Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Aaron

Aaron "tenderlove" Patterson

Ruby developer (Red Hat)

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Aaron Patterson, but people know me on the Internet as "tenderlove". I work remotely from Seattle, but I work for a small startup company that is based in Raleigh, North Carolina called "Red Hat". At Red Hat, I'm on the ManageIQ team. Our team is working on an Open Source cloud management thing that's built with Ruby, Rails, and a bunch of other fun technology. You can check out our app on GitHub.

What hardware do you use?

I use a 15" MacBook Pro, but it's usually mounted in my Henge Dock. My "everyday use" monitor is a 27" Dell.

I use an ErgoDox keyboard (that I built myself) with Cherry MX Brown switches, and the Norman keyboard layout. I built the keyboard myself, but you can order a version called the ErgoDox EZ that is pre-built. I ordered an ErgoDox EZ because it has tenting built-in, and I really think it's the best keyboard to use.

I chose Norman because it is supposed to be transition from QWERTY, but still give you most of the benefits of other layouts like Colemak. It took me about 3 weeks to become "fluent" in Norman. The ErgoDox is a bit too large to carry on the road, so I use an Atreus keyboard for travel. Switching to a mechanical keyboard with a custom layout has a huge downside in that I can't / don't want to use a normal laptop keyboard anymore. The custom firmware on the keyboard allows me to do things like dual purpose keys. For example, I have a key that when tapped, it registers as "escape", but when I hold the key down, it registers as "control". This is very nice for using in Vim.

I use wrist rests from Noko Leatherworks. I don't know if they make a huge difference to my setup, but I like them.

For my mouse, I use a left-handed Razer DeathAdder. The DeathAdder is supposed to be a really good gaming mouse, but I don't play games on my computer, so I have no idea if it's useful for games. I mainly bought it because there are only two or three mice on the market that are sculpted for the left hand, and this one had the best reviews. I actually don't care for its weird glowing lights, but the mouse is very comfortable so I don't really mind too much.

I have an Aeron chair, and I'm very happy with it. When I bought it, I thought it was too expensive (it was around $1000). But the chair is very comfortable and I've been using it for the past 6 years or so, so I think it was worth the money.

I have a CAD U37 USB Microphone that I use for all of the podcasts that I do. I have done 0 podcasts. The microphone is nice, but I don't like the sound of my own voice, and it seems the thing quits working around 35min in to recording. But it's not exactly 35min, and you can't tell that it stopped working, so I just don't use it. I used it once to record my cat snoring, and it seemed to work very well for that. If you need to record your cat snoring, I highly recommend this microphone.

For my desk, I just have wooden desk that I think is from the '50s. It used to be my wife's desk, but she wanted me to use it.

And what software?

I mainly program in Ruby (of course). So I'd have to say that is my main software. ;)

If I go through all the applications I have open on my computer right now, it's this:

I use Vim as my editor. I've been using Vim for about 16 years, my entire programming career. I've been using Vim for so long that I basically can't switch. But I think that's fine because I don't really want to switch. It's neat to see tricks other editors do, then steal those tricks for my Vim setup. Essentially the same thing I do with code: steal other people's good ideas!!!

I mainly use Safari as my browser since it has the best Keychain integration. When I need to do serious web development, I'll usually use Firefox or Chrome. Firefox has an extremely nice feature that I like for web development: if you hit ' (single quote) it will bring up a search box, but the search box only searches through links on the page. Then you can hit enter to navigate to that link. That way I can avoid using my mouse.

I use the terminal that ships with OS X. Keynote for presentations. I enjoy using Keynote for making presentations because it allows me to focus on the content and still the presentation comes out looking good.

For Twitter I use Echofon. It has a very small interface, and I like that.

For instant messaging type communication I use: Adium, Limechat (for IRC), Slack (the fat client), Skype, iMessages, and Basecamp.

I use iTunes for music, and I frequently use Dictionary.app. I use Dictionary.app because I'm learning Japanese and I read news articles in Japanese and communicate with other Ruby core team members in Japanese, so the dictionary is essential.

For backups, I use Time Machine. But I've never had it work correctly, so I just live my life as if all of my data is ephemeral. Once I got used to the idea that I could lose all my data at any time, life became more simple I think.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm mostly happy with my setup right now. The main thing I would change is that I would like a higher resolution monitor. My monitor isn't a retina display, so when I do actually look at my laptop screen I feel sad that my monitor doesn't have the same resolution. The next monitor I buy will definitely be a high resolution monitor. I would also like a mouse that doesn't have weird blue lights and a strange name. But I guess left-handed mouse users aren't a very large market, so I'll probably have to build one myself. I think building one myself might be fun though!

I hope that in the future more things will be wireless. I feel like I have lots of wires on my desk, and that is annoying.