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 Ham Vocke

Ham Vocke

Software developer (Stack Overflow)

in developer, linux, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Ham. I'm a software developer from Germany. I work for Stack Overflow where I help build Stack Overflow for Teams. Think of it as your private version of Stack Overflow where you can discuss all the stuff that's relevant to you and your team.

Previously, I've been a consultant at ThoughtWorks, have written a thing about software testing and a few articles about tmux, a tool to manage terminal sessions.

I enjoy programming but value my time far away from computers, too. When I'm not working on any pet projects, I try to spent time in nature with my dog Lenny and my wife.

What hardware do you use?

For the past 7 years, I've been using Mac hardware for anything that's paying the bills - mostly because that's what my employers gave me. Right now I use a 15-inch 2019 MacBook Pro to build Stack Overflow.

For my private shenanigans, I don't need the latest and greatest, nor do I need super beefy hardware. I prefer solid and long-living hardware and try to use it until it fails. I use a 2020 Dell XPS 13 9300 that I just bought to replace my old 2013 XPS 13 that I cherished until parts failed and it couldn't keep up anymore.

Stack Overflow gives remote employees a quite generous budget to build out their office. This allowed me to splurge on office furniture and peripherals I use to get work done: A 34-inch Dell UltraSharp monitor that's attached to my Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk. Then there's a Herman Miller Aeron chair for, well... sitting. 100% of my bugs are typed on a Vortex Tab75 keyboard with Cherry MX brown switches. I've got a Logitech MX Master 2S that I'm quite fond of.

I own a pair of Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones that I bought mostly for my previous consulting job. Noise cancelling makes a difference if you're travelling and sitting in noisy offices a lot and I like the no-frills reliability of a simple headphone jack (and I find that Bluetooth sets often sound horrible - don't they?).

I read books on a Kindle Paperwhite. I hate the Amazon tie-in but I love the comfort of a small device that carries a gazillion books and has a pleasant e-ink display.

I don't like spending an outrageous amount of money for my phones and I'm aiming for a good bang for my buck. Right now, I'm using a OnePlus Nord and before that I've used the OnePlus 3T, the OnePlus One and even earlier phones from Google's Nexus line (RIP).

And what software?

I've been a Linux person since 2005 and learned to love the beauty and versatility of command line tools. I most often default to Ubuntu as the pragmatic choice and have used Arch Linux whenever I felt like I got too much free time. I'd probably use Linux for work if it didn't make our IT support's lives harder, and so I've grown used to use macOS on the MacBooks my employers gave me. While macOS is not my preferred choice I'd take it over working in a Windows environment any day - WSL is not enough to convince me.

Alacritty is my terminal emulator but I don't have a strong opinion on this one. I often use tmux to manage my terminal sessions, unless I can use a proper tiling window manager - i3 being my favorite here.

My editors are vim and Visual Studio Code. I use vim for working on small programming tasks and long-form writing and switch over to VS Code as my code grows larger.

For really large codebases and serious work (unlike the fun stuff I do in my free time) I'm a die-hard user of JetBrains' products. I use Rider to work on Stack Overflow (we're using C# and ASP.NET on .NET Core) and have used IntelliJ IDEA extensively in the past.

To organize my workdays, I use a vim plugin called vimwiki. This allows me to keep notes in a plain text format and more importantly makes it super easy to write a diary. Each morning, I grab a coffee and take 10 minutes to write a new diary entry where I reflect on the day before and write down a list of all the things I want to do.

I use Firefox for all my web browsing and web development since I strongly believe that we need more than Google, Microsoft and Apple dominating everything they touch.

My passwords are stored in Bitwarden. I use CircleCI for my build pipelines, Jekyll for my blog, DigitalOcean and Netlify for my infrastructure.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm easy to please but I do have a soft spot for things that last long and are reliable.

During my time as a consultant I learned that I can get work done with just a laptop and any place to sit, however I vastly appreciate a dedicated workspace that's not trying to break your spine.

In times of escapism I dream of a cabin by a lake with a good internet connection, a large wooden desk with a laptop (running Linux for sure), a big monitor and a decent keyboard, and a comfy couch to unwind. That'd be sweet.

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