Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Aurelia Moser

Aurelia Moser

Developer (Mozilla Science Lab)

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Aurelia and I'm a creative coder living in Brooklyn working at the Mozilla Science Lab on community projects. I've dabbled in the library world as a preservation lab tech, in the journalism world as a former Mozilla OpenNews fellow, in the education and advocacy world as a chapter leader for Girl Develop It / programming professor at Parson's Journalism school, and in the creative tech space as a tinkerer, a data viz artist, and a generally hungry human for intellectual calisthenics and development.

I like contributing to small collaborative programs with friends like Biononymous, the Recompiler, and my semweb-themed radio show, Stereo Semantics. I give loads of talks about these things, mostly because I enjoy making slides, sometimes in the name of music, sensor networks, stylesheets, time travel, and privacy/security art.

You can find more about me @auremoser on Twitter, auremoser on GitHub or via my ├╝ber-infrequently updated website: http://algorhyth.ms/.

What hardware do you use?

That depends on the project, really. I have a MacBook Air for work/projects/travel, which I like because it's lightweight and pretty o.k. as long as I swap files before my startup disk O.D.s. I have two burner machines that I use for art show installs and public projects where a computer needs to run continuously or I need to crush my CPU for something (another, older, MacBook Pro and a Chromebook Pixel which I won at a conference a few years ago).

Sometimes, I work with lightweight hardware for little projects; a few friends and I put together a little meetup called Nodebots-NYC that hosts workshops and meetups for people who want to build robots with cheap, open hardware and Node.js. For that, I source various components from Adafruit or SparkFun, or Tindie, and usually in the genre of boards, Arduinos, Teensies, various sensors, LEDs etc, for small experiments like a bee-hive monitoring kit that I've been working to deploy at nearby hives. Most of this work is just environmental monitoring with simple sensors, and sometimes test experiments like blinking lights.

For my radio show, I have a small microphone but I record at a local station so I can use their better resources and boards. And I'm not really a wearable gal, but I bought a few of them to test projects with their data, so I have a Jawbone and I've been tracking those data (but not actually changing behavior) for a few months. I have an Airport Wifi backup system which builds Time Machine archives of my machines when I connect, that's something I'd totally recommend. For audio play, I have a midcentury vacuum tube stereo table that a friend helped me future-fix to sync with an old iPod so I can play music with a kind of crackly-record sound, which is rad; I also have some Anker tiny portable speakers, for travel, which produce great sound when I'm on the go, connect over Bluetooth, and easily recharge. I have a little Karma device for Wifi anywhere, which is great while traveling when internet access is uncertain. Oh, and I have an iPhone though mostly to minimize the annoyance of cross-platform device syncing and because a lot of the patented gestures are pretty beaten into my reflexes at this point.

And what software?

So much so much, this is hard to answer, and again, this totally depends on the project but where possible, I try to keep my stack open source. I write most of my code in scripting languages on a Mac so I use Sublime Text as my text editor, Terminal for CLI utilities, git and Github for code storage/versioning, Mou for Markdown formatting, Firefox (and sometimes Chrome) for browsing, browser testing, and dev tools, Mike Bostock's Bl.ocks for some small visualization tests/rendering. I have a pile of customizations and plugins for these things that are too numerous to mention, but I'll list a few themed ones below.

For presentations, most of my slides are either Google Slides or Reveal.js decks hosted on GitHub Pages and my blogs/sites in the recent past have been routinely Jekyll projects. I've worked with Grunt for tasking and Vagrant for provisioning/VMs too, and I'd recommend both in collab repos or gh-pages projects.

For productivity, I have Taskwarrior set up in Terminal to track tasks on the CL, and a bunch of aliases in my .bash_profile to make navigation/commands quick and easy. I use Point to share links and comments on their content with friends, Pocket for storing future (and sometimes forgettable) reads, Spaces for sorting and managing too many open tabs, Tab-Snap for capturing links. And I also use GitHub to store and share a lot of the curriculum I work on for my courses, and leverage GitHub issues to track public tasks with my team.

For pretty viz, I have a bunch of chart libraries listed in a little repo that my friend Ben helped me make; I use CARTO often for dealing with spatial data and storage and do a lot of data cleaning in Excel and OpenRefine because their macros and tools are way better than some of the scripts I've written to prune/scrub messy data. I use Tabula to extract data from PDFs, and the D3 Deconstructor extension to get data from D3 projects.

For privacy, I sometimes opt for more secure tool usage, so I have a PGP setup and encrypt external drives. I have a Keybase account, and I search via DuckDuckGo, in Private Window on Firefox/Incognito on Chrome, Adium for chatting (with logging off).

What would be your dream setup?

Oh man, probably an 11-inch weightless MacBook Air with all the power of a Pro and a Retina display; I'd love something that would fit in my purse, because I feel like I've been a backpack girl for ages and I'd love to graduate high school with an adult bag. JK. My dreams are crazy, and the technology available next year will probably be crazier. Who knows what I'll want to upgrade to? Probably tech that imitates (my) life: fast, light, mobile, and magical.

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