Dana Schwartz


Dana Schwartz

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! I'm Dana Schwartz and I'm an entertainment writer at the Observer. I also wrote a Young Adult novel that's coming out in May called AND WE'RE OFF, and I'm writing a memoir that's going to come out.. sometime after I finish writing it.

What hardware do you use?

I'm constantly on my iPhone 6. I write on a 2016 MacBook Air that I had to buy because I dropped my previous laptop in my eagerness to get to the door for my Seamless delivery and cracked the screen. Internet distraction is a huge problem for me, and so I also invested in a Freewrite – a typewriter that saves your work and uploads it directly to the cloud. I find I use it a lot for diary writing and idea generating. I'm terrible at maintaining physical journals even though I love writing by hand. I tend to use whichever one of the millions I've bought is nearest to me at the moment, and I always lose them before they're filled up.

My physical planner is essential though – I'm not an iCal person. I need my to-do list and schedules on paper, written in front of me, or I'll never remember to do anything.

And what software?

The Twitter app: constantly, obsessively, to my detriment. I used to write in Microsoft Word, but when I got the new computer I didn't want to buy it again, and so I've been writing in Google Docs. At work, we're putting our articles up through WordPress. I've taken classes on Adobe Premiere for editing videos, but honestly when I'm doing something for work I usually fall back on my middle school instincts and use iMovie because it's so much quicker for me.

What would be your dream setup?

A giant, very neat, gorgeous desk with fresh flowers and a notebook and a black pen that you don't have to press too hard and doesn't bleed through the page. And a laptop that's not connected to the internet. And my phone very far away, in the other room, which will only ding if someone really cool texts me. And a nice view.


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Daniel Zarick


Daniel Zarick

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Daniel Zarick and I live in Chicago. Right now I'm wandering a fair bit, trying to write more, and exploring new projects. Mostly I design+build building software and websites. That said, I don't really think of myself as a designer or a programmer, and generally try to avoid defining myself with -er words. People pay me to do those things, but I like to think my skills are in figuring out interesting and creative solutions to problems. The output for those solutions just happens to be mostly code.

What hardware do you use?

Right now I use an 11" Macbook Air from a few years ago. I've been considering upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro to get some more power and a Retina screen (it's difficult to design websites and apps these days without Retina), but I'm finding the current iteration of Apple laptops to be uninspired. Otherwise, I always have a nice pair of earbuds in my pocket. This pair is nice, but I'm not religious about any specific brand.. I rotate every few years as I beat them up. I take photos with a Leica Q (new purchase, but a very good one. I love it.). I have an iPhone 6s, but am always trying to use my Punkt MP 01 more to get away from smartphones and apps.

And what software?

Mostly write code in Atom but might go back to Textmate (less stuff, simpler). I design sometimes in Sketch, and do command line things in iTerm. Chrome for my browser, Messages.app for texting my friends during the workday, Google Hangouts in the browser, and Letterspace for note-taking. Unfortunately I use Spotify for music (RIP Rdio. Typical, I know. A designer who misses Rdio). Outside of those, I try to stick to simple, great-at-what-they-do tools for little tasks (Miro Video Converter, GIF Brewery, Flinto for Mac, Dropbox, CloudApp, 1Password, f.lux, etc).

What would be your dream setup?

I like my tools simple and straight-forward. That said, my dream setup would be less tools. Less software. Less computers. Less phones. It'd be nice to feel less compelled to work on software and websites all the time. Maybe a cabin somewhere to escape to regularly. Happiness and creative fulfillment. Technology is difficult and frustrating.

But here I am, so I guess a new lightweight MacBook Pro with an amazing battery.


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Ashlyn Anstee


Ashlyn Anstee

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Ashlyn Anstee, and I'm a storyboard artist and director, who moonlights as an author, illustrator, and GIF maker! I currently work for Nickelodeon doing writing and boards for an unannounced project. I have two picture books out for little ones that I wrote and illustrated (No, No, Gnome! and Are We There, Yeti?), both with Simon & Schuster! I love writing and drawing and making things, in a lot of different forms.

What hardware do you use?

I swap it up a LOT. Just like with traditional media, my hardware changes depending on what I'm working on. I have a Cintiq Companion that I use for storyboarding at home, and occasionally work off of an old 2011 MacBook Pro if I want to type up something & don't want to lug around my Companion.

