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 Jane Manchun Wong

Jane Manchun Wong

Engineer, security researcher

Posted in developer, mac, researcher, security

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Jane Manchun Wong, known as @wongmjane. I am a Front End Engineer, Security Researcher, and Blogger.

In my free time, I like taking apart websites and mobile apps and tweeting about yet-to-release features. You might have come across my findings in tech news, such as Twitter's intent to revamp its verification system, Spotify's "Social Listening", Instagram hiding like counts, Snapchat's Android UI rewrite, Facebook Avatar and more.

I occasionally come across security risks in unreleased features, which I report to Bug Bounty programs, for example, I helped to prevent private API abuse in Facebook Messenger Rooms before launch.

What hardware do you use?

I do most of my coding and reverse engineering work on a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017). The laptop is thin and light, and it fit me well when I was a digital nomad. I carried the laptop with me in my Kånken backpack so I can tear apart apps whenever and wherever I can (sometimes I do it in a subway). However, due to its infamous butterfly keyboard being increasingly unreliable, I mostly use the laptop at home nowadays instead.

This is bittersweet because it inspires me to incorporate the laptop into a new at-home setup:

Jane's computer setup.

I try to keep my setup minimalist and free of distraction (but mostly for the aesthetic). I got the table frame and the desktop from MUJI. I use the Twelve South Curve stand as the laptop stand as it helps with heat dissipation.

At home, I connect the laptop to an LG 27UK850-W monitor using a single Thunderbolt 3 cable, which not only handles video signals, but also the audio and power delivery. The monitor also acts as a USB hub, which I use to connect with peripherals. Whenever I head out, I only need to unplug the one cable from my laptop, and I am good to go!

Speaking of peripherals, I use Magic Trackpad 2 instead of a mouse. There is no going back after being spoilt by the Mac trackpad gestures for years. I picked Vortex Race 3 with Cherry MX Blue key switches as my mechanical keyboard because its layout is similar to laptop keyboards. Its compact and minimalist design also matches the direction I am going for in this setup.

I have been using OnePlus 6T as my mobile phone since its launch in November 2018 because it had the best notch design at the time. I prefer keeping the same phone as long as it works, is reasonably performant and not falling apart. As someone who does not professionally review gadgets, it makes little economical sense to upgrade my phone every time a new one launches.

To consume audio content, I use AirPods Pro when commuting, and Sony WH-1000XM2 indoors. But for meetings, I use the trusty EarPods, which aire wired and can outlast any wireless headphones/earbuds for infinitely long meetings.

My note-taking device is pen and paper. It supports high precision handwriting and has zero input latency. It takes on a skeuomorphic design. The writing surface is also realistic, almost paper-like. It comes with encryption, based on my handwriting. While it does not support cloud storage, the data is guaranteed to be inaccessible to hackers without physical access. It is a blessing in disguise.

And what software?

As much as I would love to switch back to Arch Linux, after switching to the new MacBook Pro, I am practically left with macOS as the only Unix-like OS option due to spotty Linux support.

The stock apps in macOS have grown on me. The Mail, Calendar, and Contacts apps just work! I use Screenshot for taking both screenshots and screen recordings. The Preview app is also very useful when I need to apply watermarks on screenshots and crop them.

For media consumption, I generally stick with QuickTime first as my go-to media player, and fallback to mpv for the format that QuickTime cannot handle (such as WebM, Ogg, FLAC, etc). I stream music using Spotify.

I use iTerm2 as my terminal emulator. It is highly configurable, renders in 60fps, supports the 256 color mode, and has lower input latency.

For technical tasks, I prefer CLI and coding over GUI. I like the tools that are built with the Unix philosophy in mind, as it is easier to compose, interoperate, and automate.

The Unix shell of my choice is Z Shell, with the third-party configurations managed using Antigen. I use Neovim as text editor and terminal pager.

I combine screenshots using ImageMagick's montage.

I often tweet clips of screen recordings as GIFs. That is done completely by using FFmpeg with permutations of filters which allow trimming, cropping, watermarking, converting, etc in one go.

I code in either TypeScript, Python, Java, or shell. It depends on the kind of problem to solve.

I edit code using Visual Studio Code, which has been increasingly popular among Front End Engineers.

My go-to monospaced font is PragmataPro. It is narrow and it works well for my small laptop screen. I got the font for my birthday and have been using it ever since! I see it more of an art piece than just a programming font.

My favorite light color scheme is GitHub Theme, and my favorite dark color scheme is City Lights. I have no strong preferences between coding in light theme and dark theme, it depends on whether I am in a well-lit room or a dark room.

What would be your dream setup?

A replacement to my aging 2017 MacBook Pro is long overdue. One with a keyboard that works would be neat. Though I am looking forward to using an ARM MacBook Pro when it is available in the future.

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