Tools I use

Occasionally I’m asked for recommendations of the tools and equipment I use.

Home-working workstation

Keyboard, mouse, and hotkeys

  • Logitech MX Keys for Mac - ~£100

    • In addition to occasional Windows laptops for whichever work project I’m on, I use a Mac Mini, and given that I was trying to use more keyboard shortcut keys, was struggling with a Windows keyboard. In particular, I wanted the Control key in the bottom left corner, rather than the Function key. I got this keyboard almost new from someone on eBay who wanted the MX Keys but thought he was buying the Windows version, although my experience was that it works fine with a Windows laptop. If you want the version with the mixed keycaps to go between Mac and Windows, that’s the Logitech MX Keys S Wireless Keyboard. It has a very reassuring weight, and is a very pleasing typing experience. Although I have installed the Logi Options software, I don’t use many of the configuration options that offer, as I prefer the flexibility from Karabiner-Elements
  • Klim Chroma Gaming Keyboard UK layout - ~£25

    • When I was working in an open-plan office, my colleagues were easily able to tell when I was writing an email on the “standard” HP keyboard, and I was often asked if I was angry with it! I got it during the 2020 lockdown, in order to share a working space with my wife. It does have RGB backlit keys, which I quite liked. There’s quite a lot of travel in the keys, but it was a fun keyboard. After 2.5 years of solid typing, the keycaps were starting to fade on some common keys, and I managed to snap the Shift key. I was very pleasantly surprised that Klim had very responsive support and sent me a new keyboard within a couple of days of emailing with photos of the issues.
  • (Mac): Hyperkey

    • This was my first introduction to a hyper key (although see below for my use of Karabiner), which is intended to

      Convert the caps lock key or any modifier key to the hyper key, all four modifiers combined: ⌃⌥⌘⇧

      The hyper key acts as an additional modifier key that you can use in any app with keyboard shortcuts.

  • (Mac): Keyboard Scroller

    • Given that I had a hyper key, I use Keyboard Scroller to set the following to reflect pseudo-Vim keybindings:

      “Scroll up” to ⌃⌥⇧⌘K

      “Scroll down” to ⌃⌥⇧⌘J

      “Jump up” to ⌃⌥⇧⌘U

      “Jump down” to ⌃⌥⇧⌘D

  • (Mac): Karabiner-Elements

    • When I first got a Mac, in order to get my Windows keyboard to approximate a good location for Control, Option and Command keys, I used Karabiner Elements. Now that I have a Mac-first keyboard, I don’t need those Modifications, but I do have three “Complex Modifications” (imported from Karabiner-Elements complex_modifications rules), one of which means I no longer need the single-use Hyperkey app:
      • Right Option Key -> Hyper Key (⌃⌥⇧⌘)

Laptop stand

  • Kensington Laptop Stand - £14
    • This is such a simple solution - a well-made piece of plastic, adjustable to multiple heights, meaning that I didn’t need to buy a second monitor in order to have the screen at the right height.


  • 27-inch Iiyama ProLite XUB2792QSU-B1 - 2560x1440 Quad HD resolution - £185.

    • In summer 2021, when it seemed that the patterns of remote and hybrid working were here to stay, I purchased this Quad HD Iiyama. It’s a great panel, and has HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort (similar to the Dell below, with HDMI replacing VGA in that monitor). It was £250 when I purchased the B1 model. Scan now offers the B6 revision for £185, although check the specifications closely - looks like it might now offer 2 x HDMI ports, and 1 x DisplayPort.
  • 24-inch Dell UltraSharp U2412M monitor - 1920x1200 resolution

    • This is no longer available for sale, but was £210 when purchased in 2012. I’m quite “old-school”, and didn’t much love the introduction of HD monitors, “losing” 120 pixels. This was my main monitor for years, and after 11 years is still going strong. It’s now a competent second monitor and gives the flexibility of VGA, DVI and DisplayPort, meaning that I can connect quite a range of devices between the two monitors and my docking station.

