Samantha Goldstein


Samantha Goldstein

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a software engineer and general tinkerer. I love making things with my hands, especially things that combine organic materials like clay and wood with micro-controllers and small chips. I like making things that are like me: soft, warm, and a little ridiculous.

What hardware do you use?

A photo of Samantha's pink keyboard on her desk.

I use an Epilog Fusion laser cutter for cutting wood and acrylic for jewelry making. I really adore this little baby blue soldering iron, and my headphones that match. I just got this amazing mechanical keyboard and have some pastel keycaps on the way. I'm can't wait to get some time to watch a movie and swap in my new keycaps. My keyboard Cherry MX Blue switches which are extra clacky and have a really satisfying tactile bump. I love the way it feels to type — every keystroke a resounding clack and every line a manifesto! I have a lot of handmade work and jewelry — it's meaningful to me to know that time and care went into the tools around me, and I think it helps remind me of what I want to put into my own work.

I do, admittedly, have a bit of a zombie pit for hardware projects on pause. I once made a ceiling mounted light installation with an Arduino Uno that responded to the audio levels in the room for a party. It was SO janky and potentially a bit dangerous, to be honest, but I was really on a Halt and Catch Fire bender and I think the solder fumes were getting to my head.

When I'm not at home tinkering I ride my bike everywhere I can or I make espresso and wander around the city with my favorite to go mug.

And what software?

I have a terrible memory. When I switch panes the words from the previous page are completely lost to me in the transfer, so I use Snappy to stick things to my screen and Spectacle to manage my window sizes with keybindings. vim has given me a very dynamic way of thinking with my fingers, but left me with a taste for absolutely never lifting my hands off of the keyboard that Spectacle helps to satisfy.

I use vim at work, mostly because when I learned in college I didn't know there were other alternatives and it made me feel very 1337. In fact, I used to SSH into every single vim window because I didn't realize that vim panes existed for years; it was a dark time. These days I use tmux to persist my panes through SSH sessions. At home I use Atom for editing (with vim keybindings). Having two editors helps me separate my work-programming from my home-programming and helps me context switch between the needs of an enormous mono-repo, and my pretty humble home project space. I've been using Bear for note-taking and dramatically upping my ability to write Markdown on the fly.

I have a couple custom key remaps that I use Karabiner for. I consistently reached the wrong distance for the ESC key for vim, and the hand position of CTRL-B for tmux felt awful. To deal with that I remapped caps lock to CTRL when used with other keys and to ESC when used alone. Long gone is my vim-based pinky strain!

What would be your dream setup?

I want a nice space with lots of natural light and a pottery studio nearby. I'd love a more sophisticated espresso machine and one of those cute peg boards to display and store all of my tools for pottery, jewelry making, and hardware. I love to have my tools visible but neat (like a wall-mounted knoll). I really need a way to hide my chords and cables. Who knows, maybe if my things are well organized it will rub off on the rest of my life.

I also have my eye on a number of artisan keycaps, like this, these, and these. I'd really like a more advanced soldering station, one that will suck up solder fumes and desolder mechanism!

After seeing Claire Dane's Met Gala dress I'd love to get my hands on some fiber optic fabric and make something with it as well in order to make some more wearable electronics!



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Gareth Reid


Gareth Reid

Who are you, and what do you do?

Gareth Reid, whisky distiller at Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife, Scotland.

What hardware do you use?

Making whisky is a fairly analogue process, so my interpretation of hardware would be steam for heating, water for cooling and pumps, valves, hoses and pipes for moving various liquids around. And of course the most important piece of hardware – the oak casks that the whisky matures in.

Each week we make seven batches of single malt whisky, which in around ten years will fill about 10,000 bottles.

Our daily process is to mash 1.5 tonnes of malted barley to make 7800 litres of wort. Scotch malt whisky must only be made with malted barley. We soak the malted barley in water at specified temperatures, so the barley's own enzymes (normally used for germination) convert the starches to fermentable sugars. We then ferment this to make our wash which is 8% alcohol.

We then distill this in our copper wash still to concentrate the alcohol. The vapour from the still is condensed and collected and mixed with the heads (foreshots) and tails (feints) from the spirit distillation, producing about 4500 litres of a product called low wines, which is around 23% abv.

