Sasha Burchuk


Sasha Burchuk

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Sasha Burchuk and last year I founded an interdisciplinary design studio called New Age Design Studio. The focus of the studio is a furniture product line and interior design.

What hardware do you use?

That's kind of a funny question because a lot of the hardware that I use actually comes from the hardware store! But if we are talking about computers (and not hinges and door pulls) then I actually use an old MacBook Air and a newer Lenovo IdeaPad. I prefer the intuitive navigation of Apple products, but the laptops just don't have enough processing power to run programs like Rhino and AutoCAD.

If we are talking about hinges and door pulls, I like to fabricate my own door pulls or source vintage ones from The Rebuilding Center. Most of my hinges come from Winks Hardware in Portland, Oregon.

I have three different work environments set up for building – one is a concrete workshop, one is a woodworking workshop, and then there are the digital fabrication facilities that I have access to.

I rely on various hand tools and machinery in the woodworking workshop – one of the nicest luxuries we have at our workshop currently is two Sawstop-brand table saws – one is set up for making rip cuts and the other is set up with a dado stack for cutting joinery. Other machinery in that workshop that I often use includes an old Delta 16" planer for planing glue ups, and a Bosch miter saw I check the thickness of every board I mill and the depth of every joint I cut with a pair of digital calipers (mine are made by Husky – but there are better brands). I use some more traditional hand tools as well, like bench chisels and marking gauges to lay out and cut joinery.

In the Concrete workshop the setup is more simple. We use bespoke metal form tables with vibrators attached to the bottom, various mixers of unknown age and origin, and a lot of grinding and wet processing tools.

On the digital fabrication side there is an Epilog Helix CNC laser.

And what software?

I try to avoid using software as much as I can because it really slows me down and hinders my creativity, but it is essential for precision and technical drawings.

I use InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator for branding-related collateral and asset creating. I've also used Illustrator to generate G-code for CNC lasering. With lesser success I've used CorelDRAW to do this as well. For drafting and modeling I mostly use Rhino – I'm currently learning AutoCAD so that I can start using it for interior design applications since it's the industry standard in the U.S. The two programs are extremely similar in spite of being written by different software companies – but I think Autodesk has tried to create more universal/intuitive products lately to get an edge. Before I knew AutoCAD I was making design intent drawings in Photoshop which was kind of ridiculous.

For moodboards I use Dropmark because I can't stand the performance issues that Pinterest has.

What would be your dream setup?

In my dream setup I actually have time and money to build out my studio and all three of these facilities are under one roof, instead of being located in different parts of town! I'd say that I am very well set up to do what I do all things considered and I feel very fortunate.



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Darcie Wilder


Darcie Wilder

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Darcie Wilder, I mostly I write and occupy space on the internet.

What hardware do you use?

I just use a 13-inch MacBook Pro that I bought last year. It's the first one I bought that isn't refurbished, I used to just buy any old computer. But last year I saw how thin and light computers had gotten while I had been lugging around this block of metal. I realized that investing in a better piece of equipment would allow me to get more work done in a freer way. Now I usually have my computer on me. I also have a Roost laptop stand, which I use with a spare bluetooth keyboard I have from college, which allows me to have a desktop setup when I need to feel grounded, otherwise I'm usually reclining somewhere typing into my computer, cozy.

Are notebooks hardware? I guess so? I use a spiral notebook in the morning for morning pages and a college ruled composition notebook otherwise. I've begun handwriting stuff over the past year, which has been really helpful for the way my brain works. I tried it years ago and my hand would cramp and I just couldn't do it, and I'm grateful that my brain has slowed down enough to be able to serenely write a sentence. And the regular Bic pens. I used to try to be fancy and get nice pens but I would never use them, as if they were better than me.

And what software?

I mostly live in Google Docs. I impulsively bought Scrivener a few years ago and was helpful for organizing pieces of writing, and I'll open it and try to commit but there's never longevity. I always end up back in Google Docs unfortunately, because I can open it on my phone when I'm walking my dog and tuck away files in folders that I'll never open again. I feel like I wish there was a change of interface though. But the problem I have with Scrivener, I feel, is maybe it's too hard to access, even when it's just opening an icon.

I also use Google Keep but it's a mess in there. For dumb memes I use PicsArt and Vidstitch. I used to make collages in Photoshop.

