Science is dependent on technology as much as technology is dependent on science. I love science, and I love technology. Both of them are complementing and impacting my research career. Before I talk about my favorites for the tech products, I want to tell you that I am a geophysical researcher with a strong inclination towards data science. What I have learned and achieved so far and where I am heading is largely because of my decisions about switching to some gadgets. Well, it's true for all people, but I will give my context here in terms of the technological products I am using.
I have met many people who would spend all day at work on a SLOW, outdated computer, wasting 100s of hours in a week for some trivial tasks (doable in a few hours), but they are unwilling to take out a few bucks from their salary to upgrade their tools. A swordsman can’t be great with a blunt sword. Life is all about investments — the investments of time and money. If we invest our time and resources on the things we don’t want, we will stay unhappy (the biggest dilemma here is to decide what things we want, haha). Since the workplace (be it our home or office) takes the most significant portion of our life and where we have to spend most of our time, then why not make it smooth, enjoyable, and productive.
I like to actively spend on the products (gadgets or applications) that have the potential to boost my productivity. Well, in this way, I have also wasted some money, probably a lot of money, but I am happy that I have found the tools that work best for me. I have purchased (or at least experimented with) a lot of phone and desktop apps.
The first big purchase I made for my career was buying a Mac. This gave a boost to my capabilities. I get to learn more and more things. Before my first Mac, I was using 3-year-old Lenovo with Windows 7. It was a fighter, but it was not a winner. A camel that gives a fight in a race gets applauds, but the public only remembers the winners. Windows 7 was great, but it did not offer me the first-hand tools necessary for my programming-dependent research. Until I was using Windows, my programming skill can be easily wrapped up in one word “MATLAB.” It was much easier to install and play with other languages after switching to Mac, including C, Fortran, Python, and so many other technologies. This changed the course of my research.
I also got into Linux OS when I started my Ph.D., and this helped me get more into coding. Linux is not so user-friendly if you use it in a naive sense, but with some tweaks and tricks, it can be made to perform tasks faster than Windows (at least than the older versions of Windows).
I recently started using Windows 10 as my third computer. My institute bought me Windows (they said Mac was out of budget), but they bought me a great configuration. I immediately started looking for the tools to make it more programmer-friendly. I came across the windows subsystem technology (introduced in Windows 10). So, I could install Ubuntu as a subsystem in Windows. The second version of the subsystem, the WSL2, comes with virtualization technology, and it is simply incredible. It makes my code runs so much faster, even faster than my similarly configured but double-priced 16" Macbook Pro.
Some of Microsoft's recent moves, such as investing in open-source technologies like Github, Visual Studio Code, etc., made me start loving the company. I use Github and VSCode on a regular basis (probably the only two software I use most) on all OS platforms. Who knows, maybe I will totally switch to Windows someday.