Tools for Getting Things Done

This is a collection of some of the best tools I’ve ever encountered for accomplishing various tasks.

For Learning and Working

  • tmux

  • Project Jupyter

  • Concepts App paired with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. The infinite canvas and flexibility with this setup has completely replaced pen and paper for my note-taking, and I used to buy moleskine notebooks in bulk because I used them so much.

  • MIT Open Courseware: I’ve gone through perhaps a dozen courses on here over as many years, and despite newcomers to the scene like edX and Coursera, OCW’s simple, straightforward, and unaldulterated approach of posting lecture videos and notes alongside pdfs of problem sets and exams, works brilliantly. They also have a unique depth of advanced topics that you simply can’t find elsewhere.

  • matplotlib: free, modern, and extremely easy to use.

For Reading

  • Redshift: too much blue light, especially at night, causes eye strain and just makes working on a screen unpleasant. Redshift (linux only, but f.lux provides similar functionality for Windows/Mac, and “night mode” in your settings for iOS/Android) applies a color filter for your screen, tinting everything towards the red/orange side of the spectrum, similar to the light given off by a campfire. The result? A huge improvement.

  • Kindle app

  • Audible has enabled me to “read” many more books than I otherwise would have in recent years. The ability to make productive use out of time spent driving is killer.

For Cooking

  • TeChef 11” non-stick wok: non-stick coatings have come a long way, and as long as you don’t use metal spatulas/etc, this is as close to invincible as you can get.

  • Silpat Silicone Baking Mats: we use these over aluminum baking trays every time we turn on the oven. They clean easily, are suitable for high temperatures, and have completely replaced parchment paper / etc in our kitchen.

  • Iwatani portable butane stove: with a couple of different pots/pans, this opens up delicious, tasty, and quick at-home meals of hot pot and Korean BBQ.

  • A large (≥ 8 Qt) dutch oven. We have a 9-Qt Staub that we found on sale, but I expect that many brands will work well. Having this to cook everything from chilli to whole roasted chickens has changed the way we cook, by far for the better.

For Making

  • Milwaukee M12 Fuel Cordless Drill: tiny and powerful.

  • Shapton Ceramic Benchstones: there are many different approaches to knife sharpening, but Shapton’s waterstones strike the best balance I’ve seen between producing an excellent final result, being easy and clean to use, and being capable of quickly sharpening even the hardest modern steels.