I think the
uses.tech concept of sharing what tools and processes we use in ordinary life is cool, so here’s mine.
There are a lot of links on this page. None of them are affiliate links; I do not have any kind of relationship with any companies discussed here other than having bought from them.
I’m going to lead with what I believe is the most important one. If you’re reading this, you’re online, and if you’re online, you need a good, trustworthy, convenient program to manage your passwords because your human brain is not sufficient for the task.
I don’t care if you use the one I’m about to personally endorse, but you do need one. I personally use 1Password, but I have used Enpass and [BitWarden] in the past and they are also good. The major reason I’m on 1Password is that it has a family plan that I can use to (a) share credentials with other people on it and (b) use that as leverage to make my mom use it. Enpass is single-purchase and allows you to control your own synchronization, which are good features 1Password doesn’t have, and you can compare and contrast them to your heart’s content, as long as you pick one.
All three are cross-platform, and I’ve been able to use them across the spectrum of my devices: Windows, macOS, and Linux (graphical), as well as iOS and Android phones.
Both Enpass and 1Password provide the following features that make them worth using:
- multiple Vaults allow you to organize data into independent, fully separate, groups that you can control separately. For example, I have a vault of just my own credentials vs a vault of shared family credentials.
- automatic breach detection: they will alert you if one of your credentials has been found to be in a service breach
- browser plugins: when you go to a website, they can autofill your existing credentials, or automatically store new ones, and most importantly: when you are on the “change your password” form, they can detect it and automatically fill in your old password, generate a new one, submit, and save it on success, with one click.
- generation rules: websites (like banks) can impose their own rules about password length or contents. The password generator form has toggles for whether, and how many, uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols to put in the generated password.
- sort by age: you should generally rotate passwords bienially, or better yearly, even for credentials that aren’t breached. You should probably, but not many people do (even I don’t) rotate crucial passwords like banking, email, and social media more than once a year. These tell you how old your credentials are and you can set expiry alarms to remind you to rotate them.
- phone keyboards: on both iPhone and Android, both Enpass and 1Password register keyboards with the operating system. When you navigate to a credential form in an application or a browser, you can select your password manager’s keyboard and it will determine which credentials you need and then write them into the form for you. This is incredibly convenient and I really love it.
- 2FA/TOTP storage: you can store your 2FA seeds in the vault rather than in a completely separate app. When Enpass submits a password, it also automatically copies the current 2FA code into the system clipboard so that when the form advances, you can hit paste and immediately proceed. It can also detect 2FA forms and fill them just like it can with a password, but this automatic one-two behavior is very nice.
- synchronization: Enpass doesn’t operate a synchronization service; 1Password syncs vaults through their website. They state that vault files are always encrypted by both a password they give you AND a password you use that they never see, so I trust them to transport my data. Your credentials are in an ordinary file on your computer or phone, and that file is encrypted by a master password that you need to remember and also store in, say, your safe or a bank deposit box. Enpass offers hooks to synchronize this file through services like DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or other. When you do so, it is just another opaque file. Those hosts can’t see inside it.
BitWarden allows you to run your own management server on a computer you own, and have no interaction with the developers besides installing updates. I tried this out, because I’m a huge dork. You shouldn’t bother with this.
If you don’t have a password manager, I strongly recommend one. Mom, this means you.
On to the rest of the page.
My longest surviving computer is a 2014 MacBook Pro (13”). My mom got it for me when I switched majors and it’s been with me ever since. It’s now a Plex server awaiting final retirement.
I built my first PC in 2013 (deceased 2017) and my second in 2015 (limping along as of 2023). I intend to rebuild both of them once I have the spare time and money, and the GPU shortage subsides.
They ran Arch Linux as the primary operating system; in 2019, I reverted back to Windows as the primary and ran the Arch system as a HyperV guest so that I could resume doing Windows-only things like playing video games nicely. Maintaining an Arch desktop in working condition for six years was actually fairly easy, other than the initial learning wall and some sporadic hardware failures. I enjoyed it a lot.
My primary computer is now a 2022 MacBook Pro M2. The processor is insanely good. I can compile Erlang or LLVM without turning on the fans.
I started on a Nokia Lumia 920, then 1020. I maintain that those phones, and the Windows Phone platform, are the pinnacle of human achivement in mobile computing and I miss them deeply every single day.
I used Androids for a while but had generally poor experiences with them, and they generally lasted about eight to nine months before a hardware failure required replacement. The last and most egregious failure came when my Moto Z would fail to detect an internal battery when transitioning from a 70℉ building to a 10℉ Utah winter and simply shut down until it was plugged into a wall.
I gave up and bought an iPhone X, which I used (and harshly) from late 2017 to mid 2020. It still works, but I got an iPhone 11 Pro which I am using now.
KDE Plasma offers integration with Android phones which I quite liked, but the macOS-to-iOS integration is also very good. Between the conjoined software and the fact that, observably, Apple hardware is just better able to survive existing with me than anyone else, I don’t anticipate migrating back without a significant cause.
I also have some WASD mechanical keyboards, also in Dvorak.
I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser, Microsoft Office for what you’d expect, and Visual Studio Code as my general editor. My shell is zsh, my prompt is Starship, and my terminals are Alacritty or iTerm 2. I use SourceTree as my graphical Git client.
VSCode’s ability to split into a client/server connection and run on remote servers, inside local containers, or across hypervisors makes it an invaluable single-service environment for anything I’m doing. I make it a point to conscientiously object to ever learning Vim or Emacs.
I serve media with Plex (happy to share with you if you’d like), and synchronize my files across devices with SyncThing (works on Linux, not very well on iOS) and Dropbox (natively works on iOS, ended their Linux support).
I write fancy documents such as my résumé with Typst.
I typically use Roboto for my prose fonts. Assuming this page rendered correctly, that’s what you’re seeing right now! The section headings are in Ferro Rosso. I use Cascadia Code and Iosevka as my
I am most fluent in Rust, and use it in both my home and work life. I’ve been actively writing in it since 2016. I write C++ and C at work, and very rarely for … not fun, but personal use.
I also speak Ruby and Python. I don’t use them very much.
I currently use DNSimple for my domain names and fly.io for my web-facing servers. My email is managed by Fastmail. I’ve used DigitalOcean in the past for rented servers that I can actively drive; Fly only accepts static containers.