What’s a “Life Stack”? #
This is my “Life Stack”. I used to call it “Stuff I Use” but thought “Life Stack” sounded cooler. Either way, it’s a list of things that I use to manage my life or that I simply enjoy using.
Last updated July 2022.
- Apple MacBook Pro M1 Max (2022) – Finally, Apple makes a great laptop again.
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) – I tinker with Linux on this. Hate the trackpad more than anything.
- Apple iPad Pro 10.9 (2021) – I am not an iPad person. Not sure I ever will be but this is a great device anyway. The Magic Keyboard makes it usable.
- iPhone 12 Mini – It’s an iPhone. The properly sized one. I put it in the Computing category but it goes in nearly every category.
- Apple Studio display – A great monitor. Just the right size. Gorgeous view.
- Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2 – The greatest keyboard. It’s nearly perfect.
Here’s the software that I currently use on a regular basis.
- Emacs, Org mode, and Denote – I write nearly everything in Org-mode. Tasks, lists, documents, publishing, all in plain text.
- DEVONthink – Email Archives, Manuals, PDFs, Scanned documents. Years of archives remain searchable and synced across devices.
- Apple Mail – It’s fine, and it’s always right there.
- BBEdit – As much as I try to remain in Emacs for editing, whenever I need something fancy done with a lot of text, I turn to BBEdit. It’s the editor I’ve used the longest. In fact, it may be the piece of software I’ve used the longest, period. It remains truly great.
- LaTeX – I have no real need for LaTeX but it does such a great job laying out documents that I use it anyway. Mostly, this is done via Org mode but I also use LaTeX directly when I feel like being tweaky.
- Terminal – I spend a lot of time in a terminal. Apple’s built-in Terminal app works fine for me, now that I’m using Fish Shell.
- Slack – People enjoy hating on Slack but it really is a wonderful replacement for the tangle of emails and reply-all threads that came before.
- Git – For a long time I pushed Mercurial over Git, as it was simpler to use and understand. I lost, so everything goes in Git.
- 1Password – Password management
- Chronosync – Helps me keep things backed up properly
- Raycast – Launcher and generally useful utility for all sorts of automation and shortcuts. Replaced Alfred for me a year or so ago.
- Keyboard Maestro – Macro wizardry. A wildly useful tool for automating things. I’ve also started using it as my text snippet expander and it works great for that, too.
- CleanShot X — Far and away the best screenshot utility
- Apple Messages – Nearly everyone I communicate with uses Apple devices
- Signal – For non-Apple and/or private communication
- Lightroom – I use the both the new and the Classic versions, depending.
- Capture One Pro – Raw file editor for special occasions
- Apple Photos – For iPhone shots and keepers exported from my editor
- Photo Mechanic – Ingesting, tagging, and renaming photos from cards. Nothing is faster or easier. I’d like to not need it, but trying to caption and tag dozens of photos at a time is an exercise in frustration in any other app.
- DxO PhotoLab – Unbelievably good noise reduction with great camera/lens profiles.
I love cameras. Most of mine are film cameras. Here’s what I’m using currently.
Leica M Film Cameras
My favorite object of any kind is a Leica M film camera. I have several of them and they also happen to be the best cameras.
- Leica MP (Black Paint)
- Leica M6
- Leica M3
Some cameras are iconic for a reason. The Hasselblad V series cameras are iconic, beautiful, and superbly engineered. They also produce wonderful images, which is why they are my favorite all-around cameras.
Linhof Master Technika
Large Format (4×5) film camera. I love this thing. It’s built like a tank and smooth as silk. It’s also a pain in the ass to use, but there’s nothing like a 4×5 negative.
Other Film Cameras
I love cameras. Here’s a list of the ones I currently own but don’t use as often.
- Graflex Crown Graphic – 4×5 film camera
- Graflex Speed Graphic – Another 4×5 film camera
- Canon AE–1 Program – 35mm Film SLR (My first real camera)
- Canon Canonet – 35mm rangefinder camera
- Canon Pro-zoom 814 Electronic – Super8 movie film camera
- Leica IIIf – Barnack!
- Minolta Autocord – Medium format TLR
- Nikon F100 – 35mm auto-focus film camera
- Olympus OM–1n – 35mm film camera
- Olympus OM–2n – 35mm film camera
- Olympus Stylus Epic – Compact 35mm film camera
- Panasonic Lumix S5 - Used mostly for scanning negatives, but a find, full-frame camera in its own right.
- Ricoh GRIII - Pocketable, high-quality (APS-C), and fun to use snapshot camera.
Photo Hardware #
Some miscellaneous photo-related support items
- Canon PRO–100 – Photo printer that I too rarely use
Epson V750– Flatbed film scanner. Works great for medium and large format. Less great for 35mm. After 12 years, it’s broken.
- PrimeFilm XAs – 35mm film scanner. I hate using it.
- Profoto D1 Monolights – I’m fortunate enough to own a couple of great monolights. I should use them more often.
- Billingham Hadley Pro Small – Beautiful and well-made camera bag
I use a bathroom as a makeshift darkroom.
- Leitz Focomat v35 – 35mm auto-focus enlarger. Solid and reliable. It cost as much as a Volkswagon when it was first produced in 1979. It is a fantastic device.
- Beseler 45MXT – This is for printing medium and large format negatives. Mine is a little janky but works great overall.
