Today, I’ll go through all of the business and electronic equipment I use to run my businesses. Since I follow the decentralized, low-cost Alpha 2.0 business model, I don’t use very much equipment in my businesses and my overhead is tiny. However, the stuff I do use needs to be very reliable, as well as conducive to my physical health and productivity.

My laptop is a Lenovo Yoga 720, pictured above. This is one of the best laptops I’ve ever owned in my life, and I’ve owned laptops since the mid 1990’s, well before they were popular. I was very nervous buying this computer, since because of my I.T. background, I was indoctrinated with the false belief that “the bigger the screen, the better!” Thus, I have used 17 inch laptop screens most of the last few years. The problem is that since I travel so often, these laptops were heavy and unruly, particularly in cramped airline or train seats.

So I bit the bullet, focused on something as small and light as possible, and got the Yoga with an only 13 inch screen. It really scared me, seriously. But oh man, I’m so happy I made that choice. This thing weighs as light as a feather and the screen is plenty large enough to do all of my usual work. The screen flips around to become a tablet, which is helpful when I watch movies or read ebooks. It’s very fast too (i7 processor with eight gigs of ram). Very happy with this purchase, and from now on, I will go for smaller, very light laptops instead of big badass ones.

The operating system I use is Windows 10, which I utterly hate in its native form. To make it actually usable, I downloaded and configured DoNotSpy10 which turns off all of Microsoft’s creepy spyware, then installed Classic Shell to make the Windows 10 interface look just like Windows 7, which I think was the best version of Windows Microsoft has ever invented. Now, my operating system actually works the way it should. (Screw you, Microsoft.)

I only have one other computer, a desktop computer that I had my brother custom build for me, to my specifications. It has a quad core processor, 16 gigs of ram, a top of the line video card, and is hooked to a 24 inch LCD TV that I use as a monitor. I use this computer only for fun stuff; playing computer games (I’m playing Civilization V again; so awesome) and watching movies. (I don’t really watch TV.) I do not allow any games or other fun crap on my laptop; that’s for business only, and that computer must run like a top at all times.

I used to have seven or eight computers years ago before I went minimalist. Today, two is all I need. The rest of my house simply has monitors with either a Roku or Google Chromecast attached. That’s all you really need. I don’t even have a TV signal coming into my house.

Next is my office chair, a Mirra 2. This is a $500 chair and is worth every penny if you work as much as I do. As I’ve talked about before, I hate spending money and you shouldn’t spend money either… but, the exception to this rule is with things you use every day, like your laptop, office chair, razor, mattress, etc. Those things should be as top of the line as you can possibly afford. I love my Mirra 2 and it’s made a noticeable difference in my back posture and productivity.

Next is my scanner, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300. It’s tiny, takes up hardly any desktop real estate, ultra fast, and problem-free. This is an old model you can’t get anymore, but any of the new ScanSnap models will work fine. I’ve had this thing for years and it still works perfectly. I wrote an article here about how integral this was for me to create my paperless office.

Next are my headphones. For a long time, I used a “normal” pair of noise cancelling headphones that was about $50. They worked okay, but then one day at the electronics store I tried on a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones, and I was blown away with how much better it blocked out the sound around me. At $350, it was expensive, but again, I travel constantly and use my headphones all the time, so it was worth it. I bought them a few months ago and I’m in love. I’m wearing them right now at a busy Panera Bread restaurant, listening to some relaxing music as I type this, and I can’t hear anything going on around me. Even better, there are no wires (it’s Bluetooth) which is fantastic for when I’m on the plane. They’re awesome.

My cell phone is a Galaxy S8+. My old Galaxy Note 3 was getting pretty worn out (had it for many, many years) so I finally upgraded this year. This new phone is okay; nothing fantastic. I like big phones because I watch a lot of video on them and do a decent amount of reading on them as well (though less now that my laptop doubles as a tablet). In the iPhone vs. Android debate, I think they’re both good phones, but I dislike Apple’s corporate-fascist attitude it has toward its products. Apple seems to think they own your iPhone, whereas Android and Samsung don’t give a crap and let you do whatever you want with it.

