My Life Stack

What’s a “Life Stack”?

This is my “Life Stack”. I used to call it “Stuff I Use” but “Life Stack” sounds cooler. Either way, it’s a list of things that I use to manage my life or that I simply enjoy using.

Last updated September 2020


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  • Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019) – Finally, Apple makes a good laptop again.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) – New to me. Running Linux. So far so good, except for the trackpad.
  • Apple 27" Retina iMac (2017) – A monster with a big, beautiful screen.
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9" (2018) – I am not an iPad-only person. Not sure I ever will be but this is a great device anyway. The Apple Pencil #2 and the way it integrates with the new iPad is terrific.
  • iPhone X – It’s an iPhone. A really nice one. I put it in the Computing category but it goes in nearly every category.
  • Fujitsu ScanSnap – Super-fast and easy document scanning

Software (Work, writing, and “productivity” tools)

Here’s the software that I currently use on a regular basis.

  • Roam – The hype is real
  • Emacs – “An extensible, customizable, free/libre text editor — and more.”
  • Org mode – Tasks, lists, documents, publishing, all in plain text.
  • DEVONthink – Email Archives, Manuals, PDFs, Scanned documents. Years of archives remain searchable and synced across devices.
  • BBEdit – As much as I try to remain in Emacs for editing, whenever I need something fancy done with a lot of text, I turn to BBEdit. It’s the editor I’ve used longest. In fact, it may be the piece of software I’ve used longest, period. It remains truly great.
  • Vim – I’ve used VIM for as long as I can remember. For a number of years it was my only editor, but today I use it mostly for quick local edits or for editing files on servers.
  • LaTeX – I have no real need for LaTeX but it does such a great job laying out documents that I use it anyway. Mostly, this is done via Org mode but I also use LaTeX directly when I feel like being tweaky.
  • iTerm2 – I spend a lot of time in a terminal, and I use iTerm2 for that.
  • Slack – People enjoy hating on Slack but it really is a wonderful replacement for the tangle of emails and reply-all threads that came before.
  • Gitlab – We use a self-hosted instance of Gitlab at Fusionary and it’s transforming how we work. Issues, code, CI, and documentation all in one place is pretty great.
  • Git – For a long time I pushed Mercurial over Git, as it was simpler to use and understand. I lost, so Git is where it’s at. Git has gotten much easier to deal with in the past couple of years.
  • Dropbox – Steve Jobs famously called Dropbox “a feature, not a product”. True or not, Dropbox is a pretty damn good feature. I still don’t trust iCloud. I trust Dropbox.
  • 1Password – Password management
  • Chronosync – Helps me keep good drive and file backups
  • Alfred – Launcher and generally useful utility for all sorts of automation and shortcuts
  • Keyboard Maestro – Macro wizardry. I wildly useful tool for automating things. I’ve also started using it as my text snippet expander and it works great for that, too.
  • Tinderbox – “The Tool For Notes” indeed. And so much more.



  • Lightroom – I hate the idea of keeping my library in the cloud, but love having everything available everywhere all the time. I use the Classic version mostly.
  • Capture One Pro – Photo library and Raw file editor.
  • Apple Photos - For iPhone shots and keepers exported from Capture One
  • Photo Mechanic – Ingesting, tagging, renaming photos from cards. Nothing is faster or easier. I’d like to not need it, but trying to caption and tag dozens of photos at a time is an exercise in frustration in any other app.
  • SilverFast – Scanning software for the Epson. I can’t tell you how much I hate it, but it gets me the best results.
  • Luminar - I use Luminar as an editor plugin for Lightroom. Some of the filters are too much fun to resist.
  • Affinity Photo - Great for when I need to get “fancy”. I don’t enjoy Photoshop and this is a wonderful alternative.


I love cameras. Most of mine are old film cameras. Here’s what I’m using currently.

Leica M10-P


The Leica M10-P has been a dream camera. Paired with the fabulous 50mm Summilux-M ASPH I am wanting of nothing.

Hasselblad 500C/M and 503CXi


Medium format film cameras. Some cameras are iconic for a reason. The Hasselblad V series are iconic, beautiful, and superbly engineered. They also produce wonderful images, which is why they are my favorite all-around cameras.

Leica M6


Even though I’ve tried to shelve 35mm film for a while, I can’t help but keep the M6 nearby. Sometimes I pick it up just to feel it in my hands. Leicas really are special cameras. They don’t really help me make better images, but they still make me feel like I could.

Fujifilm X-T3


Great all-around digital camera. I’ve mostly moved off Fuji but I keep this one for when I need something fast and with autofocus. Also, it’s great for video.

Graflex Crown Graphic


Large Format Film Camera. This camera is a total pain in the ass to use, but I love it so. There’s nothing like a 4×5 negative.

Polaroid SX–70 and OneStep2

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Other Cameras


Like I said, I love cameras. Here’s a list of the ones I currently own but don’t use as often.

