Uses This

1213 interviews since 2009

A picture of Ariel Waldman

Ariel Waldman

Space hacker

in hacker, mac, space

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Ariel Waldman. I focus on making science more open through hacking. I founded Spacehack.org, a directory of ways to participate in space exploration. More recently, I organized Science Hack Day SF, an event that brings together scientists, technologists, designers and people with good ideas to see what they can create in a weekend.

What hardware do you use?

Being self-employed, I spend a lot of time around the house. So, I own things like a tea kettle robot for fueling my noon-to-4am work hours, a cat feeding robot for not having to keep my fluffy friend hungry when I want to sleep in, and a bunny bot for random hacking. Then just some miscellaneous purveyors of entertainment: a NuMark Pro TT2 turntable, an Apple TV2, and an Airport Express.

For my technosocial wormhole device, I own a white BlackBerry Torch. It's an awesome device that has a slide-out physical portrait-mode keyboard I love, tethering capabilities, and a touch screen that can also be navigated through via a trackpad for when you want to wear gloves. My other nomadic devices are an iPod Touch for gaming, a MacBook Pro 15" (sadly pre-unibody for now, but I'll be buying a new one along with an iPad 2 shortly), Virgin Mobile Mifi 2200, Nikon D80 (along with a ton of Lomography cameras) and for hacking fun, an Arduino. But, day-to-day, other than my BlackBerry, the piece of hardware that's closest to me is my MacBook Pro. Though, a little too close for comfort considering I've developed Toasted Skin Syndrome on my legs as a result of the daily heat exposure.

And what software?

I'm a bit of a wiki addict, so PBworks helps me manage everything my life: documentation, projects, finances, ideas, health tracking, etc. When it comes to to-do list management, I've discovered that SimpleGTD is the one for me through its bare-bones interface and simple dragging/date adding functionality. I use LittleSnapper to manage screenshots, which has been such a desktop-saver for me by providing one easy library as well as export-to-Flickr functionality. On The Job has been a great light-weight app that keeps track of my billable hours. Audio Recorder is another light-weight app I use to record myself when I practice a talk leading up to a conference. Skype receives a lot of use from me, partially because AT&T has no signal in my house, and partially because my boyfriend, Matt Biddulph, lives in Berlin - so keeping in touch via video between our frequent international travel excursions is great.

Other than that, I use some basics: Adobe CS4, Firefox 4.0, iChat (specifically because of this security breach on Adium), DropBox, Tweetie for Mac, TextEdit, etc. I do have one piece of software to plead guilty about: I still use the version of Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac from... wait for it... 2001.

What would be your dream setup?

More robots! An Iron Man 2-like setup! A great 3D printer (but the AI Feed Scanner from Weird Science would also do). A Nabaztag that alerts me every time there's a near-Earth asteroid. A physical globe that lights up to show where different satellites and/or the ISS currently are. Also, earbuds without wires - I think it's ridiculous that we still have to walk around being physically tethered to our devices to listen to music.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.