I keep my iPad Pro in my purse, with the Apple Pencil & keyboard ready to write and draw anywhere. It's become my mobile workstation of choice.

And what software?

Depends on what I'm doing!

  • iPad Sketching, I pretty much exclusively use Procreate.
  • Storyboarding, I mainly use Storyboard Pro, now!
  • Video/GIF editing, I use After Effects (I know – editing a whole video in AE seems like madness, and it is. Whoops!)
  • Illustration, I scan a lot of paintings, and prod at them in Photoshop!

What would be your dream setup?

If I could have all the power of the Cintiq Companion on something the size of the iPad Pro, it would be my dream. Having to only run iOS apps on such a great setup like the iPad is such a shame!


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Zoltan Istvan


Zoltan Istvan

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Zoltan Istvan, and I'm a futurist, journalist, and entreprenuer. Most people know me as one of the leaders of the transhumanist movement, a social movement of a few million people worldwide that want to use science and technology to radically modify the human being and human experience. I'm currently also running for California Governor under the Libertarian Party.

What hardware do you use?

Currently, I use a Toshiba Satellite laptop for most of my writing (I write journalism articles every week). But at home I also use an iPad Air for browsing and quick communication. And probably most of all, I use an iPhone 6S for calls, texts, and tweets.

I haven't been thrilled with the laptop, but it's such an ordeal to switch machines. But I was at Best Buy the other day looking at Microsoft Surfaces.

And what software?

Much of what I do revolves around Microsoft Word, since I write so frequently. So as a result, I'm still a PC guy when it comes to my laptops, and therefore a Windows person. I also use Yahoo SiteBuilder, for managing websites. It's simple stuff and quick and easy for me to update, or for designers to do so. But it's another PC application.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm not thrilled with Windows, but, again, it's hard to make the switch to anything else, so my dream setup would include a Microsoft Surface 4 with keyboard, with full Office suite built-in, and the latest version of Premiere. I do a lot of video and audio interiews.

Regarding my phone, I'm pretty thrilled with the capabilities of my iPhone and iPad. For me, the quest is really to upgrade to a better laptop, since that is such a vital component of my daily work life — and night life is watching videos too.


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Porpentine Heartscape


Porpentine Heartscape

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Porpentine Charity Heartscape and I make art to commemorate the armistice with hell.

What hardware do you use?

E-Element Z-88 81-key mechanical keyboard because it was the cheapest tenkeyless. My typing got more precise after I switched to MECHA KEYBOARD and it has fun LED settings to keep me stimulated.

I'm most comfortable on my desktop but I have a ThinkPad 13 laptop now that I travel more. Desktops feel like a blanket.

I use a Snowball mic, a OnePlus 3T phone, and a Wacom Intuos Medium tablet. Amazon Mouse because it's soft and cheap.

Cheap colored lights off Amazon strung along my walls.

And what software?

Games/interactive stories: Twine 1.4.2 and Game Maker. But I've made stuff in Unity, ShindanMaker, Google Forms, desktop folders.. I'm most interested in something if it's not intended as creative software.

Linear writing: Notepad++ and Google Docs for drafting, Scrivener and OpenOffice for organizing / publishing.

Media editing: Paint.NET, Audacity, all the cutey open source things.

I love chatting and collaborating through Discord.

What would be your dream setup?

Whatever is nice. The good stuff. A big room, I guess? Running water and grass? A climate-controlled cube surrounded by 12 hours of rain and 12 hours of grass.


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Mat Marquis


Mat Marquis

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Mat Marquis, inscrutably nicknamed "Wilto" since high school. I design and build fast, accessible, responsive websites at Bocoup. I do a decent amount of speaking, and I published JavaScript for Web Designers with A Book Apart a couple months back.

Outside of work, I collect hobbies. I'm a born-and-raised New England woodworker. I box better than someone who does not box, but not by very much. I cook, mostly French. I am endlessly repairing my '78 Triumph Bonneville.

What hardware do you use?

I own a lot of tools.

The family policy is "buy the cheapest version of a tool, and if you end up using it until it breaks, buy a good one." I've burned through a lot of loose-handled knives that refused to take a decent edge and bottom-shelf-at-Home-Depot wood planes. Here's some of the stuff I ended up with.

