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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