Visual Studio Code

Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac

Visual Studio Code is currently my favorite editor for most programming applications I work on. I have previously tried Sublime Text, Notepad++, and Vim as my primary text editors, but I was never fully satisfied with their functionality. When I first started using VS Code, I wasn't convinced by it either. It looked like just another text editor with no special features. Over time, Microsoft has done a great job of improving stability, speed, and functionality. The feature that finally made the decision for me was the community support for extensions. If you are a die hard Vim user for example, there's a Vim emulation extension that should ease the transition. I just love the overall aesthetic, auto-completion, and sheer number of features available. It runs on every platform you could conceivably develop on and it looks great! Don't plan on switching editors any time soon! Check out some of my favorite extensions and customization options below.

Font

My current favorite font for development and general use is FiraCode. I love the style and ligatures for common character sequences such as comparisons and arrows (e.g. >=, ->, and ==>).

Follow the installation instructions for your platform. Then follow the VS Code instructions to enable the font in the editor.

Notion

Platform: Web App, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android

This is my current favorite productivity app. I use it to keep track of things like homework, personal tasks, gift ideas, shopping lists, personal wish lists, upcoming video games, etc. I previously used Trello and Google Keep to track tasks and random bits of information, but Notion has been a game changer. While the full experience is locked behind a paywall, you can get the paid tier for free if you have a university (.edu) email. If you haven't already, I would suggest giving it a try. Use this referral link to get some free credit on your account to use if you decide to use any of the paid tiers.

Additionally, if you are looking for some cool tools to modify your desktop client experience, check out notion-enhancer by dragonwocky. Release v0.10.0 added a tabs feature so you can get a browser-like experience in the desktop client and (my personal favorite) dracula theme.

Ferdi

Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac

Have you ever wondered if there was an app to combine all of your messaging apps into 1? Well, Ferdi is the answer. I used to keep multiple tabs and programs open so I could see all of my messaging services at once, but with Ferdi, they are all neatly packaged in one application. Any messaging service with a web app can be accessed through Ferdi. Give it a try, I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I do. The best part, it's free and open source!

Pocket Casts

Platform: Web App, iOS, Android

This is my preferred Podcast app. I have it on my Android phone and on my Arch Linux desktop and laptop. I purchased the web app and android app prior to the new subscription model that Pocket Casts has implemented. Luckily, they listened to customer feedback and gave lifetime access to Pocket Casts Plus for those who previously purchased the web version. While I'm not a big fan of subscription models (especially when they previously didn't exist), I appreciate that they have implemented a free tier that has the majority of features that most people will need.

Spotify

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android

This is my preferred music app. I love having access to streaming music on all devices I use and integration with many smart home devices. Overall an excellent product and very reasonable prices, especially with the student pricing plan. Check out some of my favorite songs in the music section.

If you are interested in adding some cool themes and improving performance to the spotify desktop app, check out spicetify.

YouTube Vanced

Platform: Android

I discovered this on a MEGA PRO TIPS post on r/galaxys10 (tip 29). All relevant information on what apps to download and a fix for a login issue can be found in the reddit post. The gist of the app is that it removes ads from YouTube on your android phone and you can play music while your screen is off for free.

Brave Browser

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android

After trying Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Vivaldi, I finally decided to go with Brave. It will be very familiar for those coming from Chrome since it is also based on Chromium. The main reason I like it is for its speed. I haven't done any official tests comparing performance, but it subjectively seems more responsive. Additionally, most if not all Chrome extensions can be used with Brave, so that should help ease the transition for those who can't live without them. Brave's main selling points are its privacy features, ad blocking, and Brave Rewards. The latter allows you to earn Brave Attention Tokens (BAT), which are essentially a cryptocurrency, when viewing privacy-respecting ads.

Signal

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android

I'm a big fan of free and open source software. This is especially important with messenger apps where user privacy is very important. Signal uses the same end-to-end encryption protocol (Signal Protocol) as WhatsApp, but without the Facebook tracking. This means it is incredibly difficult to intercept and decode messages sent through Signal. Since Signal is an independent nonprofit, they are not tied to any major tech company and they cannot be acquired by one in the future. They are entirely funded by donations and grants. If you are looking to move away from messenger services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Signal is the best option.

Desktop PC: Custom

A full list of my desktop PC build components can be found on PCPartPicker. My current build has stayed largely the same from when I first built it, with the exception of the peripherals and monitors. I have upgraded my keyboard, mouse, and speakers over the past couple of years as I found deals.

Laptop: HP Spectre x360 15"

My laptop is mainly used for school. I wanted a touchscreen so I could take digital written notes in class and I needed a good processor and dedicated graphics card for CAD software and for general programming applications. I landed on the HP Spectre x360 because it had a great balance of specs, amazing display, touch screen, and very nice typing experience for a reasonable price. I was initially leaning towards a Razer Blade or Microsoft's Surface Book. The former would be great for school and for gaming, but it isn't great for taking handwritten digital notes. The latter is similar to the Spectre in regards to specs, but has a favorable display ratio for productivity. The main reason I chose against the Surface Book in the end was the high price relative to the Spectre. I was able to get very comparable specs for a much lower price with the Spectre. My laptop is the 2016 model with Intel i7-7500U CPU, NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU, and 16 GB RAM. The newer models have thinner bezels, diamond-cut corners, updated specs, and better trackpad drivers. If you are running Windows 10 and want better touch pad drivers, check out installing Microsoft's Precision Trackpad drivers . Finally, I have had many issues with the speakers on my model. This has been reported by many other users as well. I'm not sure if this issue has been resolved on newer models, but it's something to look out for.