- Leitz Focomat IIc – Manufactured from 1956–1983, the Focomat IIc is a giant, over-engineered marvel of an enlarger. I bought mine as a fixer-upper from Craigslist and I still don’t have it working completely. Getting there, though
Lifestyle and Miscellaneous Hardware #
- Rega P1 Turntable – I love listening to records. I love owning my music and being able to see as well as hear it. I consider the P1 to be a terrific value. Audio people call it a “budget” turntable but I prefer to think of it as a cheap, “high-end” turntable. I’ve used it nearly every day for almost a decade.
- Rega Brio 3 Integrated Amplifier – Purchased in 2010 to go with P1. It has a good phono stage and still sounds great. I don’t feel a need to replace it.
- Bluesound Node – Hi-Res music streamer
- Roon Optimized Core Kit / NUC – This is my new favorite thing. It’s a tiny computer running the Roon music software and it’s the best way I’ve ever had to listen to, organize, and discover music.
And the rest…
- Focal Chorus V Speakers – Pretty good floor-standing speakers in my TV/Music room.
- KEF LSX – Outstanding wireless speakers
- Yamaha CD-S300BL CD Player – I still listen to CDs, so I bought a new CD player a few years ago.
- Sonos wireless music system – Music everywhere in my house. I use a Soundbar and several Play:3 speakers.
- Sennheiser HD 600 – Open-back, over-the-ear headphones. These are for when I want to really listen to music.
- Apple AirPods Max – They’re amazing but I kind of hate them
- Apple HomePods – I ended up with a couple of these. They look and sound very good.
- Amazon Kindle Oasis (2nd gen) – Books on the go. I prefer real books but the Kindle sure is handy. I like the larger size of this model.
- Kobe Forma ebook reader – An alternative to Amazon that works great with more formats and I can rent books from my local library right from the device.
Pen and Paper #
- Leuchtturm 1917 Notebooks – Better than a Moleskine and perfect for use as a Bullet Journal.
- Hobonichi Techo Planner – Best little day planner ever. I’ve carried one for many years. I sometimes use them only sporadically, but I always come back.
- Field Notes – Always have a Field Notes notebook in my back pocket. It’s a better capture tool than the iPhone
- Pilot Custom 823 – My everyday fountain pen. It’s nearly perfect
- Pelikan Souveran M400 – Beautiful, classic fountain pen. I had the nib tweaked by Richard Binder and it writes like butter. It’s for fancy writing.
- Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni Pencils – I’ve come around on pencils recently. I find myself reaching for a pencil as often as a pen. More so, maybe.
- Caran D’ache Pencil Sharpening Machine – Overkill, but I love it.
- Olympia SM3 Typewriter – My favorite typewriter
- Olympia SM9 Typewriter – My second favorite typewriter
Every Day Carry #
- Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic watch – No batteries, beautiful, and good to 300 meters in the water – because that’s handy right?
- Apple Watch (Series 7) – The health stuff and proper notifications are handy. I wish I could wear this and the Tag.
- Goruck GR1 backpack – If I ever go outside I’m ready.
- Benchmade Mini Griptilian AXIS Lock Knife – Always in my pocket. I never realized how handy a pocket knife could be until I started carrying one everywhere.
- Bellroy Note Sleeve Wallet – Feels great, works great.
- Bellroy Field Notes Notebook Cover – A great way to carry my ever-present Field Notes notebook.
- Blunt Classic Umbrella – Who knew a good umbrella would make such a big difference? This is a very nice one.
- Filson original Briefcase – I’ve owned a number of bags and this one is the one I’ve settled on. Well-designed, simple, and very well-made.
Whew! That’s a lot of stuff.
Saturday, October 1, 2022
- Removed M10-R (sold)
- Removed M6 (sold)
Friday, July 15, 2022
- Replaced 16″ MBP with M1 MBP
- Removed Apple 27″ Retina iMac (2017)
- Replaced 12.9″ iPad Pro with 10.9″ iPad Pro
- Replaced iPhone X with iPhone 12 Mini
- Removed Roam
- Replaced iTerm2 with Apple Terminal
- Removed Gitlab
- Removed Dropbox
- Replace Alfred with Raycast
- Removed Tinderbox
- Added TheBrain
- Added Linhof Technika
- Updated daily carry, bags, extra cameras
Sunday, September 6, 2020
- Swapped in Leica M10-P for the Leica Q
Saturday, February 08, 2020
- Added Red Oxx bag
- Removed TheBrain
- Removed older iMac
- Replaced 2016 MBP with 2019 16-inch MBP
Friday, January 18, 2019
- Added Emacs back 🤓
- New bag
Saturday, December 08, 2018
- Added new iPad 12.9″
- Added HomePods
- Replaced X-Pro2 with X-T3
Thursday, October 04, 2018
- Added Leica Q
- Added Photos and Affinity Photo
- Deleted Emacs and friends 😳
Sunday, September 23, 2018
- Replaced Lightroom with Capture One
Friday, July 13, 2018
- Removed 12.9″ iPad Pro. I gave it to my dad.
- Restored 1Password to its rightful place. Remind me to never switch password managers.
Friday, June 1, 2018
- Changed from 1Password to Dashlane for password management
- Replaced LaunchBar with Alfred
- Replaced Pass with YNAB
- Removed TextExpander since I’m now using Keyboard Maestro for text snippet expansion