I Use This

I got a special request from a friend to write about my setup. I’m a big fan of usesthis, so I figured I’d just crib their style. Fair warning, people: my setup is pretty run-of-the-mill.

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a software developer who makes hard things simple. I’m nerdy so my software often features simple solutions to nerdy technical problems. Cloak, my latest app, keeps users safe on public wi-fi. Under the hood, Cloak is a VPN (there’s your nerdery)… but users don’t need to know that to use Cloak. It just works. Aside from developing software, I like to tool around making music.

What hardware are you using?

I use a 15” MacBook Pro from 2010. Nothing too special: no SSDs, standard-res (1440x900) screen. I bumped it up to 8GB of RAM — always found myself just over the edge of swapping with 4GB.

I’ve got an old Samsung 213T 1600x1200 LCD monitor from 2003. I’m typically hunched over my laptop in coffee shops, but when I need a few extra pixels I head home and dock.

At home, I use a Microsoft Wireless Natural keyboard and mouse. The Apple bluetooth keyboards are beautiful, but I’m far more comfortable on the big ugly stuff from Microsoft. (And I’ve never really liked Apple’s mice.)

I tricked my office out for music noodling. The Jerker desk is the centerpiece. I use a Kurzweil K2600XS as my controller, have a Lavry DA10 for high-quality output, and listen over either HR824 or 8030A nearfield monitors.

And what software?

I’m a heavy Mac, iPhone, and iPad developer, so I live in XCode 4.2. For all other development I edit code in TextMate, though I’ve been giving macvim a shakedown for the past month. Naturally, all my code goes in git and lands on GitHub — I pay for their largest personal account.

Python is my go-to language for all back-end work. I’m a heavy Django user. I tend to host software either on App Engine or AWS. Cloak, for instance, uses App Engine for the website and AWS + Rackspace for the server network. To maintain my virtual servers I use Fabric and Opscode Chef.

For music, it’s all about Ableton Live Suite 8 and a few Native Instruments plugins. I use Synthogy Ivory for piano practice and jazz gigs around town.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m pretty close now. I’d like to upgrade to a Thunderbolt Mac (maybe even an Air) and buy the Thunderbolt Display for more pixels. On the software front, I’m still searching for the editor to end all editors. For music I wouldn’t mind owning NI Komplete 8 and Ivory II.

And I can’t wait for the paper-thin, foldable, 4G iPad 9 when it ships in 2018.