Next, we make the new make spirit, which is the unmatured spirit which will become whisky. The low wines are distilled in the copper spirit still and the distillate from this run is cut into three parts; heads, hearts and tails. The rate of distillation and the percentage alcohol of these cut points play an important part in determining the character of both the new make spirit and the final whisky.

The heads and tails contain undesirable compounds and flavours, so they get redistilled as part of the low wines in the next day's distillation. The heart of the run is collected as new make spirit, which is diluted with water to 63.5% alcohol. We then transfer it to oak casks to be matured. Most of our casks are ex-bourbon casks from Tennessee and Kentucky, but sometimes we use port or sherry casks.

The whisky has to mature for at least three years and one day in order to legally be called Scotch Whisky, but it's generally 10 years plus.

All of our spent barley goes to a farmer for cattle feed and our liquid by-products are used for fertiliser.

And what software?

We have a degree of semi-automation in the brewhouse, which makes our lives a bit easier! We can control some of the valves and pumps using a mimic on an HMI, which saves a lot of running around. The brewhouse can also run through preset programs, meaning we can put a brew through with minimal input, allowing us to get on with other things. The best thing is that we can empty spent grain from the mash tun by pressing a few buttons on the mimic, which is an untold luxury for anyone who has ever dug out a tun by hand!

What would be your dream setup?

Air conditioning. In reality it would be too wasteful but distilleries and breweries are always too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter!



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Bertrand Fan


Bertrand Fan

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Bertrand Fan, an engineer on the Platform team at Slack. I build things so that you can build things, but sometimes I also build things to verify that the things that I'm building actually help you build things.

I'm less interesting than my wife, Iris Willow. You should be reading her interview instead.

Previously, I helped Barack Obama become president, built VR at Flickr and architected its transition to a Node.js stack, and failed at building a startup.

What hardware do you use?

I have a 256 GB Jet Black iPhone 7 and my AirPods with me at all times. If you have the kind of ear canals that can tolerate in-ear monitors, you should use those instead, they sound way better. I put my phone in an ElevationDock with a NanoPad that uses thousands of tiny suction cups to secure it to my bedside table.

My favorite pen is the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier, which unfortunately has been discontinued by Pilot Japan. I've tried a lot of different notebooks but I like the Kyokuto F.O.B COOP W Ring Notebook – B5 – Dot Grid – Silver best because it has a subtle dot grid and you can lay it flat to read it.

I have two MacBook Pros, one for work (15-inch, Mid 2015) and one for personal use (15-inch with Touch Bar, Space Grey, 2016). I also have a recertified Acer Chromebook 11 that I'm experimenting with as a writing device and a desktop that I built which serves as my VR rig.

The 2016 Macbook Pro seems like a misstep to me. It has a lack of useful ports so I have to supplement it with an Arc Hub and a Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet adapter. If you want additional power chargers, you have to buy a USB-C Charge Cable and Power Adapter Extension Cable separately. A Power Adapter Extension Cable costs $19 and it doesn't even come with the laptop. The touchbar remains to be a gimmick to me and key travel distance on the keyboard isn't great.

If I'm at a desk, I use WASD v2 TKL keyboards. My work keyboard has PuLSE SA keycaps and Cherry MX brown switches and my home keyboard has 1976 SA keycaps and Cherry MX silent red switches. I recently acquired a 5×6 Macropad that runs off a Teensy that I use as an emoji keyboard.

At work, I use a Magic Mouse 2 and at home I have a discontinued Logitech V550 mouse that I love and buy new old stock of whenever I can find it. I also sometimes use a modified M0100 because I think its funny, but the lack of a right mouse button prohibits me from using it regularly.

I own a Raspberry Pi, Tessel, C.H.I.P., and a Teensy that I'm constantly wiping clean and experimenting with new hardware projects.

I recently sold my HTC Vive because my house is too small for room-scale VR but am keeping my Oculus Rift until the next generation of headsets comes out. I'll probably buy an Oculus Go when it comes out.

I have an HP 7550A pen plotter which originally cost $3900 in 1984, but I picked up one in really good condition for around $100 in 2015 on eBay. It has a ridiculous set of adapters coming out of it (parallel to serial to USB A to USB C) but it produces some impressive plots. I've modified it to also use Pilot Hi-Tec-C refills.

