This is a snapshot of the tools that I was using in 2019. A more up-to-date version can be found on the tools and equipment page.
Everyday I use a series of tools and equipment that make my life easier. These tool change and morph each year. This is my list of recommended tools and equipment.
Previous snapshots of my tools and equipment lists can be found here: 2016
Inspired by UsesThis.com - A collection of interviews asking people from all walks of life, what they use to get the job done.
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Steven Smethurst and live two lives. During the day I am a software engineer at Chipkin Automation Systems and at night I am a maker, hacker and artist.
What has changed since 2016
- I use linux subsystem for windows (aka Ubuntu bash on Windows) every single day. I don’t know how I got a long with out it before. Its amazing.
- I started using Spotify instead of Google play music primarly because google play music does not support family plans with Google apps for doamins aka GSuite. I like the social aspect of Spotify, and that other device logged into your account can act as a remote (next song, volumn, sort playlist, etc..).
- I stopped using the Arduino IDE entirely in favor of PlatformIO. The dependency manager in PlatformIO is a killer feature that has made my project much more portable.
- I quit Chrome for FireFox. The thing that made me start searching for an alternative to Chrome was that they started to restrict adblocking software. (1) Google Struggles to Justify Why It’s Restricting Ad Blockers in Chrome, (2) Manifest V3 (3) Chrome extension manifest v3 proposal #338. After switching I got use to FireFox pretty quickly. The privacy and anti tracking features were a nice bounus. The only feature that I miss is Google ChromeCast button in my browser. It was convenient to share my browser window with my chrome cast, now I juse use remote desktop (RDP).
- I went from a Galaxy S6 Edge to a Samsung S8 and I will never use a Samsung phone again. The hardware was great exactly what I look for in a device, but Samsung Bloatware was unbearable. Over 40 apps that you can’t uninstall is ridiculous. It seems like every other month some new bloatware is forced on my by a software patch.
What software do you use?
IDE and Text Editor
- Visual Studio Code - A Extensible and customizable text editor. I tend to use this text editor more then I use Visual studio’s these days. Its Free, and extensible.
- Visual Studio 2019 - A fully-featured, extensible IDE and compiler for CSharp, C/C++, etc…
- PlatformIO - Cross-platform IDE and unified debugger built into Visual Studio Code. I use this tool to program ESP8266/ESP32/Arduino/Teensy/SAMD11/etc..
- GitLab - A alternative to github. git repo, issue tracker, CI, etc..
- GitKraken - A Git client. NOT free for commercial use.
- Beyond Compare 4 - A file/folder comparison tool.
- Wireshark - A widely-used network protocol analyzer. I use this every single day.
- Autodesk fusion 360 - A modern CAD application. Effectively an unlimited trial.
- Google Docs Suite - GMail, Drive, Calendar, etc…
- Skype - There are a lot of problems with Skype but its still the clearest VOIP tool that I have found.
- Signal Private Messenger - Private secure, end to end communications. My prefered form of communication.
- Github pages + Jekyll - Main blogging platform.
- Lastpass - A password database.
- FireFox - Privacy is more importain to me these days.
- Bitlocker - Full disk encryption.
What hardware do you use?
- Microsoft surface pro 3 - This is my primary mobile computer. i7, 8gb RAM, 512GB storage.
- Logitech MX Master - Best mouse I have ever had. Wireless, adaptive scroll wheel auto-shifts from click-to-click to hyper-fast scroll.
- Maker’s Notebook - When I do make paper notes, this is my goto book. Grid paper with, useful reference material.
- Sony WH-H900N - Wireless Bluetooth noise canceling headphones. One of the best noise canceling headphones I have ever owned. The have a “reduce wind filter” that is amazing. The touch controls are a nice feature as well.
- Samsung S8 - Android phone. I do not recommend this or ANY SAMSUNG phone. They are filled with so much bloatware that they are practically unusable.
What would be your dream setup?
The first thing I would do is switch to using a Google prime phone (Latest Pixel series). Then I would upgrade my monitor setup to a 34”+ ultra wide monitor such as Acer XR342CK Pbmiiqphuzx. Finnely I would love to get my hands on a futurisitc, not currently avalaible, augmented reality (AR) glasses that supported super human vision.