Peter Bourgon


Peter Bourgon

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a programmer, working mostly on backend and distributed systems, and mostly in the Go programming language. I've worked for Bloomberg, SoundCloud, and Weaveworks in a variety of backend roles; I'm currently working for Fastly, on the data infrastructure team. I'm also reasonably prolific in the world of open-source. My current projects include Go kit, a toolkit for microservices; and OK Log, a distributed and coördination-free log management system.

What hardware do you use?

I mostly use a 3-year-old MacBook Air 13". I use it about equally in cafés and restaurants around Berlin, and connected to a monitor at home or in a coworking space. It strikes the right balance of low weight, usable screen size, great battery life, and sufficient horsepower. I also have a corporate-issued MacBook Pro 13" that's permanently attached to my monitor at home: a sort of pseudo-desktop, with its own trackpad and keyboard. To be honest, I can't tell the difference.

I've got an iPhone 6, which I think is a bit too large and fragile; at the next opportunity, I'd like to switch to an SE. At home in my rather spartan flat in Mitte, I've got a Time Capsule and Airport Express driving my wi-fi network; I appreciate how low-maintenance and high-performance they both have been. That's basically the extent of my technology. I've spent enough time configuring and troubleshooting to deeply appreciate not needing to do it anymore.

And what software?

I use a pretty bone-stock Mac OS. For the vast majority of my day-to-day work, I use iTerm, Visual Studio Code, and Chrome. I also use Homebrew and Homebrew Cask to manage my applications; Dropbox to manage some of my files; f.lux to let me sleep at night; SizeUp to move my windows around; and Spotify and SoundCloud to listen to music. Finally, I owe DigitalOcean and Terraform a debt of gratitude: they're my one-two punch when I need more compute power for testing, benchmarking, or demos.

What would be your dream setup?

I suppose I think of "my setup" very broadly. Not only the specific tools I'm using to do my work, but also the context in which I do it: the state of my mind, my emotions, the city in which I live, and the people surrounding me. I'm very happy with where I am, now. With technology that never really feels burdensome to use; with friends and colleagues who complement me and challenge me to be a better person; and in a city that is at once accessible and transcendental, humane and larger-than-life, full of cafés where I can spend half a day hacking without guilt, full of people who are inspiring, earnest, and engaged in the shared social contract of humanity.

So I don't have a dream setup, really. I just want to keep interrogating, adjusting, and re-assessing all of these things, in a constant introspective conversation.

With that said, I'd love to have a laptop that was a little lighter and thinner than my Air, with a better, higher-resolution screen. Am I just describing the new MacBook? Maybe. Shame about the single USB-C port, though.


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Jem Selig Freeman


Jem Selig Freeman

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Jem Selig Freeman and I run a furniture design and manufacturing business called Like Butter. We make a whole range of our own furniture and other custom jobs that come our way. I trained as an Industrial Designer with very few skills, then formed the business with Laura Woodward (now married!) – she taught me to weld, and everything since has been self taught and developed on the job.

What hardware do you use?

An abbreviated list in order of current perceived importance: Multicam CNC Router, Lamello Zeta P2, SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw, Festool ETS 150/5 sander, cheap eBay calipers, Tajima tape measure, Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones, iPad Pro, iPhone 6, unbranded workstation PC, twin 24" Dell IPS displays, Canon 7D. My all-time favorite PC keyboard is the Dell SK-8115.

And what software?

Chrome and Gmail because the emails are endless. Rhino 5 is our standard CAD package in the business – this started as a budgetary consideration but has since become our best friend for all drafting, designing and CNC preparation. For CNC programming we use EnRoute 5 and 6. SketchUp gets a look-in occasionally when I need to mock up an image for a client in a hurry.

On the iPad Pro I use Adobe Sketch for drawing and the iOS Notes app for organising my daily tasks and client meeting notes.

WorkFlowy and Slack form our task management and team communications package – they're both fantastic for managing a small team and 30-60 jobs per month. I use Adobe Lightroom to manage and edit product documentation.

What would be your dream setup?