What would be your dream setup?

I feel pretty content, but I also always strive for sort of a barebones type thing, whether or not it works out. Like I don't know if I need Scrivener or the laptop stand – probably not. I think ultimately I dream of more quiet spaces.



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Finn Ellis


Finn Ellis

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hello! I'm Finn. My pronouns are they/them. I'm an automation engineer on the desktop team at Slack, which means that rather than working on the app, I make it easier for other people to work on the app. Lately that's mostly been graphical test automation, which I'm either about to talk about at Node Summit or recently did, depending on when this interview gets published. When I'm at home, I like playing and making video games. I've submitted entries to the last two Ludum Dare jams, and I've published a couple of games that you can play in your browser on itch.io.

Some non-computery things about me: I have seventeen piercings and one tattoo. I'm a high school dropout, and I earned my degree in linguistics at thirty-one. I sing alto or tenor, depending on the piece. I used to be a Magic: the Gathering tournament judge (L2, US:NW). I collect stuffed animals but only in the sense that I occasionally buy one and adamantly refuse to ever get rid of any. I play a mean cribbage game.

What hardware do you use?

For work, I use a 15" MacBook Pro, which is the first Mac I've had since they looked like toasters. When I'm physically at my desk I plug it into an LG 27MU88 monitor, which I'm a fan of, because one cable gets me laptop power and all my peripherals in addition to the extra screen. I use a Kinesis Freestyle 2 split keyboard on the recommendation of a colleague who assessed the ergonomics of my desk setup. She also had me using a trackball for a couple of months, after which point I felt like I'd given it a fair shake and still hated it, so I'm back on the stock magic mouse, which is fine so far. For someone who's basically lived on a computer since adolescence, I've been pretty lucky about RSI, and I'm trying to keep it that way.

My computer at home is a second generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It was my new-job gift to myself last year and it's a treat: quick, light, fits in a purse, I can fold it into a tablet (the keyboard recesses!), and I use the touchscreen way more than I expected to, to the point that the MacBook's screen is also covered in fingerprints because I forget I can't do that. With the stylus it's fun for drawing, too, although the tablet-mode-friendly software options aren't great. Lenovo's spyware shenanigans are bullshit but I admit that I still love ThinkPads, mostly because they make a fine keyboard and I type like a bat out of hell.

In my pocket there's a Google Pixel 2 XL. I went with the Pixel because I like getting system updates in a timely manner, and the XL because it's a gaming and social media machine that I grudgingly make calls on. Plus it takes nice photos in good light, and usable photos in low light. There's a Popsocket on it, which I use mostly as a fulcrum to spin my phone on tables when I'm fidgety, but it's handy on public transit too.

I've almost never owned dedicated gaming hardware, including consoles, but I did pick up a Nintendo Switch a couple months ago. It feels silly to expound on why it's great when so much of last year's gaming press did that, but suffice it to say that the ease of switching modes between console and handheld or controller setups is very real and very good. Plus the game selection is a much better fit for my tastes than any other major console.

Quick shoutout here to USB-C – I use literally the same charging cable for everything I just named. (It's the Macbook's brick with a nine-foot Amazon Basics cable.) We nerds like to joke about standards proliferation, but man, when one actually sticks for a minute it's really convenient.

And what software?

I'm surprisingly ambivalent about work-oriented software, so long as it gets the job done. I don't even have strong opinions about operating systems. When I started this job, I asked my team, "Hey, what do you all use to edit code?" and they said VS Code, so I use VS Code. (I do use the vim keybindings, though.) I use VMWare Fusion for similar reasons. Chrome has been my default browser for a long time, originally because it was the one with separate user profiles, and these days because it already has all my stuff in it.

I spend a lot of time in Notes or Notepad (depending on OS), because any task or idea I don't remember to write down is gone and I don't care about fancy features in a scratchpad. This is actually the only reason I have an iCloud account; I realized that my Notes files were the one important thing I wouldn't be able to get back if my work laptop got stolen. (Well, that and the SDCC-exclusive Adventure Zone stickers.)

Oh, er, Slack, obviously. I'd dabbled with it before I worked there, for small projects or social groups, but it's been eye-opening to use it in the environment it was designed for, with the people who designed it.

