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 Carol Chen

Carol Chen

Developer, circus artist

Posted in developer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Carol Chen (sometimes go by @kipply), a programmer, circus-person and tentatively effective altruist. I currently work full-time building things with Python and Golang at an AI Startup. I like to say that I was raised by Shopify as I interned there from ages 16-18. A highlight of my career was working on TruffleRuby at Shopify and I wrote some things about compilers, with more to come!

I enjoy writing in general, about boring career stuff, effective altruism and hugging. A lot of my free time is reading and writing or building small side projects. I also practice aerial arts (hoop, silks, rope), pole and am a decent juggler.

I hope to make more art, and get into research work!

What hardware do you use?

I use a 16" Mac named "lappy" (like all my previous laptops). I have a POK3R keyboard with silent red switches, with a special keycap that has a fidget spinner to keep up with my fiddling-needs. I never learned to use mice when I was young, so I actually have a Magic Trackpad 2.

For motivation, I have a heart light and Staples Easy Button. My chair and monitor are lacking, as I've had this IKEA chair for years, and the monitor is sponsored by Shopify (I took it home when quarantine started). I have Master & Dynamic MW65 headphones (though I usually use my Google Home as a speaker). My mobile device is a Pixel 2 XL and actually not bad for code review though I usually use it to play silly mobile games.

I think the highlight of my hardware is the lights. I have a ring light which improves the image provided by my Logitech webcam. The heart light is decorative, but I have an another desk light now with a smart bulb. My room also has two corn bulbs, which produce up to 12000 lumens (the average LED is about 800 lumens). They look very silly and help me simulate bright daylight no matter what it looks like outside, which is very good for when I work at night.

And what software?

I use Firefox as a browser very religiously. With picture-in-picture I can passively watch videos while browsing the web. Another feature I need from Firefox is the containers that allow me to easily bypass paywalls, organize my work vs personal accounts without having to switch accounts on Google. Also I suppose using less RAM is a feature.

Sublime Text is my primary editor (I used to have IDEs for when I worked with Java) and I'm a nerd who actually bought a Sublime Text license. Sublime Text is very fast, has great support and is really easy to write syntax highlighters for (which has come in handy for me). I code in a modified Dracula that I think is very pretty (matches the syntax highlighting my blog, and the theme I use for Roam Research).

Other tools include TabNine, a machine learning backed autocomplete (fun fact, I was the second purchaser of TabNine). I also have Vim keybindings, which I only use for very specific things. I also happen to type in DVORAK!

My shell is largely described as zsh with fish-like autocomplete. I use panels/tiling extensively to manage everything. I also have a program called ax which connects my processes to Spotify. It works in a way where when my (auto detected) long running processes stop, it also pauses my music. Executing a new command starts my music!

My mailing client is begrudgingly Gmail (I used to be on Inbox, and tried Superhuman/Spark/HEY and ended up back at Gmail). I heavily use Roam Research, a notetaking tool that is responsible for saving all my links, thoughts, todolists, etc.

What would be your dream setup?

I don't think I have any goals beyond what I've mentioned above! It would probably be a better chair, more monitors, a better browser and a better email client (the latter two of which don't seem to exist).

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.