Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Brook Shelley

Brook Shelley

Senior Partner Engineer, Slack

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Brook Shelley, and I am a Senior Partner Engineer at Slack. I work with our awesome Platform team to help companies build apps that integrate with Slack. My roommate is a cat named Snorri Sturluson, and he is cute. I also write on my own site, and cook a lot. Sometimes I powerlift at Max's. I live near an IKEA, which I try not to go to every week.

What hardware do you use?

At work I have a 2018 13" MacBook Pro that I use in clamshell mode at my desk, with a large LG monitor, a Apple Magic Trackpad, and a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard that ideally keeps me from having wrist pain. Thanks ergonomics folks! My Mac is one with the Touch Bar, and honestly, it's fine. I hope one day my Mac gets Face ID though. Music goes to my ATH headphones or my AirPods, depending on if I'm at my desk. I like the switch to USB-C, and always have a YubiKey in one of my four ports, as well as a USB-C -> USB-C cable to charge my personal 2018 iPad Pro 11". I went with 256gb of storage and WiFi on my iPad, though now that I use Google Fi, I kind of wish I had the cellular model to take advantage of their free data-only sims. I've got a space grey iPhone XS 64gb that I use to listen to podcasts and music, or keep up on Twitter.

When I'm at home or on the bus, I primarily use this iPad with a keyboard attached, and use cloud services to handle things I previously hosted at home. The flexibility of a handheld touchscreen that becomes a pseudo-notebook is really great, and the iPad just feels fast. There's a few things I can't do on an iPad, but largely I've worked-around them, or offloaded those tasks.

I have an Apple TV, a Samsung Plasma (that the Wirecutter recommended years ago), and a few consoles. Most of the time I forget I have video games, and watch Swedish mysteries or dark comedies. My oldest hobby is reading, and I use a fancy schmacy Kindle for that. It's waterproof, which means I can read in the bath, or in the sauna. Also, I'm clumsy and I've dropped Kindles in the toilet before (don't @ me), so everything I own needs to be vaguely waterproof. A notable exception to this rule are my Lamy Safari fountain pen, and my Hobonichi Techo. I use my Techo to keep a log of my day, with various datapoints like how I'm feeling, what I ate, and how I slept, and a fountain pen makes me feel fancy when I'm writing. I carry my iPad and notebook to work every day in a rotation of bags. I cook in two Lodge cast iron pans because they're bombproof, and its rewarding to slowly build a patina with repeated bacon cooking. Morning coffee (Ethiopian single-origin) comes via a Hario burr grinder, and a Chemex, then lives in a Zojirushi travel mug.

And what software?

I live in Slack whether I'm at work or at home. I run a small social Slack, and am part of a few others. I do most of my writing in iA Writer, and push it to GitHub Pages/Jekyll with Working Copy on my iPad or iPhone. I code in Atom or in Glitch on my Mac or iPad, respectively. The rare email goes through Spark, and I keep up with websites via RSS on Fiery Feeds backed by Feedbin. Podcasts live in Overcast, and all of my todos live in Things, which has a spectacular dark mode. I listen to music on Apple Music, mostly because I wanted metal on my watch for the gym. I'm a big fan of Safari, and use its Reading List in lieu of a read-it-later app. If I lost 1Password I'd probably cry. I love using it for multi-factor authentication as well. I take occasional notes in Bear, or in a Field Notes memo book that was XOXO Festival swag. I know where to go during the day because my Apple Watch 4 tells me via Fantastical. If something isn't on my calendar, it's not real.

What would be your dream setup?

Honestly, I'm pretty happy hardware-wise with what I use right now. It's likely I'll upgrade my iPhone in the fall, as is my custom, but my iPad and work computer are both outstanding. Ideally I wouldn't have wrist pain ever, and could happily work on the Smart Keyboard, or something equally portable too. I do want a better calendar app, because Fantastical is kinda wonky on my iPad, and Timepage doesn't have new Apple Watch updates. Maybe one day Google Calendar will remember Apple makes a watch, but I doubt it. I'd love Atom on my iPad, and the ability to seamlessly use my iPad on a big screen, then take it to meetings. I already use all my macOS apps at work in fullscreen mode, so going all-in on iOS isn't much of a leap. I hope Apple makes AirPods with passive noise-cancelling soon, because the bus can be loud. Generally, we live in a wild future that is full of gadgets and gizmos that make life easier, but I also wish we had healthcare for everyone, living wages, and affordable housing.