For making games I use Pico-8, a low-fi virtual console with a great community. I like it because the narrow constraints force me to scale down to manageable ideas, and there's so little boilerplate that you can pretty much just write down what you want it to do and you're done. Basically, it's the fun parts of games programming without the dull parts, at the cost of only being able to do so much. I'd like to learn a modern engine just for the wider range of possibilities, but I keep getting intimidated by the learning curve for something I'm only doing for fun in the first place.

Some highlights from my phone, apart from the obligatory Twitbook: Tusky (a Mastodon client); Spotify and Pocket Casts for entertainment; NextBus, Lyft, and Weather Underground for when I'm going out; Caviar for when I'm not; and Wikipedia because I'm 100% the killjoy who will look up when that movie came out instead of letting you keep arguing about it. I haven't done as much mobile gaming since I got the Switch, but I've gotten back into Pokémon GO because they added social features, and Solitairica because … well, because it's still phenomenal. Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection is an early install for me on almost every new device I get; it's a big bundle of FOSS puzzle games that run on almost anything. I could write a whole article just about games on my phone so I'll cut myself off here, but ask me on Twitter if you want more recommendations!

On the Switch I'm deep in a Stardew Valley game right now, and slowly working my way through Celeste and Night in the Woods. I recently finished Golf Story and Yono and the Celestial Elephants, neither of which I'd heard of before buying the console, and I loved both. Some day I'll probably get around to playing the award-winning AAA Switch titles too (unless we get a new Animal Crossing game first, then all bets are off).

What would be your dream setup?

I'm embarrassingly unqualified to answer this. Until very recently I'd never had the kind of money where I could buy new hardware of any kind, and I'm not into browsing things I can't have, so I'm basically totally ignorant of the possibilities. If you gave me a blank check and said "Buy yourself new computer things," my first step would be turning around to my friends and asking "Hey who builds good gaming machines?" and then paying someone else to do the thinky part. I would be pickier about choosing a desk and a chair! I guess I could get a bunch of monitors? That's a thing nerds do, right? Probably a Wacom for drawing unless someone else has started making really good tablets since I last checked. And, like, an actual TV I could connect the Switch to. Maybe a nice keyboard. Er, I mean, piano keyboard, but, you know, the other thing too.

Long story short, I don't know. Check back in a year and I'll tell you what it turned out to be. Just don't be surprised if I'm still happily playing Switch games on the couch. I have modest tastes in technology.



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Gary Gale


Gary Gale

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! I'm Gary. That's the easy part out of the way. What I do is somewhat more complex.

I'm a geotechnologist; which really means I lead and manage teams of really clever people who make software products that use geography,
geospatial data and location data. Or to put it another way, I do maps and stuff. If I had a penny for every time someone's said just put it on a map I'd be a very rich person.

I started out in the last millenium, as an operator (anyone remember 6250 density magtape?) and then as a programmer on DEC VAX minicomputers writing assembler and Fortran-77, then writing C and C++ on the various commercial flavours of UNIX (OSF/1, Solaris, Tru64 UNIX and AIX) before I ending up using Linux and macOS.

These days I still try and stay hands on, because I never want to stop learning and building things, but I'm more involved in the leadership and strategy sides of technology; after 2 years as a CTO, I've spent the last year as a roving consultant and am just about to start a new role as a CTO again.

What hardware do you use?

I haven't had a work desktop computer since 2006 as, for the past 12 odd years, my job has meant I've ended up working not only in an office but also, thanks to a combination of trains, planes and automobiles, in coffee shops, meeting rooms, conference venues and quite a few airport lounges. That means I rely on a laptop which is only infrequently plugged into an external monitor. And since 2006 that laptop has been a MacBook Pro, starting at the first generation no it's not a PowerBook G4 it just looks like one model up to 2016's fourth generation what is the touch bar for really model.

I'm going to pause here for a moment and reflect on the new MacBook Pro. I know it's easy to say things aren't built like they used to be but with the fourth generation model, Apple seem to have lost their way. It's not clear to me what's Pro about this model apart from a few more USB-C ports. I get that USB-C is possibly the future but the rest of the world hasn't caught up yet. I don't get that I can't upgrade the SSD or RAM once I've bought a new MacBook Pro. This model seems to be more about taking away rather than improving on previous models.

