Inspired by Alexey Guzey’s list
As a general rule, I usually do some research before buying stuff, The Wirecutter is the one place I recurrently visit for advice, but I spend some time reading reviews before buying anything, with more time for more expensive stuff.
Physical world stuff – Tech
Laptop: I use a Dell XPS 15 (16 GB RAM, 512Gb HD, glossy screen). I work in Ubuntu almost exclusively. Even after being forced to use MacOS at work, that hasn’t made me prefer Ubuntu less. Maybe I’m too used to the hotkeys, and works well enough for me. All in all, what I want from a laptop is battery, some processing power when I need to run analysis or compile code, portability, and a basic GPU for some gaming if the need arises. My other candidate that I didn’t end up getting was the Lenovo X1 Extreme, with similar specs to this dell, but pricier. With Ubuntu, it’s basically Dell or Lenovo. I usually use my tablet in bed, using 1 or 2 legs as a stand to keep it at a good angle.
Phones: I’ve owned 5 phones in my life, first a third-hand old black-and-white Nokia, then a Google Nexus, the BQ Aquaris M5, the OnePlus 3, and currently the OnePlus 6T. I really like the OnePlus brand and I’ll most likely continue with them in the future. What I want from a phone is a large enough screen, a lot of battery, fast charging, an ok (but not necessarily the best) camera, as responsive as possible. OnePlus is basically all that. A second best, but pricier is Huawei’s high end models. Right now I’d get the OP 7 Pro, it’s the state of the art in all I like from a phone. But what about Apple? They’re pricier, and not offering me anything I want, at a high price point.
Tablet: I used to have a Google Nexus 10, one of the 10” tablets with the higher PPI (300) ever built. High PPI is key to avoiding visual fatigue commonly associated with tablets. High PPI makes e-readers like kindles unnecessary (unless you read on the go, which I don’t). Around 10 inch is a good size to read scientific papers, but it’s also handy for regular books and other assorted PDFs. Unfortunately after years of use it became slow and I got a replacement. I decided to give Apple a try, and so I have an iPad 9.7 (with the phone connectivity option). I’m not all that satisfied. It works well for my purposes, but it’s a bit fiddly when using LastPass and the integrated browser is safari, not Chrome.
Headphones: Jabra 65e. I wouldn’t recommend them now, probably there is better stuff out there, but they do have an appeal: Portable, 13h of battery (with no noise cancellation), and noise cancellation. Plus they are earbuds, not earphones, so you get a bit better sound and isolation from external noise.
Web browsing: Chrome. I keep my tab count at a minimum. My usual set up is having two windows open side by side, fullscreen (Ubuntu makes this very easy, unlike MacOS, which requires something like Spectacle). I also use sometimes virtual desktops; with multiple chrome windows if need be.
Data sync across devices: pcloud.com. Pcloud works in Windows, Ubuntu, Android, and iOS. They offer a good pricing, and the option to pay once and get storage for life. They also have an extension for Chrome to one-click download pdfs straight into pcloud, which I find very useful when researching things.
Information gathering: I hate inbox-cluttering mailing lists with passion, people use them for what they should instead be an RSS subscription. Fortunately RSS is still prevalent. I use feedly to keep up with the internet. I also use pocket to store particular websites that I may want to revisit later, and Twitter is also extremely valuable. I never use Twitter’s default interface, Tweetdeck is my go-to.
Banking: Starling. Banking in the UK works really well; it’s trivial and instantaneous to pay and be paid (There is no demand for a Venmo here), unlike in the US. Monzo is another good bank, but Starling gives a bit of interest, and more allowance for withdrawals overseas. Of course, they don’t charge fees for using the card in other currencies.
Password keeping: Lastpass
Coding: PyCharm for Python, IntelliJ IDEA for Scala, VS Code for everything else.
Productivity: Google calendar to keep track of deadlines, and set myself reminders. Other than that I don’t really do anything, have todo lists, etc. I just go by intuition, it works well enough. I use Google Keep sometimes to keep collections of sources that may eventually become blogposts.
VPN: If I need to access my laptop from wherever, I have ZeroTier to create a VPN with my devices in there so I can easily get in without worrying about IP or port blocking, etc.
Physical world stuff – Nontech
Clothing: I’m mostly a Uniqlo shill. Uniqlo is great, offers good prices, and plain colors. I almost always wear the same: A polo (usually black, or navy blue) and chinos (I don’t like jeans, I’m a weird person lol). If cold, a jumper or a hoodie (Also from Uniqlo). If not convinced of Uniqlo’s awesomeness, try their Airism underwear range. Socks, however, I procure from Darn Tough. They are pricey, but they feel nice, and leave the feet neither cold or warm. For shoes I own two pairs: Birkenstocks for summer, and Allbirds for the rest of the year. Whenever a pair wears down, I replace it. They usually last a year or two. Allbirds in particular were a great discovery, full credit to Facebook’s ads for pointing them out to me. It’s hands-down the best pair of shoes I’ve ever used.
Tea: I haven’t yet reached Gwern’s levels of tea hipsterism, but so far I have a preference for green teas -sencha, gyokuro, kabusecha-. I also like barley tea and some oolongs, but I haven’t tried that many yet. I’m not a big fan of coffee.
Food: I’ve decoupled health from taste; I get my minerals, vitamins and similar from Huel. It has a better nutritional profile than Soylent and tastes better. Then, I’m free to spend money in arbitrary tasty food whenever I feel like it. If there is one item I consume very often, that is salmon nigiris, some weeks I’ve had sushi for lunch almost every day. Diet-wise, as per Guyenet, I don’t restrict carbohydrates or fats.
Sleep: Melatonin pills for jetlag, 3mg. It works for me. Scott Alexander recommended a dosage of 0.3mg but I couldn’t find those when I went to buy them.
Backpack: I have the Amazon basics backpack for laptops up to 17 inches. It’s huge, and doubles as a travel bag for short trips.