Paul Stamatiou @Stammy

Stuff I use

Hardware, software and services

Updated Sept 2017

Computers

After two years with a 27" 5K iMac, I started to want something faster for my primary usage of Adobe Lightroom for editing photos. While the 5K display on the iMac is unbeatable, the inability to run top of the line hardware was starting to get to me. I really wanted a much, much faster GPU and was interested in going with Windows 10 this time instead of a hackintosh build as I have done in the past so I could play some occasional PC and Oculus games in between Adobe Lightroom and Premiere photo/video editing. I ended up building a Windows 10 PC for the task. More on that later, I plan to write a large article about it.

As for the display, I did a lot of searching at first for a 5K display. There were only a handful of options that were not ideal for various reasons that I'll mention in the aforementioned article when I write it. I ended up getting a Dell 4K as a sort of placeholder until a better 5K display comes out. I've been very happy with this Dell 4K so far though.

While I do the heavy lifting on the PC, I take care of my casual couch and travel computing with a Space Gray 3.3GHz 13" Touchbar Macbook Pro with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Though I could probably get by with a smaller and slower Macbook as I don't do much photo editing on it. However, I do travel with an external SSD as mentioned on my camera gear page for when I need to offload hundreds of gigs of photos from my camera's SD cards.

Dell Ultra HD 4k Monitor P2715Q 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor

Dell P2715Q

27", 4K LED-Lit display

Oculus Rift + Touch Virtual Reality System

Oculus Rift

VR headset & controllers

Humanscale M8 adjustable VESA monitor arm

Humanscale M8

VESA monitor arm

Humanscale NeatTech cable management tray

Humanscale NeatTech

cable management tray

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar 13.3″

13" Touchbar MacBook Pro

16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

Keyboard and mouse

I have been a huge fan of Logitech mice for decades. Their recent workhorse, the Logitech MX Master, is no exception. I've got three: one at work, one for whenever I use my personal or work MacBook Pros at home and one dedicated for the PC. The mouse fits me very well and there's a bunch of button customization you can do with their software. Charging is pretty easy by just plugging a micro-USB cable in the front; no dock to deal with. And it can operate over either Bluetooth their included USB dongle. I prefer the tiny USB dongle, seems to have less issues. There is a newer version — the MX Master 2S — but the updates seem minimal.

As for my keyboard of choice, it's the Apple Magic Keyboard. It's considerably more compact than previous models and takes some getting used to with the reduced key travel. However, it charges and instantly pairs with a lightning cable so there's no more pesky battery swaps.

I also have the admittedly funky-looking Evoluent Vertical Mouse that I switch to temporarily at times to reduce occasional wrist RSI pain. I'm getting old...

Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse

Logitech MX Master

Wireless mouse

Evoluent Vertical Mouse

Evoluent Vertical Mouse

yes, it's a bit weird

Apple Magic Keyboard

Apple Magic Keyboard

low-profile, rechargeable

Desk and task chair

After using cheap desks for a decade I thought it was time to invest in a high-quality desk for the next decade. In particular I wanted a sit/stand desk that I could easily adjust. I'm picky when it comes to setting the height of my desk instead of something that was fixed.

I also wanted one that did not look like it belonged in the office. One that was pretty small by office standards at only 48-inches wide. One with a nice wood top that could fit in with the rest of my furniture and wasn't too long, something like 48-inches wide instead of 60 or 72 like most on the market. After spending a weekend reading about every sit/stand desk, I ended up with this Humanscale Float from Room & Board with a walnut top. It looks great and it's very sturdy.

Humanscale Float Adjustable Height Desks

Humanscale Float

elegant and functional

Herman Miller Embody desk chair

Herman Miller Embody

the perfect task chair

The Herman Miller Embody is my desk chair of choice. I've had it for over six years now and it's still as good as the first day, except for some fabric fading (blue jeans + orange chair + years = blue chair).