All my previous MacBook Pros have been reliable, rock solid and I've had one disk failure in all of that time, which I could and did swap out myself. I've even had one machine that survived around a meter and a half fall out of a rucksack onto a volcano in Iceland (it's a long story); granted, it had a few cracks and some interesting curves in the unibody, but it continued to be used day in, day out, for a further two years after that.

Maybe it's just bad luck but maybe it's telling that as I write this my fourth generation work horse is with my local Apple store having the keyboard, SSD and logic board replaced.

But when my machine does return and when I am sitting at a desk, it'll be plugged into the biggest monitor I can get away with, also plugged into a Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock with my backup drives and paired with a Magic Keyboard (with numeric keypad) and a Magic Mouse 2.

Lying close to my laptop or in my back pocket will be my iPhone 7, with the hope of an iPhone X coming along soon, and an iPad mini.

At home things are a little more … eclectic.

Sitting behind my ISP supplied cable modem is a Linksys 1900ACS that's been reflashed with DD-WRT. There's a Raspberry Pi running Pi-Hole which not only blocks ads and tracking across my LAN but also uses Cloudflare's encrypted DNS. There's another Pi sitting behind the main TV which acts as the media centre for our NAS thanks to OSMC plus an Amazon Fire TV Stick and an old Apple TV that I can't remember when we last used it. I should probably unplug that at some point. I'm also running yet another Pi, connected to an external GPS receiver, that's an NTP stratum 1 server for my LAN, just because I like building things like that. There's also a couple of TiVo boxes, many disk drives and wifi points and other technical ephemera. There's even a Windows 10 laptop that gets used for school homework; when it's not rebooting itself to install whatever today's urgent bug fix or software update is.

And what software?

On my iDevices I read books via Kindle, and my news via Flipboard, I also take notes via Penultimate and a stylus. I may even be guilty of playing the odd game occasionally, such as yet another tour around the wonders of Monument Valley. But I still keep an A4 pad in my bag for random scrawling, just in case.

On my Mac, I use Atom for editing, though can still drive Vim for those remote SSH sessions. I keep a range of browsers for testing, but Chrome is my usual browser of choice with the 1Password, Privacy Badger and Pocket plugins, but I might yet be lured back to Safari one day.

I use the command line, via a customised Mac Terminal app a lot and install software via Homebrew whenever I can.

For poking around with geospatial data I use gdal to convert data into something usable that doesn't require enterprise software to work with, which usually means GeoJSON. That also means I can try and make sense of the data with Elasticsearch and Kibana. For visualisation I use QGIS and if I want to share a map based visualisation online Leaflet has rarely let me down.

Not everything can run on OS X, sorry, macOS, so I tend to run a lot of virtual machines via VirtualBox and Vagrant. These are mainly Linux instances, either CentOS or Ubuntu, but there's also a Windows 10 VM there too for those times when I have no choice but to run enterprise software which insists on a legacy version of Internet Explorer or for ensuring that something runs as well on Windows as it does on a UNIX-a-like operating system.

Finally there's the usual tools of email, using my Mac's default Mail client, browsing, mostly using Chrome, and a copy of Office 365 for Mac. I much prefer Apple's Keynote for slide decks, though I have nothing against PowerPoint.

There's a lot more than this, including local Node, Python, Ruby, Go and PHP installs but I don't want to bore you to death.

What would be your dream setup?

After 12 years of living and working in places where a desk appears around 50% of the time I've learned to be pragmatic and if I can live without something for 3 months without going over the edge, then I probably don't really need it or it's not worth obsessing over.

But if I really had to dream it would look something like a third generation MacBook Pro, but with the ability to upgrade the components rather than being stuck with what you initially bought. It would have the latest and greatest set of ports but also support older hardware which still works well, so why should I have to buy a dongle or replace stuff? It would have the power of something akin to a Mac Pro but be lightweight enough to lug between offices and meetings without booking an appointment with the osteopath. It would be able to power multiple external monitors and wouldn't need a specialist docking station or half an hour of plugging stuff in followed by unplugging everything because there's another meeting I absolutely have to go to. And it would have onboard cellular data connectivity because free wifi is rarely around or reliable when you really need it (and no, tethering is not the same thing as that rarely works outside of my home coutry without paying eye watering sums of money for this). I'd happily trade Siri integration (I've never found the need) and the new touch bar for something like that.

