Things I Use

Oct 6, 2023Last modified: Oct 6, 2023

I’m used to being frugal. Because of that, most of my equipment and tool decisions are focused on being economical. Most of my hardware is second hand. I rarely pay for software.

The Phone - LG V20 #

A highly-repairable phone with good camera hardware and software.

It’s already 2023. LG has left the smartphone market, and this phone was released in 2016.

I love this phone, it’s just good quality hardware. Only problem is its size – It’s too big for one hand operations. I prefer smaller phones because I don’t play a lot of games and I won’t benefit from the extra screen space since I only use it for communication and when I’m stuck outside the house waiting for a jeepney.

Most of my phones are second-hand phones. This means that I don’t have much control on which ones I can get. What I’ve noticed is that they’re almost always too big. My theory is that smaller phones are not as popular, possibly break easier (battery?), is not as repairable as the bigger phones or their owners just like them so much that not a lot of them end up in the second hand market.

Being in the Philippines, I have access to Chinese sellers overseas selling second-hand hardware. I bought my second hand LG phone last 2022 for 60USD (second hand + not a popular brand in the PH). This phone superseded my trusty Exynos Samsung Note 4 (its micro-USB port has worn down. In my little experience, I think USB type-C is the more robust connector).

I came across this phone in a Youtube comment claiming that it’s the ’newest' phone with the earphone jack, IR blaster, easily replaceable battery. It’s true, the battery is replaceable, and the phone can be taken apart (and assembled) very easily. See this teardown video . (It’s just 3 mins!).

Repairability is underrated today. I broke the camera glass cover last month and it took me less than 10 minutes to replace it. If the battery degrades, I can replace it in less than a minute. I don’t have a lot of money or time so this phone works great for me.

The best thing about it is its Snapdragon processor. If you’re not in the android scene, the Snapdragon is the most popular CPU. Because of this, most custom ROMs (Custom Android OS) is made for processors by Snapdragon. My previous Note 4 sported an Exynos which was a bummer because I couldn’t install a custom ROM on it.

I’m running a custom ROM in this phone that allows it to be upgradeable to Android 9. In 2023, that’s old but it works fine for me.

software #

  • OS: Android 9 Custom ROM. Rooted.
    • Banking apps will usually not run on rooted phones but there are ways to bypass that and I don’t have any problems with using those. I have five banking apps and they all work after toggling some settings.
  • F-droid
    • Installed in every single phone I have. This is the first place I check for apps.
  • Terminal emulator
    • In case I need to do a quick network scan.
  • Syncthing
    • I used Google Docs for everything because I need my files to be accessible everywhere (cloud sync). It was reliable but Syncthing replaces that functionality pretty well. At home, files from my laptop are synced to the phone. At work, files from phone are synced to the work computer. When I’m outside, I can edit these files in my phone and it will sync to the other devices. I sync my markdown files with it. It’s truly a personal cloud. I think it’s the correct solution for me. I can’t think of anything that will be better than this.
  • Markor
    • The reason I don’t use google docs is because of Markor. It’s a really good markdown editor. That’s it, I don’t need to say anything. If you’re using Android, it’s on F-droid. Though, I still have a Google Docs app in my phone for work-related purposes.
  • G-Cam
    • It’s the camera app for Pixel phones but configured for other phones. The software features are amazing. It takes great photos but controls are limited compared to the stock app which has manual controls for almost everything (LG proprietary app). This app is a basic camera that applies advanced image processing compared to the stock app.
  • Firefox for Android
    • The key to a good experience in Android.
    • uBlock Origin installed to block ads and make websites run faster, and consume less bandwidth.
    • I watch Youtube a lot but I don’t have their app. I use it in Firefox. No ads, and plays in the background, even picture-in-picture mode. I used to install YT Vanced for this. Not anymore.
    • Surprisingly, plenty of apps are usable in the browser (Upwork, Skype). Though without the notifications (last I tried).

The computer - Thinkpad T480 #

It’s a typical machine I got it last 2021 for around 600USD. Second hand. What I like about it is its repairability, its ruggedness (I’m clumsy and careless), and its popularity.

I also consider how popular something is when shopping for a device. This is because it’s more likely to be updated faster, the bugs will be documented and resolved faster.

Hardware #

  • 16GB Ram
  • 128GB SSD
  • i7 8550u
  • 6-cell battery
  • I3 WM
  • USB Type C Magnetic charging
  • Bavin 65W PD GAN charger
  • This laptop has a metal lid. Most reviews online don’t have this. I think it’s the magnesium lid.

Software #

For most of my tasks, Neovim is the first thing I reach for.

  • Neovim
    • Treesitter
    • Packer package manager
    • Mason for managing LSP stuff
    • Telescope
      • I used to install a vscode like sidebar for nvim but I found telescope and realize it’s the better solution.
  • urxvt-d
    • I still use urxvt because it’s the best terminal out there.
    • It’s almost always available in the Debian repositories, it works on almost any hardware. Even on an Intel atom with 2gb of ram, it’s fast.
    • I run the daemon at startup (urvt-d) and call the client (urxvt) for every terminal. It starts fast. Kitty is faster but it’s not as light.
  • IBM Plex Mono.
    • I love this font for coding.
    • I don’t worry about double underscores (dunder, there’s a lot of them in python).
    • I just like the aesthetics of it.
  • Google chrome and Firefox
    • I use anything depending on my mood.
  • Vimium-C
    • I browse the web the vim way. I don’t have the mouse with me most of the time and it’s definitely better than using the trackpad for the kind of work I do

Software Stack #

I use Python and Javascript. Sometimes I dabble with Go just for its concurrency features which I find fun to use.

To build full-stack apps I use:

  • Django rest framework
  • React
  • Material-UI

Although, right now I’m moving to plain old Django templates, with HTMX, Alpine, and Tailwind. It’s a really ergonomic setup. I wrote a lot of JS in my previous job so I think I got the JS fatigue. I’m currently trying this out on my project .

Work Setup #

I work on the dining table. Here’s my setup:

Home setup

I put the laptop on top of the box so I can work standing up from time to time.

I’m looking to improve this situation. Right now, the house is too small for us, 40sqm (430 square foot) a family of 5.

I recently got hired so I’d like to commit on building a house of our own. We’ve been renting for the past 8 years.

Bikes #

A folding bike and a folding e-bike. I use a bike for transportation even if most people in the Philippines would get a motorcycle in my situation. Because bikes or e-bikes don’t need to be registered here and electricity and maintenance of these are cheaper.

I’m thankful that I don’t have to take the time every year to stand up in a long line to register yearly, and mess with legality because I have an e-bike.

I also used to pay 40USD (2,000 PHP) a month for the gym but because of the bike, I didn’t renew. Though I will probably register to a cheaper one again.

My parents have two motorcycles which are also reliable. It’s the only economical option if you’re going to need to bring a kid to school everyday. I think it could also work well for couples living together.

Clothing #

I live in a tropical climate. Most of the time it rains here every afternoon. Because of this, I wear things that dry easily and that I don’t mind getting wet.

I treat the rain as though it’s inevitable. You will get wet. Outside, I wear shorts, sandals, and a nylon jacket but I bring my clothes with me to change when I arrive at the destination. This way, I can still walk and take the public transportation (which I like doing because it’s cheap and convenient when it’s not peak hours).

I also bring an umbrella and sometimes sunglasses. I feel much more comfortable walking outside on a sunny day with sunglasses and an umbrella. The umbrella is also helpful when it’s raining so I always carry it.