Porpentine Heartscape


Porpentine Heartscape

Who are you, and what do you do?

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

What hardware do you use?

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

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

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

Cheap colored lights off Amazon strung along my walls.

And what software?

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

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

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

I love chatting and collaborating through Discord.

What would be your dream setup?

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


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Mat Marquis


Mat Marquis

Who are you, and what do you do?

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

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

What hardware do you use?

I own a lot of tools.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what software?

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

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

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

What would be your dream setup?

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

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

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


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EMiSpicer


EMiSpicer

Who are you, and what do you do?

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

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

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

What hardware do you use?

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

And what software?

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

What would be your dream setup?

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

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


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Adam Gnade


Adam Gnade

Who are you, and what do you do?

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

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

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

What hardware do you use?

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

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

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

And what software?

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

What would be your dream setup?

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

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


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Douglas Wilson


Douglas Wilson

Who are you, and what do you do?

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

What hardware do you use?

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

And what software?

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

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

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

What would be your dream setup?

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


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Nicole He


Nicole He

Who are you, and what do you do?

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

What hardware do you use?

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

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

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

And what software?

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

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

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

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

What would be your dream setup?

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


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Emma Lugo


Emma Lugo

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Emma Lugo, and I make experimental video games, usually first-person experiments in procedural generation, but sometimes they're 2D shooters or dating games or puzzle games or whatever I feel like making. I also sometimes make music, mostly for said video games.

What hardware do you use?

My main work machine is a Windows desktop I built a few years back. I also have a Windows laptop that I use when I'm travelling. For recording audio, I have a Samson C01U microphone which is attached via shockmount to an $8 IKEA lamp I took the lamp part off of and mangled with a drill press. I also have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface which I use to record my electric guitar, which is an extremely old Squier Stratocaster. For monitoring I also have a terrible <$100 Ibanez amplifier.

And what software?

Almost all of the games on my itch.io page were made with Unity, which is a lovely piece of software that allows me to get things done so much faster than I would otherwise. I've used other engines and frameworks, but nothing compares to Unity in terms of what it lets me get done quickly. My code editor of choice is Visual Studio when working with Unity, and Sublime Text 3 otherwise.

I also rely on an immense amount of free and/or open-source software and libraries, including but not limited to: Bfxr for sound effects, Tiled and Tiled2Unity for 2D level editing, the work of Keijiro Takahashi for many visual effects, the work of James Hostetler for yet more visual effects, Yarn and Yarn Spinner for dialogue.

When making art (which I do very rarely), I use Photoshop for 2D things and Blender for 3D things.

For audio editing I use either Audacity or FL Studio, depending on the intensity of the task. Usually I record audio with Audacity then bring it into FL Studio for editing + effects.

For collaboration I mostly use Skype, which I would not recommend, and Google Drive, which I would recommend very heartily.

What would be your dream setup?

More analog music things. Right now I lean very heavily on software synths and effects to get my music to sound right, which is not how I like doing things. I like having lots of physical knobs and buttons to push, and the limitation of only having the sounds I can make with my guitar and pedals (and hopefully synthesizers in the future) means that I can decide on sounds faster than having a whole world of sounds at my fingertips.


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Joe Veix


Joe Veix

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a writer/editor based in Oakland, CA. I'm currently the Culture Editor at Newsweek, and previously I've freelanced for The New Yorker and Playboy and Vice and a few other places. I also post a lot of crap online.

What hardware do you use?

I spend most of my days looking at a 2013 MacBook Air and an iPhone 5S. For jotting down quick ideas and notes, I use a small Muji A6 notebook and a Pilot G2 .07mm pen. I've been using the same pen for ~6 years, replacing the ink cartridge whenever it runs out. I don't know how I haven't lost or broken it after all this time. It's not special or anything. But I'm cursed to carry this pen with me to my grave.

And what software?

I write most of my early drafts and outlines in Apple Notes, synced across my various devices, with all the auto-formatting tools turned off. When I'm ready to work on a more serious draft I'll copy/paste the text to Pages or Google Docs. For other projects I use janky outdated bootleg copies of Photoshop and Final Draft. For help procrastinating on answering emails, I use Google Inbox.

What would be your dream setup?

I suppose I mainly want hardware/software I don't have to think about, that doesn't get in my way with intrusive UIs and unnecessary tools. The closest I've come to that ideal is Apple Notes. Except now they keep adding new features and it's getting too bloated and complicated, so I guess I'll quit writing.