It's almost there, really – I'm always pushing for less dust and more light, so I suppose the dream would be a clean-room with powerful centralised dust extraction and stacks of natural light through double glazed windows. A lush country paddock for morning tea and maybe a deaf workshop dog to play frisbee. More robots, always more robots, a wide belt thickness sander and some general assembly robotic arms.

All that said, the heart of Like Butter is the team – I'm really lucky to have found and been found by an awesome squad of talented individuals.


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Larry Crane


Larry Crane

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Larry Crane. I am the editor and founder (1996) of Tape Op Magazine; a mag about the art of recording music. I founded Jackpot! Recording Studio in 1997 and have produced, recorded, and mixed many artists, including Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney, The Go-Betweens, She & Him, and many more. I am also a musician, and have made records and toured as a band member. I also do instructional videos about music recording and mixing for lynda.com.

What hardware do you use?

Many analog recording devices. A 32 channel Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console allows analog mixing and monitoring, even of digitally recorded music. I have three Otari tape decks set up for 24- and 16-track on 2-inch tape and a 1/4-inch deck for mixing to. I have BURL and Avid converters for taking the sound from analog to digital and back. A vintage EMT 140 plate reverb provides great effects. I have over 100 microphones of all types.

And what software?

I use Pro Tools 12 HD as it’s the most commonly used in music recording. I am a huge fan of iZotope RX5 which allows detailed sound restoration and editing. The Universal Audio UAD platform hosts some of my favorite plug-ins for mixing use.

What would be your dream setup?

After 20 years of running a commercial studio I feel I have surrounded myself with amazing tools. I wouldn’t mind a Pro Tools HDX system in order to cut out latency issues, but the cost is ridiculous and it also limits your system from running other DAW software, like Logic. Annoying. Buying and maintaining computer systems for a pro studio is frustrating and not very satisfying compared to buying and using quality analog gear, but it is how the marketplace works now.


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Kyle Kingsbury


Kyle Kingsbury

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name's Kyle Kingsbury, and for reasons I've never fully understood, machines around me tend to break down in unusual ways. I'm making the best of that curse by testing distributed systems to see whether they're safe. I introduce network partitions, clock skew, and other failures, and carefully observe the system I'm testing to see whether it loses data, makes stale or invalid data visible, or allows transactions to interleave improperly. I write reports and give talks on my research, and also offer consulting and training classes at companies and conferences.

In past lives I was a photographer, physics student, aikidoist, IT support person, network ops engineer, and backend developer. I've published some very minor research in Physical Review Letters on chaos in nonlinear quantum systems. I blog about software and wrote some open source projects, like Riemann. I've also made woodcuts, websites, 3D renderings, shirts, short stories, furniture, music, books.. and just finished making a lamp last week. I like creating things, even it's just as an amateur!

What hardware do you use?

The safety analysis work I do is CPU and memory intensive, and readily parallelizable. Comcast gave me an OSS research grant to build a machine for that work, so my desktop is a ridiculous 48-way Xeon (2x E5-2697v2), with 128GB of ECC DDR3 and 11 TB of miscellaneous SSDs & spinning rust. The motherboard is wonky and refuses to find half the disks on boot. You can crash the box by using certain USB ports. We have a complicated relationship.

There's definitely a trade-off between performance and being locked into a tiny set of weird motherboards that support that kind of hardware. I don't necessarily recommend it unless you like being the kind of person who opens their case every few weeks, muttering "what is it THIS time" under their breath.

I use a standard layout Das Keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches, and cannot believe that I'm the sort of person who cares about that. Maybe it comes with being a Vim user. There are no labels on the keycaps (it was the only model they had on sale) which means it takes me forever to type passwords — and every time I use Mutt is a game of Russian Roulette. I use a Logitech G5 laser mouse, which may be the closest to the Platonic ideal pointing device as it is possible for late-stage capitalism to produce.

My display is a 32-inch 4k Dell — I think it's a UP3216Q. It's a wonderful screen for editing photographs and for rendering lots of xterms, which, let's face it, is 90% of my computing life.

I sometimes shoot with a Nikon D700, which has spectacular autofocus and low-light performance — but when traveling I prefer my D7000 with a 28-300mm Nikkor. It's lighter, offers better resolution, and that lens is incredibly versatile. I really like Nikon's ergonomics, though most of my photo friends shoot with Canon.