When I record any audio, like for my podcasts, I use my MXL Mics MXL-TEMPO-KR Condenser Microphone. It’s a little big, but it’s portable enough, sounds great, and I’ve never had a problem with it. It came highly recommended from my audio guy.

As a side note, my laptop has no driver installed for its internal microphone, so no hacker or spyware can spy on my audio. I also have a piece of electrical tape over the webcam at all times (unless I’m on a Skype video call), as well as tape over both my cameras in the front and back of my phone. Electrical tape is great because it stays on forever and can be easily removed and re-applied when needed. (I suppose spyware could hack the microphone on my phone, but there’s not much I can do about that without spending a lot of time and effort, and I’m not that paranoid.)

That’s really about it. Just a few items and that’s all I need to run several companies with a healthy six-figure income. It’s best to be a minimalist when it comes to business expenses; the lower your expenses, the more money in your pocket.

26 thoughts on “The Business Equipment I Use

  1. Hey Caleb,

    You aren’t worried about the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 incident?

    Or do the listed benefits of the phone outweigh the risk?

  2. What do you think about mac books? I’ve read some laptop reviews online saying how a MacBook is great for people who blog. You ever had one?

    Also, I’m a Civ 5 nerd! Idk if you have time but you should look into the vox populi mod. It’s like civ 5 but on steroids!
    Who’s your favorite Civ to play as?

  3. You aren’t worried about the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 incident?

    No. 2% Rule.

    What do you think about mac books?

    I think they’re fine but my attitude about Apple still stands.

    I’ve read some laptop reviews online saying how a MacBook is great for people who blog.

    That’s dumb. All you need to blog is a web browser and maybe a word processor. Every laptop in the universe has those two things. You could blog great with a clunky desktop you purchased back in 2005.

    You ever had one?

    No.

    Also, I’m a Civ 5 nerd! Idk if you have time but you should look into the vox populi mod. It’s like civ 5 but on steroids!

    Yeah, I’ve heard of that. Yes; at some point I’ll try it. It looks fucking insane. Civ V with all of the DLCs installed is probably the most advanced mainstream computer game ever designed; vox populi makes it more insane, you’re right. 🙂

    The problem is that mod transforms it into an entirely different game, and I don’t think I want to learn a new game right now.

    Who’s your favorite Civ to play as?

    I don’t have a single favorite and try to play as someone different every time. I tend to favor domination games so I usually pay a civ with a strong military. Right now I’m playing as the Aztecs; I was Japan before that.

  4. My laptop is a Lenovo Yoga 720

    What kind of battery life do you get out of it?

    In the iPhone vs. Android debate, I think they’re both good phones, but I dislike Apple’s corporate-fascist attitude it has toward its products. Apple seems to think they own your iPhone, whereas Android and Samsung don’t give a crap and let you do whatever you want with it.

    True but at least unlike Microsoft behaving like they own your pc with Win10, Apple does it right. I have just recently bought my first iPhone after using Android flagships since 2010. I thought I would regret it like I did with my laptop but holy shit I absolutely love the damn thing. Even the top Android phones simply can’t compare with ios speed, reliability and consistency in my experience. Still if Android ever gets close enough to ios in those categories I would gladly come back.

    Civilization V

    It’s not like Civ5 but I think you would like Anno series. It’s a very cool City builder + RTS hybrid game where you build a massive city and have to actually build an entire infrastructure to support it by using natural resources around it and building supply chains and trade routes. At the same time, you also have to engage with other AI or human players in diplomacy, trade and war in real time on a huge random map. It’s complex but very rewarding.

    If you ever decide to play it skip Anno 2205 (looks cool but it’s kinda shit compared to rest) and instead get either Anno 2070 if you like modern/futuristic or Anno 1404 if you like historic cities.

