A lot of people ask me what my recommendations are for various things I do or use in my life, or tips and tricks about stuff they also use that I've spent more time with. This is my
/uses page where you can find out everything I use and why I use it.
The chair is a dream, luxurious and extremely comfortable (and you would expect it to be so for the price). If you're looking for a good chair, for gaming or working, look to Herman Miller, Steelcase or Humanscale as companies built to make office work comfortable, rather than gaming chair companies who just want to make a cool looking seat for streamers.
The regular Herman Miller Embody is several hundred pounds cheaper new, and often available for even less second hand, and frankly all it misses is a bit of cooling butt foam. I'd recommend trying one out at a showroom before going through with a purchase. Buying new is not completely a suckers game though, as Herman Miller have a 12 year warranty on all their chairs (which includes an engineer coming to visit you to fix problems at your desk). Amortise that £1300 over that period, and you're spending pennies a day to keep your back intact.
My monitor is the Samsung G7 Neo 32" at 4K 120Hz. I also keep an old 144Hz 1440p monitor for LANs.
I've gone through several monitor setups. For a long time I had two monitors, starting with two 24" at 1080p side by side, then two 27" 1440p stacked. For many years I wanted to try stacked monitors, but actually having them felt underwhelming. Perhaps because 1440p is not quite enough for more than two applications per screen, and tilting my head up meant I always wanted less crucial apps on the top one (which turned out to be Slack/email). Late in 2022 I decided to swap these out for a single 4k screen as I had when I visited the office.
Working at 4k is a dream. Or it is if you have good eyesight. It's the equivalent of four of those 1080p displays stacked in a 2x2 grid in front of you, which you can create a grid of applications in.
And gaming isn't bad either. I was worried that my graphics card would not be able to keep up, but Nvidia's DLSS, and an adaptive refresh rate on the monitor makes it work pretty damn well. If you don't want to game, or you don't care about going over 60Hz, then you can find some much cheaper 4k monitors that will do the job just as well.
On Windows I use FancyZones from the Microsoft PowerToys utility to manage window arrangements. On Mac I use Rectangles to do the same thing. I prefer the keyboard shortcuts that Rectangles offers, I wish there was a decent Windows equivalent.
I used to strongly prefer flat screens, and now I'm not really sure. I think flat screens on a desk are superior to about 27", and then actually a 1500R or 1000R curve helps keep everything in view. This does tend to ruin your viewing angles though, so it does mean if you're planning on using the screen with others you might want to go for the flatter option.
I swap between different keyboards but I can recommend one commonality across them: mechanical keyboards are so so so much better than their Apple designed 'butterfly' or rubbish '00s membrane equivalents. I typically use the equivalent of Cherry MX Brown switches for typing, and Cherry MX Reds or Blacks for gaming. Browns have a slight bump to them at the actuation point, whereas for games you just want a smooth linear motion until you bottom out. Much more on switches here.
For games I use a Razer Huntsman TE, it's small and compact enough for me to hide under my monitor when I'm working, and I got it in a great deal. Linear switches like the Cherry MX Reds in this are also great for holding down in games.
For working I use a split, ortholinear keyboard, the ZSA Moonlander. This took a while to arrive1, but is totally worth it. The training and configuration options they give you means that for several weeks you'll be swapping keyboards back between tasks where you need to type quickly, and ones where typing 15wpm is fine, but eventually you will get there. I'm up to over 70wpm now, and my wrists are feeling much better.
For on the go working, with even more limited space, I have a Keychron K3v2 ultra slim Bluetooth keyboard which is great for just getting a bit of distance between yourself and your laptop's external screen.
My mouse is a Razer Deathadder Wireless currently a v2, though they have a v3 in the works. It's smooth, comfortable, lightweight, rechargeable, and pretty durable.
When the pandemic started I decided to try and build my ultimate work from home setup. Having spent a lot of my life online playing games with friends, I knew the value of a good microphone setup. If you're going to invest in anything to work from home better, a headset with a decent microphone, or headphones and a standalone microphone will be a treat for your co-workers. They'll also allow you to have more natural conversations, as your voice and others are not cut out repeatedly by laptop noise cancellation.
My microphone of choice is a Shure SM7B. It's mounted on a Rhode PSA1 boom arm that's clamped to the back of my desk. It's plugged into a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 audio interface, though I had the Motu M4 and I'd prefer that if I was on a Mac (the Motu Windows driver support is terrible, which caused a lot of blue screens). To give myself a little extra headroom I have an SE DM1 Dynamite inline preamp.
The SM7B sounds great2 and is ideal for a variety of rooms, given it has a low sensitivity. But for much less you could always start with the microphone I started with, an Audio Technica AT2020. This is much more sensitive and has a wider pickup pattern, so you'll need less gain and a quieter room, but if that isn't a problem, then you're winning.