Maybe I'm really talking about a Hackintosh but apparently there's laws and copyright that get in the way of that. Maybe we should fix the intellectual property and copyright laws instead? Or maybe that's too much dreaming for one day.



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Paige Icardi


Paige Icardi

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! My name is Paige Icardi. What I do currently is drastically different than what I've been doing for the past 5 years.

Previously I was extremely immersed in the food industry via Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. It's a wonderful specialty grocery store that prides itself in curating the most high-quality, thoughtful and amazing tasting food, whether it's the produce, meat or unique pantry goods.

My start there was originally as a cashier and turned into one of those situations where I moved on up for the next two years, eventually to a store manager and then maintained that position for three more years. I've always loved food and cooking – something that I still was heavily involved in even as a store manager – but still never saw myself in a management role.

It took me two years of stress and one year of being extremely ill to finally have the sense to quit.

That leads to me what I currently do. While I continue my recovery, I've been practicing a lot of yoga, which has done a great deal for helping me with pain management. It has been such an integral part of my life now, so much so that I also wanted to quit so I could study yoga more and eventually teach it too.

Since I'm technically unemployed, I've also been keeping myself busy and making some money cooking for a family that shops at the market. For her and her family I cook a handful of meals and recipes that fit their diets with only ingredients from Bi-Rite, which makes me happy that I still have some sort of tie to the store. It's been a really wonderful way to keep busy doing something I'm very passionate about, and to make a little extra money on the side.

What hardware do you use?

Currently my hardware consists of my yoga mat, some props and cozy clothes. I absolutely love the yoga brand, Alo Yoga, which is where my mat is from, along with lots of my comfy leggings. I live on their mat, and am currently typing this atop it.

I also get a lot of help from my MacBook Air and iPhone 8. Despite my age and generation, I'm not the most technologically savvy and like to keep it simple.

And what software?

I actually use a fantastic app/website to take yoga classes when I'm not practicing alone called Alo Moves, formally known as CodyApp. It's way more affordable than going to yoga classes in San Francisco, and I absolutely love the variety of amazing teachers and types of yoga it has to offer.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream set up consists of having my own space for me to practice. All I want in a space is peace and quiet, plenty of room/wall space – and hardwood floors! Right now I'm currently in a living room in a 1 bedroom apartment and, while my husband and I are luckier than most to have a roomier apartment, it's still cramped and we would benefit from a little more space. We have been discussing for quite some time now the idea of buying a house, potentially in the Pacific Northwest, so the dream setup will hopefully become a reality sooner than later.



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Maize Wallin


Maize Wallin

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Maize! I'm a Melbourne based composer, sound designer, and audio programmer. My focus is in 3D spatialised audio, and dynamic music, using cutting edge techniques.

Lately I've been really in love with being the middle person, when it comes to implementing a composer's audio. Developers often fall in love with someone's music, but that someone might not have ever worked on a game! So, I've been the one that helps the composer understand the dynamics of games, and together we design systems to help bring the FULL POWERS of music and games together. I do continue to do lots of composition and audio too!

I've recently been appointed to the Widget board of directors, representing the field of audio in videogames, and also drawing on my non-binary community.

I've also been making an educational gardening game, about seasons and produce in Victoria. It's been combining my passions for tech, teaching, facilitating, and food.

What hardware do you use?

Oooooof. Compared to devs, musicians don't have it easy. We use a LOT.

Maize's musical instruments.

My latest piece of kit is my Shamisen. I also use lots of little instruments, but my main instrument is the guitar. I also use a lil Zoom H4n.

Maize's computer setup.

My laptop is an MSI Stealth Pro, 15", with a GeForce 1070. I recently got a Samsung Odyssey, which I'll be using as my main VR setup from now on. It's suuuper great. I used to use the Vive, but this is so much more portable, and quick to set up!

My main headphones now are the Bose QC 25's. They're SUPER good on the plane, but even great at when I have to work at the office.

I work from home most of the time, and there I have my Yamaha HS50's. I have five of them, and the 10w sub as well. But I don't work in surround sound any more, so I mostly only use a stereo setup, and I put the extra speakers by the projector to watch epic nature documentaries with.