I dabble in cryptocurrency but am fairly paranoid so I store the majority of my funds in a Ledger Nano S hardware wallet.

I got really frustrated with the wifi situation at my last place so I went a little overboard and bought enough network equipment to run a small conference in my home. This includes an EdgeRouter PoE, three Unifi AP AC Pro hotspots, and a Motorola MB8600 cable modem.

My house has Amazon Echo and Echo Dots in every room so I spend a lot of my time yelling at it. Each light switch has been replaced with a Lutron P-PKG1W-WH Caseta Wireless Dimmer that I control with a Wink Hub 2. The Echo Dots are hooked up to 10-year old Sonic Impact Gen 2 T-Amps attached to 20-year old bookshelf speakers that I use Spotify Connect to control with my iPhone. I'm considering switching to the Sonos ecosystem.

I have a Mac Mini (Late 2014) running Plex and a Synology DS415+ with 4 WD Red 6TB drives that hold my movie collection.

I collect old videogame systems, but my favorite console is the SNES. I prefer to play on the original hardware, so I own a Super Wild Card DX which takes 3.5" floppy disks (most SNES games can fit on 1-2 1.44 MB disks) and a sd2snes which can fit the entire SNES library on a single SD card. I also own a Super NES Classic Edition and a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie with USB Super RetroPorts so that you can use the original controllers.

I rarely travel without my Fujifilm X100S, iPad Mini 2, Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, Kindle Paperwhite, Nintendo Switch, Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh battery charger, Monoprice Noise Cancelling Headphones, and Monster MP OTG400 BK Outlets To Go Power Strip.

If there is a theme here, it's that the hardware you love will become discontinued and sometimes won't be replaced by anything better. So if you can afford to, buy two (or three) of the them and set them aside for when the first one breaks.

And what software?

OS X is my primary operating system. I had held out for ages on upgrading but the Meltdown and Spectre attacks forced me to upgrade to High Sierra.

I spend a lot of time in Slack, either in the Mac app or the iOS client. I tend to stay in all channels that I have a passing interest in, but only routinely read the channels that I have starred.

I use Sublime Text to write code. My favorite plugins are VCS Gutter, SFTP, Pretty JSON, Requester, Gist, and Package Syncing. I probably should be embarrassed to admit that I use nano to edit files on servers when I need to, but vim seems needlessly obtuse to me.

Moom is one of my favorite apps for controlling my window sizes and position. I've remapped my Caps Lock key to be my Moom trigger.

I use iTerm2 as my terminal app. My prompt is a customized powerline-shell and I use autojump to do most of my navigation between directories.

Homebrew is one of the first things I install on any OS X computer because it has so many packages that I depend on. Sometimes I'll run iftop if my network connection seems particularly slow. I've found exiftool, imagemagick, youtube-dl, and ffmpeg to be useful enough to install by default on all my computers.

I mostly use git on the command line, but I will supplement my workflow with a variety of visual tools. I use tig to navigate through my previous commits and Github Desktop to select which files I want to go into a commit and do quick visual sanity checks of what I'm committing. For diffs and merging, I use Kaleidoscope.

A lot of my job involves testing the Slack API in various ways. I use a combination of curl piping to jq, Requester in Sublime Text, and Postman depending on what I'm trying to do.

ngrok is invaluable for testing various Slack Platform features that require an externally accessible endpoint, but I'll also use the Heroku and Google Cloud CLI tools when I need a more reliable environment.

Google Chrome is the only browser I use, for both browsing and development. I spend a lot of time in the Network tab of Developer Tools, but I also rely on a bunch of different extensions: EditThisCookie, Pinboard Keyboard Shortcut, Window Resizer, uBlock Origin, and SAML Chrome Panel. I have a bunch of different profiles for being signed-in to different accounts on various 3rd-party services. Also, since I use Chrome exclusively, I will often build CLI tools using my cookie extraction library to automate workflows with different websites.

ScreenFlow is great for recording interactions, I use it for providing examples in bug reports, demonstrating how something works, or just taking the risk out of a live demo. Monosnap is like a non-Evernote-tainted Skitch and I use it all the time for taking screenshots and annotating them.

I store all my passwords in 1Password but I've had enough bad experiences with iCloud to only sync it with Dropbox. I try to store everything in Dropbox and use Selective Sync pretty carefully to avoid filling up my entire hard drive.

