Workstation / Hardware
13” MacBook Pro, M1 , 8GB RAM (2020)
I was using a 2017 MacBook Pro before this laptop and purchased this updated model because the typing experience is phenomenal. I promise you, when you're writing 40/50,000 words for a book or creating hundreds of slides of content, that becomes wildly important. I’ve never heard the fans turn on a single time, even under fairly serious loads - and I only bought the base model.
28” Samsung C27F Curved Monitor
Years of working in corporate environments has completely removed my ability to happily work on one monitor. I'm honestly not sure what the curved aspect to the monitor is meant to do, exactly. But it sure does look cool!
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard For Business
The design looks weird, for sure - I'll give you that. However, as someone who spends an enormous amount of time furiously typing away at a keyboard, things like angle and wrist cushioning become very noticeable. My previous keyboard after long days would cause me some pretty noticeable wrist pain, and that has completely disappeared after switching to the Sculpt.
Logitech ERGO M575 (I think?)
Maybe it's just because I missed the tactile experience of a trackball mouse from when I was a kid, but I recently switched back to a trackball mouse after moving to Grant Thornton, where I got issued what I'm 99% sure is a Logitech ERGO M575. Same sketch as the Sculpt ergonomic keyboard, you can use this thing for hours straight without a hint of wrist fatigue. Other than that....it's a mouse, I don't know what to tell you.
Parallels Desktop for Mac
This lets you run Kali Linux virtual machine images on Apple Silicon. A lot of your usual VMs won't work on M1 chips, because it's not the usual x86 processor architecture that you're likely used to running. Apple Silicon (M1 chips and onwards) are ARM-based and need specific emulation to run x86-based VMs. Parallels costs about $90 for the year, and VirtualBox 7.0 onwards can also run on Apple Silicon now - but Parallels has the better user experience, in my book.
Visual Studio Code (VSCode)
Easy to use, hundreds of extensions, integrates with Terraform, Docker and GitHub. I'm sure there are IDEs that give you better nerd-cred, but I am a proud VSCode scrub. Does exactly what I need it to do, and haven't encountered something it can't do yet.
I spend a lot of time in the terminal messing around with various things and I stumbled across the OhMyZsh Github repo one day. This overhauls the MacOS basic ZSH terminal shell and lets you tweak it with a variety of pre-built templates. Mine lets me know what Git branch I'm working in as well as highlighting the folder structure to make sure I never end up actioning something in the wrong place!
If you're really new to learning to code (especially Python) I have to recommend Mu as a first REPL/IDE for it. It's so easy to use and definitely catered towards people who haven't coded before. I've moved on to VSCode for pretty much everything now, but I have a big soft spot for it and its little snake(?) logo.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
This is what the Cybersecurity Field Manual is published and distributed through. If you're looking to self-publish something you've written on Amazon/Kindle and want to set up everything to run through them, you can't go wrong with KDP. There's a fair bit of documentation for the KDP platform and the analytics data is pretty good considering you don't pay for the platform. Amazon handles all the printing and fulfilment and there's a choice of revenue splits per sale. I think mine is roughly 70% me/30% Amazon in return for having to do virtually nothing. There are likely better deals elsewhere but KDP works for me.
I write most of my blog articles in Markdown and wrote the Cybersecurity Field Manual and Networking Basics for Hackers in Microsoft Word. However, if you're looking to plan out a long-form writing project from scratch (like I am currently), Scrivener is a paid piece of software that serves as a one-stop-shop for doing that. You can plan out, skeleton and write an entire book in the software and it's a piece of cake to use.
The BEST $12 a month I spend. This site has provided starting points for course material, commercial work, the Cybersecurity Field Manual book cover, my last 4 resumes - you name it. If you've got an eye for design, but no inspiration right now, grab one of their templates to start and just let your imagination run wild. You can also download your designs in a range of formats, both print and web-friendly.
I have no idea how this software is still free. Every diagram I've drawn in the last couple years came out of Draw.io. For any architects or engineers out there, there's a ton of pre-made templates and most of the AWS/Azure icon set.
Adobe Color Wheel
If you're struggling to pick out a color palette for your website, this website lets you pick a base color and a palette scheme and does the rest of the work for you! The FrontEnd Engineer course I took had a whole section on Color Theory, and I've used this site to help choose color schemes ever since.
If you're looking for some interesting SVG patterns to use as background images or to spice up the look of any UIs you're building, Haikei is a great little app that generates a range of unique images you can download and use. I used Haikei for the wave designs for the original CodeBloodedCyber website.
I was hopelessly addicted to social media and my phone for years, and this app is specifically designed to make opening time-suck apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc. annoying enough that you don't bother anymore. There are plenty of apps that do this, too - but this one actually worked for me.
Dot Networking Cards
These things are ace. You buy one of their snazzy-looking cards and they have a QR code on the back. You set up a Dot Profile with only the information you want to publicly share on it, and anyone you want to network with just needs to scan the QR code with their phone camera and the Dot Profile comes up. They can then download everything at once into a phone contact with everything already set up! Really cool replacement for the old-school business card.