Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Carlos Bueno

Carlos Bueno

Software developer (MemSQL), writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Carlos Bueno. I'm an engineer who mostly works on making things faster, and training others how to do it. In my mythical spare time I write books for computer scientists and other kinds of children.

What hardware do you use?

I still miss my old 12-inch aluminum Apple G4. It was just right for size and power. Today I use a tiny Samsung 303c Chromebook that's essentially a terminal with a browser. The RAM is a bit low but I've taken it tens of thousands of miles. The charge lasted through a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt. For work I have a MacBook Pro the size of an aircraft carrier, which is also essentially a terminal with a browser. I'm lucky to have access to a large-ish datacenter for actual computation. And there's always Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine for spinning up a quick cluster.

And what software?

I use Emacs for everything text. I never learned how to use it in the shell so I run the GUI version and use sshfs to mount remote drives as if they were local. I disabled every kind of disk syncing so that it never hesitates even over a crappy net link at 35,000 feet. That's arguably mad, but works for me.

I write my books in LaTeX and convert to all formats using Pandoc. Publishers still tend to email Word docs around with corrections scrawled in the margins. This drives me crazy but it's the way things are for now. Source control is like alien technology nobody outside of my nerdy little world can use.

For systems analysis I used to use R a lot but now I mostly use MemSQL Ops, which I'm also helping to build. Forcing myself to use the tool I'm working on makes it better. And there's nothing like rolling your own gigantic SQL queries.

The most important tool is the scientific method. It's compatible with nearly everything.

What would be your dream setup?

Years ago I designed "The Hipster", a hand-crafted artisan phone/computer that would easily connect to a monitor and keyboard. The screen was to have served as a touchpad. I didn't build it, as it turns out to be really tricky to deal with radio interference and heat, but modern phones are getting close.

I also designed a modern Morse Code keyboard, which was only half joking. It actually works fairly well for fat fingers.

The only parts of a computer that have not gotten a million times faster and smaller are the display and keyboard. They are the monkey I/O ports. We are the bottleneck. Whoever figures out how to speed up that interface will kick off the next revolution.