nilFM

computers

Home office setup

Here are data regarding my computing devices, their basic setups, and my go-to computing accessories. My hope is that someone reading this might find inspiration for their setup or learn of new software or hardware configurations. I do not include hardware provided by my employer on this page.

ksatrya

ksatrya is a first generation Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon. I've had it since November 2019 and it is my daily driver.

the machine itself during surgery desktop environment

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As my daily driver, this machine continually destroys all tasks in its path; Performance with the OS and environment listed above are excellent, even with a bunch of Docker containers and Node instances eating up RAM and CPU for React/microservices development or some VMs running. On any given day it may or may not be hooked up to an external monitor, but invariably will be used with my Kinesis Freestyle Pro keyboard and an optical mouse if I'm at home. It has a fresh aftermarket battery for when I want to take it to the coffee shop for a change of pace or need to travel for whatever reason.

See also, desktop software I typically use.

yggdrasil

yggdrasil is a Dell Precision T3600. It's our household desktop computer and has been with us since 2018. It mostly serves now as a gaming and media center, but was a development powerhouse before ksatrya came on the scene.

the machine itself during surgery desktop environment

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A wonderful gaming and media machine, yggdrasil is able to play a wide variety of emulated and native games. The combination of the Xeon and the RX 560 offer great performance and value. AMDGPU graphics drivers are able to drive otherwise problematic games with ease. The Xeon is not the most energy-efficient processor, but the machine doesn't see a lot of uptime all things considered.

See also, desktop software I typically use.

fonon

fonon is my phone, a Light Phone II. It's a minimalist device that calls, texts, and provides basic functions like an alarm clock, calculator, music player, hotspot, and GPS.

My Light Phone II sitting on my journal with a pencil and my USB key nearby for scale

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The Light Phone II, while running a custom fork of Android 8.1, is a privacy respecting device. It has no inbuilt telemetry, and the privacy policy of the company is very air-tight. The necessity of the online dashboard is a bit frustrating for me but the UX is good.

As for the device itself and the experience, it's wonderful. The machine is tiny: its length and width are slightly larger than a credit card. The e-ink display, while it has a low refresh rate, is a joy to behold and the UI of LightOS is very thoughtfully put together. Typing on the tiny screen with such a slow refresh rate can be frustrating, but recent updates have provided speech-to-text with the help of REV.ai There are bugs to be had, but the developers are good about listening to customer feedback and release bugfix updates on a regular basis. I typically don't advocate for new hardware, but I wanted to support a small company creating one of the only products of its kind, so I made an exception to my no-new-devices rule.

muon

muon is an Alcatel Insight 5005R; it was once my cell phone and is now a camera.

the phone itself

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This phone comes with location-tracking spyware installed by default (like, aside from Google apps). You must enable USB debugging and disable the spyware via ADB. One of these, I'm pretty sure, reports direclty to the Chinese government (Baidu Maps background service). It also has overly-aggressive OEM power-saving features which inhibit the regular background functioning of non-stock applications regardless of Doze mode or the whitelist.

While fonon is my primary mobile device, muon function perfectly well as a camera (using OpenCamera) and backup Signal device.

computing accessories

Kinesis Freestyle Pro Keyboard

My Kinesis Freestyle Pro Split Ergonomic Keyboard

It's said that a programmer's keyboard is more important than their machine itself. After struggling with a cheap full-size keyboard and optical mouse destroying my shoulder and wrists, and making due with the keyboard on ksatrya for work with the external monitor to keep my gaze higher, I decided to join the clickity-clack club and get a split mechanical keyboard. The Kinesis Freestyle Pro is a great balance between price point and functionality, and a perfect fit for my needs. I can keep my shoulders open and back straight while typing and the lack of a dedicated numpad and the compact navigation cluster mean the mouse isn't too far for comfort either. If I need it, the numpad is available as a layer on the right half of the keyboard, and I am free to remap any keys and set macros with up to 9 layouts.

GUNNAR Optiks Cyber

My blue-light glasses

These protect my eyes from the high frequency photons constantly emitted by computer screens. Even with a lower color temperature set on the device, these help immensely, especially when programming for long hours. They are comfortable and decently durable considering their lighteweight design. The temples are attached by integrated pressure springs.

The cylindrical wooden case from Ocean Reef is a great bit of armor for these, so I can drop them into my go-bag no sweat -- my wife got it for me as a gift since the glasses only came with the microfiber pouch, and it is wonderful.

Google P2718EC Monitor

Macro shot of the monitor

This is a 27-inch 1440p IPS monitor manufactured for Google's internal use (ie coding). I scored it refurbished on eBay for very cheap, and it was a great investment. Whether working, gaming, or watching videos, the color quality is great; the resolution is high enough to give me plenty of room while working, such that I can even look at 4 columns of code at the same time at a reasonable font size without crowding. It's mounted on a single monitor arm clamped to my desk, so I can keep the position and distance optimal.

Crucial X8 1TB External SSD

My X8 external SSD

This external SSD holds my main media library on a ZFS pool and a 250GB Windows Partition which mostly exists to play Phantasy Star Online 2. Read and write speeds are excellent with this device, and it's exteremly rugged and portable.

Western Digital Elements 2TB External HDD

My cold storage external HDD

Backups go here. I use kyanite to backup home directories and my media library onto an encrypted ZFS pool with redundant files hard-linked to save space. It stays inside of a small cardboard box amidst some tissue paper to stay safe and cozy.

Afterglow Wired PS3 Controller

My wired PS3 controller

My favorite game controller is this cheap biz from Afterglow. It's comfy, responsive, and it's lasted through some travelling and traumatic drops. Great for all kinds of emulators, and PC games which don't support it natively can use tools to remap it to key/mouse input or map it to a virtual XInput controller. It's wired, so no batteries required.

Happy Plugs

Best earbuds ever

I scored these headphones in the student store at UC Davis and I loved them so much I bought a second pair when I lost the first. They're very comfortable, the sound quality is great, and they work well for hands free calling and voice chat for gaming. I even used them when I worked in IT support over a real over-ear headset.

I store them in an old tea tin.