I recently switched to Linux for my primary personal computer. I use crouton on an Acer c720 Chromebook. It runs all day on a single charge and is extraordinarily capable, thank you very much. (I still keep my old macbook pro around for some things, but it’s increasingly just a data server).

I blog and maintain my website using a combination of Octopress/Jekyll, markdown, nearlyfreespeech, and Git.

Academic input

Docear is the long-sought-after solution to my literature organization conundrum–and then some. I use it for organizing all kinds of things. But it’s built for–and works well with–academic literature (i.e. pdfs of journal articles).

I’m a fan of MOOCs (massive open online courses) to be very useful, particularly for topics in math and CS. I feel compelled to say that I was on the MOOC bandwagon before you were. Some of my notes from various MOOCs are over here.

Academic output

I do a lot of statistical computing using R. This is not the place for an exhaustive list of R-related tools I use, for they are many. I’m (sometimes) working on a guide to getting started with R over here

RStudio deserves special mention. It’s an open-source IDE for R with lots of useeful integrations. The RStudio team (which includes the prodigious and prolific Hadley Wickham) puts out many good packages and has assumed flagship status in the R flotilla.

I use Git for version control. Some of my repositories also live on Github, but generally not my in-progress research projects.

I now write most things in Markdown / RMarkdown. I find this is a good middle-ground between Word (proprietary, poor math support, poor version control integration) and LaTeX (steep learning curve, hard-to-read source). Pandoc converts Markdown to just about any format I could want, including LaTeX and docx. For things where real-time rendering is important, e.g. equation-heavy documents, I’ve started using Haroopad. editR is an attempt–still in development–to do something similar for RMarkdown. I’ve only used it a smidge and found the current version to be unreliable (lots of crashes).


Sometimes the thing you need is the thing that works, and the thing that works is proprietary. Here are some that I find useful enough to spring for the premium version:


I ride a Surly Cross-Check, which I use for everything from commuting to touring to (ocasionally) racing.


I listen to a lot of podcasts. Here are my favorites (in the order in which I think of them, which roughly corresponds to my degree of admiration)

  • Radiolab
  • Planet Money
  • 99% Invisible
  • Reply All
  • Startup
  • BBC Global News / The World This Week
  • This American Life
  • The Moth
  • Song Exploder
  • All Songs Considered
  • Conversation Parade (an Adventure Time podcast)
  • Talking Machines
  • The Allusionist