At over $1,000 it's expensive but more adjustable than any other desk chair I've encountered. As a reference point, I actually really hate the Aeron chair, I find it doesn't provide much upper back support. It's part of what I need to get into The Coding Zone.

Camera gear

Visit my camera gear page to learn about my Sony α7R II, lenses and accessories.

Networking

First and foremost — my internet connection. I'm very lucky to have an ISP called WebPass in my building and I get upload and download speeds of around around 250Mbps. This definitely comes in handy when backing up hundreds of gigabytes of photos and videos after a trip.

While my house is relatively small, I had issues with my Apple AirPort Extreme providing WiFi to the furthest corners of the place. I ended up trying the 2nd generation Eero kit to see if it could help and it definitely has. Eero works by setting up a mesh network in your house. So you setup multiple Eero devices in your house. I got two: one larger Eero base station and one smaller Eero Beacon that I placed halfway between the base station and the edge of the house.

Eero and Eero Beacon, 2nd generation

Eero & Eero Beacon

Eero and Eero Beacon

Netgear GS208 8-port gigabit switch

Netgear switch

8-port, Gigabit

Cable Matters 5-Pack, Cat6 Snagless Ethernet Patch Cable in White 1 Foot

1-foot Ethernet cables

5 pack, snagless

The Eero setup process is nothing short of stunning. They have a great mobile app for setting up and managing your network as well as giving you per-device level control easily. I can see that there are 20 devices on my network, see which ones are currently using the most bandwidth, block devices, setup access family profiles and guest networks.. et cetera. It also periodically does an automatic speed test to give you peace of mind as to your Internet connection's health. They also offer a paid monthly service that claims to protect your network from viruses, botnets and phishing sites.

The only downside of the Eero is it assumes that the vast majority of your devices are WiFi. I have a good chunk that need or that I would prefer to have connected via Ethernet so I purchased a cheap Ethernet switch to give me more Ethernet ports. Unfortunately, the Eero nor the switch provide user-configurable QoS settings (Eero seems to do automatic QoS by using DSCP to catalog traffic to one of the four 802.11e Wi-Fi Multimedia access classes for handling traffic — background, best effort, video and voice). You'd have to upgrade to a much pricier switch if you want that functionality.

Miscellaneous furniture

Lounge chair — The Eames lounge chair and ottoman needs no introduction. I've lusted after this chair since taking industrial design classes in college. I opted for the classic walnut and Vicenza black leather model.

Bookcase — This bookcase is one of the focal points of my living room and a place to showcase various books, personal artifacts.. and of course a place to put all of my camera gear when not in use. As such I wanted something large and well-made. I went with this walnut Room and Board model to match the other furniture I have. It also serves as a nice home for the Raspberry Pi digital photo frame I made to highlight photos from my travels.

Media console — A long and low piece ideal for going under my TV ideal for hiding all my networking gear and NAS. A big reason I got this particular one, aside from adoring the aesthetics, is that it has open slats that help keep all the gear well-ventilated.

Planters — Some greenery around the house goes a long way in making the room feel more personable and less sterile, along with helping purify the air a bit.

Line Media Console 70

large walnut media console

Eames Lounge and Ottoman Chair

Eames Lounge & Ottoman

Eames Molded Plastic Counter Stool, DSHCX

Eames stools

wire base, counter height

Room and Board Elton bookcase

R&B Elton

Walnut and natural steel

Case Study Ceramics planter with walnut stand

Case Study planter

Small for my Snake plant

Case Study Ceramics planter with walnut stand

Case Study planter

Large for my rubber tree

Home automation

I use the Amazon Echo along with some Insteon devices to control lighting in my house. It's a wonderfully convenient solution and I've found Echo to be handy for other basic things like setting alarms, telling me about the news that day, weather and searching for basic info. I also have the smaller Echo Dot in my bedroom. Insteon has a bunch of other devices to control other aspects of your home but I'm just starting with these.

