Uses

Last updated on April 2, 2023 by Hammy Havoc

For my professional workflow, I maintain a Gear List on the Split An Atom website, and whilst there’s admittedly some overlap in terms of tools, they are somewhat different. If it’s the audio aspect of what I do and not my personal life stack that you’re interested in, head over there instead.

I have always been very open about my workflow in terms of hardware and software as I am a firm believer that it is all in the ear and not the gear. Skills trump equipment in a lot of scenarios, but still, high quality tools make achieving high quality results much easier.

Whilst this isn’t everything I use, it provides a decent overview of the important aspects of both my personal workflow and hobbies.

It is important to remember that your threat model is individual to you, and whilst I endorse and recommend plenty of open source software, it is an inevitability that some of your software and hardware will be closed source.

Also worth noting is that much of my hardware and software is heavily modified and customized to my requirements. I use very little in its OOBE state. Anything can change at a moment’s notice, I have zero brand loyalty.

Personal Computer

Hardware

I run a custom-built desktop PC for the overwhelming majority of my work. Controversial opinion, but computers are there to be used, not looked at, and it lives inside a steel mesh cabinet in another room than where I work. I don’t look at it, I never think about it. That’s bliss.

  • Intel Core i9-10900K Processor
  • 64GB of RAM
  • ASUS ROG MAXIMUS XIII HERO motherboard
  • 12TB of SSDs
  • RME HDSPe RayDAT
  • Kensington Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball
  • Fnatic Gear Rush⁠—I’m a Cherry MX Blue user. I don’t care for RGB.
  • BIO-key SideTouch Fingerprint Reader⁠—plugged into USB hub on Fnatic Gear Rush, so logging in with a fingerprint feels like a part of the keyboard.

Software

  • Fedora
  • Windows 11
  • Vivaldi – Because Mozilla drove me away for countless reasons.
  • Bitwarden
  • Element
  • Renoise
  • GitHub Desktop
  • Nextcloud Desktop
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Obsidian – I use a Zettelkasten system within Obsidian.
  • Plex
  • Plexamp
  • Krita
  • Blender
  • Unreal Engine
  • Gmail – I have stopped trying to ‘fix’ email in terms of privacy and just use it for what it is. Don’t fall for privacy-oriented email services, what a joke they are. There are plenty of other solutions available if privacy is what you are looking for, such as Matrix protocol. I disable Chat & Meet in Gmail as I have zero interest in Google’s churn of messaging solutions. Waste of time.

Portable Hardware

Laptop

After a string of various laptops since the ’90s, I was a MacBook user for over a decade, but switched to the Microsoft Surface Pro, and eventually over to my current laptop, a ThinkPad T440p, which may surprise you. It’s heavily modified, not even the display is stock. I don’t think there’s anything that I haven’t changed in there, even the Wi-Fi card is swapped out for latest spec.

Why a ThinkPad? Serviceability, availability of parts, easily modified, works great with Linux. Once you’ve been able to swap batteries out on the fly, it’s impossible to tolerate anything else. I almost never use my ThinkPad with a mains charger connected.

Smartphone

I use a Google Pixel 6a. I dislike it less than I’ve disliked most other phones I’ve had for over a decade. Not exactly a glowing recommendation, but I’ve really not been a fan of smartphones since Steve Jobs died, iOS 7 happened, and this was only compounded by the death of Windows Phone/Windows Mobile.

  • Gmail – I begrudgingly use Gmail on Android rather than subject myself to the people and politics of Thunderbird. Not open source, but extremely efficient, and the only way to get Gmail Add-ons working on your phone.
  • Vivaldi
  • FolderSync – Not open source, but at the time of writing, possible to trust. Would ideally like Nextcloud’s Android app to support folder syncing, but until then, I’m forced to use WebDAV via FolderSync with Nextcloud to sync my Obsidian zettelkasten.
  • Obsidian – The community plugins make it.

Alphasmart Neo2

A laptop is no replacement for a Neo2, and likewise, a Neo2 is no replacement for a laptop. If you’re a writer who struggles to concentrate or gets sore eyes staring at bright displays constantly, it is a must.

