Here are objects I like. It feels to me that having good objects is underrated.
General rules I follow:
- It’s okay to pay for something if it gives you more value than however-much-the-subscription costs.
- Minimize unnecessary physical objects, but don’t be afraid of having good ones around.
Other People’s Objects⌗
Other people have good objects, too. Many of them are probably better than mine. An incomplete list:
(I wonder if there should be a central list for this, or something.)
Physical objects are very annoying. They have to be moved, stored, gotten from another room, etc. But some of them are worth it.
- MacBook Air 13", 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD as a stopgap device until Apple releases 16 inch Apple silicon MacBooks
- AirPods Pro for wireless earbuds that don’t hurt my ears over time
- iPad + Pencil + a paper-like screen protector for Anki, scratch writing, and RemNote review (currently)
- Kindle for reading (coupled with Calibre + USB transfer for ebooks)
- I have the Kindle KT7, but there are better models these days.
- Spectre C35 for an external monitor
- There are better monitors out there, but this one was a nice balance of cost and performance for me.
- Magnetic USB-C adapter to make plugging in and out ridiculously convenient
- Ergodox EZ for an incredibly quality keyboard that doesn’t squish my hands
- Logitech G602 for a fairly speedy wireless mouse
- Flexispot Motorized Standing Desk Converter for an effective standing desk that can fit in a dorm
- A good USB-C hub for a desk setup where you can plug in and out with just one cable
- A USB charging station with enough ports to top off every single device I own at a time
- DragonLight 240W Fanless LED Bulb to brighten up the room during the day, a la How to Build a Lumenator
- Levoit Core 300 Air Purifier for dealing with wildfires in California
- Xiaomi Mi Pro 2 Electric Scooter for a lightweight, portable, zero-effort, and fun way to make short trips (<10 mi) without the overhead of owning a car
- You may ask: why not a bike? Well, I’m lazy, and also bikes tend to get stolen fairly often on campus where I am (scooters avoid this since you can store them in your room when not in use).
- You may also ask: why not a used car? Well, cars require a lot of maintenance, are expensive to buy and park, pollute the environment, and ultimately I don’t make enough long-distance trips that it’s worthwhile (I can go with someone else, or take the Caltrain to most anywhere). Plus, I don’t trust my driving skills that much.
- For more on why electric scooters are cool, see The Rise of the Electric Scooter.
- Note: this scooter might not be the optimal one for you (it was for me due to needing light weight + high range + cheap). To compare scooters, check out ESG’s Electric Scooter Database. Another very good option is the Segway Ninebot MAX G30LP. A cheaper option is the Xiaomi M365.
- This scooter also isn’t officially sold in the US, so you’ll have to buy from a third-party seller and won’t be able to use the warranty (although in practice, most scooter issues can be solved by hand and don’t require warranty service).
- Kryptonite Mini-7 with Flex Lock (Wirecutter’s best bike lock, although bike locks are sort of useless)
- WingLights for turn signals
- A cheapo $10 phone mount on Amazon, for Google Maps navigation
- Bontrager Solstice Bike Helmet (Wirecutter’s best bike helmet)
- Tile Sticker as a tracker in case it gets lost (a better option for iPhone users is likely AirTags)
- Custom firmware to enable direct power control rather than the jumpy default speed-control throttle (essentially making the throttle like a car, rather than adjusting a target speed).
- This also removes the speed limit, so be warned.
- Obligatory safety information
- ALWAYS wear a helmet when riding! Scooters are far closer to a car than a bike due to the indirect control (via a throttle rather than your feet), and they are far more unstable than bikes as well. If you hit a curb at 15 MPH without a helmet, you will experience instant death (or at least a lot of pain).
- Consult your local regulations before purchasing. Here in California, you need a driver’s license to ride one, and you can’t ride on the sidewalk or on roads with a speed limit over 25 MPH (unless there’s a bike lane). As of 2021, they are banned on all public roads in the UK. Try not to violate the law!
- And make sure to register your scooter with the local bike registration service! In case it gets stolen.
A note: many of these apps are Apple-only. This is kind of unfortunate. I suspect there are alternatives that are about as good on Windows, though.
- Krisp for never having to worry about noise in video calls again
- Things for a low-effort and pretty way to capture tasks
- Shout out to Emacs Org Mode, though, which I used for several years prior.
- Alfred for a slightly faster Spotlight
- Karabiner-Elements for fixing macOS’s insane keyboard problems
- SensibleSideButtons to fix the forward/back buttons on my mouse
- Rectangle for window hotkeys
- Dropover for making drag and drop ridiculously easy
- MultiTimer for naming timers and counters
- Intermission for resting eyes every 20 minutes to avoid eye strain
- AlDente to limit the maximum charge percentage to 60% when plugged in, preserving battery life in the long term
- Things for a low-effort and pretty way to capture tasks
- i3 for an efficient tiling window manager. (Sway is another option, but Wayland still has a lot of rough edges wrt screen sharing and cursor lag, so I wouldn’t recommend unless it’s required, e.g. for a mixed DPI setup.)
- PulseEffects + Pipewire for noise suppression that’s only slightly buggier and lower quality than Krisp
- Anki for learning a language (currently Chinese!)
- RemNote for a powerful knowledge base and amazing flashcard system
- I tried Roam. It was okay, but it felt kind of cobbled-together (markdown? paste random js into your editor to add plugins? no spaced repetition by default?). RemNote is definitely buggier, but I feel that it wins out just because it seems like it got the data structure right.
- Instapaper for queuing things to be read later without getting distracted in the moment
- Mathpix Snip for amazing screenshot-to-LaTeX abilities
- GoodNotes for handwritten notetaking
- Apple Books for a book syncing system that works well enough
- I also used to use Calibre, but I realized that I don’t really need all of its complexity.
- Visual Studio Code (Insiders) for basically all coding (including remote servers, Jupyter, etc.)
- Postman for API development that’s actually kind of nice
- Tailscale for connecting to local servers from anywhere
- Element for an open-source, end-to-end encrypted chat application with nice UX
- Spotify for nice music
For More Information⌗
If you have any questions about stuff here, or just want to talk, feel free to reach out any time.