  • Burke & James Press Camera – 4×5 film camera
  • Canon 1Ds – Digital SLR camera. Getting old, but what a beast it was in its day.
  • Canon AE–1 Program – 35mm Film SLR (My first real camera)
  • Canon Canonet – 35mm rangefinder camera
  • Canon EOS–1v – Damn good 35mm film SLR
  • Canon Pro-zoom 814 Electronic – Super8 movie film camera
  • Fujifilm X100 – Go-everywhere digital
  • Fujifilm X100T – Go-everywhere digital, updated
  • Graflex Speed Graphic – Large Format (4×5) Film Camera
  • Leica IIIf – Barnack!
  • Leica M3 – Rangefinder camera
  • Leica M4 – Rangefinder camera
  • Minolta Autocord – Medium format TLR
  • Nikon F100 – 35mm auto-focus film camera
  • Nikon F3HP – 35mm manual-focus film camera. Wonderful!
  • Olympus OM–1n – 35mm film camera
  • Olympus OM–2n – 35mm film camera
  • Olympus Stylus Epic – Compact 35mm film camera

Photo Hardware

Some miscellaneous photo-related support items

  • Canon PRO–100 – Photo printer that I never use
  • Epson V750 – Flatbed film scanner. Works great for medium and large format. Less great for 35mm.
  • Pakon Scanner – For 35mm film scanning. Makes shooting color 35mm film worthwhile. Requires an old Windows computer running Windows XP, which sucks.
  • Profoto D1 Monolights – I’m fortunate enough to own a couple great monolights. I should totally use them more often.


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I haven’t had a darkroom since my recent move, but here’s what’s in storage for when I make room.

  • Leitz Focomat v35 – 35mm auto-focus enlarger. Solid and reliable. It cost as much as a Volkswagon when it was first produced in 1979. It is an amazing device.
  • Beseler 45MXT – This is for printing medium and large format negatives. Mine is a little janky but works great overall.
  • Leitz Focomat IIc – Manufactured from 1956–1983, the Focomat IIc is a giant, over-engineered marvel of an enlarger. I bought mine as a fixer-upper from Craigslist and I still don’t have it working completely. When I do, I may be able to get rid of the v35 and possibly the Beseler.

Lifestyle and Miscellaneous Hardware


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  • Rega P1 Turntable – I love listening to records. I love owning my music and being able to see as well as hear it. I consider the P1 to be a terrific value. Audio people call it a “budget” turntable but I prefer to think of it as a cheap, “high-end” turntable. I’ve used it nearly every day for almost a decade.
  • Thorens TD 160 Turntable – Classic turntable that I’ve somewhat restored. Sounds great but is a bit finicky.
  • Rega Brio 3 Integrated Amplifier – Purchased in 2010 to go with P1. It has a good phono stage and still sounds great. I don’t feel a need to replace it.
  • Roon Optimized Core Kit / NUC - This is my new favorite thing. It’s a tiny computer running the Roon music software and it’s the best way I’ve ever had to listen to, organize, and discover music.

And the rest…

  • Focal Chorus V Speakers – Pretty good floor-standing speakers in my living room.
  • Yamaha CD-S300BL CD Player – I still listen to CDs, so I bought a new CD player a few years ago.
  • Sonos wireless music system – Music everywhere in my house. I have a Play:5, several Play:3s, and an old and
  • Onkyo A-5VL – Drives the Thorens turnable in my home office.
  • Grado SR–80e – Best price/performance I’ve found in headphones. I prefer open-back headphones and these are great.
  • Apple AirPods – The most Apple-like device Apple has released in a while. They work great. I use them primarily for when I’m walking or when making phone calls.
  • Apple HomePod – I ended up with a couple of these. I prefer the sound to the Sonos and don’t really use the “smart” stuff at all. I stream from Roon.


  • Amazon Kindle Oasis (2nd gen) – Books on the go. I prefer real books but the Kindle sure is handy. I like the larger size of this model.
  • Kobe Forma ebook reader – An alternative to Amazon that works great with more formats
  • Amazon Echo – I have several, but am using them less recently. I don’t love using voice-controlled devices.

Pen and Paper


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  • Leuchtturm 1917 Notebooks – Better than a Moleskine and perfect for use as a Bullet Journal.
  • Hobonichi Techo Planner – Best little day planners ever. I’ve carried one for five or six years. I sometimes use them only sporadically, but I always come back.
  • Field Notes - Always have a Field Notes notebook in my back pocket. It’s a way better capture tool than the iPhone
  • Montblanc Meisterstück rollerball pen – My all-time favorite. I’ve had mine for 20 years. It’s broken in 2 places but I still use it.
  • Pelikan Souveran M400 – Beautiful, classic fountain pen. I had the nib tweaked by Richard Binder and it writes like butter.
  • Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni Pencils – I’ve come around on pencils recently. I find myself reaching for a pencil as often as a pen. More so, maybe.
  • Caran D’ache Pencil Sharpening Machine – Overkill, but I love it.
  • Olympia SM3 Typewriter – My favorite typewriter
  • Olympia SM9 Typewriter – My second favorite typewriter

Every Day Carry

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Sunday, September 6, 2020

  • Swapped in Leica M10-P for the Leica Q

Saturday, February 08, 2020

  • Added Red Oxx bag
  • Removed TheBrain
  • Removed older iMac
  • Replaced 2016 MBP with 2019 16-inch MBP

Friday, January 18, 2019

  • Added Emacs back :)
  • New bag

Saturday, December 08, 2018

  • Added new iPad 12.9"
  • Added HomePods
  • Replaced X-Pro2 with X-T3

Thursday, October 04, 2018

  • Added Leica Q
  • Added Photos and Affinity Photo
  • Deleted Emacs and friends :(

Sunday, September 23, 2018

  • Replaced Lightroom with Capture One

Friday, July 13, 2018

  • Removed 12.9" iPad Pro. I gave it to my dad.
  • Restored 1Password to its rightful place. Remind me to never switch password managers.

Friday, June 1, 2018

  • Changed from 1Password to Dashlane for password management
  • Replaced LaunchBar with Alfred
  • Replaced Pass with YNAB
  • Removed TextExpander since I’m now using Keyboard Maestro for text snippet expansion