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 Emily Gorcenski

Emily Gorcenski

Data scientist, engineer

in data, developer, linux, mac, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am a data scientist and engineer. Actually, I studied computational and applied math and aeronautical engineering in university, and worked as a research engineer for many years before transitioning into the tech industry. As a data scientist, I mostly try to find ways to turn data into action in ways that help people operate business more efficiently, make better decisions, and build better understandings of how their universe works.

In addition to this, I am also a passionate anti-fascist activist, and I use my tech background to mine for information that can help us fight neo-Nazis and prevent them from corrupting our society. I've used this to build a project called First Vigil, which is a multimedia glance into hate crimes and white supremacist criminality in the United States.

What hardware do you use?

As a professional and an activist, the most important thing for me is to keep my devices and my time strictly separated. For work, like most devs I use a MacBook Pro for my work. For my activism, I have a nice Dell XPS 15 that I have grown to love. My device separation policy means that I keep my professional work off my personal devices and my activism work off my professional devices. I also turned an old Lenovo Yoga into an Ubuntu sandbox. For my local workstation, I invested in a solid KVM switch so device switching is painless. I also run a small home cloud, using a Synology NAS, for doing some of my activism.

Since my work, both professional and activist, does entail a lot of video conferencing, I have also been gradually investing in better video conference equipment. I have a Logitech BRIO 4k webcam and a Blue Yeti microphone, but I am looking to upgrade to using a nice DSLR as a camera solution to get even better video with better white balancing.

And what software?

My software stack is quite complex. I regularly switch between macOS, Windows 10, and Ubuntu. I am a big fan of Ubuntu on WSL2. My go-to development environment is VSCode. One thing that might surprise you is that I don't often use Jupyter notebooks. I think they're good for exploring data, but they're not good for moving data science work into production. I prefer a more test-driven development workflow. A lot of the tools I use are based around modern agile practices: test-driven development, infrastructure as code, and continuous delivery. One tool that I've really taken a liking to is Airflow. I used it extensively on a recent project and started really diving into building best practices for constructing data pipelines.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is to have a nice big, open, minimalist desk, where I can easily anchor extension arms for cameras, monitors, and microphones. I believe that remote working is here to stay, and the thing we need to remember is that when we're remote working, the ergonomics matter not just for ourselves, but also for the person on the other end of the call. Investing in a good microphone does nothing for me, but it improves the quality of life of the person on the other side of the call significantly. I've been also investing in developing local development toolkits, so as I go from client to client, I have a nice portable setup that I can easily get started.

But the one thing I really need in my dream setup? Enough space for the cats to sleep on my desk so they can be close to me without having to disrupt my work 😉.

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