As far as apps that live on my menubar, Caffeine, Day-O, and Next Meeting each do a single thing well.

I use Nativefier to create SSBs for both Gmail and Google Calendar. I listen to music on Spotify, but occasionally I'll use Cog to listen to some mp3s or iTunes to stream from my iTunes Match collection.

Whenever I'm writing Markdown, like right now when I'm writing the answers to these questions, I use MacDown. I also spend a fair amount of time writing in Sublime Text in Distraction Free Mode, Google Docs, and Dropbox Paper.

I use OmniGraffle to create flowcharts, Keynote for presentations, and Photoshop for image manipulation. Highlight is useful for pasting syntax highlighted code into a Keynote slide.

What would be your dream setup?

In most places I've worked, I've slowly acquired monitors until there's no room left on my desk to add any more until I do an ergo evaluation and they convince me to get rid of them all. For this reason, I'll be happy to switch to a VR headset as my primary display when they are high resolution enough to not make me want to throw up after using them for sustained periods of time.

My dream keyboard would probably be a Rama M65-A with an entire row of Jellykey keycaps. I imagine this interfacing with something like the Logitech BRIDGE so that it would work seamlessly in VR.

I have a Jeremiah Collection laptop desk and wouldn't mind the larger version of it, but I live in SF. I guess in my dream setup, the median price per square foot of space in SF would be lower.

For my video game console collection, I wouldn't mind a grid of Sony BVM-20F1U broadcast monitors hooked up to XRGB-mini Framemeisters. I'd love to mod both my top-loading NES with a Hi-Def NES upgrade kit and my N64 with an UltraHDMI upgrade kit. I already have a 1CHIP SNES but a SNES Mini with a THS7314 RGB bypass amp would be a nice addition. For my Dreamcast, a GDEMU or USB-GDROM to replace the optical drive would help future proof it.

Now that the GameCube WaveBird, the best gaming controller of all time, is compatible with the Nintendo Switch, I wouldn't mind picking up a couple of those with and a Wii U controller adapter.

I've considered replacing my pen plotter with an AxiDraw V3 because I see it pop up all the time on #plottertwitter.

As far as software is concerned, I jumped ship from Windows to OS X around 10.6 "Snow Leopard", but with every new release of OS X, I feel like it's getting further and further away from an OS that helps me as a software developer. I think it's still better than Windows, despite the WSL, and the old joke that this year will be the year of Linux on the desktop still remains. I learned the hard way that developing for VR on OS X is an exercise in futility, so I'm hoping that something better comes around that replaces all of these – something that fulfills the original promise of UI/UX that "just works", a healthy app ecosystem, and the Linux toolchain that we expect.



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Jenn Sandercock


Jenn Sandercock

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jenn Sandercock and I'm a game designer. I've been working in games for 8 years now, mostly in digital games, but I have a passion for all kinds of experimental games, including real-world/physical games. I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, but I'm currently based in Seattle. I love the weather here (rain is awesome) and the snow-capped mountains. I also love how tech obsessed most people are.

For the past year I've been working on a variety of projects from digital to completely analog games.

The majority of my time has been working on Thimbleweed Park, a Twin Peaks-esque point-and-click adventure game. We're a small indie team that's distributed across the world and I got to put on a lot of hats on the team. I helped out with code, design, production, customer support, social media, booth creation, merch & Kickstarter rewards and more. I got to work with Fangamer to create a wide range of amazing merch for the game.

I also got to work with Sensible Object (of Beasts of Balance fame) on a new type of board game: one that uses voice-powered devices. It was part of the Amazon Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars. I worked next to other tech companies and got a real insight into the startup world. My job was to help design and produce a totally new board game that relied on the Alexa and used it in interesting ways. The game we created was called "When in Rome" and I got to talk to a lot of really interesting people from around their world about their cities.

As the new year begins, I'm ramping back up on my personal passion project: a series of edible tabletop games. That is, games where you actually eat the pieces and eating changes the gameplay somehow. I've already come up with over half a dozen edible games and my current plan is to develop more of them and then put them into a cookbook that tells people how to bake them and then how to play them!

What hardware do you use?

I mostly work from my 2015 MacBook Pro. I don't like Macs, I only use it because I used to make mobile games and you can't make iOS games without having a Mac. Note that's not entirely true, but they make it so hard that's it's just easier to get a Mac.

I have a large TV monitor that I've borrowed from the Thimbleweed Park booth set up. Anytime we show somewhere, I pull down the monitor and pack it up. It takes up a lot of deskspace, but is really pretty. For testing, I have access to an Xbox dev kit, a PS4 test kit and a Switch test kit. Each one has its own issues when trying to get the latest build of the game on it – so I generally avoided doing this if I could.

I have some large headphones from our booth as well. They've got Franklin (the ghost character) on them. I used to have better headphones that I won at some point, but I lent them and never got them back. I got my own Thimbleweed Park mousepad, which sounded silly when I got it, but I really love.

For my edible games, I use a variety of things from board game supplies to ovens to cookie cutters to ingredients. My current coworking space has an amazing board game supplies wall. They have all kinds of meeples and other tokens you could use for prototyping. They also have a laminator, so I can quickly create boards that food can go on top of and be cleaned!

When I'm doing cooking, I just use my home kitchen which isn't fantastic. There's not much counter space for everything. After having 2 hand-held beaters die on me in the middle of making gingerbread, I searched to find one with more power (UPDATE: It just died on me too, but I blame myself). The good thing about this is that it was the same brand as the underpowered ones and so my beaters fit in it too. It may not be obvious why this is so good, but the reason is about being able to beat flour-based mix and then switch to beating egg whites without having to wash beaters constantly. I love my Silpat baking mats that are easy to clean and reuse (although hard to dry in terms of finding hanging space); and my stackable cooling racks. I recently got sick of my digital scale since it kept eating up batteries and turning off in the middle of me trying to weigh things. I upgraded to this one which has an off button and a dash that pulls out when I put large bowls on top. I'm currently experimenting with a new oven thermometer and so far so good. I prefer it to the analog hanging ones since it doesn't fall down in the hot oven all the time. Disposable piping bags of various sizes are great and end up being handy for so many different things. I recently and finally learnt how to temper chocolate and now I'm doing it super frequently. The problem with tempering is you have to temper a lot more than you need and then you're stuck with a bunch of leftovers. So I bought a chocolate bar mould and then I just pour my leftovers in there and can break them into small chunks and eat – I mean reuse for tempering again.

The best thing about my kitchen set up is my partner… He'll often come into the kitchen after I've been cooking and do all the cleaning and washing for me!

And what software?

Trello is both my super power and my weakness. If something doesn't go on Trello, then it basically won't happen. I can get a bit obsessed with it… Sometimes I've done a task that wasn't on Trello and then created a Trello task just so I can mark it as "done". I've thought long and hard about how I set up my main Trello board and I have a system that goes from left to right. I have lists for the next 4 weeks of to dos, backlog, "do today", "doing", "done today", "done this week", "done this month". I use Card Counter so I can feel a sense of accomplishment, rather than having tasks just disappear. I've been keeping track of cards completed for my personal life for 2 years now and I can see when I have a big month in tasks.

I use a lot of Google Drive. Particularly Google Sheets. I love spreadsheets. I also can't remember how it was attempting to work on the same file with someone else without Google Drive. Recently I learned about "SUMIFS" and it seriously upped my spreadsheet game.

Working with remote teams and coworking spaces means I have to have Slack. Although I think I'm on too many different Slack communities now for me to keep up with all of them.

When I have to help hack together art for a quick Thimbleweed Park promotion, I use PhotoShop. I wish I was better at using it, I feel like I'm only just beginning to understand it. I'm sure it will be useful when shifting to work on images for Edible Games.

While working on Thimbleweed Park as a coder, we had custom tools called Wimpy & Compy. Wimpy helped us position items in rooms, set hot spots, trigger boxes and walk boxes. Compy helped us put together the frames from our animators and check that animations were set up right. I use BBEdit to write the code, and Slicy to break up layers from Photoshop into sprites.

For Thimbleweed Park, we use Square to run payment transactions at our booth. We used PledgeManager to help us manage Kickstarter & new backer information and pledges. We use Sprout Social to manage all the social media sites and Zendesk to manage customer support. We only started using Zendesk a few days before our launch and I can't believe we didn't start earlier – we really couldn't have survived launch without it.

Dropbox to share files is essential as well. I have so much on Dropbox, that I usually use the selective sync function. To help with this, I use DaisyDisk since my hard drive seems to always get too full. It helps me find out where the big files are. I use 1Password to help create and keep passwords and other private information.

As I start to work on my book editing and layout, I'm sure I'm going to add a whole new slew of software to my list.

What would be your dream setup?

Firstly the location: A coworking space with some likeminded people who I could have lunch with every so often, within one ride on public transport (no transfers!). Currently, it's two buses for me or a bike ride up a hill or I end up driving (and I hate commuter driving).

On the technical side of things, I don't really need much in the way of computing power. I'd love to go back to a Windows laptop, but I can't justify the cost right now, so I'm stuck with my Mac. If I did have more money, I'd get a Microsoft Surface for all my personal work and leave my Mac for professional work, so I could separate work and normal life even more.

What I'd really love is an oven in the workplace!! That's super impossible to find. Perhaps a hybrid commercial kitchen rental space with an office space next door?! Although I'm not sure how much I'd get along with professional chefs – I'd be overwhelmed by imposter syndrome. Even at home, I'd love a double oven and enough countertop space to leave out mixers and scales without having to put them away all the time.



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Kate Lacour


Kate Lacour

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a cartoonist and art therapist. I run creative arts workshops for young people with autism and other special needs here in New Orleans. About 15% of that is actual hands-on art therapy, the rest is management, supervision, grant writing, advocacy and planning, planning, planning. I recently gave a TEDx talk on inclusivity through the lens of autism and Mardi Gras. My personal work is creating comics about the body. The best ready-made category for it is "body-horror", since it involves a lot of grotesque, disturbing and sexual content. But the effect is not scary so much as sickening and funny, hopefully beautiful as well. My ongoing series, Vivisectionary, is based on biology diagrams, and The Disciple covers the metaphysical degradation of a would-be mystic.

What hardware do you use?

I draw everything in archival ink on the cheapest watercolor paper available, then paint with a blend of watercolors, colored inks and watercolor dyes. I have finally transitioned to a high-quality watercolor brush, and it's transformed my art, not so much in terms of the final product, but the ease with which I can arrive there. I use the tarot occasionally for guidance on The Disciple and anatomical references or high school biology texts for ideas for Vivisectionary.

And what software?

I use Photoshop to make minor tweaks to my scanned artwork. By far, the most useful piece of technology is Google image search on my iPad. I'm old enough to remember a time in high school when I kept books pasted full of magazine clippings that I'd use for visual reference when drawing- some gross, some beautiful, some merely useful. Nowadays, I can Google anything I need to see in order to complete a page. My search history is pretty strange and embarrassing: horse testicles, barber chair, 1970s blender, vulva, human heart, ham are some of the most recent queries.

What would be your dream setup?

I finally have my ideal physical setup – a tiny desk, an iPad, an expensive paintbrush, a quiet little room for art making. I'm also lucky enough to have a nice little suburban house, two children and a full-time job. My dream would be having a babysitter or housekeeper to cover for me while I make more art.



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merritt k


merritt k

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm merritt k. With my producer Nic Bravo, I run a podcast network called Stay Mean and host a couple of shows. With Daniel Shannon, I'm a part of Ignota Media, a publishing endeavour for and by underrepresented voices. And sometimes I write about internet culture, relationships, and labour — right now I have a column at MEL Magazine.

What hardware do you use?

I spend most of my day on a 2011 MacBook Pro that I bought for $400 from an acquaintance in 2014 and upgraded with the help of Stay Mean producer Nic Bravo. I will likely continue using it until it becomes untenable. The same goes for my iPhone 5C. For reasons that are partly necessity and partly a bizarre form of self-flagellation, I am not the kind of person who replaces things on a regular schedule.

When recording, I speak into an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic on a RODE PSA1 boom arm and monitor with Sony MDR-7506 monitor headphones. I record and do most other work on a cheap IKEA desk in the closet of my small Crown Heights bedroom.

And what software?