Some of my talk slides are drawn using Sakura technical pens and Whitelines grid notebooks. I take photos with my phone or camera on a tripod, and clean them up in GIMP. That process doesn't work well for color work or for editing on planes before the talk, so I've moved to an iPad Air 2 with the Paper app and Pencil stylus. It's honestly kind of a pain — the stylus is unreliable and palm rejection doesn't work, so I have to redraw things a whole bunch. But the flexibility, and being able to spit out a PDF with a few taps is great.

And what software?

I run Debian (hi Jess!). It's mostly stock except for ZFS, and using OpenBox+GKrellM+xfce-panel as my window manager. I love having virtual workspaces and configurable bindings for everything. I use irssi for IRC, Mutt/Geary for mail, Chromium for browsing, and Pidgin for IM. I edit photos in darktable and The GIMP, and do my vector work in Inkscape. Morganastra sold me on the Fish shell a few years ago and I've never looked back.

I'm hopelessly reliant on middle-click-paste. Laptop trackpads drive me nuts. This is entirely my own fault.

Every so often I try to become a Normal Computer User so I can spend less time futzing with my weird tools, try OS X for a week, and give up. At this point I live in perpetual, mild trepidation that the people who maintain the Galapagos island of software I rely on will stop caring, stranding me in desktop Linux limbo.

I have a terrible memory and need to see everything on the screen at once, or I'll forget! So when I'm writing software I live in six to twelve gnome-terminals. Most are running Vim, editing the different namespaces I'm calling through at that time. Then there's usually a clojure repl, and a test runner that automatically reloads and runs tests when I write files to disk. Maybe a window for git commands and running various tools.

I think I learned this way of working from my Dad, who's a UNIX hacker — works on filesystems, operating systems, that kind of thing. We were chatting about work setups last year, and even though he works in C and I'm using this high-level functional Lisp, we still use the same tools. We both have poor memories and have to see the whole call stack laid out across the screen in order to reason about a program! I see people program in one window on a laptop sometimes, and that just seems like… some kind of code sorcery! Must be cool.

Aphyr.com is a big mass of custom Ruby+Sinatra running on a Linode. Jepsen.io is a Clojure site, running on Skyliner. The articles are written in Markdown and preprocessed with Pandoc. There's a lot of LaTeX in my life, come to think of it.

There are a bunch of miscellaneous Clojure, Ruby, and Perl scripts for various things too. You know those movies — like, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, or Wallace and Gromit — where they pan through an inventor's household and they have all these ridiculous gizmos for making eggs and answering the phone? That's kinda what my ~/bin is like. There are daemons for taking ZFS snapshots and backing things up to my NAS and S3. Keeping SSH reverse tunnels open. Scripts for tearing apart PDFs, adding my signature to a page, and stitching them back together again. Spinning up clusters of Debian nodes in LXC for Jepsen tests. Setting the color of the lights in my living room by generating color schemes and downloading them from websites. Rsyncing my phone's photos to an SFTP drop. There's a daemon on aphyr.com that parses email describing current prices in EVE Online's market, loads that into sqlite, and uses a hilarious n-way self-join to pathfind efficient trading routes. Compute Goldberg machines everywhere.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm sure there's an upper limit to the number of xterms I can reasonably have in front of me, but I don't think I'm anywhere near it yet. A 50" curved display might be nice? Also I'd like keys with labels on them, so you could tell what buttons will, say, mark an email as unread vs delete the entire thread and forward jockstrap selfies to your clients.

Also a computer which turns on reliably and doesn't crash when you plug in a keyboard. Maybe I'm setting unrealistic goals here.

On the software front, I'm still hunting for a good email client. Geary's typography is confusing, Mutt is nice but I really like being able to see prior emails while composing a new one, and Thunderbird crashes every ten minutes. I'd also like better color management in Linux, but I can't even begin to characterize how the current setup is broken.

I'm also blowing enough money on AWS clusters these days that it might be cost-effective to build a physical 5-node cluster for Jepsen testing in my apartment. That'd be pretty swell, because LXC containers all share the same clock, which keeps me from testing clock skew locally.


