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Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Fabienne Serriere

Fabienne Serriere

Hardware hacker (KnitYak)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Fabienne Serriere, or fbz ("fah-bz", rhymes with bobs, lobs, robs). I'm a hardware hacker and I do other computer related things like design, deploy and maintain storage clusters for datacenters. Currently I'm working on KnitYak, a project to make knits locally on demand by scripting them with software. I'm crowdfunding the purchase of an industrial knitting machine to use for on demand production in Seattle, WA.

I'm a fan of open source, especially open source hardware, and I run a little hands-on hacking event called hardhack. I like to build weird things too, like the orchidarium and multithreaded banjo dinosaur knitting adventure 2D extreme and the massage couch.

What hardware do you use?

I use a Lenovo X230, a hackintosh, a OnePlus One Android phone, Weller WES51 soldering iron, Sony MDR-7506 headphones, Canon EOS 400D, Leatherman Juice CS4, a hacked Girltech IM Me reflashed as a spectrum analyzer, some Baofeng UV-5R radios (I'm a licensed ham). For hardware hacking and prototyping I often use Arduinos, BeagleBone Blacks, DVBT sticks for software defined radio, and my own circuits.

I just cleared out most of my material possessions after leaving Berlin, Germany in May of 2014, but in my lab I used to use: a Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2, a bunch of Dell monitors, a reflow station for desoldering and repairing surface mount components, three consumer 3D printers, 30 or so soldering irons for hands on workshops, a hacked KH-930 knitting machine, a KH-260 punch card chunky knitting machine, a Singer Featherweight vintage sewing machine, a DSO Nano oscilloscope, lots of antennas for software-defined radio fun, a self-built octinct, and a dozen or so Chumby soft computers.

I also had a collection of working vintage hardware including three adding machines, an Apple QuickTake camera, a Newton, a vintage bus display matrix from the Netherlands, and some of the hand soldered circuits and the complete service manuals for an East German telephone switching standard.

And what software?

I mostly use open source stuff as I run Linux on my main laptop. Most used software is probably Firefox, the UNIX terminal, an offline desktop password manager, a Jabber client with OTR, GIMP, Processing, and Shotwell. On my OnePlus One phone I use Plume (Twitter), Neko Atsume (addictive Japanese cat game), Threema, and Google Maps (I used to use OpenStreetMap on Android, but I find the interface too clunky for daily use).

What would be your dream setup?

I would love a large electronics lab with a standing desk and sitting desk, and an extra desk, and an extra desk besides that. In my old lab at home in Berlin I had the most desk real estate known to mankind. I also had a big couch with lots of windows around it in my lab, to sit on and code or read. I would love to have a setup like that again. I would love to have a kajillion monitors and some nice big fat workstations, Linux and Mac, one of which can do video editing.

In a datacenter not far from my home, I dream of building a nice big Ceph cluster for storing everything and backups and such. My connection to my home for my dream setup would be fiber, and have native IPv6. And most importantly, I want industrial knitting machines. That's what I'm trying for first.