Skip to main content

Life Stack

9 mins

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.

Computing #

  • 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.

Software #

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

Photography #

Software #

  • 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.

Cameras #

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

Hasselblad 500C/M

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

Digital Cameras

  • 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

Darkroom #

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 #

Music #

  • 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.

Other #

  • 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 #




Every Day Carry #

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff.

Changelog #

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