For episodes with guests, I use Skype with Ecamm's Skype Call Recorder to grab my side of the call and a backup of the guest's. For solo episodes, I use Piezo. I use VLC to review episodes and TextWrangler to write show notes in Markdown. I also write in TextWrangler, though I've been experimenting with Cold Turkey Writer. I'm trying to do less writing in Google Docs because I'm touchy about losing access to my work, but it's still how I communicate with my editor about revisions. My producer and I share files, solicit file uploads, and take notes using Dropbox and Dropbox Paper. Finally, I have Cold Turkey set up on a schedule to keep me offline in the morning when I do my best writing.

I've become a religious OmniFocus user thanks to my friend Henry Faber. I use the contexts feature along with blocks of time set aside in my calendar to work on different kinds of tasks — writing, communication, research — throughout the day, rather than dedicating time to specific projects. Without this division of time (and let's be honest, even with it), it's too easy to just be kind of working 24/7, a very stressful but not incredibly productive arrangement.

Daniel and I use Asana to coordinate on our work, since OmniFocus doesn't support shared projects. We also use Slack and 1Password, the latter of which I use at Stay Mean and in my day-to-day, though I still sync my vaults over Dropbox rather than using the 1Password subscription service.

I was running CrashPlan — which I loved — until they discontinued the personal user service, at which point I switched to Backblaze. I also regularly back up to an on-site Seagate external drive.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm not interested in a maximalist audio setup, and my machine still runs fine, so I'd be happy with a recording space/office outside of my home, a slightly nicer mic, and a hardware audio mixer.



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Sarah Werner


Sarah Werner

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Sarah Werner (although sometimes folks know me better as @wynkenhimself). I've recently started calling myself an independent librarian, basically a made-up job that sounds better than "independent scholar." I trained to be an English professor: I got a PhD and wrote a dissertation about Shakespeare and performance and feminism (it's also a book!). And then life happened. I didn't get a tenure-track job, I got married, I had a couple of kids. Through some making of my own luck (I hate talking about being lucky; it's hard work to be ready to seize opportunities) I ended up working at the Folger Shakespeare Library as director of their undergraduate program, and so I turned into a book historian and digital media scholar. I fell in love with rare books libraries and how we today interact with old books, and so I quit that job to write and to work as a consultant for special collections libraries.

I've just finished writing a book about how books were made in the first centuries of the printing press and how we work with them today; Studying Early Printed Books, 1450-1800: A Practical Guide will be out from Wiley Blackwell in spring 2018. While the book is in production I'm developing a website that will host images of early printed books and teaching resources.

What hardware do you use?

I rely heavily on my crappy old laptop, a Dell Latitude 6430u that I bought I don't even know when — I think 2013 when I had to take a research trip to England and it was pretty new? The trackpad clicker only works in its sweetspot and I've worn through the coating on the "n" key, but other than that, it's trucking along just fine and it's where I do all my work.

I also rely heavily on my iPhone — I'm using a 6s Plus at the moment, which was a hand-me-down from my spouse after I dropped mine in the toilet. I love the camera but it's way too big for my hands. I do a ton of reading, browsing, and tweeting on it, though, so I manage. I recently got one of the new Apple Watches so I could take walks without having to carry my phone with me, since it doesn't fit into my pockets — I worry about being out of touch if something happens to one of my kids, so this has been freeing. (Pockets, by the way, are an important hardware issue that drive women nuts.) Rounding out my Apple ecosystem is an old iPad; my son tells me it's an iPad Air 2. I use primarily to read PDFs on; when I was teaching it was a godsend. Now I still use it for reading journal articles, but it lives mostly as a device to display recipes and to play music through while I'm cooking.

Other odds and ends: I do a lot of pleasure reading on my Kindle Paperwhite — I think it's the 3rd gen, but it could be the 2nd. The ability to adjust the font size and read at night without a light shining in my aging eyes is fabulous. If I didn't have this, I wouldn't be able to read nearly as many novels as I do, and reading is part of what keeps me sane.

Finally, the biggest category of hardware that I depend on are all my books. I read novels on my Kindle, but work books are always paper codices. I find them easier to take notes on, to refer back to, and even just being able to stand in front of my shelves and stare at them can be helpful.

And what software?

I wrote my book entirely in Scrivener and it made the whole thing possible. Since the book is largely constructed out of chunks of information (these are the steps for laying out type, this is how books are bound, here is how you understand catalog records), using Scrivener let me start out with an outline that I could then slowly build up into blocks of coherent text. I could rearrange blocks as I needed, mark sections as incomplete, and easily move between different places in the project. If I hadn't had it, I don't think I could have really grasped both the large picture of what I was writing and the smaller details.