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James Primate


James Primate

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hello! My name is James Primate and I am a musician, video game developer and general internet basement art type person. For music, I'm mainly known for Bright Primate, a chiptune/vocal duo with my writing partner Lydia, as well as some assorted video game soundtrack work. As for game development stuff, in 2013 I co-founded a little company called Videocult with the lovely artist / programmer Joar Jakobsson for the purposes of making our current project (and white whale) Rain World, published by Adult Swim Games for PS4, PC, whatever.

What hardware do you use?

Odds and ends mostly! For ye olde chiptune music band I use a collection of repurposed old Nintendo Game Boys that have been customized for better sound quality and backlit for visibility on stage. I also use a number of iPads for performance, either for live-triggering samples or as touch based synthesizers, etc. Lydia uses a TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2 for live vocal effects. Little of my music performance gear is what one would consider a proper musical instrument, though I do have a microKORG XL keyboard that I use for coding and the occasional melody line.

For game music and sound design it's a fairly boring array of low spec laptops, cheap MIDI keyboards and old iPads. I have an 17" Asus X750JB laptop that I use for the bulk of my audio production work, and it serves my purposes just fine. My go-to MIDI keyboard is a Novation Launchkey 49, which I have surprisingly strong feelings for considering it's a generic plastic thing you can find anywhere. I got that one specifically because it can work off of USB power, so doesn't need cables or batteries beyond just the USB input itself, AND it works perfectly when plugged into iPads, which is awesome and rare for something with so many keys!

Speaking of which, I use iPads and iPhones a ton these days for synths and audio waveform manipulation. There's so many strange and interesting iPad music creation apps and tools that are out there these days! When I was coming up it was all about weird VST programs that you'd find on some Russian guys website late at night, but now that culture seems to have all moved over to the App Store, which is pretty awesome. I really need to get some new iPads though, as my 2s aren't doing so hot these days.

I have a collection of keyboards and hardware synths, but mostly they just collect dust I'm afraid! Same goes for the assorted guitars and such, though I do have a Korean-made Kraken brand 8-string electric that I've used for sound effects and the occasional lush chord or plinky plink where necessary. For field recording and random audio capture I use a Zoom H4n Pro which is much nicer than I deserve considering I mostly use it to record the sound of dirt being crunched under a boot or various bits of metal junk being smacked together.

As for video game production (AKA my real job), up until a few days ago I had mostly been using the same old Asus X750JB laptop from above and had been feeling pretty smug about it. I'm kind of anti-gear, like "you don't need expensive equipment to make art!" sort of philosophy, so having a workman-like middle of the road laptop appeals to me on that level. But right now I'm working on the TV trailer for Rain World under a super tight deadline and the limited spec GPU and RAM of that workman-like laptop just couldn't handle dealing with the high quality 60fps 1920×1080 video capture or editing! It was awful! Would crash even just when scrubbing through the clips! So I ran out (literally), rushed to MicroCenter and picked up this horrible ugly monstrous abomination of a gaming laptop, and despite all my silly pretensions I totally absolutely love it. It's an Asus Predator 17 (lol) and it eats raw video for breakfast, spits out 4k renders like it's nothing. I'm hereby converted. It's got super tacky backlit red keys and is so obviously styled like Optimus Prime's codpiece, lmao. I feel like I need to go out and get a Call of Duty hoodie to complete my ascension.

And what software?

For hardware chiptune on Game Boys I use a program called Little Sound DJ (LSDJ for short), which is a synthesizer and sequencer built into a Game Boy cartridge.

For general audio stuff and sound design I use Cockos REAPER for my music DAW (note: I believe this blog interviewed one of the creators of Reaper, right?). I really love Reaper. The workflow is so easy and unfussy, it's updated constantly with new features, plus it's vastly cheaper than anything remotely comparable. Because of how lightweight it is and the way you can nest tracks I usually have an entire soundtrack saved to one single project file! I even can drop in video to use as a guide to help tighten up SFX timings, or line-up music cues for videos, etc. REAPER does it all!

