Almost 3 years ago I posted my computer setup following the model introduced by The Setup. A few things have changed in the meantime and this time is as good as any for updating the list.


Computers: I have been using a 13″ macbook air for 2 years now, with a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. At the beginning it was strange moving from a 3.5 year older macbook 15″ to a new computer with the same hard drive and RAM. Soon the differences became more apparent: 1.2 kg lighter and much longer battery life made lugging around the computer easier. I didn’t miss (much) the larger screen. The biggest constraint has been disk space; now I only have 25 to 30GB available in disk, which involves some juggling on my part. Next computer should have a minimum of 512GB hard drive, especially when considering the size of photographs. I also have a 2009 iMac 27″ which keeps on going; at most I’ll go for extra RAM this year but It’s OK as it stands.

Phone: I use a Samsung S4 (courtesy of my job), which is good enough although I have to turn it off every few days or some errand process will consume battery like there is no tomorrow. It meets most of my requirements, except I find the camera disappointing. Basic apps: email, calendar, twitter, runkeeper, pocket casts (paid), 1weather (paid), camscanner (paid), kindle & evernote.

Bag: For the last year and a half or so I have been using an Osprey Flapjack backpack, which is OK for walking with a laptop during short distances. However, it has poor back ventilation,  making walking for fun (yes, I do that sometimes) and cycling uncomfortable. I’m considering buying an Ortlieb Downtown pannier for cycling to work, instead of my current crappy panniers.

Photo/sound:  I still use my Nikon P7100, which is a point and click with manual features too. I take fewer pictures than I would like, but it is not its fault. Sometimes I carry a Sony PCM-M10 digital recorder, which does a pretty good job in general.


I have continued my belief on the impermanence of software and the need to stay operating system agnostic as much as possible.

Statistics: plain R for quickies, plain R + RStudio for bigger problems, plain R + RStudio + ASReml for quantitative genetics. SAS the odd time for historical reasons.

Presentations: back to PowerPoint after several years of Keynote. Main reason: Keynote is horrible at supporting presentations in older versions, which is death by a thousand cuts when preparing lectures. Secondary reason: the updates  have worsened Keynote.

Writing: most journal articles in Word, because most of my coauthors use it, short bursts of writing/quickies go to a text editor. I keep on changing editors, but I tend to return to Textmate 2, which has received some TLC since it was open sourced. I keep up some lecture and lab notes in latex but overtime I update them I think if it’s worth the trouble: a combination of cargo cult and Stockholm syndrome.

Photos: an old version of Adobe Lightroom for photo management, Skitch for quick image manipulation. Not completely happy with the latter, but haven’t found a good substitute.

Email: I dislike Outlook and can put up with Thunderbird, so Thunderbird it is. I can’t understand people who say I’ve kept all my email for the last 20 years, so every few years I have a catastrophic email cleansing and messages disappear. Note to self, organize an email implosion for 2015.

Browser: jumping between Firefox and Safari depending on my mood. Add-ons: Adblock Plus to make the internet free of ads.

Keeping things in sync: Dropbox.

All this software works well/it’s palatable in both Mac and Windows (keeping up with my agnosticism); some of it (Thunderbird, R, RStudio) also works in Linux. Some days I’m tempted to use OpenOffice to reduce operating system dependencies but, let’s be honest, OpenOffice is still clunky as hell.

There are loads of other programs in my computers, but don’t use them often enough to mentioning them.