  5. You aren’t worried about the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 incident?

    Some people think having one ear is cool. Ever heard of Van Gogh?

  6. Please pardon the off topic.

    For playing blackjack, are there any good web sites for finding casinos with the best rules and numbers of decks?

  7. You aren’t worried about the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 incident?

    You really think they are going to make the same mistake twice. It can happen once and it won’t hurt them much but If new Samsung phones start catching fire again Samsung will take some real hits and they know it.

  8. What kind of battery life do you get out of it?

    About 7 hours if I’m careful, 6ish if I’m not. There is no CD player which is nice.

    True but at least unlike Microsoft behaving like they own your pc with Win10, Apple does it right.

    That’s a very good point. Microsoft has pretty much become Apple with Win10. Absolutely.

    It’s not like Civ5 but I think you would like Anno series.

    Yes, I’ve heard on Anno. Like you said, it seems like like a more advanced version of Sim City rather than Civ 5, but I’d like to try it someday.

    For playing blackjack, are there any good web sites for finding casinos with the best rules and numbers of decks?

    The closest thing you’ll come to is Wizard of Odds.

  9. Have you considered installing Linux, something like Ubuntu or Mint, on your laptop to get away from the Windows garbage? I just installed Ubuntu on an old MacBook of mine and not only has it breathed new life into it but I find I’m using it more than my brand new laptop. Worth considering since the Linux distros have gotten really good lately and pretty much offer almost anything you could get with a Mac or Windows machine without all the creepy stuff and it supports the open source movement.

  10. I really like my Lenovo Yoga 710 except for the power cord.  I’ve learned (the hard way) that Lenovo uses at least 3 different charger connections and only one is readily available.  I’d be sure and get a spare when purchasing (the store will probably have to special order).  This is especially true overseas, a client I travel with sometimes had his fail in Australia and there was only one in the country!

  11. You can install Windows 7 directly onto your laptop. I’d rather not have problems in the first place than rely on a program to suppress them. Mine also came with Windows 10, and for newer laptops, the key to making the switch (using a USB) is to load a usb 3.0 driver into the Windows installation files. It’s funny – without doing so, my computer would begin the Windows 7 installation, but since it lacked the 3.0 driver, the installer would lose sight of the usb it just came out of. Sort of like locking yourself out from your keys. 😀

  12. You can install Windows 7 directly onto your laptop. I’d rather not have problems in the first place than rely on a program to suppress them. Mine also came with Windows 10, and for newer laptops, the key to making the switch (using a USB) is to load a usb 3.0 driver into the Windows installation files. It’s funny – without doing so, my computer would begin the Windows 7 installation, but since it lacked the 3.0 driver, the installer would lose sight of the usb it just came out of. Sort of like locking yourself out from your keys. 😀

    By any chance, do you follow StyxHexenHammer666 on Youtube? I’m tired of left-wing and right-wing moralists, so his political speculation is a breath of fresh air for me.

  13. Thanks for this post Caleb, it’s very useful,

    Specially interesting for me was the chair, I have some back pain and I’m looking into ergonomic chairs right now.

    I’m joining the linux recommendation. Ubuntu is awesome, I can do 99% of my tasks with it and I can dual-boot for some very specific apps and some steam games.

    Civ V rules – Babylon FTW! 🙂

  14. ‘Yeah, I’ve heard of that. Yes; at some point I’ll try it. It looks fucking insane. Civ V with all of the DLCs installed is probably the most advanced mainstream computer game ever designed; vox populi makes it more insane, you’re right. ?’
    Did you evef try Crusader Kings 2

  15. Love the QC35s. Best headphones I’ve ever had besides possibly my Airpods (depending on the situation).

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree about Apple, but I can respect the decision to go with something different. Though I think people underestimate just how well Apple products work together, especially since the new iCloud update which allows you to access your documents folder from your phone. It’s so seamless to move between devices now that on the very rare occasions where I’m using non-Apple, non-Adobe software, I often forget to transfer the project files between my desktop and laptop. It’s just that convenient.