I use a ton of interesting iPad apps for music and sound design that I definitely want to shout out, as I feel like people never talk about app music tools. First and foremost is Samplr, which is a live waveform manipulation tool, so you can literally grab the waveform of the audio with your fingers and manipulate it, outputting all manner of wild sounds. I also love Moog Music's Animoog synth, which is a super deep motion synth that also has a similar touchscreen component where you can manipulate the envelops and timbres using all 10 fingers, and give some stunningly nuanced sounds when used cleverly. Waldorf's Nave is another synth app that gets used a ton and I couldn't do without. I have had a number of Waldorf's hardware synths, such as the Blofeld and even an old Microwave (real synth nerd stuff), and the Nave blows them away, IMHO.

With the iPad you have so much more processing power at your disposal compared to some purpose-built hardware keyboard, plus menu-diving is a breeze on the large iPad touchscreen compared to some cheesy half inch tall LCD display with buttons and a knob. I could probably go on for hours about music apps, but for the sake of some semblance of brevity I want to do a final shout-out to my favorite app, e-l-s-a, which is a super novel loop-based sample synth that makes some hauntingly beautiful sounds from rubbish audio capture, and that's what I love!

For gamedev my personal workflow is mostly on bespoke software, editors and devtools that Joar wrote specifically for Rain World, but beyond that it's fairly standard stuff: Unity, Microsoft Visual Studio, Adobe CS stuff like Photoshop, Illustrator, Director, etc. For video work I'm using Magix Vegas Pro 14 (used to be called "Sony VEGAS").

What would be your dream setup?

As mentioned before I'm pretty indifferent to gear so I don't have much in the way of dream equipment or aspirations in that direction (other than maybe a Roli Seaboard at some point), but being comfortable and quiet is key for me. I have pretty sensitive hearing, so I like to have some white noise in the background to cover up the assorted noises of the outside world. Also ideally this would be in a location where there is a good variety of food a walkable distance away; long enough to where one can think things over on the way but close enough to where it wouldn't interrupt the day to take a food break. Basics!


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Jasmine Greenaway


Jasmine Greenaway

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jasmine Greenaway, an engineer at GitHub on the Editor Tools team. We take your GitHub workflow in the browser to your favorite text editor or IDE. Our current projects are GitHub for Visual Studio and GitHub for Unity. I'm also adjunct faculty at LaGuardia Community College, where I currently teach Introduction to Web Development and/or Dynamic Web Design. Outside of work, I co-organize BrooklynJS.

What hardware do you use?

I work mostly in a Windows environment, so my main work machine is a Dell XPS 15. Some days I'll work with my MacBook Pro. I use my iPad Pro for smaller tasks like answering emails, planning tasks, and scheduling. I also use Tile to keep track of important things I own, like my computer, keys and wallet.

I also own a pretty pink desktop computer named Cecelia that I normally use for gaming, but sometimes to get some work done. She's got a GTX 660 graphics card, ASUS Z97-A motherboard, Intel i5-4690K, Razer BlackWidow keyboard, and a Razer DeathAdder mouse.

And what software?

I write C# all day, so I spend most of my time in Visual Studio, building and running my code. I started using Visual Studio without any extensions or enhancements, and never bothered with trying them out in the 6 years I've been using it, so I don't have anything like ReSharper installed. I'll use Atom when I'm working with Markdown or when live coding in front of my students. I was a fan of Atom before GitHub! When I need to quickly build a website outside of Visual Studio, I'll use Yeoman. For command line I use Powershell on Windows and Bash on Mac.

I use Slack to communicate with coworkers and friends, Google Inbox for mail, Google Calendar to view and organize my day, and Google Slides for all my presentations. I use the mobile app versions of all of these.

What would be your dream setup?

In terms of hardware and software, I wouldn't change a thing in my current setup. I'm very content. The only thing I wish I had is my own office space. I have this awesome Gundam collection that I want to set up on own desk; they've been couped up in a box for a while!


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Nicklas Nygren


Nicklas Nygren

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! My name is Nicklas Nygren. Under the name Nifflas I create and release videogames. I've just wrapped up a new game called Uurnog, for which I developed integrated algorithmic music software. Now that it's released, I plan to take a deep dive into algorithmic music.

