Technologies I Use

Written by David on January 18, 2015

A week or so ago, my coworker sent me a TED Talk of a professor from MIT talking about augmenting the human body, like creating limbs for amputees and exoskeletons that could protect our bodies and make us run faster. I said I had a lot of reservations to the idea of an exoskeleton because it seemed a bit less human, and my coworker reminded me that I was already augmenting my body just by driving a car, using a cell phone, and wearing shoes.

This reminded me of something I had read in John Dyer’s From the Garden to the City. Dyer suggested that a healthy view of technology does not refuse it altogether nor blindly accept it. It acknowledges that we use technology to shape the world and that technology shapes us in return, so it is calculated and conscious in its approach. My coworker and I could agree that we didn’t want to become like the humans in Wall-E, but we also agreed that the technological decisions we make along the way are not often black and white.

Only sorta related, the above conversation reminded me of the blog post I had been wanting to write for months, an explanation of (1) the technologies I prominently use and (2) some conscious technological decisions Suzi and I have made in the context of our marriage.

Technologies I Use

None of this is in any particular order or exactly exhaustive.

The Things I Use

  • Chrome Messenger Bag - I first saw one of these bags in San Francisco; Suzi got me one for Christmas in 2013 and it reminds me of that unique time in my life
  • Black iPhone 5 - I’m not much into staying up-to-date with gadgets, but my iPhone 4 was getting to be slow
  • MacBook Pro Retina Display - Can’t imagine using anything other than a Mac for web programming
  • ESV Value Thinline Bible - Been using this Bible since the Southeast Asia Epic summer project in 2011, simple and cheap
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS running shoes - I’m just proud of these shoes, and for some reason (perhaps Brooks’ branding), they make me feel like I’m a real runner. (Brooks just opened an office in Fremont and has some middle-distance runners training here in Seattle)
  • Garmin Forerunner 15 GPS Watch - Because one of my 3 New Year’s resolutions is to run a Boston marathon qualifying time this year; without a watch, I’d think that I was running farther and faster than I really was
  • A physical alarm clock - I discovered that I woke up a lot easier using a real alarm clock than the one on my phone
  • My Local Library - I had been buying everything on Amazon, but I’m finally re-realizing that my local library has most of the books I want to read. I’m also trying to limit the amount of stuff I have

The Services I Use

(considered ubiquitous: Facebook, Amazon, Gmail/Google Docs, Youtube)

  • Evernote - A digital notebook that syncs across multiple devices and users (more on this later)
  • Alfred (Mac App) - Keyboard shortcuts for Mac
  • Website Blocker Beta (Chrome Extension) - In order to block certain websites when I’m at work and want to limit my distractions
  • Ad Block Pro (Chrome Extension) - No one likes watching those Youtube ads
  • 1Password - In order to remember a lot of obscure credentials as well as create strong/random passwords I would otherwise have no way of remembering. I’d recommend this to everyone
  • Authy - In order to keep track of two factor authentication codes and sync between devices. This would also mitigate the impact of getting a new phone or losing my current phone
  • Spotify - Because I want to listen to music while I work, but find that I actually waste much time clicking around for music
  • Covenant Eyes - I have a long history of struggling with porn, so I’ve had Covenant Eyes off and on for the past 8 years to help hold me accountable (ps, this is kind of awkward, but it did help)

The Things I Use When Programming

  • Sublime Text 2 - All of the keyboard shortcuts just seem to make sense, I don’t really need any fancy plugins
  • Github - For source control and static hosting; I think there are some really great/subtle UX touches, like keyboard shortcuts, page transitions, and real time updates, that is unrivaled in other larger web apps
  • Firebase - For whenever I need a backend, but I want my code to be purely front end. Everything just works, highly recommended
  • Sequel Pro - Great UI for managing a MySQL database
  • Google Chrome - No comment on this. Chrome and Firefox are both doing a good job and pushing the web forward for developers

The Mobile Apps I Use

(considered ubiquitous: Gmail, Google Maps)

  • ESV Bible - I had been using Faithlife’s Bible app, and YouVersion way before that, but all I really wanted was a reliable ESV without the notes, different translations, or social networking of Faithlife or YouVersion; I typically only use my ESV app for memorizing Scripture, since I also usually have my physical Bible on hand
  • OneBusAway - To know when the bus will come
  • Facebook Messenger - Since some people primarily interact through Facebook messages
  • Pandora - Since T-Mobile doesn’t charge data for using Pandora

I specifically don’t have Facebook and Twitter on my phone because I’m trying to avoid wasting time. I’m usually on my phone during times of complacency (like riding the bus or waiting in line), but I don’t want to feed that complacency with mindless browsing. Twitter has also historically been a stumbling block for me, so I am intentionally staying away from that on my phone.

I had WeChat at one point, but upgraded phones and never re-installed. Suzi and I downloaded Snapchat at one point to try to be hip, but we deleted it like an hour afterwards. Also, when Yo first came out, I thought it was super novel and that Suzi and I would use it extensively. We used it for a few weeks, maybe, but stopped using it upon upgrading phones.

How I Consume Content

  • HackerNews - Curated startup and technology news
  • EchoJS - Curated JavaScript news
  • TechCrunch - Startup news
  • LetsRun - Running news, but the message boards are just frequented by trolls
  • Twitter - I follow a few demographics - programmers, Christian pastors, runners - but I follow almost none of my actual real-life friends (which is intentional.. Twitter is weird when it’s with people I know). I also tend to post small blurbs related to what I’m doing in terms of programming, significant events, and runs
  • Desiring God - Articles/resources related to Christianity. I typically trust these guys in terms of their commentary on the Bible, particularly John Piper, as well as Tim Keller and those behind The Gospel Coalition

Technology Decisions in Marriage

In terms of how Suzi and I use technology within our marriage, there are a few things we’ve been doing in the past year:

  • We use Evernote pretty heavily to sync a calendar between the two of us so that we can keep track of commitments and events and know what the other will be doing. We also use this for other things where we both be on the same page, like travel logistics, condo/car information, etc
  • We finally moved our cable modem from our upstairs bedroom to our downstairs living room, so our computers basically always stay downstairs now and we’re not on them directly before going to bed, which allows us to sleep better and spend time together in a more engaged way
  • We switched to TMobile and realized that streaming Pandora on our phones doesn’t cost any data, so we stream Pandora in the car now instead of listening to the radio, which allows us to be less passive about the music we consume
  • We use Google Sheets to track our finances/budget, relying on manual input. We had tried Mint for a little bit, but found that we were more negligent towards our spending when everything was just syncing automatically

Conclusion

Technology does the have the ability to augment our bodies in ways that are helpful or detrimental. I’m always looking for ways that can help save us time so we can focus on things that matter more, so if you have any tips or advice, especially in the realm of productivity hacks or marriage, please let me know!