Uses This

1283 interviews since 2009

A picture of Harper Reed
Image by Joi Ito.

Harper Reed

Technologist (Threadless, Barack Obama)

in developer, linux, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Harper Reed. I make things happen on the Internet. I am a connector and a technologist. I like to meld both of those things together to connect people to one another and enable them to build amazing technology. In the past I spent a bunch of time helping Threadless grow, then I helped startups in Chicago grow, and now I am helping reelect the President.

What hardware do you use?

I typically have two workstations that I keep in sync via Dropbox and Git. In the past, I have relied on a trusty Lenovo X series laptop running Ubuntu that I carry with me and then a workstation at home that is some form of MacBook Pro/Mac Mini. I used this setup for many years and loved it. Recently, because I fell in love with the MacBook Air form factor, I migrated away from the Lenovo and Ubuntu in favor of a tiny happy 11" MacBook Air (i7). It works well. For my desktop workstation I am using a late-model Mac Mini (i7) paired with a Samsung SyncMaster 2343 monitor. It looks great and doesn't take up too much space on my desk.

I obsess about bags. My daily driver is an black on black Chrome Buran bag. It is a very good bag. It isn't too fancy or clever. It just works. I sometimes travel using an EOD mini utility bag. It fits my air, power cord and a change of clothes. Recently a friend picked up a Defy Urban Cowboy bag. It has an amazing buckle and fits the air perfectly. Inside of these bags, my air lives in its own Pack and Smooch Hampshire pouch. It is felt and leather and was designed to not scratch up your air. Looks great too.

In my bag, I have a few organizational aids. I wrap up my Air power cord using the Quirky PowerCurl (I love it because it is handy and crowdsourced). I keep a lot of miscellaneous cords, and whatnot in a Klein Tools canvas utility bag. It is handy to have a bag in my main bag to stuff things that will normally get lost.

At work I listen to a pair of AiAiAi TMA-1 powered by a candy tin headphone amp. At home I listen to a pair of Grado SR60i. I find that the Grado headphones are quite noisy for people around me compared to the TMA-1s. Both are fine. I carry in my bag a pair of Shure SE115 earphones for use when commuting or flying.

For a mobile communications, my primary device is an iPhone 4S. I use Sprint for the carrier so that I can take advantage of the Sprint/Google Voice integration. This enables me to switch between my Android phone (a well-used Nexus S on T-mobile) and my iPhone whenever I feel like it. The iPhone is an amazing device. The camera is outstanding, the app ecosystem is great, the OS is frustrating. ;)

I aggressively use my Kindle. I am a voracious reader and the Kindle is my constant companion on the quest to consume as many books as possible. The Kindle has been a magical device for me. Besides being able to instantly start new books, I love how single purpose the Kindle is. It makes it very easy to read books (as it should). I imagine that it will eventually become the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer that I want so badly. Until then, it will be my book consuming machine.

A quick note on Kindles: I have owned the suite of Kindle devices. The best Kindle they have made is the Kindle 4 (also known as the cheap kindle). After using the Aztec Kindle, the various Kindles with keyboards and finally the Kindle touch - I find that I am able to be a happier and more efficient reader with the cheaper kindle.

And what software?

I try and keep a pretty simple software catalog. I don't want too many apps clogging my various tubes.

To browse the interwebs, I use Google Chrome. I edit all sorts of documents with Vim (I really like MacVim + Janus on OSX). I use iTunes to listen to locally stored music. I use iChat/Adium (on OSX) or Gajim (Ubuntu) for messaging; for IRC, I use Scrollz (inside screen (thinking about migrating to tmux) on a shell). I use whatever generic terminal is available for my shells. To make my shell experience on OS X bearable, I use homebrew (I shudder to think how things used to be on OSX). I use Dropbox and git to keep things wrapped together. I have been experimenting with keeping my data in encrypted sparse bundles stored in git/Dropbox.

Inside the browser I use a bunch of software to get things done. I rely on Google Apps for a lot (mail, docs, collaboration, SMS, voice, etc). I use Simplenote to keep track of random thoughts on my phone.

I love and use github. I was not a git convert at first, but github made sharing code and working collaboratively better than ever. It is an amazing tool. I now use git everyday and it has made me a better developer and collaborator.

For some strange reason, I use both Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music. They are functionally almost exactly the same and I have similar music collections on both. I switch arbitrarily between them. I purchase most of my music from Amazon MP3. I also listen to Rdio when I am lazy. I listen to Hype Machine more often than I should.

One of my favorite killer apps is partychat. It is an open source Jabber-based persistent chat room. It works with Google Talk and is VERY simple. I use this to communicate with small groups of friends/collaborators. It has allowed us to collaborate on some amazing things.

What would be your dream setup?

I am lucky and am pretty happy with my current setup. I would easily add faster Internet, more memory, smaller devices, better battery life and more general device convergence. Also the singularity.

My dream setup from when I was in high school is more interesting. I spent hours drooling over the advertisements in the back of Computer Shopper planning for this very question. For the processor, I wanted a 486 DX2 66. I needed enough RAM to run OS/2 2.0 well (not Warp!). To support the advanced graphics that OS/2 demanded, I wanted a number nine GXE 64 graphics card. I desperately wanted a Sound Blaster AWE64 sound card to play mods and id games. I also needed a crazy ZyXEL 14.4 Modem to dial into my local telnet drops and BBSes. The eventual goal was to triple boot Slackware Linux (sooo many disks), OS/2 and Windows 95. At some point around '94 I achieved most of this, however OS/2 had faded away as a priority and I spent most of my time in Linux (thank goodness).