The Amazon Echo is also pretty extensible and can learn new "skills" — integrations from third-party developers or even yourself. I've seen some folks write a service that Echo can use to control their Sonos sound system. I might hack together some functionality like that in the future. While I also have a Google Home, unfortunately it does not yet support the Insteon devices I use so it gets much less use than my Echo and Echo Dot.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

smart voice assistant

Insteon Central Controller Hub

Insteon Hub

Connects to router

Insteon plug-in lamp dimmer module

Insteon dimmer

for plug-in lamps

Insteon wall switch

Insteon wall switch

dimmer for ceiling lights

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

WeMo switch

Belkin's Wi-Fi smart plug

YI 1080p Home Camera Wireless IP Security Surveillance System (US Edition) White

YI Home Camera

1080p, MicroSD, cheap!

And while not exactly home automation related, I added the very affordable YI 1080p wireless security camera to this list. I previously had an older Dropcam but the monthly fee for my limited utility was a bit much. I purchased the Yi camera on sale and couldn't be happier with it. It's a feature-packed Nest Cam clone and while they have a paid service you can use, if you only want casual monitoring (for me mainly to make sure my place didn't spring a leak or some such home emergency while away — peace of mind) via their app you can stream from an internal microSD card.

I've also grown quite fond of lights from Pablo Designs. I replaced my kitchen pendant lights with ones from Pablo Designs and then purchased this tall Vella floor light to go in the corner. It has two independently swiveling aluminum louvers so you can control how the light casts itself as well has adjustable LED levels. I have this hooked up to the Belkin WeMo switch.

Home theater

The Sonos setup

After I got my own place and could invest in a real entertainment setup, I went after the simple choice for audio: Sonos. I don't care enough about audio to require a complex 5.1 or 7.1 setup with tiny little satellite speakers and cables throughout the room. I went with the wireless Sonos Playbar which can utilize two wireless Play:1 speakers as rear surround speakers and a wireless subwoofer I hide behind the couch.

I mounted the Play:1's on Flexson stands behind my couch and also got the Sonos Boost wireless transceiver so I didn't have to wire one of the speakers to ethernet (required when in the surround sound configuration to reduce latency). I also have a Play:1 in the bathroom.

As for the TV, I spent a long time researching whether to go 4K or not. I decided against 4K for now — the content is just not there right now (this was back in mid-2015 when I purchased it). I went with a 65-inch Sony with Android TV. While I enjoy the Android TV OS itself, the new Apple TV with Siri and trackpad remote was a bit too cool to pass up.

SONOS PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music

Sonos Play:1

compact speaker

SONOS PLAYBAR TV Sound Bar/Wireless Streaming Music Speaker

Sonos Playbar

TV sound bar

SONOS SUB Wireless Subwoofer

Sonos Sub

elegant wireless sub

FLEXSON AAV-FLXP1FS2021 Floorstand for PLAY:1 SONOS Speakers, Pair, Black

Flexson floorstands

SONOS BOOST for Sonos Wireless Network

Sonos Boost

wireless enhancer

Sony KDL65W850C 65-Inch 1080p 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV (2015 Model)

Sony 65"

LED, 3D, Android TV

The new Apple TV

Apple TV

Siri remote, 32GB

Kitchen

I use my kitchen a decent amount and cook dinner most evenings, at least during the weeks. My mornings usually start by making myself a cup or three of coffee. I finally ditched the spice grinder I had been using to grind my coffee beans and went with a burr grinder with various settings for how I'm making the coffee. Sometimes I brew with a percolator, pour over or french press, but usually I make a single cup with a Kalita Wave 185 dripper. Beyond that I love my Heath mugs and plates.