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Jeff Dean


Jeff Dean

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jeff Dean, and I'm one of two Google Senior Fellows at Google. I do computer systems and artificial intelligence research and write software, and have worked on a variety of systems like Google's advertising systems, Google Search, Google Translate, MapReduce, Bigtable, Spanner, Protocol Buffers, Snappy (a.k.a. Zippy), LevelDB, and TensorFlow, among others.

At the moment, I lead the Google Brain project, Google's deep learning research team, where I work on systems for machine learning, especially deep learning, and help lead our efforts in machine learning research, as well as emerging applied research areas where machine learning is crucial, such as healthcare, robotics, perception, and natural language understanding, and our continued development of TensorFlow as a key platform for machine learning research and deployment of machine learning systems and features. You can find out more about our research by seeing our list of recent Brain team publications. You might also enjoy the Reddit r/MachineLearning AMA that our team did in August, 2016.

What hardware do you use?

At work, I mostly use an HP Z620 Workstation with an NVidia GPU card in it, running Linux, with a single 30" monitor. For portable uses and for giving talks, I rely primarily on a MacBook Air and sometimes on a Chromebook Pixel. I have a Nexus 5X Android phone, and also use a Nexus 9 tablet for surfing the web and reading ebooks and technical papers. I use a sit-stand adjustable desk and rely on on the nearby microkitchen's espresso machine quite heavily.

And what software?

For writing code, I use emacs and Google's internal distributed build system (a version of which was open sourced as Bazel) and our version control system, plus Google's internal code searching tools that allow me to quickly search over Google's whole code repository (similar to our once-available Google Code Search product, as described by Russ Cox).

Most of the code I write is in C++, although I've written fair amounts of code in Java, Python, Perl, Self, Cecil, x86 assembly, and Pascal over the years. For writing, commenting and collaborating on internal technical documents, I use Google Docs. For technical papers, I and my coauthors usually use LaTeX. For giving presentations, I almost exclusively use Google Slides. For handling email, I use GMail with lots of filters to automatically file and label message (I get about 1400 email messages per day, so I have to be quite efficient to deal with it all in a reasonable amount of time). I use the Chrome browser and do web searches using Google :).

What would be your dream setup?

I pretty much have it. Mostly I enjoy doing research and writing software to solve difficult problems with great colleagues, and where the results of our work are used by lots of people. A lighter laptop with a bigger screen would be great, though. A view of the ocean would also be nice.


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Veronica Berns


Veronica Berns

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Veronica Berns and I'm a science and comics lady! When I was working on my PhD in chemistry a few years ago, I decided to write two versions of my thesis: the normal, expected, technical version that probably only my committee will read, and then also a comic book-style version aimed at all of my family and friends who don't think about science every day. Now I'm working on more science comics accessible to a general audience, and I also teach chemistry at Northwestern University!

What hardware do you use?

To make illustrations for a comic, I start with paper and a colored pencil, and then I trace the lines I like with a fat line Sharpie. I draw everything as big as possible, and then scan it at high res with a Doxie Go portable scanner or using my home printer (Brother HL-2280DW). All of my editing and coloring of the images takes place on the computer. I have a workhorse MacBook Air from 2012 that basically contains my whole life on it. I just got an additional monitor — one of those giant Apple Thunderbolt displays — and let me tell you: it's a game changer.

And what software?

The image editing is all a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator, and the layout for my book was done in InDesign.

Generally I write a script for a comic in Simplenote or Word before I even think about drawing anything. I tend to like Simplenote for tagging and sorting through files, but I like writing in a table format that Word offers, so I haven't really settled on a system.

My cat is an essential piece of getting work done, since she's always around and sitting on important things. I guess I could count her as software.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm not super picky! I try to make anything work: I've made drawings on scraps of paper and napkins, and "scanned" stuff with my phone camera. So I'm pretty flexible.

My preferred methods above have emerged from being scrappy, trying things, and working with what I have and what I know. I learned Photoshop for editing figures at work, so that's what I'm comfortable with. Inertia is a powerful force of nature.

I have tried drawing on digital tablets instead of the paper-then-scanner method, and I may want to go that way in the future, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm really liking having a huge secondary display though! Some change is overwhelmingly good!


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