What hardware do you use?

I do most of my development work on my Dell XPS 15 and a pair of AKG K712 headphones. To code sign for macOS, I use one of the cheapest Mac Minis.

I have a sound experimentation setup which I use for creating instruments for my music software. This setup consists of a Yamaha PC-100 PortaSound, a Yamaha KX-400 tape cassette deck, a Waldorf Streichfett, a Behringer V-Amp 2, an Electrix Warp Factory, an Alesis airFX, a Korg volca fm, a Nintendo 3DS, and finally two Teenage Engineering pocket operators (PO-12 and PO-32).

An interesting thing is back when I was a beginner at this, I'd use far more complicated synthesizers with way more parameters, as if it was the parameter count or price tag that made things good. My music also usually had way more tracks than anything I do now. These days I get excited when I find an early 80's toy keyboard at a second hand store.

And what software?

I develop games in Unity. Though I used to compose music in Renoise, I'm moving toward primarily composing in Ondskan, which is an algorithmic composition tool which can be integrated with games and allows for very unusual game-music interactions. Though I use too many VST plugins to list them all here, my favorites are generally the ones that can manage to sound unique and interesting without the use of too many parameters. Some of those include Chromaphone, Drumaxx, JuceOPLVSTi (a fantastic OPL emulator) and Microtonic. I particularly like wavetable synthesizers and plan to make one of my own in the future.

What would be your dream setup?

I don't have one in the traditional sense. There's some specific music software I really need, but they don't exist yet so I have to make them. I need to experiment more with procedural music, audio DSP, and learn C++ and a bit of neural networks to get there. Thing is, a year ago when I started to plan my music software, getting to where I am now was my goal. It, however, appears the goal already moved before I could reach it. For this reason, even though I'll be releasing software, I'll probably never actually reach it and be like "OK, now I'm done with my setup and happy". It's lucky I enjoy the process so much!


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Sylvain Tegroeg


Sylvain Tegroeg

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hello! I'm Sylvain Tegroeg, a French designer based in Amsterdam. I'm a multi-disciplinary creative with a broad background in design and applied arts. I've been working for three years as a freelance designer following my graduation at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. While working for myself, I take on commissions for a large range of projects – product design, graphics, but mostly illustrations. I also enjoy photography and 3D modelling in my spare time.

What hardware do you use?

I love to make things with my hands, and this is the reason I've stuck with hand-drawn illustrations. Most of the time I use thin fine liners/Rotring pencils (0.5mm) to create intricate details. I've been sketching in drawing books for at least 10 years, and I still feel the most comfortable with a "minimalistic" black and white art style.

And what software?

I do use high resolution scanners to copy my illustrations and import them into Adobe Photoshop, and to make minor changes to contrast and to keep the maximum authenticity and quality of the image. Once in a while I like to make vector illustrations, and Adobe Illustrator is the perfect tool for that. I used to work in Solidworks and Maya before switching to Rhino for modelling and 3D printing purposes.

I recently learned to work with Unity on the game Hidden Folks, which was a step forward in making my illustrations animated. To communicate while working in a team, I love to use Slack and Trello for their ease of use and organisation.

What would be your dream setup?

This is a tough question! I never really project myself into the future, even though I'm quite imaginative. Maybe I'm already living my dream by making my passion into my profession, working with great designers. So my wish is to keep this going as it is, and have more cool projects come along!

I might like to set myself up a bit away from the dense city life, have my own studio space/gallery or a pop-up shop to show off my earlier and upcoming projects.


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Dominik Johann


Dominik Johann

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, I'm Dom, a graphic designer and illustrator based in Germany. I'm the art director and a co-founder of Crows Crows Crows. We've made games like Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, And The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, and Accounting for Virtual Reality. Right now I'm also working on the monochrome Zelda-like Minit. I'm into old cartoons, plants, and music.

What hardware do you use?

Most of my digital art is done on a 13" MacBook Pro. I've got the one with the weird touch bar and it's been glitching out on me a lot, to the point where I can't turn off the keyboard light sometimes.

