Light and Nimble Setup / by Modern Adversary

Over the years I have iterated over what I have as a set of computing devices and electronics. From the late 90s heavy desktop + monster server combo, to the current, super light weight and portable laptop + iPhone.

The reason I'm bringing this now, is because I just realized that I've gotten to the point where I can work from anywhere, at any time. The only thing I need is one electrical socket, and a good internet connection.

My current setup is simple:

  • MacBook: 12" with a retina display and all day battery.

  • iPhone XS: powerful, with access to everything I need right there.

My rationale when choosing the small 12" MacBook, as opposed to a more powerful and bigger screen MacBook Pro, was that most of what I do centers around writing, coding, visualizing, the occasional graphics editing, some sound editing for the podcast, and some media consumption. I wanted portability and light weight. The 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 was more than enough for that. The MacBook disappears on any bag I carry, whether the small sleeve I use to carry it by itself, a 10L GORUCK Bullet or a 21L GORUCK GR1.

It is a simple, light and fast machine. The battery last most of the working day, so even when I work from a cafe, and I have a full charge when I start, I can usually finish the day without needing to plug the laptop to the electrical outlet.

The iPhone, on the other hand, it's something I wish was different. I still think the perfect iPhone would be the size of an iPhone 5S, but with the edge to edge screen of the current iPhone XS. Same screen real-estate of the iPhone 7 and 8, but with the smaller size and lighter weight of a 5S. Maybe Apple will do that, one day...

In the meantime, I carry an iPhone XS. It is powerful, battery life is decent, and with the current collection of apps, I can do most work from there, if needed.

Which brings me to the applications I use on both devices.

Like with most things, I believe in light and fast, and remaining nimble. So, I tend to try to do most with the native apps that come with Mac OS X and iOS.

In many cases, those apps are not all they could be, Apple is a hardware company first, so their software sometimes is... Well, not all that could be. In those cases, I try to find the simplest app I can to achieve the goal. I want simplicity of interface, and simplify of workflow. I don't want to be confused when I look at an app. I want it to be fast, intuitive, and not offend my eyes at the same time.

So, current set up by device, on top of the native apps.


  • nvAlt: A different version of the original Notational Velocity with some additional features. I used this for fast, keyboard only, note taking. I keep it in sync with SimpleNote on the iPhone.

  • Wunderlist: Keep projects and personal todo lists and info. This is slowly being phased out by an online tool (more soon...).

  • Xcode and golang: development tools. I do most of the coding on the tool below or on VIM, though.

  • Sublime Text: One of the best coding text editors out there. Customizable, and powerful.

  • Little Snitch: well, you know...

  • Slack: for team comms.

  • 1Password: the best password manager out there.

  • BackBlaze: for backup.


  • Wunderlist

  • SimpleNote

  • Instagram

  • 1Password

  • Duo Mobile: for the 2FA (2 factor auth) requirements

  • Google Mail, Calendar, Keep, Meet and Documents: for work on the road

  • Kindle: books.

  • Spotify: music.

  • Signal: secure comms.

  • Slack: team comms.

  • Uber + Lyft: world rides.

Simple does it.

Right now, I am working on a bench right next to a lake, near a cafe with a good internet connection. I can access all my stuff online, and I get to see people rowing on the early morning.

Can't beat portability and mobility.

Stay light.