Jeff Atwood


Jeff Atwood

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow and long time blogger at codinghorror.com. Since 2013 I've been working on Discourse, an open source discussion platform.

I came to be a programmer, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a father, in that order. I am still at least three of those things.

What hardware do you use?

I try to live by the golden rule: always have at least five computers within a ten foot range of where you are at any given time. Here's what I use regularly:

I was never a big Apple fan, but the way they made such dramatic jumps in mobile performance over the last 4-5 years, plus their unexpected turn into world class mobile hardware security … has kinda turned me into a believer. Apple has always been good at closed ecosystems, haven't they? And for better or worse, we live in the era of the ultimate closed ecosystems.

The Surface Pro is probably my preferred device at any given time if I have to pick just one. They've really perfected the tablet keyboard in the last version and I love the form factor. I just ordered the new Surface Pro, too, though you definitely need to go with the i5 or i7 to have a meaningful performance difference between this and the latest iOS hardware.

I apologize for the lack of Android here, because although the OS has improved dramatically in the last 2 years, I've really struggled to find hardware I like that runs Android. Everything is Qualcomm, and Qualcomm is .. not so good lately. That said, I love the Google ecosystem and I set my Mom up with the Nexus 9 and Pixel phone. I sure hope one day Google will make their own mobile hardware like Apple does.

And what software?

I guess it's true, every other version of Windows is the good one: Windows XP good, Vista bad, Windows 7 good, Windows 8 bad, Windows 10 good. While Stack Overflow was mostly a .net and Windows platform, it's true that Linux is a big part of my life now with Discourse — and the big news is that, in Windows 10, Microsoft has internalized Linux on Windows! I can launch a real Bash shell with a real Linux right in Windows, with (almost) no virtualization overhead.

In a stunning plot twist, it turns out that Microsoft was the one to finally make it the year of Linux on the Desktop. That's right, you no longer need to pick iOS if you want kinda-sorta-Unix on a modern GUI that won't make your eyes bleed. Well, not too much, anyway.

That said, I'm not an OS bigot, I use OS X (albeit very, very lightly), Linux, Android, and iOS regularly alongside Windows. Diversity is good for the soul.

My favorite software of all time happens works on every platform: the web browser. Modern versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are all my huckleberry and I love them like I love my kids. For development I use Visual Studio Code, which is built using browser technology and works everywhere, and has become remarkably great in the last year as they keep iterating on it. I also need a clipboard history tool installed wherever I go, because the world was built on the back of the humble cut and paste.

What would be your dream setup?

I dreamt for years about high DPI displays, and those finally happened, even on desktop, thank God. I recently purchased an OLED television and the quality of the colors and the depth of the dynamic range — blacks that are infinitely black — blew my freaking mind. So now I'm desperate for OLED displays on my phone, my tablet, and my desktop and laptop and everywhere else.

I guess I want everything I have now, but with 8k OLED high DPI screens. I also believe the world where your smartphone is indistinguishable from your laptop, performance wise, is nearly upon us, so I'd like that too. Let my smartphone be my mobile device and I can just plug a keyboard and my fancy OLED screen into it.


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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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