Productivity: know your tools!

Written on 4 December 2014, 11:38pm

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I’m always surprised by the fact that a considerable number of people in our field don’t really know how to make the best use of their tools. I’ll try to put together a set of good practices and possible improvements.

1. Hardware

Display: Know what type of monitor is better for your job (designer vs developer). Know the difference between IPS and TN panels, between fps and refresh rate, between LCD and LED technologies. If you are using a dual monitor configuration, know what is the set up that works best for your workflow. On the same page, you need to know how to sit correctly (or maybe stand?) and about the…
Ambient light: know what temperature of light is fit for what purpose (TL;DR: warm white for relaxation, cool white for work). Use f.lux to automatically adjust the screen color temperature according to the time of the day. Know that a dark color scheme is easier on the eyes compared to a light one.
Keyboard: Here the most important part is not the keyboard itself, but the way you type. Touch typing is mandatory at this level. If you don’t master it yet, get on it now.
I personally prefer this keyboard because it’s classic, it has a great touch feeling and – as a bonus – has separate multimedia keys that work with Spotify 🙂
Mouse/trackpad: no matter which one you use, it should allow you to be fast. In my experience the mouse is always faster on a day-to-day use, but if you are mostly browsing/reading and you need less pointing precision then the trackpad is probably enough. Just know how to use 2-fingers scroll and stuff like that. I personally use this mouse, after using 3 or 4 pieces from the older generation. After 8 years of using them I settled for the following configuration:
– button next to the wheel – middle click (=closing tabs)
– left/right wheel buttons – volume down/up
– left button 1 – minimize window
– left button 2 – mute toggle

Almost 2 years later, the mapping changed:
– button next to the wheel – middle click (=closing tabs)
– left/right wheel buttons – ctrl+shift+tab/ctrl+tab (switching tabs)
– left button 1 – ctrl+t (new tab)
– left button 2 – minimize window

Headphones (for music or conference): Ideally you would like to have some headphones with noise cancellation, but if you are video-conferencing a lot then you need to have some headphones with a good microphone.

2. Software

Here the motto is Learn the shortcuts. Since I am mostly using Windows, the tips below concern that operating system, but some of them are more general.


The tools that I am using #2

Written on 13 October 2014, 03:25pm

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I am updating the post from last year, thinking about the possibility to switch to Mac platform.
Naturally, most of the applications are still there, but there are some consistent changes:


The items in bold have Mac equivalents, the others are not that important or really necessary if switching to a Mac

  1. Chrome
  2. Dropbox
  3. f.lux
  4. Skype
  5. CrashPlan
  6. WinRar
  7. Avira MalwareBytes
  8. KeyTweak
  9. Logitech SetPoint


Again, the items in bold have Mac equivalents.

  1. Sublime Text
  2. Total Commander (there are Mac alternatives)
  3. Wamp
  4. Putty (#)
  5. TortoiseSVN (Versions for Mac)
  6. Beyond Compare / Win Merge

I removed from the list HexView, EditPlus, Console 2, Beyond Compare and PoEdit. Turns out, I did not use them in a long while and are not that important. All of them have Mac equivalents.


  1. GomPlayer
  2. FastStone Viewer (Lyn?)
  3. µTorrent
  4. Image resizer

AllShare, Lightroom and Sopcast are all gone from the list. So is Winamp, replaced by Spotify on my iPad (turns out, I no longer listen to music on my notebook).

So, at first, I am ready to move to Mac. I am looking at the 15′ MacBookPro with Retina display. But its price tag is still holding me 🙂

The tools that I am using

Written on 4 August 2013, 09:57am

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Here are the tools I am using on a day-to-day basis.


  1. Chrome
  2. Dropbox
  3. Logitech SetPoint
  4. f.lux
  5. Crashplan
  6. WinRar
  7. Avira
  8. Skype
  9. KeyTweak


  1. Sublime Text
  2. Total Commander
  3. Wamp
  4. Putty
  5. TortoiseSVN
  6. EditPlus
  7. Console 2
  8. Beyond Compare
  9. HexView
  10. PoEdit


  1. Winamp
  2. GomPlayer
  3. All Share
  4. Lightroom
  5. FastStone Viewer
  6. Contextual menu image resizer
  7. Sopcast
  8. µTorrent