I'm prepared to say that I own more screwdrivers than anybody in the greater Boston area, and I'm easily in the top five for pairs of kinda-rusty pliers. I have a Disston D-8 handsaw that works better than it has any right to for being, y'know, roughly one hundred and fifty years old. I inherited a whole range of old Stanley planes and an indestructible old Occidental Leather framer's belt that doesn't see much use anymore. My tablesaw is a decent little Bosch jobsite saw; I ain't got much room to work with. My bandsaw is an Amazon-dot-com-discount-bin benchtop job that has yet to break down on me, but that clock is tickin' – I had a beastly JET a few years ago, but y'know, I'm an apartment woodworker now, in a tiny garage. I miss my old DeWalt mitre saw, which straight-up broke on me. I got a Rigid now; it kicks a little and the laser sight thing is goofy, but it cuts just fine. Diablo blades in er'rything. My favorite hammer has a skull on it.

I box with Cleto Reyes gloves (red, of course) – which make every other pair of gloves feel like big dumb foam Hulk hands – and a custom Impact mouthguard that has almost definitely saved my oft-punch'd jaw. I'm still in the "use cheap ones until they break" phase with my boxing shoes; Adidas something-or-others? They work fine.

In the kitchen, I have a rattly old KitchenAid stand mixer (red, of course) that I completely took for granted up until I started baking bread in earnest, and now plan to have buried with me someday. I don't exactly have a "knife kit" where I'm never taking my particularly low-production-quality show on the road, but: a Shun Classic 8" chef knife is my go-to, and I have a carbon steel knife I handled myself (padauk, of course) for heavier duty jobs. The blade for the latter was from Hock Tools, who also make damn fine woodworking plane blades. I have a mistreated Shun 5 1/2" Santoku that I picked up for like thirty bucks as a "utility" knife, and a Shun Sora paring knife that I hardly ever use.

I've managed to piece together a pretty respectable collection of pots and pans – mostly All-Clad – and more Lodge cast-irons of various sizes and shapes than anyone could ever realistically need (which, for the record, is "five"). I just got ahold of one of those "lightweight cast-iron" Field skillets and so help me, it might just be my go-to from now on. It doesn't retain heat quite as well as my beastly ol' Lodge, but man, it is so much easier to maneuver.

I.. I recently bought a sous vide gadget. I did. I am deeply, deeply skeptical of it, mostly because I don't like the threat of getting technology all up in my food. I'm really more of a "iron, fire, and action" kinda guy than "aluminum, water, and patience." Still, an hour in a bath and a quick sear over an irresponsibly high flame is having some mean results.

Work-wise, I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro that's getting a little long in the tooth. It does okay; I ain't find much enticing about the new ones anyway. My dark secret is that I use the built-in keyboard and trackpad exclusively; no external mouse or keyboard, even when I'm doing design work. I have no idea why or how this ended up being the case, but here we are.

I recently made a "standing desk" out of some old pallets we had kicking around the office. Not, like, in a Pinterest way. We ain't talking "teal chalk paint and white script-y 'live laugh love' lettering" here – more "actual, literal trash." I'll use it until it breaks, as tradition dictates. My secondary monitor is also hot garbage, speaking of, but it really only ever has full-screen iTerm goin' on it. It's actually kinda nice for quickly checking potential color contrast issues.

And what software?

For code, I use Sublime Text in unspeakably inefficient ways, akin to spinning a pneumatic nailgun around backwards and using it to hammer nails by hand. Canvas is a damn fine writing tool – using it as we speak, in fact – but I still miss Editorially nigh daily.

Design-wise: I'm a little behind the curve, but I officially became Sketch people a few months ago. I'd be ready to ditch the Adobe suite altogether, except for the sake of janky ol' Photoshop's "Save for Web."

I've probably logged more hours in 12 Rounds than any other app on my phone. One of these days, though, I'm gonna use a little of my open source time to cook up a boxing timer of my own; why the hell not, y'know?

What would be your dream setup?

Countertops. Countertops, countertops. When I close my eyes and dare to dream of my perfect home, I see only countertops. End-grain butcher block, soapstone, marble – y'know, I'm not picky. Countertops in every room. LMM and I got like three feet of counter space and a wobbly IKEA table in our apartment kitchen, and it is killing us. I wouldn't balk at a more professional-grade range, either. Maybe a nice freezer chest. Or a walk-in; that'd cover me for both cooking and Rocky-style boxing.