I use a little Focusrite 2i2 as my audio interface. I also have a MOTU 8/8 around, but I only use that for live art stuff and surround sound that I used to do. It annoys me so much that I had to buy a new 2/2 interface, because my old one was totally fine, they just stopped making drivers Windows 10, and I had to change this piece of code every time Windows updated, which is like, every day.

Maize's MIDI keyboards.

I also have a few MIDI controllers. I've always been really focused on being very portable, so my favourite setup is to have my Roli Seaboard Block, and my Launchpad Mini, with my laptop. But I'm pretty good at not using any instruments and just composing from laptop.

And what software?

Ableton, Izotope RX, Reaper, Unity, Wwise (in that order.) Oh and Excel, and Google Docs. Spreadsheets run my life.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is a totally AR office, so that I can sit under a tree and type onto the grass. It's getting there. Cortana is getting really great at text dictation.

I really want to live in a tree house, with super fast internet, and drones delivering my groceries. I'd live quite a hermit peaceful life.

I'd also like to move to Mars. For similar isolation reasons really! I absolutely adore the times I've done longer artist residencies in countries where I don't speak the language, and had time to make art.



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Haley Rose Smith


Haley Rose Smith

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Haley, and I'm an Android engineer & tech lead at Slack. I grew up in Napa Valley and now live in Oakland with my husband, André, and my cat, River. When I'm not selling my labor, I'm attending a local Farm School program and working in my garden. I also cook a lot – a LOT – and can spend hours researching recipes and coming up with menus for dinner parties and cookouts. Other than that, I'm either shitposting on Twitter, devouring a space opera or fantasy epic, or staring at the large black shrine in my living room.

What hardware do you use?

At work I have a 15-inch touchbar MacBook Pro laptop from 2016 that's almost always plugged into my ergonomic workstation setup. I have a sit/stand desk with an ergonomic chair, a keyboard tray, a Kinesis Freestyle2 Bluetooth keyboard, and an Evoluent vertical ergonomic mouse. I'm in love with the 27-inch LG monitors that are standard at our Slack workstations – mine is mounted on an AmazonBasics monitor arm. I used to get terrible shoulder pain and pinched nerves, but ever since getting this ergonomic setup it's really improved a lot. For Android stuff I'm usually testing on a Nexus 5X. I have an Elago M2 stand that I keep it on that's really convenient and nice.

Recently I got a pair of JINS SCREEN blue light-blocking glasses for working, with slightly weaker prescription for looking at a computer screen (I'm nearsighted). My migraines have decreased significantly!

I almost never go on the computer at home unless I have to work from home for some reason, so when that happens I just plug into my husband's gaming setup, which is this rainbow light-up PC keyboard and a Razer mouse. My personal laptop is a 2010 MacBook Pro that I've shoved an SSD and extra RAM into. It does just fine.

For personal stuff, the most hardware I ever use is my PS4 plugged into an old 40" LG non-smart TV, and my Polk Omni soundbar. In addition to gaming, the PS4 functions as a set-top box – it has Plex, Netflix, Crunchyroll, all that stuff. Scattered throughout the house also a bunch of Google Home & Chromecast devices that I've gotten for free over the years of attending Google conferences. They kind of creep me out but I misplace my phone about 1000 times daily and it's so convenient to say "Hey Google, where's my phone?" to make it ring. I also have a Nexus 9 (thanks, Google I/O 2015) on a stand in the kitchen that's basically a digital cookbook.

My daily items are my trusty Pixel 2 (yes, I upgrade every year, it's gross of me) running Android 8.1.0 because I'm not brave enough to run the 9.0 beta on my primary device, my Withings (no, Nokia) (no, Withings) Activité Pop step tracking watch, and my Kindle Paperwhite – did you know that the San Francisco Public Library allows patrons to check out e-books for free? You don't even have to live in San Francisco!

And what software?

At work I basically live inside of Slack. We are absolute power users of our own product and fully 50% of my day is spent inside that sweet sweet Electron window. For development I use Android Studio, a fork of IntelliJ maintained by Google and full of goodies that make life easier for Android developers. Most Android applications are written in Java, but my team has also started incorporating Kotlin, a new programming language by JetBrains that now has official Google support. Our codebase is at about 15% and it's been fun to learn a new language for the first time in almost 10 years!

