Aaron Dowd’s Magical List of Tools and Toys for Work and Play
Here’s a rundown of all the gears/toys/tools I use to create and get my work done. I probably forgot a few things but I’ll add them as I think of them.
I have a late 2013 21.5” iMac (quad-core i5, 8gb of ram, and a 1tb hard drive). The stock spinning disk hard drive is too slow for me so I bought a 250gb Samsung T3 SSD and installed MacOS on it, and now I boot from that. It’s a powerful machine that I use for streaming podcasts and doing heavy video and screencast editing.
I keep an old 2010 Mac Mini at home that I use as a Skype machine (so I can live-stream podcast interviews). It’s slow but it works.
I recently got a used 2015 12” Retina Macbook (space gray). I got a good deal on it and it’s my favorite Mac ever. It’s the 1.3ghz Core M processor with 8gb of ram and a 512gb SSD, and it’s perfect for working on the road or at coffee shops. It can handle everything except the most intense work (I don’t record or edit screencasts on it, for example), but I was delighted to find that it can handle podcast editing with no problem.
I bought a Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard and this weird Evoluent Vertical Mouse back in 2014 because I was starting to get wrist pain from editing so many podcasts (seriously). The pain went away soon after, so I recommend them if you find your hands/wrists hurting from long hours of working on normal keyboard/mouse/trackpads.
My audio interface is a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (1st Gen) with 8 mic inputs and a bunch of outputs. I rarely use more than one or two of the inputs, but I wanted to have something with multiple inputs in case I ever get around to recording full bands at my house.
I also have an old Zoom H4N that I use for recording away from home.
Most of the time I’m listening to music and podcasts and doing podcast editing on my $10 Panasonic Earbuds.
I have a pair of Adam F5 studio monitors but I haven’t hooked them up yet. I really like headphones.
My main podcasting/screencast mic these days is the Shure Beta 87A. It’s affordable ($250 new, or around $150 used), rejects a ton of background noise, and just sounds great. I used to have a Shure SM7B but I sold it after using the Beta 87A for a couple weeks.
I keep a Shure MV88 (iOS lighting mic for my iPhone) in my backpack for emergencies or situations when I want to get better audio for a video.
I bought a $15 Neewer boom arm to hold my Beta 87A mic and while it’s not a great boom arm, it’s nice for the price. I have a variety of other mic stands from random places and I buy my mic cables from Monoprice because they’re affordable and well-made.
Logic Pro X is my main podcast recording and editing app and I love it.
For cleaning up and repairing damaged audio, I use Izotope RX5. It’s a standalone app but it comes with plugins that I use inside of Logic.
I use Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype for recording Skype conversations.
I have a Logitech C920 webcam that I record video with when I’m screencasting. It’s nice and only $60.
If I want to crank out a bunch of words, I have an app called Flowstate that will delete everything I’ve written if I stop writing for more than 8 seconds. Pretty brutal, but it helps me stay focused for 10–30 minutes at a time.
I have a problem with buying writing apps, apparently.
Time Tracking and Productivity
You can never have too many backups. As my friend Justin Michael says, “If you’ve only got 1 backup, you really have zero backups.” Maybe it was Sean McCabe who said that. Whatever.
Other Stuff I Like
I use Alfred for clipboard management.
I read news/blogs with Reeder 3 (RSS feed reader).
I use Airmail 3 for email.
I have a little app called Affiliate that automatically adds Amazon or iTunes affiliate tags to any links I copy from Amazon or the Mac App Store.
I play Yamaha Absolute Maple Custom drums (12, 16, 24), a 14x8 C&C snare, and Meinl Byzance cymbals (14, 18, 20, 22).
Dang. That’s a lot of things. Leave a comment if you have questions!