I'm relegated to an unheated two-car garage for all my woodworking and endless motorcycle-tinkering, and that isn't the ideal situation up here in the frozen northeast. Just.. just heat, y'know? I'd like heat. We're not even talking seventy two degrees year-round, here – just, like, warm enough that my wood glue doesn't turn to chalk during everything but our week and a half of Summer. I mean, sure, I wouldn't be mad about having enough space to ditch some of these tiny benchtop tools. But man. Heat.

At work, y'know, I'm doing just fine. "Have laptop, will travel." I am – at least, at work – pretty low-maintenance.


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EMiSpicer


EMiSpicer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm EMiSpicer. I'm best known for my work as a documentarian photographer. The main focus of my photos is music and video game culture events, mostly in indie and DIY-inspired spaces. I also work with instant film photography, the bulk of that work being portraiture or environmental photos. I've recently begun shooting using crappy film cameras instead of my cellphone for slice of life style photography.

In addition to that I work as an events organizer. I book music shows, most notably Pulsewave – a monthly showcase of chiptune music in NYC. I also work with two American demoparties, Synchrony and @party. I help organize games events too, such as the games conference Different Games. I work with the event MAGFest as well.

Finally, I'm employed as a social media manager for the gaming company MidBoss, which creates queer-focused media. We recently released a game called 2064: Read Only Memories which is available now on PS4 and PC!

What hardware do you use?

My digital camera is a Nikon D750, with which I use with a 50mm lens, an 18-200mm lens, and occasionally an external flash. Due to financial constraints my rig is very minimal, and I tend to push it to its limits. I think I probably own 15 or 20 Polaroid cameras, but these days I primarily shoot on an SX-70 Sonar. Then there's all the disposable cameras I use, which I buy in bulk from Amazon. I edit on a 2014 15" Retina MacBook Pro.

And what software?

Adobe Bridge for image selection, and Adobe Photoshop for gentle retouching. I keep things simple!

What would be your dream setup?

Ah oh gosh. I'm not much of a gear head if I'm being honest, so my lens wishlist is very small at the moment. I had been borrowing a 24mm f/4 from a friend for several months and really miss it though. I'm hoping when I have some extra cash I'll be able to get it back.

This is silly, but I'd also really love an iPad for mobile working. A lot of my work days involves a lot more administrative work than editing, and carrying around the heavy laptop takes a toll. Though, conversely, I'd love to have a second screen that I can devote to being a dedicated MidBoss screen. I'm a good task manager so I can switch back and forth between my personal accounts and theirs pretty well, but the convenience of a second screen seems like it would make things way easier.


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Adam Gnade


Adam Gnade

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Adam Gnade and I do a series of books and "talking song" records that are meant to build a connected world of stories, plotlines, and characters to show how it was to live in our time. It's my life project and my releases come out on Pioneers Press and Three One G.

As far as the music, one review said it sounds something like "Southern California kid who grew up on weirdo noisey punk records then left home to seek his fortune and got into weirdo noisey folk records and tells stories instead of sings."

The books are all fiction but a couple years ago I wrote one non-fiction fluke called The Do-it-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin' Sad and oddly enough that's what pays the rent. I never intended to write non-fiction but it happened. Life is strange.

What hardware do you use?

For the "talking songs" I use a series of acoustic guitars I've taken down to four strings, sawed the heads in half, and retuned to a GA#DF banjo tuning. I also record with a five-string Deering Goodtime banjo, a kiddie acoustic guitar I borrowed from my four and six year old godsons, and occasionally solo electric guitar because I like Cat Power's Moon Pix record so much but I don't have one right now (an electric guitar, I mean. I have Moon Pix).

I record either in studios, in which case I'm backed by a full band and recording is out of my hands, or at home on the farm. When that happens I record primitively with boomboxes and cellphones. Before that I used a very old digital camera and would convert the video file to a sound file. Gave it an interesting fuzzy lo-fi sound.

For books I write in composition notebooks then edit on an old tiny laptop my girlfriend gave me called "the Baby Laptop." It's an Acer Aspire One and it's basically a glorified typewriter that goes anywhere because it's so small. It doesn't do much and it's too slow to work well online but that's better because it keeps me on track. I like it a lot. I feel well-armed with it.

And what software?

For editing my books I have a Microsoft Word knockoff and for home recordings via the phone it's something called HD Audio Recorder Pro which is such a generic name I had to look at it five times in order to type that. It's really crappy but it sounds like a cassette recording without the hiss and I'm into that.

