Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Casey Kolderup

Casey Kolderup

Software developer, bot wrangler

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Casey Kolderup, a software developer and internet frequenter. I currently live in New York with my wife and our dog. These days my full-time job is at Vox Media, where I develop internal products and help out with the advertising infrastructure on all our sites.

In my free time I like making my own things on the internet; for the last couple years I've been fascinated by Twitter bots but also enjoy writing, podcasting, and other kinds of programming. Right now I'm particularly proud of @ominouszoom and @all_in_cards and I'm working on a rewrite of Backtracks.

What hardware do you use?

I have two MacBook Pros that I use for most of my work these days; I bought one for my own personal projects a few months before getting a job at Vox and being provided with the same model. In practice, this means I can keep work and personal stuff separate, while keeping the programming environments pretty similar (more about that below), which I really like.

I also have a Mac Mini that I bought in 2010. I use the Mac Mini as my file server; it has an actual old-fashioned spinning-platter internal hard disk as well as a couple external drives. This computer gives my wife and me space to store all the photos we take, back up our personal files, and serve a lot of media from iTunes to the Apple TV in our living room.

When I turned 30 in 2014, I made an off-hand comment about how lucky I was that I had been working with computers professionally for a decade and hadn't developed any RSI issues and then a few weeks later started feeling searing pains up my forearms. I did a little research and ended up settling on a new keyboard and mouse, so now I'm using the Kinesis Freestyle2 for Mac (with the VIP3 attachments to tilt the keyboard halves at 15° angles) and the Evoluent VerticalMouse. I was shocked by how quickly my RSI issues got better, and while it took a few months to feel 100% comfortable on the split keyboard, it was totally worth it.

I built the $22 IKEA Standing Desk this past year when a couple other friends recommended it. I like it pretty well; my desk is wide enough to have an area I can sit down at and now that I work from home most days I tend to switch between sitting and standing multiple times throughout the day.

Lastly, I have a set of Boston Acoustics computer speakers that came with the first computer I got as a teenager. They show no sign of letting up anytime soon, and I love listening to music while I work.

And what software?

I use Chrome as my web browser. Now that I'm working on stuff that affects the web-facing portion of my company, I've been learning a ton about how Chrome can be used as a developer tool through the Webkit Inspector. It's been awesome to learn and whenever I discover a new feature I excitedly share it with everyone I know because it just seems so cool.

I write in a mix of vim, Sublime Text 3 (I just haven't been able to quit vim), and an app called Mou, a sort of slightly-more-than-syntax-highlighting environment for Markdown documents. I also "write" a lot in Slack, which we use at Vox for work (we have over 650 channels as a company; I'm in far too many of those) and a number of other groups that I belong to with friends and collaborators.

My continued existence relies entirely on my database in Things, a GTD-focused app that I've been using on my computer since it was in beta in 2007 and on smartphones since I got my first iPhone in 2008. I ran some stats recently on the database files the app uses and found that I had logged almost 10,000 items in the app since I started using it (and thankfully I've marked completed or canceled all but 100 or so of them!). When something occurs to me in my personal life or my work that I don't want to lose track of, I drop it into my Things Inbox as quickly as I can, in part so that I don't forget it but also because at this point I know on some subconscious level that I can stop worrying about it for a little bit. I've made it a habit to review that list frequently and either remove things or turn them into things I can complete, and then I use that prioritization to know how projects are progressing at work, errands can get done, and so forth. The peace of mind that all of that is being tracked in one place stops me from being a horrible anxious mess—at least less often than I otherwise would be.

The glue of my "productivity" is centered around a handful of apps: 1Password, which I use across both OS X and iOS to manage my passwords, Dropbox, which I mostly use for short-term storage to transfer files between computers, and GrabBox, which I use to take a lot of screenshots to share in Slack for work. I signed up for Backblaze a few years ago and it's been a reliable backup service for both of my personal computers and knowing that in case of emergency I could easily recover all my data makes me feel a lot more comfortable.

Also, 100% Tweetbot A+ forever. On both my computer and my phone. Every day Twitter destroys me and then I am re-formed in its image.

What would be your dream setup?

I've been fascinated with the idea of "wearable computing" since some of my favorite sci-fi writers growing up wrote about it but have been saddened by how boring the current reality of wearables is to the extent that I haven't invested in any of it. I don't think there's any economic advantage for a company to do so, but I'd love to see our computers become far more modular, investing in wireless technology in such a way that I could have an easily portable LTE module that handles the expensive long-range telecommunications and would only need to be replaced when a new protocol comes along, along with devices of various sizes and shapes that act as screens, inputs, sensors, and so forth that can be upgraded individually. I'm 100% ready to sign up for implants in my ears that mean I don't have to buy earbuds whose wires will inevitably fray every year or two when I just want something basic to make a phone call or listen to a podcast.

More realistically, I'd settle for a 27-30" monitor, a motorized sitting/standing desk, and an office chair that isn't the cheapest chair that was being sold in an office supply store in 2008. Compared to all that other stuff that sounds a lot more reasonable, doesn't it?