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2020 12 02

Tools I Use Regularly in 2020

The last time I wrote about the tools I used was in 2011 (with a 2013 update). Quite a bit has changed and I think you are due for an update.


I still use the Mac. Specifically the 2018 variant of the Best Laptop Ever Made. It is starting to feel it’s age tho. I’m looking forward to the Apple Silicon transition, but I’m not going to jump on the first gen consumer machines. I’ll probably pickup one of the 16” pro laptops when they are released.

One thing that is different is that I have a proper standing desk, external monitor mounted on arms and other accoutrements.

In a fit of Handymanity I found a nice surge protector with mounting holes, went to the hardware store to find the exact kind of screws that would work and mounted it to the bottom of the desk. It works quite well and I’m irrationally proud of it.

I use an old iPad air (first gen!) with the old, discontinued TwelveSouth HoverBar 3 to persistently display a calendar. This is a huge part of managing my time. Having a persistent calendar view that can’t be hidden, covered or accidentally quit makes a real difference in my attendance and punctuality.

I started streaming recently and have updated my front facing camera game with a Panasonic GH4 and the Black Magic Design ATEM. I use a small clamp to mount the GH4 behind the monitor onto the mounting arm. It works surprisingly well. the lens of the camera is just above the top edge of the monitor and if I position the video conference window in the top half of the screen, the apparent eye contact is pretty good.

The GH4 is and older model, so it can be found significantly discounted from the original retail price. You can use it all day and the sensor won’t overheat. I also had some wide aperture micro four/thirds lenses lying around and the camera does a good job of adjusting auto-focus depending on my posture.

As of this writing, I don’t have a good mic yet, but I do like Podcastage’s reviews and will probably get something low-end on his recommendations.


On the Mac

These apps are my must haves. You’ll see quite a few repeats from my 2011 tools list.

I use 4 different web-browsers for different things:

Programming Languages

My most used language in 2020 was Go. It’s still my favorite backend language, but it’s weaknesses are more apparent to me after building a large project with it as a single developer.

I learned the Vue framework in the spring. Most of my front end development was either Vue or vanilla-ish javascript with Alpine. Relative to other Javascript frameworks, I like both quite a bit.

I started playing around with Elixir and Phoenix Novemberish, in public. It’s early, but I like it a lot so far and it challenges some of my expectations and assumptions about what a great programming language ecosystem can be.

Development Tools



Source Control & Diff




I also recently switched to zsh, the new default. After porting over my profile dotfiles and setting up history and autocomplete the way I like it, I can’t really tell the difference.

you should follow me on twitter at twitter/amattn and on at

you may also be interested in some of the greatest hits of

〜 The Sublime Developer Efficiency of Elixir, Phoenix and LiveView

〜 The Business Case For LiveView Is Strong Enough To Change How You Staff Your Dev Team

〜 Empathy as a Core Engineering Requirement

〜 Venture Capital Math 101

〜 What is Engineering Management?

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