.  My favorite YouTube channels are iJustine and her sister Jenna, Hoovies Garage, Strange Parts, Marques Brownlee, Casey Neistat, Survival Lilly, My Self Reliance, Sailing Nova Scotia, Sailing SV Delos, and Sailing Doodles.


    Music


    I wanted to mention Ewan Cunningham (ewanjohncovers on YouTube).  His covers of Pink Floyd Echoes and other pieces have been terrific to listen to in past months.  Nick Mason, the Pink Floyd drummer even Tweeted about him!


    I also have really been enjoying the music of J.S. Bach (working my way through 157 CDs with 3,234 tracks of his music!), Sheryl Crow, Sarah Evans, Jewel, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ashlee Simpson, and Pink Floyd.


    Back to Dan Allen's home page.
    Created:  15 Apr 2018
    Modified: 23 Nov 2020