I draw on a Cintiq screen (which I'd recommend over conventional tablets because it feels a lot more precise and immediate), but at home I've got a big Thunderbolt-knockoff Dell display. There's a little button connected to a cable connected to a hub that switches from my Mac to a PC. That one's used for Real Gaming, or when I bolt virtual reality headsets to my face.

Sometimes I do music and voice work, so I've got a Rode NT1-A microphone hooked up to a bright red Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface. Both are pretty affordable and make voices sound nice. My headphones are Beyerdynamic DT-770, huge but lovely and comfortable.

Sketches, notes and ideas go into a small Leuchtturm1917 book with dotted pages. I can't really deal with pencils so I use Staedler pigment liners exclusively. The 0.2 mm version works perfectly for me.

And what software?

Most of my time is spent in Photoshop CC, a heavy duty tool for almost everything I do in 2D. The animation engine is terrible and unreliable, so I've been trying out Aseprite for pixel art and animation. Illustrator is great for vector things but I recently switched to Affinity Designer, pretty good so far!

My team works in the Unity game engine, which I'm using in combination with Substance Designer for node-based textures and materials. I love to prototype story ideas in Twine, a free little tool for interactive fiction.

There's Ableton Live for music composition and sound design, or when I need a five minute break to just mess around with little loops. Web and application design happens in Sketch, which gets really really good if you use Sketch Toolbox and its plugins!

The more boring ones: odrive to manage my synced Dropbox and Google Drive files (AKA most things on my computers). Sublime Text for code and quick notes. Discord – The Chat for Gamers – for team communication, Asana for planning and productivity, Tower for version control.

On my iPhone, I use Tweetbot and Headspace to adjust my level of calm. And since most of my work is visual I listen to lots of podcasts with Overcast on the side.

What would be your dream setup?

Most days I dream of this: a standing desk, a neutral room with a smooth concrete floor, flooded with natural light, in an office with friends and collaborators doing the same sort of things I do. But I've been travelling a lot and I just wish your typical digital art setup could be more mobile, disconnected from any specific work space. No tower PC rig, laptops only, and I'd love to draw on the go, outside in the grass, maybe on an iPad? There should be lots of cool flora and bird ambience, and a cabin for cooking, music and contemplation.


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David Lublin


David Lublin

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is David Lublin and since 2004 I have been half of a company called VIDVOX that makes software for artists. I do a bit of everything, which includes coding, design, sales, support, marketing, tutorials and documentation, beta testing, blogging, tweeting, community building, managing freelancers and a bunch of other things.

We find that open standards are particularly important for creative communities and we maintain two open source projects that we are especially proud of. The first is the Hap video codecs, a set of movie formats that use GPU accelerated decompression for playback of extremely high resolution video on Mac, Windows and Linux machines. The second is ISF (Interactive Shader Format), an open specification for writing GLSL shaders that can be used as video generators and image filters across different host applications on desktop, mobile and web platforms. A bunch of our other useful low level code for working with specifications like MIDI, OSC and OpenGL is also available on GitHub.

I also sometimes make art!

Mostly I am known for VJing, which is live video performed remixing, usually along with music. I've gotten to do a lot of fun shows over the years including a performance at Lincoln Center and a tour with Girl Talk back in 2011. For geek points, the one time I got to fill in for The Eclectic Method for a Doctor Who fan meet up at Comic Con was maybe my top moment personally so far.

Recently I have been making a number of Twitter bots, most noteworthy of which are @TVCommentBot (a bot that watches live broadcast TV and inserts its own closed captioning) and @TVFaceBot (a bot that looks for faces on live broadcast TV and tweets them), and a few spin offs like @StarTrekTVBot (because I've run out of Star Trek episodes to watch) and @TVCrimeBot. Related to this I am also now developing a website for bots to find love online called bot.dating.

Probably the project that I am most passionate about is MIDIDogs.biz which is a website where I post videos of digitally synthesized barking dogs singing your favorite TV themes and pop songs along with puntastic titles like "Paw and Order" and "Fluffy The Vampire Spayer" and "Game of Bones" and "Doggie Howser" – I take requests.

At the most recent Stupid Hackathon my project was the low tech "Yell Hole" which is basically a bucket with sound insulation that you can put on your head and yell into without disturbing your neighbors.