My browser is Chrome, I take notes in TextEdit, and without 1Password I'd be locked out of my life forever. Alfred is a huge productivity help for me, and I have F.lux turned on max at all times to help prevent migraines. I love using Dropbox Paper to write documentation – we've used many different collaborative document editing tools over the years here and Paper is by far my favorite.

At home, like I said I don't spend a lot of time on the computer, but Pepperplate is this great recipe archiving app that has a backlog of every recipe I've stolen from the internet or come up with myself over the past 5 years. For crop management I use the open source website Growstuff. I also read constantly and for all its faults Goodreads has been an excellent way to chronicle what I've read & get recommendations from friends. I listen to music on Google Play Music, I talk to my friends on Signal, I track various aspects of my life with Daylio, Clue, and Migraine Buddy, and I manage my household's finances with YNAB. My husband and I use Wunderlist to collaborate on grocery lists and the like but I think Microsoft is sunsetting it soon so we need to find something else – probably Google Keep?

What would be your dream setup?

We just bought a house so I'm really gunning for a 5.1 surround sound setup for our living room, but we are still struggling to figure out the best living room configuration. I've also been eyeing the PS4 Pro and PS4 Move/VR kits for ages but we already have an original PS4 and a Slim so my husband and I don't have to take turns gaming. For the home office I'd love to get an ErgoDox keyboard and one of those LG monitors for myself but I don't WFH enough to justify how expensive they are.



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Laura Hall


Laura Hall

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Laura E. Hall — I'm an artist, writer, puzzle-maker, and environmental narrative designer living in Portland, Oregon. Along with my producer, Nora Ryan, I run Timberview Productions, a company building immersive games and interactive experiences. These run the gamut from intimate, narrative-guided puzzle adventures to massive online events streamed for players around the world. Our new location, Meridian Adventure Co., is opening in Portland later this year.

I’m a proud board member of the PDX non-profit Portland Indie Game Squad and the Enthusiasm Collective, a pay-what-you-can workspace for artists and activists.

I’m also a writer and speaker. I focus primarily on the intersections between arts, culture, and technology, especially in gaming. I’m currently exploring the topics of environmental narrative design, Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), the future of virtual reality, and the magical potential of real-world physical gameplay. I wrote Katamari Damacy for Boss Fight Books, out soon.

As an artist, I love creating ephemera-based stories, environmental narratives, scavenger hunts, and mysteries.

What hardware do you use?

I use a MacBook Air and an iPhone 6, plus a Windows PC setup at home for playing games and VR (mostly HTC Vive). I have a Nikon D5100 and a little Canon EOS 60D for snapshots, although I mostly use my iPhone for photos now. I recently got a Fujifilm instax mini 9 and love playing with it. I have a Kindle Paperwhite and am getting back into the habit of reading a book a week.

For designing and brainstorming, I use a double-sided whiteboard and set of colored Expo markers. Everything that goes onto the whiteboard is in service of some work product, be it a talk, a brief, or a design, so we take photos and archive them but happily I rarely need to reference them. I'm always grateful they exist when I do, though.

I use a red Moleskine notebook for note-taking and lists. Until I started using Moleskines (about 5 years ago) I never managed to fill a journal. Now I go through a few a year.

Whenever I find a pen or pencil I really like the feel of, I buy them in bulk. Right now I like InkJoy 300RT ballpoint pens, but I also like writing with whatever pens I pick up at the bank or doctor’s office. I use Pentel Click mechanical pencils and Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens for drawings and diagrams. Sharpies and index cards are indispensable for prototyping game ideas.

There's a lot of tech that goes into the escape rooms we create. We use Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, Android devices, and Macs, plus cameras for monitoring gameplay. The escape rooms also use mechanical components like switches and electromagnets.

For the escape room game buildouts, we use typical workshop and woodworking tools, plywood, and foam board, plus whatever other materials are necessary to create a specific atmosphere.

It's like crafting a theater set, in that it has to look and feel right, but not be too real. As an example, a real office is probably pretty boring, with fluorescent lights and cubicles and random piles of paper. So we have to craft something that feels like an office, but one you’d see in a movie, or come across in an adventure. It also has to be pretty indestructible, because so many people are going to be interacting with it.

And what software?