Docking station

Screen recording and course generation

  • Snagit screen capture - £61
    • A friend who did lots of internal training in big US companies recommended this, and I bought it. For a long time, I thought it was “just” a fancy screenshot generator, but it’s so much more, and does a great job of screen capture. I found that my workflow was to record the screen and audio with Snagit, and record 2-20 minutes, then pull into Camtasia to edit, although there are some nice basic editing tools in Snagit.
  • Camtasia - £174/year subscription or £291 outright
    • I’d known about Camtasia for years, and bought it on a deal a couple of years ago. It’s billed as “The best all-in-one screen recorder and video editor”, so has quite a lot of overlap with Snagit (there is a Camtasia/Snagit bundle for £320). It’s been excellent for my needs of recording a “narrated slideware” type course, but I think it would do a great job on more general video. I haven’t used any more professional video-editing software so can’t compare, but it was wonderfully functional in being able to tightly edit my course, and being able to throw the audio out to Audiate for further editing was seamless.
  • Audiate - £193/year or £29/month
    • This was more niche but has been wonderful to work with. Its transcription abilities (with my accent) were excellent, and I found the audio effects were sufficiently good that I could keep with my more entry-level USB microphone (the Samson Q2U I review on this page). Its ability to allow you to edit video, by editing the words is where it really shines. I didn’t make quite as much use of this feature as I thought I would, because I was tightly editing what I displayed on screen, but I can see it being hugely helpful for further videos.

Audio equipment

USB audio

XLR audio

Portable headphones

  • EarFun Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds - £28
    • First bought these for a nephew, and then when on offer, bought them for me. My wife has fancy Apple earbuds, but these are fine for me (also paired to an older iPhone) - I find that I can wear just one if I’m driving the kids somewhere, and catch up on podcasts, while still being able to concentrate on them. They charge over USB-C, but see below for my recommendation of an Anker Power Bank which handles that too.

Desk accessories

  • Bonsaii Micro Cut Shredder, 6 Sheet, P-4 - £39
    • This was in order to replace a Fellowes Powershred M-8C 8 Sheet Cross Cut shredder. In terms of shredding, it does an excellent job, with much smaller “micro” cuts rather than short strips (so, think tiny squares rather than 2cm rectangles). The shredding top does have a tendency to fall off the collection bin on which it sits, which can be annoying if it’s full of tiny bits of paper. I tend to collect things to shred in a bag next to the shredder, and then shred in bursts over the course of a couple of days, as I’m trying to get through a backlog of lots of filing we’ve cleared out


  • LE1000 LED torch - £15 for 2

    • After camping in the summer, realised that my old faithful torches weren’t very bright, and ate through batteries at an alarming rate. When my daughter needed a torch for a school trip, I got a two-pack, and they were so good, I bought another one, so our family of four all get a torch each. Bright (but not so bright they would feel like car headlights), and easily adjustable between a wide and a very focused beam.
  • Anker Power Bank 20W with USB-C - £40

    • In order to charge older iPhones, and Amazon Fire tablets, I purchased this, and it’s been great. It is quite heavy (but was fine in the pocket of my cargo shorts), and we were able to keep our devices topped up for 4 days. I particularly liked that you charge over USB-C, but can also use USB-C to charge a newer device.

Heating system

  • Replacement Synchronous Motor - £15
    • Our heating system has 3 zones (hot water, heating, underfloor heating in the kitchen), and in the 11 years we’ve had the system, we’ve had two “synchron” motors fail. These were relatively easy to fix, as they are just two wires, and you don’t touch the plumbing itself. There’s no way I would have decided to do this myself, unless I’d watched this excellent video from Skill Builder: How to Repair a Motorised Central Heating Valve


  • STANLEY FatMax Automatic Wire Stripper - £23

    • From messing around with electronics as a teenager, I’d never had a proper wire stripper. If only I’d had one of these back then, it would have made things so much easier! This is a product which does the job perfectly, and genuinely puts a smile on my face when using - it’s great!
  • Kewtech KEWCHECK103 Mains Wiring Socket Tester - £18

    • After I did a simple replacement of a socket, I wanted to be reassured that I’d done it correctly. Given that the UK wiring standard now has additional earth sheathing, when this slipped down such that the earth contact wasn’t being made, this detected it instantly.
    • ✔️ SIMPLE TO USE: The Kewcheck 103 Socket Tester allows you to easily check if Live, Neutral and Earth wires are wired correctly on any UK plug socket. Simply plugs into the socket for results in seconds
    • ✔️ DUAL RESPONSE: The LED lights integrated into this socket tester will then light up in a certain way depending on what’s detected, and the product will either emit a continuous, warbling or no tone depending on what’s detected
    • ✔️ QUICK AND EASY: Designed to easily give quick and clear indication of the status of a socket’s internal wiring without the need to remove the socket panel from the wall.
    • ✔️ 14 WIRING CONDITIONS: All of the possible indications are displayed on the front of the Kewcheck103 to help with easily understanding the test results for each socket