The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

Darius Kazemi

Photo by Ian Linkletter.

Darius Kazemi

Internet artist (Tiny Subversions)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Darius Kazemi, aka @tinysubversions. I make weird internet stuff; art on the internet, if you will.

What hardware do you use?

I primarily work on a Chromebook Pixel. It's a beautiful piece of hardware. Kind of this gunmetal slab that feels more substantial in my hands than a MacBook Pro, but roughly the same form factor as a 13" MacBook Air. It's got one of those super high density displays so the image is gorgeous, and a touch screen for those times when I'm just lazily scrolling my way through an article or something.

I also keep a running Google Doc of every project idea that comes to mind -- as such, my Nexus 5 is invaluable for jotting down notes on the fly.

Sometimes I do want to take notes on paper, so since January 2012 I have carried around a tiny UMD MITH branded notebook and, recently, a super high-end Santander Bank promotional pen. Of course, I have to carry this stuff around, so I use a nondescript Nike backpack purchased at TJ Maxx / Home Goods. And none of this would be possible without this belt, which holds up my pants.

And what software?

You might ask, "How does he get development work done on a Chromebook Pixel? Does he develop entirely in the cloud?" And my answer to that is: no, of course I don't develop in the cloud, because among other things I value things like a low latency command line and also owning my own shit.

Chrome OS, especially on a powerful machine like the Pixel, is great for web browsing and web applications, but is not so hot for anything else. So I have an Ubuntu Linux command line installed on Chrome OS. It's really easy to do using crouton. crouton even lets you run X11 and a window manager of your choice, but I don't bother with that. Since everything I develop is for the web, I use Vim on the command line, and I run my development servers there too.

The end result is: my entire computing experience is a browser with multiple tabs. Some of those tabs are websites I'm looking at, some of those tabs are websites I'm developing, and some of those tabs are a Linux terminal session.

For making my stuff I use Grunt as my task manager, and specifically I use grunt-init to scaffold my projects. All I have to do if I want a basic Twitter bot that tweets "hi" once an hour is answer a few questions, and suddenly it's tweeting. You can find my scaffolding for Twitter bots here, and for text generation sites here. Tools like these, along with Corpora, my repository of lists of things, let me very rapidly create new projects. I've released 100+ projects of various sizes in the last 18 months. Small projects are kind of my thing.

What would be your dream setup?

This is a hard question. Obviously my dream setup would be like, "Think something and it becomes willed into existence." But that's not terribly down-to-earth.

Ideally I'd have some kind of mouse that isn't fundamentally awful; even more ideally I'd have an operating system and web browser where I could quickly navigate everything without having to move my hands off the keyboard. The browser being the hard part. Having written that though, I did just google and find Vimium, which applies Vim keyboard shortcuts to Chrome, so I'm excited to try that!

I'd also like a very, very quiet room with good natural light. I prefer silence while I work. I envy people who can listen to music while working, but it's not for me.

Previously: / Next up: