Stuff I Use

People at my day job sometimes ask what my desk looks like when I’m not using it for work because I’m reluctant to turn on my camera for work calls. So I decided to create a “uses” page. My computer is almost a decade old, and my screen almost twice that, but my keyboard and mouse are somewhat newer. I prefer to use secondhand equipment to save money and to avoid creating unnecessary e-waste.

my desk
my desk

Pen & Paper

I’ve taken to doing most of my writing on paper with fountain pens lately. My notebooks are all dot-ruled Leuchtturm 1917 A5 hardcovers with indexes and numbered pages. My first pen was a black Pilot Metropolitan (not pictured) with a medium nib, but my current preferred pen is a Platinum Procyon with a fine nib. I favor bottled ink over cartridges to minimize waste, but as you might have noticed from the photo I keep tissues handy to wipe my pen down after a refill. You might be able to tell from the photo above, but I’ve been using take-sumi charcoal black ink from Pilot’s Iroshizuku collection.

I tend to dedicate notebooks to specific purposes. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

I’ve got another notebook that’s so new it’s still shrink-wrapped. I haven’t decided how to use it yet.

photograph by the author
the current state of my current notebook

Hardware

I use a Lenovo ThinkCentre M92P manufactured in 2012. My laptop is a ThinkPad T60 manufactured in 2007. My display is a Samsung SyncMaster 213T manufactured in 2004. My keyboard is a Model M manufactured by Unicomp, and the mouse is a vertical model made by Anker.

I’ve had this display for years and it still works well enough for my purposes. I find I prefer the classic 4:3 aspect ratio for computer displays. I only have one screen because one is enough when you can use virtual desktops.

Both of my computers have terabyte-capacity solid-state drives as as much memory as their mainboards can handle. The ThinkCentre also has its original 2TB hard drive; I use it for photos since my wife can be a shutterbug.

My current phone is a Moto G5+. I’d happily see it recycled, but I need it to run authentication apps for my day job. It’s also a halfway decent camera, and I could use it as a music player if I had to. However, I prefer a dedicated player to minimize distractions; my current device for that purpose is a Surfans F20.

Operating Systems

I currently use Debian Unstable as my personal OS. It’s OK, but I’m looking forward to migrating to Slackware 15 once it comes out. I also like OpenBSD on machines where I don’t need support for wireless networking or automatic mounting of USB mass storage devices.

I’ve been using Unix-like operating systems for personal use since the late 1990s, and still prefer BSD, but Slackware is good enough; it has a BSD-style init system, works a lot like classic Unix, but still offers most of modern GNU/Linux's conveniences.

My tracking device smartphone runs the most recent version of Android that Lenovo supports for that particular model. Unfortunately, none of the alternate ROM projects support the Moto G5+. I suppose I should switch, but I can’t be bothered because smartphones were a mistake.

Applications

I use a mix of GUI and command line applications for my personal computing when the apps included with KDE Plasma aren’t quite to my liking. Most of them are pretty old.

GNU Emacs
multi-function text composition and editing atop a crunch LISP virtual machine
nvi
I still like to use vi for system administration where precision editing is important
ed
the standard (and OG) Unix text editor — when all else fails
Firefox
because Google Chrome is the new Microsoft Internet Explorer
AV-98
for navigating Gemini space
Audacious
A capable little player.
EasyTag
A MP3/Ogg Vorbis/FLAC tagging tool that lives up to its name
mpv
a handy little command-line media player, especially when paired with youtube-dl
rockout
a little shell script I wrote to create playlists for mpv using find and grep
GIMP
I bring it out when I need to mess with images manually
ImageMagick
handy when I need to mess with a bunch of images in a shell script — also, “display” is a nice little CLI image viewer.

Here are some screenshots of my current environment, if anybody cares.

a screenshot of my desktop without windows open
a screenshot of my desktop without windows open
a screenshot of my desktop with windows open
a screenshot of my desktop with windows open
…this section inspired by usesthis.com and uses.tech