    Plus, Apple isn’t spying on you for 3rd party advertisers like Microsoft is. If you knew how much data the company I sell for collects from Android and Windows devices, it would scare you shitless.

    On the topic of the office chair, the Mirra 2 is really nice, but if you’re looking for a budget option, I’ve really been enjoying my Merax Racer (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0756WY4H1/). Much less expensive, but still great for posture. If I had the cash, I’d probably go for something more high end, but this one has been working great for me since I’ve had it.

  16. You are probably safe enough with your microphone, but there may a step that can make it safer. Most PCs have a port for the microphone of a headset to plug into. Just plug an unwired plug into it. That usually disconnects the internal microphone electrically. There will be no audio for anybody to hear.

  17. Have you considered installing Linux, something like Ubuntu or Mint, on your laptop to get away from the Windows garbage?

    Yes, however I’m 95% positive if I did that, at some point in the future I would need to download some kind of app for my work. that would not be compatible with Linux and I’d be fucked.

    And yes, I realize you can set up dual boot, but to me that ruins the entire point, at least from a productivity standpoint.

    I really like my Lenovo Yoga 710 except for the power cord.  I’ve learned (the hard way) that Lenovo uses at least 3 different charger connections and only one is readily available.

    The 720 uses a standard lightning USB for power.

    You can install Windows 7 directly onto your laptop.

    Often you can’t. On many newer laptops, the Win7 install can’t even see the new types of hard drives (regardless of if use a USB boot or not), and even if you can somehow get around that, many of your hardware drivers wouldn’t work or would be funky.

    For many years I did what you did; downgraded my OS from 8 or 10 to 7, but it’s at the point now where that’s too complicated for smooth operation. Also, Win10, despite the fact it sucks, does have some advantages over Win7, like much faster boot times, for example. So using Win10 but making it as close to Win7 is the least bad scenario in my view.

    do you follow StyxHexenHammer666 on Youtube?

    I know who he is and have seen a few of his vids, yeah.

    I’m tired of left-wing and right-wing moralists, so his political speculation is a breath of fresh air for me.

    He’s right-wing.

    Civ V rules – Babylon FTW!

    I’ve heard that but I don’t have Babylon in my installation! Or Korea! It sucks! You can’t get those DLC’s anymore (as far as I know) without re-buying the entire game.

    Did you evef try Crusader Kings 2

    No, but I really want to play that. Someday.

    I can only play video games one hour per day, a few days a week, so it takes me a very long time to get through a game, and I can’t play very many.

    Though I think people underestimate just how well Apple products work together, especially since the new iCloud update which allows you to access your documents folder from your phone. It’s so seamless to move between devices now that on the very rare occasions where I’m using non-Apple, non-Adobe software, I often forget to transfer the project files between my desktop and laptop. It’s just that convenient.

    Good point and I agree. Android isn’t quite as seamless there.

    Plus, Apple isn’t spying on you for 3rd party advertisers like Microsoft is.

    No, instead its spying on you for Apple. I don’t see a big difference. And Microsoft isn’t on my phone; just Google and Samsung (who also do their own spying, I know). And I’ve disabled all the Microsoft shit on my laptop, as I said.

    If you knew how much data the company I sell for collects from Android and Windows devices, it would scare you shitless.

    Oh yes, I already know. It’s insane. Privacy is gone.

  18. You are probably safe enough with your microphone, but there may a step that can make it safer. Most PCs have a port for the microphone of a headset to plug into. Just plug an unwired plug into it.

    Understood, but the Yoga 720 does not have a microphone jack; you must use USB microphones (which I do).

  19. Just got a Staples Hyken for around 120. Didn’t want to spend the money on a Herman Miller or Steelcase. At least I got the warranty so I can pretty much get a refund if it breaks.

    Gonna get a Lenovo T4xx in a few months to replace my old 14″.

    Would like a QC35, but that’s more of a want than need so that’ll have to wait.