My headphones are open back Sennheiser HD 6XX series from Drop.com. They are the equivalent of Sennheiser's HD 650 series, but by shipping them to the US and back3 I saved about £40. Open back headphones of this level are great: they're lightweight, extremely comfortable for long listening sessions, and airy so your ears don't get hot and sweaty. These have both a replacable audio cable and replacable earpads should things go wrong.
In an emergency where I need to use these in a different location without my SM7B (like a LAN party), I use an Antlion ModMic USB to attach to one side via a magnet. This is a pretty good alternative to buying a full microphone setup if you've already got a good set of headphones.
I also have some cheap studio monitors on the desk for leaning back. I fell in love with the look of the KRK RP5s when I was a student, and recently replaced my pair with a new version (the diaphragm has a habit of getting pierced when you don't have a cage on the front).
On the go with a laptop, and in the plane, I use Bose 700s because they came free with my phone. If I was buying again myself I'd pick up the Bose QuietComfort 45s after using their predecessors and loving them.
My webcam is a Logitech Streamcam. I bought it during the webcam work from home crisis of early 2020 for £140 and they can now be got for half that price. I think it's a good deal now. Though it comes with a microphone I don't use, and a vertical mounting option I also don't use, it's attractive, and has reasonable image quality. Going up from here requires you to use an actual camera.
I have a Streamdeck XL, which isn't actually super useful to me. I have it display some hardware stats and then media keys, Spotify monitoring, Discord shortcuts, and screencapture options. Given the versatility of the Moonlander I could probably do most of this with layers, but the Streamdeck is a little more fun. If you are interested still, get the smaller version, 15 keys is more than enough.
I recently got a BenQ ScreenBar Halo, one of a very small list of lightbars to work with a 32" curved screen. It feels high quality, and has a sturdy, hefty, spinny remote you can use to adjust the brightness, colour temperature and offset lighting. Worth it for longer sessions.
Networking around the home I've gone a bit overboard with: in the cupboard under the stairs in our two bedroom duplex is enough to run a small office. I have a Unifi Dream Machine Pro, a PoE switch, and that feeds two Unifi Wifi 6 APs, one upstairs, and one downstairs. This is generally because our flat is a weird shape that means it's a pain to get a good speed in the master bedroom. I'm pretty happy with it, and the overall setup isn't too power hungry (about 65W), though if I were starting again I'd be very interested in the Dream Wall, which is a much nicer form factor for a flat. Unifi has a ton of great features, but I'm also a big fan of Tailscale, which you can run as a host on your various devices and allows you to access them all remotely from anywhere. Their free single user plan is very generous.
Lights around the house are, where it's affordable, LIFX. I found these to have a better hue and brightness than Hue, and the lack of hub makes them quite attractive also for a single bulb setup. I wish there was an Anglepoise-style lamp that would take one of these, but nothing I've found has even remotely enough tension for the weight of the bulb.
I have a Cowboy 4 ebike. After my last road bike was stolen I decided my new bike must have some way of tracking it (and that was a good enough excuse for my brain to buy an ebike). I tried the Vanmoof X3 but couldn't stand its front wheel drive, odd gear switching, and Dutch handlebars, which are not replaceable. The Cowboy 4 is a single speed, rear-wheel driven bike with a gorgeous phone mount in the front. It also, crucially, has a removable battery so I don't have to carry the whole thing to a socket to give it a charge. Having the extra power is just great for doing big grocery runs.
I used to have a real problem with notes, then a few years ago I discovered Roam Research and found all I really needed were three things: outlines, daily notes, and backlinks.
Outlines are just the best way to write, hands down. The simple concept of a collapsible, nested, bulleted list just makes everything much easier to structure. Your main thought starts high up, and as you work down you might have lesser observations or throwaways that you can record at an appropriate level.
Having a single note a day encourages you to just have a space for things, no matter how trivial. I find it really useful to put a line in for every meeting I have, tagging this person.
This is where backlinks come in handy, as with those tags I can quickly go back to previous days where I've had conversations with them and refresh my memory.
Today I use Logseq, backed up with Dropbox to do this. It's self hosted, and it's got just the features I need.
I use Raindrop.io which is simply the best looking and most well supported bookmarking tool in the world by far. I used to be a user of Pinboard.in but development has stalled, and there's far too much reliance on open source software to support its use elsewhere. Raindrop comes with a first party app, chrome extension, and API. It has categories and tagging, highlights and notes, and for less than £30 a year it will create an offline copy of every page you bookmark. It's super.
I used to run a Pi Hole for my home network, but it's a hassle to administer, and you can't use it on the go. Fortunately NextDNS exists, which gives you the same kind of function, hosted. You get 500k queries a month for free, and then it's ~£20 a year. The only thing it's missing is an off switch, and some notes about why you blocked/unblocked a domain.