What would be your dream setup?

For the last year or so I've operated under this dumb/proud idea that you should be able to work anywhere so I record and write wherever I am. In hotels, in the back bedroom of the farmhouse, in my big yellow chair by the window, etc. I wrote my book Caveworld in the barn here on the farm. The one before that, Hymn California, I wrote mostly in cars, airports, buses, and that sort of thing.

Once I get over that I'd love to build a shack in the lower fields here with a good view of the woods. It would be something like: small, low coffee table with a stack of composition notebooks and a jar of pens, my yellow chair from the farmhouse, and the best analog handheld tape recorder 1971 had to offer. Maybe a Fender Twin amp in one corner I could plug into with a nice plastic Japanese electric guitar to get spooky. Sparse besides that. Wood burning stove would be good too.


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Douglas Wilson


Douglas Wilson

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Douglas Wilson, an Assistant Professor ("Lecturer") at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. I teach and research game design. I also co-own a small video game studio, Die Gute Fabrik, based in Copenhagen. We're known for games like Sportsfriends and Where Is My Heart. I do design, team management, and some programming.

What hardware do you use?

Mostly just my MacBook Pro! I don't even use an external keyboard or dual monitors or anything, it's pretty basic. When I was working on Sportsfriends, I also used a PS3/PS4 devkit. I also use video game controllers like PlayStation Move controllers, Xbox 360 pads, and so forth. My installation games like Edgar Rice Soirée often call for basic materials like string and rope.

And what software?

Despite using a MacBook Pro, I still primarily run Windows. Winamp is the most important piece of software on my computer (I'm a big music nut).

For academic work, I use Word for writing (e.g. my book, conference papers) though it's kind of awful and I'd like to find some more serious writing software.

For game making, I've been using Unity the last few years, mostly because I like working in C#. Unity also makes it easier for me to collaborate closely with my musician, Alessandro Coronas. We're working on a procedural music system together. Because my collaborators are scattered around the world, I do a lot of voice and video calls. I primarily use Skype, but I loathe it deeply. I also use Slack and Google Docs. I do have some anxieties about using so many products by large corporations, storing my data on their servers, etc. Perhaps I should get more serious about using software/server alternatives…

What would be your dream setup?

Mostly, I wish there was better options for voice/video calling software. Slack is starting to integrate that kind of functionality, which would be quite convenient, but those features aren't quite there. But if I can let my imagination run wild I wish I had a teleporter so I could work with my collaborators in person whenever I wanted. Remote collaboration is hard!


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Nicole He


Nicole He

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Nicole He, a programmer and artist, currently a graduate student at ITP at NYU. I like to make things that are playful.

What hardware do you use?

I do most things on my 2015 MacBook Air, which is usually covered in food.

Many of my projects are made with microcontrollers. The two that I use the most are Arduino, for things that require physical interaction, and Raspberry Pi, for things that require the internet. We have a lot of equipment and tools at school, including a full wood shop. I'm still scared of a lot of the big, loud machines, but I'm slowly learning how to use each terrifying power tools one by one. I do frequently use the laser cutter, occasionally the CNC techno router, and other things like the drill press and band saw.

There's a lot of wiring and soldering, so two tools I use the most are my digital multimeter and my wire stripper and cutter.

And what software?

Mostly, I code in JavaScript (for web stuff) and Python (for bots and text generative stuff), with a little C# for Unity work on the side and C for Arduino. I just agreed to begin a Kinect project over the next couple months, so presumably I'll be getting all up in some C++ real soon too.

For version control and hosting code, I use git and GitHub. For server stuff to run experimental sites and secret Twitter bots, I use DigitalOcean or Heroku.

I switched recently to Atom as my text editor. I'm constantly looking for the ideal color theme that's perfectly beautiful and functional in a way that reflects my exact mood at any given moment, and I think I'll probably never be satisfied.

I use the Adobe suite for quick and janky video and GIF-making. 1Password for password management, Dropbox for storage, and Backblaze for backup. And of course TweetDeck, for terrible distraction.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is an idyllic, remote cabin in a forest with a gentle creek that runs nearby. There are fruit trees outside, ripe for the picking. The cabin has an enormous kitchen with wide windows that let in the sunlight and crisp air. There's a fireplace. Also a squat rack. And flawless, lightning-fast wifi. And obviously the forest is full of friendly, magical owls and bears who can teach me ES6.


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