Breville toaster

Breville toaster

1800W convection smart oven

Breville tea maker

Breville tea maker

with robotic tea basket

Breville coffee grinder

Breville coffee grinder

burr with 60 settings

Kalita Wave 185

Kalita Wave 185

pour over coffee maker

Bodum Brazil 12‑Ounce French Press Coffee Maker, Green

Bodum French Press

12oz, Green

Bodum 11571-565 Pour Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter, 34 oz, Green

Bodum Coffee Maker

Pour over, 34oz, steel filter

Heath Ceramics

Heath ceramics

plates, mugs, bowls in indigo and slate

Global knives

hard to beat quality

Minimal Flatware Set of 4 by David Mellor

David Mellor flatware

minimal cutlery

Set of 6 Straight Glass Tumbler 12.25 oz

TSG Hard Strong glasses

thin 12oz tumblers

Le Creuset LS2021-2667 Cast Iron Signature Square Skillet Grill, 10 1/4 inch

Le Creuset skillet grill

cast iron, 10.25"

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, Pre-Seasoned, 10.25-inch

Lodge skillet

cast iron, 10.25"

Personal audio

I've gone through a myriad of personal audio setups over the years. I used to have studio monitors (recently Audioengine A5s and Rokit RP5G2s) for my desktop alongside larger circumaural headphones (Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro and Sennheiser HD 650). But I began to prefer having a simpler setup and cleaner desk. While of course also play music over the Sonos system, I opted to simplify my desk setup when I built my gaming and photo editing PC: I have a small portable Bose bluetooth speaker as the primary audio device.

At work I always use my Bose QuietComfort 20 noise-cancelling earbuds. The Bose are amazing at quieting surrounding office noise and airplane noise when traveling that I use these most of the time.

For outdoor activities (mainly running) I have used the sweat and weather resistant Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones for a few years now, in fact I'm on my second pair after I lost the first. And I keep coming back to Bose for a reason — I just absolutely love the fit with the little "shark fins" that keep them in place along with a more oval ear piece. I've tried various competitors that have wrap-around designs to try to achieve the same effect but it's never the same.

When wireless headphones started becoming popular I hesitated to adopt them until Bose came out with their SoundSport Wireless.. and they're amazing. The only downsides are that it's a tad bulky and does not have the new Apple W1 chip for better battery life and connectivity. But needless to say, it's very refreshing to not have to deal with a cord when running with my phone.

Bose QuietComfort 20 noise cancelling headphones

Bose QuietComfort 20

noise cancelling

Bose SoundSport Wireless

Bose SoundSport Wireless

super comfy

Bose SoundLink Mini II portable bluetooth speaker

Bose SoundLink Mini II

Portable wireless speaker

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

So good.

AirPods

These deserve their own section. After hearing nonstop praise about the AirPods, I decided to give them a whirl myself. I expected the audio quality to be okay but for the build quality and overall experience to be stellar. And that's exactly what I got. I would classify audio quality as acceptable, not impressive. There's only so much you can get with earbuds that do not have isolating tips or have as intricate internals as in-ear monitors. But that's where the downsides end.

Pairing them with an iOS device is quicker than any other Bluetooth device (it still works as a regular no-frills bluetooth headset for Android/Windows devices of course). If you take one out while listening to music, it pauses for you. There's also some basic tap gestures for pausing music or triggering Siri (and iOS 11 should bring more customization here). When you put them back in the case, they charge from an internal battery in the case — an impressive trick to getting closer to 24 hours of battery life out of the AirPods, compared to the less-than-ideal 5 hour battery life of the AirPods sans charging case.

While I was very happy with my Bose SoundSport wireless headset (and it's still my favorite for running), the convenient case, instant pairing and overall magic of the experience has the AirPods as my daily headset while on the go.

Everyday carry

I don't like carrying too much on me aside from keys, a super thin wallet and a pack of mints. My current wallet, a slim one from Carré Royal that I found at some store in Kyoto in 2013, only has room for 2 cards and a tiny sleeve for cash.

