Tools of the Trade
Disclaimer: I am a professional software developer. You do not need a set up as expensive or extravagant as mine to get started. My Tools of the Trade have evolved over the years until I found the tools I enjoyed working with the best. So please do not run out and buy a 169 dollar keyboard because you may hate it. Find out what works for you.
A keyboard is one of the most important tools for any programmer.
When it comes to quality it is hard to beat the design of the Das Keyboards. I first decided to buy one when they were on sale on woot.com. The old trusty Logitech style I had used for years was no longer available in a corded version, and I was sick of having to replace it every few years anyway. To me the most important feature was to have the media control keys and volume control. Hence the Das 4 Professional.
I also like the Cherry MX Blue Switches because they make a satisfying click like the old style IBM Keyboards I started with in the early 90’s.
The keyboard is made of aluminum with laser etched keys which can be removed for cleaning.
While mouse is not the most important of tools for many programmers, a quality one can save you time and effort. Also when it comes to tools a graphic artist will want an awesome mouse.
In my opinion the best mouse ever produced. It is a shame they are doing away with it, and I have not found another one with the same design.
You may ask what sets this mouse apart from others Logitech and many other companies make. It is the 3 buttons next to the index finger. I use these all day long, furthermore I have them mapped so the two closest to the nose switch forward and backwards between tabs and the last one closes the current tab. This works in browsers and many IDE’s and text editors.
I will probably buy a few more so I do not have to make a decision to buy style a new mouse for several more years.
Monitors: 6 ASUS VE248Q 24″ Full HD – 143.42 each
As far as tools of the trade go unless you are developing 4k artwork the monitor is probably the least important selection you will make.
I have mentioned before that I am an avid gamer, moreover I usually play 2D games. The most graphically intense (non VR) game I play is probably WoW. This means I do not need some 4K beast of a monitor. These HD ASUS monitors are priced very well and work great with my setup. I do run 2 video cards to get them to all work. I could probably get away with just one Video Card if some of them were not a slightly older model which did not have the display Port because then I could use a DisplayPort Hub to split it between them.
So why 6 monitors?
Like everyone else I started with one… then loving computers I decided to try a second and it worked great. I was able to get more work done!
I then added a third and that was even better. I waited years and only just recently upgraded to 6. I use this monitor stand with the Autonomous desk I mentioned in a previous article. After using 6 I have trouble even going back to 3 with this set up for when I travel.
Below is an example of how I set my system up.
- Upper Left: Chat
- Upper Center: Database
- Upper Right: Entertainment
- Lower Left: Site
- Lower Center: Code
- Lower Right: Linux and Browser Consoles and any folders
PC: Custom Built – $1500
I will list the parts I used for my PC below. Be aware that $1500 is just an estimate as I have changed and upgraded it many times during the years. This is just the current configuration. I purchased most parts from Amazon or Newegg.
- Cool Master Cosmos II – Ultra Tower Computer Case with Aluminum and Steel Body (This case is HUGE)
- 32 GB G.Skill Ripjaws X Series RAM
- Windows 10 Pro
- 2x ASIS GeForce GTX 1080 8GB ROG STrix Graphic Cards
- Intel Core i7 4790K Quad Core 4.0 GHz
- 700 Watt Silverstone
- 1x 1 TB Samsung SSD
- 1x 4TB Western Digital HDD
- ASUS Sabertooth Z87 LGA
Laptop: Dell Precision 7510 – $2752
A good laptop is critical if you are traveling. Often I am out of my home for 1-2 months out of the year on business and to see family. I need to be connected anywhere I go. I picked a Dell Precision with a 15 inch monitor and built in Verizon Modem so I could work on the go. Once you get to the point you can afford one I would really go this route as it is nice to be able to fire up your computer anywhere and check in.
Software: Mostly free or subscription based.
Software is very important and I will give a quick list of what I use here
- Sublime Text with SFTP Plugin
- Unity 3D
- Visual Studio
- Linux Servers
- Adobe Photoshop