Miskatonic University Press

I uses this


Almost three years ago I posted I uses this, a description of what hardware and software I use, based on the profiles done at The Setup. Here's a revised version just for fun. Make your own and post it!

What hardware do I use?

I have one laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad X120e with an 11.6" screen and 4 gigs of RAM. It's fine except for the CPU, dual AMD E-350 chips, which are way too slow.

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S3 running Android 4.1. It's wonderful.

I have two tablets, both running Android 4.1: an ASUS Transformer Prime and a Nexus 7. I bought the Nexus 7 second and now that I have it I don't use the Transformer much except for some augmented reality development. The Nexus 7 is a great device and the perfect size for me. If it had a backwards-facing camera it'd be everything I need.

For backups, I have a BlacX Duet holding two big drives, currently BACKUP_ONE and BACKUP_FOUR. BACKUP_THREE is in my safety deposit box. In a while I'll swap it with BACKUP_FOUR, then back again, so I always have a fairly recent offsite backup.

And what software?

Ubuntu as the OS, currently 12.10, with Unity as the GUI because it's the default and because I run everything full screen, maximized to use all available real estate, so it doesn't really matter what I use. My virtual desktop is three by two. I do most of my work in the top left window, Firefox is top centre, LibreOffice is top right, Chrome is bottom centre, and various other programs move through bottom left and bottom right. I use the super key to pull up applications I want to run or files I want to open.

I do as much as I can in Emacs. For almost all text writing I use Markdown (as I write this I'm looking at Markdown in a full-screen Emacs buffer, and Ctrl-c Ctrl-c p will render it into HTML and throw it into Firefox for review) but when I need to produce paper I use use Latex (the TeX Live distribution) with AucTeX. I use outline-minor-mode wherever possible. Generally, whenever I can do something inside Emacs, I do, including using it as a database client. But for a shell I use bash in a terminal window. I never got used to Emacs's shell.

I use text files whenever possible. When I need to I use LibreOffice. GIMP for graphics.

I use Git every day to manage and distribute files, and not just source code. For work I use it to help with my Getting Things Done implementation. For my hacking I use it with GitHub.

I handle my personal email myself, hosted on a Debian virtual private server at VPSVille. I filter mail with procmail and I read it with Alpine, which I've been using for 20 years now. Work email I read with Thunderbird.

My regular web browser is Firefox, with Adblock Plus, Cookie Monster, HTTPS-Everywhere, Readability (so I can send things to my phone), RSS Icon, Screengrab and Session Manager. I'm strict about cookie use with Firefox, I don't allow any Google cookies, and I use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. For my Google account and those annoying web sites that require cookies just to work, I use Chrome, where I allow all cookies. I don't know if this makes sense.

Zotero is my research management tool and penseive.

I hack, just well enough to get by, with Ruby.

R is an amazingly powerful tool for data analysis, data mining and visualization. RStudio is a marvellous IDE for it, and I sometimes use it, but usually I work in ESS mode in Emacs. Lately I've been using knitr for generating reports. It lets you mix Markdown and R code all in one and then turn it into a web page. ggplot2 produces beautiful charts.

Backups I do with a combination of rdiff-backup (for local files) and rsync (for remote accounts). I put everything on BACKUP_ONE and then rsync that to BACKUP_FOUR.

I use Dropbox for sharing files across computers and with other people. I use the Camera Upload option on my phone so photos are automatically copied to my account. It still seems amazing when I take a picture on my phone and two seconds the Dropbox monitor on my computer tells me it's added a file.

My work and personal computers are practically identical (though the work one is bigger and faster). With Git and Dropbox I have the same files in both places and everything is seamless.

My web site runs on Drupal, but I run a few others on WordPress and it's much better. If I'd known a few years ago what I know now, I'd've used WordPress for my personal site, but I didn't, and now it will be a huge pain to migrate. WordPress is one of the best software applications out there. Upgrading it is remarkably easy and safe. I host at Pair Networks.

Android apps: Firefox (usually) and Chrome (sometimes), Next TTC to tell me when the bus is coming, the Guardian app, Layar and some others for augmented reality, Google Maps, My Tracks, MapQuest. WolframAlpha, which I bought. Readability. ConnectBot for SSH. Meditation Helper. Toshl Finance for keeping track of what I spend. Tasker is an insanely powerful program that gives you control over all aspects of your phone; I don't have it doing a lot yet, but I set up a "Home" profile so when I'm near home (based on cell towers nearby) it turns on the volume and when I leave home it goes into vibrate mode. I've played around with Utter a bit, but don't really have a place for it on my phone yet, though it could be great for tablets, especially if I can activate them just by saying a command phrase.

Last summer I realized that I didn't ever want to have to run apps on my phone, actually press an icon, when I wanted to know something. It should just tell me without my asking. Now I use my phone's home screen as a dashboard, with widgets that show me information I need, such as how many days old I am and the weather and so on. I also use Tasker to speak any incoming texts---why should I have to press buttons to see a text when it can just read it out to me?

I use the Library of Congress Classification but I also love the Dewey Decimal Classification.

What would be your dream setup?

A much faster laptop; devices where Bluetooth actually works because I can never get things connecting; augmented reality contact contact lenses that do real augmented reality, though in the meantime glasses that do more of a heads-up display would be fine; the ability to easily make applications for my smartphone or the AR system in my preferred scripting language or some nice new AR-enhanced programming language; and everything around me with a data feed I could tap.