In the vein of usesthis.com, this post summarizes what I use as a graduate student to do what I do. Hopefully others will contribute too.
Beware though, this will get pretty nerdy.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Guillaume and you can find more about me here. These days I am researching incremental online network formation.
What hardware do you use?
I have 3 setups: at home, at the university and in between.
“In between” I use a 5 year-old EEE PC 1005HA notebook computer. It’s very compact which I like, but it is somewhat heavy for its size. It dual-serves as my video-conferencing and presentation-delivering computer. It’s still working despite having had to change the battery and power cord twice.
“At the university” I use a standard issue dual-core computer running Ubuntu (Precise Pangolin). I use it to browse the web (fetch my research papers and get more information on any topic), write my research notes and write the code I need to run for my experiments. Those I run on a more powerful lab computer so I don’t need my own machine to be at the bleeding edge of technology.
Finally “at home” I use a self-made pc with an i7 processor, 4 gigabytes of memory, ~1 terabyte normal hard-disk drive and 100 gigabytes of solid state drive. I dual-screen it with two Viewsonic 1080p screens. For the sound system I use Bose companion 2’s. I also just installed a blu-ray player to the mix. Keyboard-wise I am using a black Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite (with the arrow keys and the visible keys – I know I am a wimp). It is a minimalist keyboard that makes this nice thumping noise when you type on it.
I also use a Physics Notebook (sold at the Mcgill bookstore) to work out my thoughts on paper.
Despite all of this I am not a gearhead at all. If I could buy all of this in a compact, hassle-free and affordable format I would be more than happy.
And what software?
Let me warn you: I have a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering.
My “in between” and “at home” setups both dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu (Saucy Salamander and Precise Pangolin respectively – I didn’t make those names!). I am ‘Ubuntu-only’ at the university because the GNU/Linux platform is favored among academic users in my domain, but I use Windows occasionally too.
I try to have the same programs across all my Ubuntu setups. Gnome Do launches the programs I use: <ctl>-<space>, enter the first few letters of what you want and boom! it launches. I use that to launch everything: my web browser –Chromium with the indispensable quick scroll extension (or sometimes Firefox)-, my main text editor –Sublime Text 3 (it does the trick for Latex and code)- and my console -Terminal with the fish shell. Google satisfies most of my email and office suite needs with gmail, drive and calendar. Dropbox syncs my documents across my devices and allows me to share them with other people. CrashPlan takes care of my backup needs.
For my research I essentially use third party libraries in Python or C++ and code up what I need by hand.
Even though I run Linux, I try to make my home desktop look nice with the radiance theme and the Faience icons. Although I envy some of the software made for the Mac platform, I am not a big fan of its own native look and feel.
On Windows I mostly use the same programs except for the launcher – I use Launchy – and Sumatra PDF for reading pdfs (it is much faster than the competition on Windows). Even then, I use Cygwin to make-believe I am still running a Linux console when on Windows!
What would be your dream setup?
A light travel computer that is as thick as a Macbook, as large and wide as a notebook computer and as black as a moonless midnight. It should have a long battery life (at least 10 real hours). No touchscreen, no proprietary gimmicks, no boisterous branding, just raw computer goodness.