How I set up my machine

January 07, 2019

I started at Lambda School this year, writing software to help students and staff be more productive. As with any modern software job, I had to set up a new laptop with all of the tools I rely on each day to get the job done.

After setting up the laptop and tightening up a few pieces, here is my definitive guide to what I install, and why.

The Hardware

15" Macbook Pro (Space Gray) - Intel core i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD

I've debated whether or not I want to dive into a Thinkpad with Ubuntu, but my inertia with Mac is pretty strong. No reason to try something new just for fun at this juncture. Same thing applies to Vim, although I may take some time to get into it at some point.

Also, I don't particularly care about Space Gray vs. Silver, but my home laptop is silver so space gray helps me keep track of which one I'm using.

Mac Apps

  • Spark for eMail
  • Firefox
  • Spotify
  • Slack
  • Notion
  • Zoom Conference
  • 1Password
  • Amethyst for window management
  • Dropbox
  • Keybase
  • F.lux
  • Fohkuhs Pomodoro Timer
  • Visual Studio Code
  • iTerm 2
  • Docker for Mac
  • for local psql command support

Command Line Work

You can tell a lot about an engineer by the contents of his shell profile.

iTerm 2 is my preferred terminal since it's easy to configure and the profiles are transferrable between machines.

ZSH & Oh-my-zsh

I like the plugins Oh-my-zsh comes packed with: git, docker, node, yarn.

I use the agnoster theme with powerline-fonts installed.

nvm & node

Although I prefer asdf for versioning dependencies, however to be consistent with our team standards I installed nvm for handling our node versions.

I set up an ~/.nvmrc file as well for some global defaults as needed, including version pinning for dependencies.


I install so it's easy to get psql on my command line.

I have a .psqlrc file to set up table formatting and other features of psql so it becomes my go-to tool for interacting with postgres (typically over GUI clients).


I install Homebrew so that it's easy to get components I need installed. I typically install fx for reading JSON files and wget out of the gate.

Visual Studio Code

VS Code is a fantastic code editor that can be extended to essentially be a full IDE. Although someday I might jump into tmux and vim, VS Code is fast, easy to use and set up, and it works very well.

My preferred base extensions:

  • DotENV
  • ESLint
  • Docker
  • markdownlint
  • GitLens
  • npm
  • vscode-icons
  • VS Live Share

I add in additional extensions for other language supports.

Ad, Tracking, and other blocking with DNSMasq

DNSMasq is a bundle of network infrastructure services, including a DNS resolver. I use DNSMasq to block trackers, ad networks, and time wasting websites cold. Here's how setup works:

  • brew install dnsmasq
  • Edit /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.conf so it includes the following line: conf-dir=/usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.d/,*.conf
  • Add a directory /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.d
  • Configure basic dnsmasq settings by adding a file to /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.d/resolvers.conf with the following contents:
# Tell dnsmasq to get its DNS servers from this config file only
# Add alternate DNS servers
  • Configure another dnsmasq.conf file time-wasters.conf with the following format:
address=/ # This stops any domain under
  • sudo brew services start dnsmasq


I use for search


  • 1Password extension
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • Privacy Badger
  • Terms of Service; Didn't Read
  • uBlock Origin

Other details

I will update this with further details, but for now this is the base setup I prefer to use on my system.