Asahi Mintia mints

Mintia mints

Crazy strong mints

Wayfarer sunglasses

Matte black

Blunt Metro Umbrella

Blunt umbrella

Compact yet handles up to 55mph winds

Kindle

I'm trying to read more—a lot more— this year. I have an Amazon Kindle Oasis and am very happy with it. It has quickly become my favorite device (well, excluding camera and phone) and I've read over 15 books on it so far this year. Be sure to read my post on the topic:

Reading more

Why I got a Kindle and set a goal to read 24 books in 2017

Pen and paper

Many of my design explorations (and various todo lists) start on paper so I'm always carrying a few pens and notepad in my backpack everyday. I'm a fan of Marvy Le Pen thin point felt tip pens. As for my notebook of choice, it varies. I've gone through a few Moleskines, Baron Fig notebooks, Fabriano notebooks and Dot Grid notepads. If I had to pick one favorite it would probably be the special edition Moleskines with embossed covers. And when I need a bit more space to sketch out some concepts, I switch to a larger Stonehenge sketchpad.

Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook Large Squared Black Hard

Moleskine

Large, squared

Stonehenge Pad White 9X12 15 Sheets

Stonehenge sketchpads

9x12", 15 sheets

Uchida Le Pen 0.3mm Point

Le Pen

Black, 0.3mm

Mobile devices

I seem to collect mobile devices these days from needing both iOS and Android devices to test designs, prototypes and app builds at work. However, my main devices are the Google Pixel, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7+. I also have an iPad Mini 3 but it rarely gets any use. Mainly just for bug testing my website here and there.

Google Fi is my wireless carrier of choice, having switched after more than decade on AT&T. In a nutshell Project Fi is great because your phone automatically switches to other phone networks (several supported) to get the best signal and speed, you have simple $10 per GB billing and it even works internationally at the same price!

Nexus 5X and Google Project Fi

You can never have enough battery life when traveling or just when out after a long work day so I always have one of my Anker battery packs in my bag. The elago M2 stand is necessary for holding my devices when doing lots of web development and previewing designs on any mobile device.

elago M2 mobile phone stand

elago M2

phone stand

Anker PowerCore 20000

PowerCore 20000

Anker's 20,000mAh portable charger

Anker PowerCore 10000

PowerCore 10000

Anker's 10,000mAh portable charger

Software

Photo editing

Adobe Lightroom is my post-processing tool of choice for my photo workflow. VSCO Keys lets me easily copy and paste develop settings between photos, and enable other keyboard shortcuts that make Lightroom faster for me. I don't get too crazy with add-on filter presets or plugins, I often just tinker manually. While I used to process my bracketed HDR images with Aurora HDR, I now prefer more realistic and natural HDR edits and think the basic HDR merging functionality and some slight tweaks inside Lightroom does the job just fine.

After I'm done editing my photos and have exported the ones I wanted to use, I move the RAWs to my NAS, which is also backed up to the cloud. Read more about this setup in detail in Storage for Photographers (Part 2).

Productivity

I use Bear app for iOS and macOS to keep track of various lists, links, to-do items, general notes, blog post drafts and extended thoughts. Likewise, I find 1Password to be an indispensable part of my daily workflow.

Development

Nothing special here: Google Chrome, Atom text editor (with M+ 1m typeface and Seti UI theme, Seti Syntax), iTerm 3, ImageOptim, JPEGmini and Panic Transmit (for Amazon S3). I have gotten used to SCM Breeze for simplifying common git commands and speeding up my git workflow.

Design

I use Sketch for high-fidelity design and Photoshop for cutting assets or fine-tuning photos. I'm also a huge fan of xScope. I also use the app Characters for easily copying and pasting odd symbols (bullets, arrows, pictographs, punctuation, et cetera) as HTML entities.

When it comes time to develop interactive prototypes of my designs, I always turn to Framer. It's a vital part of my design process. Learn much more in these two articles I wrote: Designing Twitter Video and Provide meaning with motion.

Misc software & services

iStat Menus, Dropbox, Crashplan, Authy (on mobile for 2 factor auth), Typography.com Cloud, GitHub, Gauges (site analytics)

Amazon S3 with Cloudfront for website hosting as well as misc storage. View the site changelog for more info.

This website

This site is based on Jekyll, hosted on S3/CloudFront with AWS Route 53 and all designed and developed by me. It has been my hobby for more than a decade. :)