What hardware do you use?

Currently my primary development machine is a 15" TouchBar MacBook Pro with an LG 4k display. I miss the physical escape key but otherwise very happy. I've used a similar setup of a MacBook Pro along with an external monitor for over a decade and this is the best version of it yet.

For work I have a lot of Macs for testing, we need pretty much every GPU and macOS combination readily available in case a user has a problem. Along these lines I have several high end audio interfaces (e.g. the MOTU 828 and YellowTec PUC2 on my desk right now), video capture devices (Blackmagic UltraStudio 4k & Mini recorders, a few Logitech webcams, some old DV / Firewire gear in the closet..), MIDI controllers (lately enjoying the Numark Orbit, APC mini, Korg NanoKontrol and a Serato DJ-style controller when doing my own shows but I probably have over a dozen others in storage), plus some DMX lighting gear (most used are ENTTEC ArtNet boxes and a few older Mega Pixel LED bars from American DJ) and other random things we support like WiiMotes. I also have a handful of cheap-ish external monitors that we sometimes use for testing multi-screen output configurations. We are always getting new stuff, usually when someone has a problem with something we don't have on hand already.

Right now @TVCommentBot and @TVFaceBot are running on a 2010 Mac mini that is plugged into my living room TV so that I can watch the feed instead of regular TV. The system gets broadcast TV over the airwaves through a standard antenna and a cheap digital TV receiver which outputs HDMI that is captured with a BlackMagic Mini recorder. A MIDI controller is connected for adjusting some parameters of the software without having to access the keyboard and mouse which are difficult to reach.

I have an iPhone 5s for all of the things you'd expect someone to have a smartphone for that gets used constantly and a 3rd generation iPad which does not get much use. So far I haven't had a compelling reason to upgrade either to a newer model.

For headphones I've had the same pair of Sony MDR-7506's for about a decade. I also often use the standard iPhone ear buds outside of the house.

My desk is a GeekDesk which I confess is usually used in sitting mode lately. I am thinking about installing some basic drawers for holding the small pieces of gear that end up cluttering the top area.

The best purchase I have made in the last few years is a peg board with hooks for organizing my large cable collection that makes it possible to connect all these things together.

I have had the same HP LaserJet 1320 printer since 2004 and have tried out lots of different kinds of small notebooks over the years (currently making my way through a small graph paper book from Muji). I have a couple of typewriters that I've collected over the years, a newer Olivetti MS 25 Plus manual sometimes gets dusted off for use.

And what software?

When VJing and otherwise making video art I typically use VDMX which is software that we primarily work on at VIDVOX. Sometimes I'll connect it to other custom software using Syphon or MIDI / OSC.

I write most of my code in BBEdit, Xcode for compiling and Tower as my Git client. When needed I am ready to get down with Terminal.

Online I use Chrome for web browsing, Adium for chat and Transmit for FTP. Squarespace for blogging and Vimeo for video hosting.

TextEdit for writing words and Keynote for making presentations. I often use Stickies app on my Mac for keeping quick notes and snippets.

When creating new video filters typically I will use our free ISF Editor, an in-house tool we released for writing and previewing GLSL shaders. Though not as often as in the past I also still make use Quartz Composer from time to time.

For making video tutorials ScreenFlow is my favorite. I will sometimes also use iMovie or QuickTime Player 7 Pro as part of my video workflow. Lately I have been trying to use Affinity Designer and Photo for the basic image and vector design work that I need to do.

Some of my bots make use of open source machine learning techniques – I got started with one called DeepBelief which is still what powers the object detection for @TVCommentBot, though nowadays there are lots of even better libraries like TensorFlow available for this kind of stuff.

What would be your dream setup?

A giant science fiction laboratory that includes a Holodeck from Star Trek that somehow fits inside my apartment in NYC and is also sound insulated because I love working from home but being able to walk across the street for a bagel / slice of pizza pretty much anytime of day is also a requirement.

A way to directly interface my brain thoughts with machines that doesn't involve installing a microchip in my head.

In the meantime I am thinking of getting a second desk or workbench to make it easier to divide work / art time and having a real life living human assistant would be amazing.


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