Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Artur Paikin
Photo by Afisha Magazine.

Artur Paikin

Founder (Baguette), designer, traveler & robot maker

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Artur Paikin, designer and founder at Baguette.

At Baguette I collaborate with good people from all over the world to design and build websites, applications and other sorts of awesome stuff.

I'm also into home automation and robots. I recently gave a fun 10-minute talk at Brooklyn.js about how I've fixed a broken intercom in my building by making a chat bot. Sometimes I brew coffee at my pop-up coffee shop Tipi Coffee and garden on the balcony.

I travel quite often and write stories about my adventures in Russian and English.

What hardware do you use?

I value being able to work from anywhere, and try to keep my setup minimal. I have a 13" Retina MacBook Pro, and it's the best computer I've ever owned. I especially love the screen: once you go Retina, it's hard to go back.

My hard drive is 128 GB, and I do wish it was larger (256 would be plenty for me), but mainly because I have about 30-40 GB of photos. Once I move them to Flickr/Google Photos + some other online storage like Google Drive or Dropbox + plus an external hard drive, 128 will be fine again. I really do believe in keeping things simple and owning less.

My phone is an iPhone 5 - it's also my camera, which is very convenient, since it's always in my pocket, has GPS, automatic backups and syncing. And the tablet is an iPad Mini - I carry it with me all the time - mostly for reading, gaming (I'm currently on my 3rd tour around the world in 80 days), and web browsing.

All my possessions fit nicely in a Tom Bihn Daylight backpack and I like it quite a lot. It's small, minimal and lightweight. If it does prove to be too small for me over time, I'll likely switch to Synapse 19. Their laptop sleeve, Cache, is on my wish list, among with a few organizing pouches and a Travel Laundry Sack.

Finally, both me and my bag fit on an amazing foldable city bike, Strida. I've been riding it around for over 4 years now, and I love it, and can honestly recommend it. Here is my Strida review (in Russian, but with pictures).

And what software?

Sketch is my go-to app for designing and prototyping, as well as preparing SVG assets for the web. It's lightweight, doesn't cost as much as my rent and is very powerful. Not a big fan of Adobe software and their weird pricing model, but I do use Photoshop and Illustrator from time to time, mostly to open files someone has sent me.

Atom editor for coding. I like that it's free, open source and actively developed, and that you can write extensions for it in JavaScript. I also use it for Markdown writing sometimes, but tend to switch to iA Writer for that particular task.

iTerm is great for command line stuff - I usually have about 3–4 tabs open, some of them split into two panes. GitHub Desktop is really handy for managing git repositories and traversing commit history (pro tip: works with any git repo, not just github.com). F.lux keeps it easy on my eyes in evenings and nights (as does the new Night Shift, which could have been F.lux on iOS).

Backblaze makes continuous online backups for $5 a month, and I'm thankful for that piece of mind. I also do Time Machine backups twice a month or so. Simplicity for me also means not worrying about losing data, and I wish more people took this seriously - all your work and memories can be gone in a blink of an eye. Jason Scott explains it better - please watch that, and please backup your data somewhere.

Dropbox stores copies of my documents, tickets and some web service backups, like this Instagram to Dropbox IFTTT recipe.

I really like Deckset's themes and Markdown support, so I use it for keynote slides. TeamViewer is really important to quickly login to my grandmother's computer and hit that "OK." button she's struggling with (can even be done while taking a bath, on a tablet, true story).

1Password generates and stores random secure passwords. Evernote keeps my notes, articles I liked, lists of movies to watch and books to read, design & dev links, and code snippets. The new Photos is what I use to edit my photos - I know Lightroom is better, but it's too bulky. Pomodoro OneGestimer (cute!) to set quick timers / reminders.

Instapaper is one of my most-used apps on the iPad: I save articles on the web, and then read them whenever I feel like it - usually on trains - in a nice, clean format with comfortable typeset.

What would be your dream setup?

I would like an open source operating system and hardware, that's as good design- and quality-vise as everything Apple does. I used to be a die-hard Apple person, and I still use their products, but tend to think about switching more often for ideological reasons.

My ideal computer would be a Retina MacBook. It's great: lightweight, sleek, fast enough, probably even for my usage, and has no fan (so awesome). But what I don't like about it is it's disposable: you can't really fix it, add more RAM or upgrade the hard drive. And I totally support Fair Repair initiatives.

One really innovative and important laptop feature would be water resistance: not necessarily surviving after taking a bath, but eliminating the fear of spilling coffee/beer on the laptop keyboard (I think I've spilled everything I've ever drunk on the iPad, and it's still like new).

The ideal mobile device for me would be an iPhone/iPad hybrid. Now, I could try an iPhone Plus, but A) its screen is still a bit small to match that of a tablet and B) I kind of enjoy keeping things separated - my phone is maps, communication, banking, phone calls and podcasts on the go. My iPad is just a peaceful reading/browsing device, no notifications (which I prefer to keep to a minimum even on the phone), and no distractions.

But the main problem I have is not the hardware, but iOS, and that Apple decides what apps are allowed on my phone (thankfully, not yet the case with Mac OS). We can call it curation, but it's also censorship. One company totally controls what you can and can't do with an expensive device that you own, or, in reality, rent. Android also has a store, but you can install apps from outside that store if you want to. If you install Chrome or Firefox on an Android, you get a real browser, not a frame around Webkit. If you want Google Inbox as your default mail application, you can set that too. And you can use NFC reader in your apps. It's the small things, but they add up.

And, as for my bicycle, I'd love a relatively small and lightweight battery + motor that holds charge for about 15 kilometers. I wouldn't use it most of the time, but, you know, for those occasions when you need to go uphill or against the wind.