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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, 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.