Shorter pieces, like talks or manuscript reviews, I still do in Word, even though I know everyone hates it. I also use some of the other Office 2013 things, like PowerPoint for my image-heavy talks and sometimes Excel to track various things. But I'm also an inhabitant of the land of Google products for collaborative or public documents, such as the lists I maintain of digitized Gutenberg Bibles and early printed books that aren't available as open-access digital facsimiles.

It feels like most of what I'm doing these days is creating this Early Printed Books website. It's a fun project and a super exhausting one. I spend a lot of time searching for usable images that (a) show features I need, (b) are a high-enough resolution to see details (at least 1000px and preferably around 3000px), (c) that can be downloaded as jpg, jp2, or tiff files, and (d) that are either public domain or use CC BY or CC BY-SA licenses. Oh, and I like to have images of works that cover the entire period of hand-press printing (1450-1800), that come from across the early modern West, and that are produced and hosted by a range of institutions. I have a secret Pinterest board of images I've come across accidentally (my rare books librarian friends post some great stuff on Twitter), and I have long lists on Workflowy of categories of images that I need and links of places to find things. I've been using Pinboard for years and have accumulated a bucketload of links for everything connected to these projects and other projects and just about anything I come across online that I might want again (it's connected to my Twitter and Pocket accounts, so things I fave or save there are bookmarked as well).

Once I have specific images and time to download them, I use Tropy to organize them. It lets me add my own metadata — I need to track both the details of what the imaged book is and the institution providing it, not to mention the licensing terms and tags of book features. Tropy is an open-source project from CHNM and is designed for researchers who take a lot of images in archives. It's only just been released, and I can already see it will meet my photography needs the way Zotero meets my reference organization needs. Once I've got the highest possible resolution of the images I want downloaded, I use IrfanView to resize and compress them so I can then upload them to my site. (I still download as hi-res as possible because sometimes I need to zoom in on a specific detail and it's easier for me to download things once rather than to have to go back and start over again.)

The website itself is built on WordPress with a whole lot of modifications from the standard themes. I use an AMPPS Stack to develop this thing on my local computer and spend a lot of time fiddling with bits and pieces in Notepad++ to get things to work the way I want them to. I often feel like I don't know quite what I'm doing, but between the WordPress Codex and the PHP and CSS tutorials in W3schools, not to mention the assistance of my teenaged programmer son, it's going pretty well. Plus, you learn by doing, right?

I keep all of this and everything backed up on SpiderOak, because I am a packrat and a hoarder and if I lose my work it will never get published and I will never get paid.

What would be your dream setup?

Oh, man. I would love a computer with a bigger screen because my eyes are getting old. I work at home at a built-in standing desk now, but ideally I'd like one that had adjustable height and even an adjustable seat because sometimes you just want to sit down. I always need more bookshelves, and books. If I could get full access to all the online databases I need without paying an arm and a leg, I would be thrilled. (It's hard to do research when you don't have an academic affiliation.)

But what I'd really really like is a magical filing system where I could drop a pile of paper on my desk and it would just put itself away instantly. And my own printing press would be fun.



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Ana Breton


Ana Breton

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Ana Breton and I'm a Digital Producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. I film and edit videos, take behind the scenes photos, and co-manage our show's social media accounts and website.

What hardware do you use?

At work I edit on a Mac Pro desktop and two Samsung monitors; at home I work on a 27" iMac; and on the road I edit on a 17" MacBook Pro. For filming, I use a Canon EOS C300 with Canon lenses; for photos I use the Canon 5D Mark III. If Apple or Canon people are reading this, please send me free stuff. I love you.

And what software?

For Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, I edit videos on Avid Media Composer. I edit photos in Lightroom and make mockups in Photoshop. For script-writing, we use Scripto, which allows our entire team to collaborate at the same time. At home, I edit freelance projects on Premiere Pro under a Snuggie.

What would be your dream setup?

My ideal set up: for filming, a small studio with a green screen, white cyc, and endless equipment to play with. For editing, as many monitors as humanly possible. I love monitors. If you're someone who makes monitors, well, you know what to do.



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