My Development Toolbox – 2021

Once a year I take inventory on what I’m working with. You can find my history of such posts below.

As this is the 10th such post I’ve written, I find myself reflecting on the change even more than usual, particularly as this has been yet another year of major change to how I work.

For the most part, 2020 has been a rebuilding year. I no longer have a personal laptop at all and have been using my work-provided laptop for any and all dev work. This means that all work on personal code projects has ceased for the time being. While I have bought an iPad for personal writing and other computing, it simply doesn’t work for development. This is a major change from previous years where these posts were based heavily on my personal laptop, so much so that I used it for work for many jobs.

As a result of these changes my tech stack is a lot simpler this year. I’ll list the work tools but, without personal projects, it means that I’m not experimenting on anything like I have in years past. It’s a little weird, to be honest, but it does give me the option of starting over a bit for when I do finally have a personal laptop again.

Hardware

For the most part I’m back in the Apple ecosystem, for now. Here’s what powers my daily work and play:

There’s nothing super fancy to any of this however, there isn’t anything I’m currently disappointed with either.

Software

Software is a bit of a different story. For now I’ve simply simplified as much as I possible can. As my work machine is work only I’ll split the following by device so that it all makes a bit more sense.

Work software

We have pretty strict IT regulations at work. As a result I don’t put anything personal on it where avoidable (my work and hobby lives overlap enough that I have to do things like check personal email and access some accounts from it)

That’s really about it. I do use Oh My Zsh and tmux on Apple’s own Terminal.app but that’s about all the customization I’m willing to do on a laptop that isn’t my own.

Personal Software

For the most part my personal software is even more paired down than what I have on my laptop. Though it is split between my iPhone and my iPad the lack of proper dev software really means that I simply don’t need much.

  • Reeder 5 for collecting news and other sites
  • Tweetbot for Twitter
  • Toot! for Mastodon
  • Signal for communications
  • Slack for keeping up with work as I absolutely will not install Google apps on my personal devices
  • MySudo for extra phone numbers
  • ProtonVPN for security when traveling
  • 1Password for password management and sharing with family
  • Quicken for keeping track of expenses and finances
  • Native Apple apps (Music, Maps, Mail, Podcasts, Safari, etc) for everything else

Services

10 years ago it was possible to have apps without connected services. Today that really isn’t the case. As such I feel it’s only appropriate to list the subscriptions and services that keep me connected to the modern world as part of my toolkit.

  • Comcast Xfinity for home internet
  • Apple One (premier plan) for music, tv, storage and more
  • T-Mobile Magenta for mobile service and home internet during the daily Comcast outages
  • Mailbox.org for email hosting
  • NextDNS for ad and tracker blocking and DNS services for all our devices at home and away
  • Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, Peacock Premium and Hulu Live for TV (which is amazing considering I really don’t watch TV)
  • Vudu.com for movies I can’t find on any of the above services

My Dream Setup

In years past I always looked at this list as if it was static and I wasn’t planning on changing things. That never has worked so, this year, I’m thinking more about what would make my dream setup.

First, I want a personal laptop again. While I would rather avoid Apple my next laptop will still be a 16″ MacBook Pro when they’re finally updated with Apple silicon. Hopefully that will be my last personal Apple computer and I’ll be able to replace it with another Linux box down the line.

I would also like to replace my mobile with something that run a more private operating system. I tried this last fall but the alternatives to basic services like maps and music are really pretty horrible at the moment. That said, they are improving which I like to think will make my current iPhone my last.

Beyond that I would really like to move to more open and private software and services but this one is trickier. If it was just about me I think I could get away with it today but that isn’t the case which makes this all much harder.

3 Comments

  1. Since you’re considering more open software. Have you tried NetNewsWire as a Reeder alternative? I’ve switched and now use it on iPhone and iPad with iCloud syncing of my list of sites.

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