2017 State of the Tools

Surface Pro, notebook, iPhone, and pen

Last year, I wrote up the software and hardware tools I use. I am still using a lot of that stack, so I thought this year I would just highlight the changes:


  • I have switched from Windows Phone to an iPhone SE. I miss the Windows Phone UI somewhat, and Cortana was a generally more useful tool than Siri, but the change has on a whole been very positive. Better hardware and a much better app ecosystem.

  • I now use Chrome for all my work web browsing instead of Firefox.

  • I tend to use Windows Subsystem for Linux now instead of Docker containers or Vagrant for little Linux tasks on my desktop & surface.

  • I no longer use f.lux, since Windows 10 and iOS have built-in night light features.

  • I have changed from Zotero to Paperpile for managing references. I use the BibTeX4Word package and Paperpile's BibTeX export to add references to my documents.

  • I am now using Duplicati for backups at home.

  • Google Drive Stream is a substantial upgrade from the old Drive Sync.

  • Switched from LastPass to 1Password.

  • Added a YubiKey to my security setup (thanks, YubiKey!).

  • Some analog changes: I use a Leuchtturm 1917 square-ruled notebook instead of the Moleskine, and I'm using a Staedler Pigment Liner (typically 0.1mm) for writing.

There are a couple more applications I have been using that really sing on the Surface Pro:

  • Grapholite is a diagramming program optimized for pen and touch input. Somewhat like Visio, but much lighter-weight and better pen support. I use it for a lot of light diagramming when I don't need Visio's power. I do use Visio when a diagram needs to be more complex than what I can easily achieve in Grapholite.

  • Drawboard PDF is fantastic for marking up PDFs for paper reviews, revision cycles, and grading student work.