Tablet: Microsoft Surface Go

The Surface Go is primarily used as a secondary-device and tablet. I use it for media consumption and occasional e-book reading. It is by no means powerful enough to act as my primary device, but I like it as a secondary device that I will occasionally use. If you do end up going with the Surface Go, make sure you turn off S mode to be able to install apps that aren't on the Microsoft Store. If you are a Costco member, I would recommend looking at the Surface Type Cover bundle. This bundle has a 128 GB SSD, 4GB RAM, Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y CPU, and includes the type cover.

Phone: Samsung Galaxy S10+

Got the Galaxy S10+ on sale on Amazon's Prime Day. My previous phone was a Pixel 2XL which I really liked, but I decided to switch to a Galaxy after the Pixel 3 was a bit of a disappointment and the Pixel 4 wouldn't come out until later in the year. Other phones I considered, but ultimately decided against were the OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 9. In retrospect, I would have waited to replace my Pixel 2XL until the Galaxy Note 10+ came out and the price dropped down to something reasonable. However, I am happy with my decision as is.

Watch: Samsung Galaxy Watch

I previously had a Moto 360 Sport smartwatch, but the performance was extremely disappointing. After looking at other Android wear devices, I didn't feel that another compelling watch on the level of the Apple Watch for iPhones existed. Thus, I decided to switch to the Galaxy watch. My primary impressions of Tizen OS vs Android Wear is the lack of supported apps. I have found that this really isn't that big of a deal as it has great media controls for your phone and the amazing rotating bezel interface. This is by far the superior input method for watches and I feel that all watches should have some variant of this. Overall, the performance is great and I have come to appreciate Samsung's brand of apps for my phone and watch.

Wireless Earbuds: Samsung Galaxy Buds

I found these on sale at Costco and heard that the audio quality was among the best for the price. I love that they also have audio passthrough so you can hear your environment when necessary, or keep noise cancelling on. They fit nice in my ears and don't fall out. Additionally, they integrate well with my Galaxy Watch and Galaxy S10+. My only gripes are that the mic isn't that great for taking phone calls and the battery life is not great. Samsung reports 6 hours of charge in the earbuds and 7 hours in the case. In my experience, this is pretty accurate. Don't expect long, continuous music sessions.

Wireless Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4

I actually purchased the WH-1000XM2's myself before the XM4's came out, but the XM4's are an improvement in every way and well worth the price. Sound quality is amazing, noise cancelling is excellent, and it has audio passthrough in case you need to hear your environment. If you need wireless bluetooth headphones, this is it. My favorite feature is definitely the battery life. Sony reports 30 hours of charge. If you will be away from an outlet for an extended period of time and plan on using your headphones a lot, these are great.

Gaming Platform Profiles

Steam: SuperStormSrav

Favorite Games

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Dead Cells
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • God of War
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Bloodborne
  • The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Dark Souls 1 (Remastered) & 3
  • Fallout 4
  • Borderlands 2
  • Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
  • Minecraft
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • The Sims 3
  • Monster Hunter: World

Lex Fridman Podcast (Lex Fridman)

As an aspiring roboticist, I'm very interested in the state of the art in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics. The Lex Fridman podcast is a series of conversations with prominent members in the field of AI, science, and technology at MIT and in industry.

The Bill Simmons Podcast (The Ringer)

As a New England Patriot's fan (mostly because of Tom Brady), I really enjoy this (perhaps too Boston-centric) sports podcast. Bill Simmons grew up in the New England area and supports all of the Boston teams, although he currently lives in Los Angeles. I enjoy his conversations with friends and family about the week's events in sports, generally focused on NFL and NBA. He occasionally has celebrity guests and sometimes brings guests on to talk about TV and movies.

Bootleg Football (E.J. Snyder & Brett Kollmann)

This is by far my favorite american football podcast. Brett Kollmann (YouTube's The Film Room) and E.J. Snyder (Senior Draft Analyst Windy City Gridiron) team up to discuss drinks and football each week. I love their enthusiasm for the game and analysis of the week's results.

Football Weekly (The Guardian)

I love the light-hearted and sometimes comedic news and analysis of Premier League (and others) matches. The rotating cast of football journalists and long-time hosts are thoroughly enjoyable to listen to every week. Definitely recommend this podcast for any football (soccer) fans.

Giant Bombcast (Giant Bomb)

The Giant Bombcast is a great podcast for video game fans. They discuss video game news, latest releases, and sometimes stuff completely unrelated. Very fun to listen to throughout the week as each episode is pretty long.

The Vergecast (The Verge)

The Vergecast is perhaps my favorite podcast of any genre. The hosts discuss the week's tech news and other nerdy topics as well as interviews with tech leaders. Cannot recommend this enough.

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! (NPR)

This is my favorite news/comedy podcast. I love hearing about the week's wacky stories and the rotating panel of comedians' opinions on world events.

The Daily (The New York Times)

My go to for the major news events of the day (as implied by the name). It's ready every weekday by 6 AM and generally doesn't run longer than 30 minutes. Great way to start the day.

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (Dan Carlin)

This is long-form historical discussion and analysis. If you are interested in diving deep into historical events from the perspective of someone who knows how to tell a story, this is the podcast for you. Episodes are generally 4 to 5 hours long and aren't released very often as they require an enormous amount of research.

Throughline (NPR)

The premise of Throughline is exploring how we can look at the past to understand the present. The hosts are awesome and always find very interesting stories in the past relating to current events that help put things in perspective.

Invisibilia (NPR)

I'm not entirely sure how to describe this podcast. According to the podcast description, Invisibilia is about the unseeable forces that control human behavior and shake our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Definitely very interesting and different from most of the other podcasts I listen to.

Spotify Playlist

These are my current (approximately 100) favorite songs.