Personal Productivity

MyLifeOrganized

Although I never struggled with organizing business, I used to really struggle with organizing and prioritizing my personal life due to my ADHD until I started using MyLifeOrganized (“MLO” as I often casually refer to it). I like it because you can set per-task dependencies, and this means that it only shows you actionable tasks, and hides everything else that you can’t do yet, this combined with the concept of Importance and Urgency as metadata per-task, turns my list of several thousand tasks into a few dozen per day, which I instantly know what I’m meant to be doing with.

The Contexts function is also excellent for only showing certain tasks on certain devices at specific workstations, times, or days, so I’m only shown things I can literally do right there and then with the tools at hand.

Even if you don’t have ADHD, MyLifeOrganized is well worth using. The advanced rule system built into it is unlike anything else available, so is ideal for complex workflows. I use the Pro version with Cloud Sync across my devices. Support this wonderful Ukrainian team and get 10% off the Pro version on Windows with this discount code: MLOresHammyHavocAT7913

Services

Web Hosting

After twelve years, I decided it was time for a change to something more modern and reliable after Media Temple was acquired by GoDaddy. We’re very happily using DataPacket. DataPacket offers next-level customer-centric support, and excellent uptime. The perfect choice for a digital-first business. As well as Previous Magazine and Split An Atom, my personal website that you are currently viewing this on is also hosted on DataPacket.

My site runs on a WordPress instance, running several plugins I’ve written, including Cookie Dunker. I administer our WordPress sites via SpinupWP.

CDN & Security

I’ve used CloudFlare since 2010 for all of my own projects and that of clients. Aside from a few vulns in the software stack, I’ve largely not had to worry about the security of websites or web apps since.

Syndication

I follow the POSSE strategy and syndicate my content elsewhere throughout the fediverse via the ActivityPub plugin.

I run my own URL shortener on ham.my via Bitly.

Local Server

I run Unraid for my local server, which handles all of my Docker containers and data. For my needs, Unraid is the right choice, though in a corporate environment, you may find something better-suited to your requirements.

File Sharing

Whilst not perfect, I’m a big fan of Nextcloud. The performance has come a long way since I started using it. I use this to sync files between my devices, that of family, friends, and of course also clients. Clients don’t even need to download anything, as with any major cloud storage provider, you just send the a client a URL, giving them whatever permissions you feel necessary, and it’s as simple as that.

Password Manager

I use Vaultwarden, which is a server for Bitwarden, which despite being unofficial, is compatible. The main appeal is that it is written in Rust, and thus uses very little in the way of resources compared to Bitwarden.

Communication

I only have one messaging app installed on any of my devices, and that’s Element, which is my favourite Matrix protocol client, it’s also FOSS.

I use a Docker container running Synapse, a Matrix server. I append bridges to Synapse, bringing in third-party services such as Facebook Messenger. I also bring in my external SIP accounts into it since Android’s Phone app dropped SIP accounts. The end result is what’s effectively a unified messenger, less mental fatigue juggling a dozen apps, and excellent battery life on my devices.

Media

I like to use Plex to show family and friends what I’ve been working on in terms of documentaries, TV, film and music. YouTube, SoundCloud et al just decimate the quality.

Odds & Sods

  • Nikon D5200 DSLR and a smattering of lenses
  • Sony PVM – This and the MiSTer FPGA keep me sane.
  • Google Pixel Buds A-Series – they’re fine. Freebie with the Google Pixel 6a.
  • Status Audio CB-1
  • California Headphone Company Silverado

Entertainment

  • Microsoft Xbox Series S – I like it. Predominantly play indie titles and old games.
  • Sega MegaDrive- You probably know it as the Sega Genesis. My first console.
  • Sony PlayStation 4 – Inherited this from my late uncle.
  • Sony PlayStation 3
  • Sony PlayStation 2 – Because even a backwards-compatible PlayStation 3 has problems with a lot of games such as Tony Hawk’s Underground and Gitaroo-Man.
  • Retrostone
  • Raspberry Pi
  • MiSTer FPGA
  • Nintendo Game Boy – Heavily modified for chiptune.
  • Nintendo New 3DS
  • Sony PlayStation Vita

I may earn a commission for purchases made through my links. Learn more.