My current productivity setup

I’ve been doing tech and storytelling for a long time now and my tool set is always evolving.

My current tech setup includes:

Notes and Planner

I have tried more times than I can count to be 100% digital. I was using a Sharp planner in the 90s, waaayyy before it was at all useful. Then there was a Palm Pilot and a string of 15 more years of trying pretty much everything before falling in love with paper.

Paper helps me to think better. Plus, it’s not tempting me to look at whatever notification pops up. “Look at me! Look at me!”

My daily planner is currently by ZerModus. It’s a little expensive, but it’s working for me.

My notebook varies. Lately, I’ve found a lot of value in taking handwritten notes and then transcribing them into Markdown files. Touching ideas twice has really helped me see things clearly.

I have a weird affection for Fountain Pens (and watches, but that’s another post). My EDC is the Pilot V-Pen and/or a Lamy Safari.

Microsoft Visual Studio Code

This is a strange twist in my 25-year career. I use WSL on Windows 10 with MS Code daily now. All of my servers are some Debian variant and will be for a long time, but my primary computer is now a Windows 10 machine. If you had asked my 1998 self if this is what I’d be using in 2020 I would have thrown something at you.

I do have a 2019 Macbook pro, but I truly HATE the keyboard and it sits idle much of the time now. Quite the waste of $2300.

There is a System76 Laptop running Ubuntu that floats around my workspace as well. It’s older but makes a great controller for my X-Carve and quick note-taking machine. BTW, MS Code works great on Linux too.

Jupyter Lab

Much of my behind the scenes work is in Jupyter Notebooks using Pandas and various plotting libraries. SSH Tunnels to connect to a self-hosted labs server works great. I can code in my languages, but recently I’ve returned to Python which I first fell in love with in 1998.


I fly a lot, so I like to keep my packing to a bare minimum. There’s an essential piece of software I need why I fly called Foreflight. It’s iOS only, so my primary travel “laptop” is an iPad pro. Termius allows me to do almost everything I need remotely wherever I am.


I write a lot. Sometimes for publication, sometimes not. I average between 500-2000 words every day and I’ve migrated in the last few years to keep as much as possible in Markdown files. These sync with Tresorit or Dropbox (it’s a mix) and are simple and stay out of my way.


Random research-related items are still in Evernote. I just looked, my account started in April of 2008 and I’ve tried over and over to replace what this tool does for me. Every year I use it less and less, but I have over 20,000 notes. It’s hard to uncouple from that.


I use TunnelBear on all my devices all the time. My subscription runs out in the summer and I’ll evaluate switching to ProtonVPN or not at that time.


Sometime in the last few years I decided to abandon Google. It’s just a feeling about things. It’s DuckDuckGo everywhere and the only real holdout is YouTube.

For the first time since Gmail came out, I pay for email.

I cannot say enough good things about Protonmail and happily pay for the service.

SimpleMind Pro

There are quite a few mindmap programs out there. SimpleMind is cross-platform and does all the things I need without a subscription.

Raspberry Pi

I don’t know how many Pi’s I have. It’s a lot. Probably in the 30s. They are everywhere.

I use them for everything from media centers, to avionics testing platforms to robotics controllers. I even have one in my backpack with a battery pack that’s my swiss army knife of a problem solver.

 Other miscellaneous

This isn’t an exhaustive list at all. Some others in the rotation are:

  • Affinity Designer
  • Otter
  • Adobe Suite
  • X-Plane 11
  • Fusion 360
  • Easel

The list goes on!

My tool kit is constantly evolving and nothing is ever set in stone. Over the years I’ve had to learn that the work is more important than the tools used to create it, but I still find a lot of joy in hearing how other people organize their lives and hack away at their productivity.




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