    What mattress do you use? I’m looking for a new one.

  20. What mattress do you use?

    I actually don’t know. It’s a fantastic one I bought about 10 years ago with a lifetime warranty so I just keep the pillowtop replaced every few years for free. The next time I replace it I’ll take a look at the label under my bed.

  21. Linux as a desktop OS is both a blessing and a curse. To me it’s much more of a blessing, but I’m very well-versed in it.

    Windows, Linux, Mac OS—whatever you choose, install the latest version and 95% of things will Just Work. But those will be different 95%. I’ve seen, for example, strange webcams that require a lengthy driver search for Windows yet the built-in Linux driver handles them just fine without any manual intervention at all.

    I think I would recommend Caleb to stick to Windows unless he’s willing to invest time to acquaint himself with the inner workings of another OS to be able to handle the remaining 5%, and a big reason is he travels so much. What if the high-resolution laptop screen and a low-resolution projector don’t play well together? Can you find out that the solution is “xrandr –output HDMI-1 –scale 2×2” in time to avoid delaying your presentation? With Windows and Mac OS, you’re likely to get tech support on the spot, less so with Linux. Or what if your hotel’s Wi-Fi uses some ancient authentication software that requires one to download a Windows executable? On the bright side though, there’s hardly any need to be dual booting Windows because this is solved by virtual machines.

    Windows is the lingua franca and Linux isn’t (I wish it were the other way round). That’s all there is to it.

  22. I think I would recommend Caleb to stick to Windows unless he’s willing to invest time to acquaint himself with the inner workings of another OS to be able to handle the remaining 5%, and a big reason is he travels so much.

    Precisely. If my laptop was just the typical laptop of the typical guy who needed a computer, I would go to Linux immediately, and just dick around with problems as they arose just like anyone else. Instead, my laptop is the centerpiece of my business empire, which is the most important thing in my life. Therefore it must work perfectly, 100%, at all times, without a hitch. That means that sadly, I’m stuck with Windows (though with some heavy modifications).

  23. Instead, my laptop is the centerpiece of my business empire, which is the most important thing in my life.

    I agree 100% Caleb. One of my current clients is a financial firm. At least three of their core applications ONLY work on Internet Explorer. I agree that that is an absolute disgrace, but my approval and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee. (BTW, these aren’t podunk little apps, they are major ones used in many financial firms.)

    I have often joked that American business runs on Excel. But it is a ha, ha, only serious type of joke. And not Excel as in Google Sheets works just as well, I mean Excel with VBA macros to make it all glue together.

    Linux (and to a lesser extent Macs) are fine as long as you don’t have to interact with anybody else or run any application that is used by less than 10% of people. Which is to say, they are inadequate as a tool in general business consulting. So unless a significant part of your business is advocacy for Open Source, Linux or Apple, or you work in a “Mac World” business like design, Windows is simply the only sensible choice.

    Question for you Caleb. What do you do for backup?

  24. I’ve had the same issue you had with laptop sizes. Initially I went for bigger screens but I ended up realizing that the point of a laptop is to be able to carry it with you easily. Now I have a 15.6” screen one and I’d like to get one with 13” or so as you did, but I’m waiting for E-Ink screens to become more available in laptops.

    I’ve always had headaches from sitting in front of a computer screen for more than an hour and also the problem everyone else has that brightscreens disrupt sleeping patterns, which many people have to take melatonin to compensate for. E-Ink screens would likely solve that problem and that’s why I’m holding on an old laptop in hopes soon I’ll be able to buy one with that technology. Only some e-readers have E-Ink displays so far, I expect them to get popular at some point in the next few years because they really are superior.

  25. How does your 24” desktop monitor compare to dual monitors?  I’m thinking about getting dual monitors and I’m not sure what size I should get.

  26. I made bit different solution for travelling/bizz

    Asus Zenbook, Asus Zenfone Max4, and installed Linux on the laptop.

    Feel very happy with those..

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