The Setup | Ben Cunningham

The Setup

Written by Ben Cunningham · on July 17, 2016

I’m finally settling into my new home in New York, but I just don’t feel my best unless I have a project to do. So in lieu of a more data-informed blog post, here’s my take on The Setup.

What hardware do you use?

I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad T530 when I started school. It’s the only laptop I’ve ever owned, but mostly for good reason — it’s remarkably rugged (it died about a week after I first wrote this). Now I keep an X220 around my apartment and carry a T450p for work.

I try to keep peripherals to a minimum; there’s a 1 TB WD My Book external hard drive lying on my bedroom floor and I only recently lost a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones (I’ll eventually cave and replace them).

I read ebooks on an Amazon Fire HD 6 and carry a Droid Turbo 2 with Android Marshmallow as my main mobile. I just bough my first TV, a Roku Smart LED.

And what software?

The operating system is Windows 10. I feel bad about not using something free, but old habits die hard. Eventually I’ll convert to something more Unix friendly full-time, though things like native Bash are making it easy for me to keep pushing off the switch. I took the opportunity to switch to Ubuntu 16.04 full-time when I replaced my T530.

99% of what I do gets done in either RStudio (for R and Markdown) or Chromium (for just about everything else). The rest of the time, I use:

  1. Git for version control (pushed to GitHub)
  2. f.lux for fighting eye strain
  3. Excel around the office, Julia’s REPL, and Python’s IDLE for things that don’t make sense in R
  4. iTunes Clementine (with the scrobbler plugin)
  5. VLC for watching things (and queuing radio sets at KRUI)

As much as I like database work, I don’t bother anymore with running my own server. But in the rare case that I need one for a quick project, I’ll set up PostgreSQL locally.

I’m pretty unattached to a lot of my personal files (pictures, letters, etc.), so I don’t really bother backing up my machines. I know it’s a bad mentality, but at least it makes me less anxious about how I’d feel if disaster struck my hard drives.

What would be your dream setup?

I wish planned obsolescence wasn’t a thing. I wish Windows was Unix friendly and fully FOSS. I wish R was faster and Julia’s ecosystem could age about 5 years. I wish I could finally learn to use my ThinkPads’ TrackPoints. I wish my air conditioner wasn’t so loud.