Our company uses Asana, G Suite, and Slack for just about everything. We use weekly kanban boards and set up capture boxes so that nothing ever falls through the cracks, supplemented with weekly meetings to set goals and work through projects or backlog tasks.

We use OmniGraffle for outlining story and user flows, plus Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for graphic design and layouts, and SketchUp for 3D modeling.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd love to have a massive workshop with loads of fancy and expensive specialty tools (plus a budget to pay those specialists), attached to a bustling shared community workspace that's open to all, within which I have a private office with a door I can close for concentration.



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Tyler Feder


Tyler Feder

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Tyler Feder, an illustrator and soon-to-be-author living and working in Chicago. I just finished illustrating Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin's Unladylike: A Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space, and now I'm working on my first solo book, a graphic memoir about losing my mom to cancer when I was a teenager. I also run an Etsy shop called Roaring Softly where I sell prints of my artwork (and offer portrait commissions whenever I have a free moment).

What hardware do you use?

Right now, I do the majority of my illustrations with an Apple Pencil on my 10.5" iPad Pro (which is rose gold because I will take any opportunity to add pink to my life). When I'm not illustrating digitally, I'm pretty low-maintenance and use whatever art supplies I can get my hands on (Micron pen with cheap watercolor is my favorite combo). I prep my artwork for printing on my trusty 21.5" 2013 iMac and print everything with a Canon iX6820 printer.

And what software?

I am an absolute convert to Procreate on iOS. It's the most intuitive digital art program I've used, and the process videos it automatically generates are so fascinating to watch! On my desktop, I occasionally use Photoshop (reluctantly) and Acorn (my preference) to edit illustrations.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd love to take everything from my current setup and plunk it into a larger dedicated studio space. I work out of my itty bitty studio apartment, and lately I've been drooling over 2 bedroom apartments on Craigslist. A separate room just for art sounds like heaven!



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Louie Roots


Louie Roots

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Louie Roots, I run a space in Melbourne called Bar SK. I curate exhibitions, create controllers, run the bar and sometimes make or mod games. Previously I've worked in Denmark at a company making mobile games, and I ran my own studio in Perth called SK Games, creating games for events and social spaces.

What hardware do you use?

I have a lil' Lenovo laptop that has done me well – it used to have a touch screen but it started wigging out so I had to disable it, but for a while I could swipe my finger across the screen in meetings and change the slide and people would be VERY impressed. I should also shout out to the Bracton 2-Keg Kegorator which is keeping our most important beers cold and pouring smoothly.

My main piece of controller-making kit is called an I-PAC – it sits between the arcade buttons and the PC, telling the PC that it's a keyboard. I use old arcade hardware like buttons and joysticks for two reasons; it's hardy and will withstand a beer or two, and also they're immediately understandable for people who may not know how to use the latest game pad for whatever console is current. An easy supplier is Austin Amusements, but googling "arcade components" might show you somewhere closer.

For the controllers I use old furniture, scrap wood, IKEA bits and Kmart bobs. I have a wonderful toolbox on proud display in the bar, full of tools for construction, wiring and deconstruction, as we canabalise the controllers regularly, and nothing stays intact very long at the bar. The back room is packed with scrap wood, bigger power tools, boxes of buttons and joysticks, crates of power and video cables, all sorts of decorations and lighting, and of course, beer.

And what software?

Notepad.exe – I use it to take notes, to plan my day, to get thoughts out, and to program the I-PAC keyboard encoders I use for custom controllers. As for games, I've been using Unity since my university days. I stick to Unity mainly because I'm terrible at programming and Unity has a very accessible wealth of online resources; I usually just google the thing I want to do and copy paste my way to trash games. I'm also a fan of modding old games, using whatever weird specific software it requires, giving my laptop untold viruses in the process. I'm still searching for a good email program 🙂

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would be a big workshop with space and storage – oh wow, space and storage, I would be so happy. I recently did some work in London for a festival called Now Play This and they provided me with some time in a workshop. It was amazing having access to so many different types of power tools – I can't believe how much I love drop saws. I also dream of a huge wall of shelves and drawers for buttons and electronic components, with a ladder on a rail like an old library.

I also dream of a bigger bar – I'd love something in an old building, where you can see the character in the bricks and the layout that shows its previous use. Somewhere with a backyard and some good trees, somewhere central to Melbourne, with cheap rent – okay, now I'm really dreaming.



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