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.

Urban Commute Kit by Modern Adversary

A couple of weekends ago, a good friend (former JSOC, now turned techie for the win) asked me what was my urban commute kit. The things I carry in my backpack on top of my laptop. Since this is a question I get asked very often, I’ll drop all the contents here, so I can point people to the answer.

One thing, though, like with my digital setup, I go light. I have been trying for several years different combinations, and looping on what works and what doesn’t for me. It might not work for you. Both my friend and I commute to heavily populated urban areas, and it makes sense to have a streamlined backpack, that is out of the way, yet has the right kit to cover your needs.

Pictured above is everything I carry with me, aside from the laptop. The contents are:

That is really it. The kit is simple, yet versatile enough to adapt to many situations. I can move it to a very small backpack (like the Arc’teryx Blade 6 or GORUCK Bullet 10), or to a bigger pack (like a GORUCK GR1) if I need to carry gym stuff, more gear for work.

Check the contents on the Law Industries pouches:

For this setup to work, you need training. Well, you need training regardless, but when you are going light, and rely partially on your kit, and partially on your knowledge and experience, you need to train. Practice.

And then practice some more.