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1283 interviews since 2009

A picture of Joe Armstrong

Joe Armstrong

Software developer (Erlang)

in developer, linux, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

Joe Armstrong, software engineer. Best known for my work on Erlang.

What hardware do you use?

At home I use a 15-inch MacBook Pro. For travel, lectures etc. I have an 11-inch MacBook Air. I have an iMac for picture editing.

My NAS is a 4TB Synology DS411slim.

Then I have two Raspberry Pi's, quite a lot of Arduinos.

At work I have a Dell Latitude E6430 quad-core 2.9GHZ 8GB 250GB SSD running Ubuntu.

Camera: A Lumix G3 - micro 4/3 with a fantastic Vario 1:4/4-14 lens.

Music production: A Roland Integra-7 (fantastic machine - an entire orchestra in a box) and a Roland RD-700NX stage piano.

Oh, and Bose QuietComfort 15 noise reducing headphones - essential for long-distance flights.

Sonos sound system for listening to music.

And what software?

Emacs, make and bash for all programming.

Keynote for slides. Pages for letters.

Photoshop Elements for editing photos, Aperture for organizing images.

Spotify and Rdio for music.

I write books using XML markup in emacs (nxml mode), and run the text through the spell checker (aspell) and the Mac voice synthesizer.

I write code in Emacs - I don't use any IDEs and use printf debugging, apart from JavaScript which I run in the Chrome browser.

I use GitHub for collaborative projects, Dropbox to transfer files between my work machines, and Dreamhost for backup and private projects.

I use git and svn for version control.

I use Erlang, bash scripts, JavaScript, C, Prolog, various Lisps and makefiles for most programming projects.

Evernote for a web clipbook, and Chandler to organise jobs.

What would be your dream setup?

Software that's not broken.

An infinite supply of paper, and pens that don't leak.

I'd like a 11-inch laptop with a few days battery. I can't think it would need more than 16GB memory and 500GB SSD.

It would have high quality voice input.

It would cache data off-machine into fault-tolerant storage.

If the machine broke I would like to go to any other machine and resume work within a few seconds without losing any data.

If my machine was stolen I would like it to be totally unusable after a short time - so nobody would bother to steal it.

I would like the machine to recognize me, through some mechanism (fingerprints, retina scan, DNA - who knows) so I don't need passwords.

I would like to access all my data, securely forever, and index it all so I could find things.

I want a total backup solution that snapshots and guards my data so nothing ever gets accidentally lost or destroyed.

I want zero viruses, trojans, malware.

I'm trying to build some of these things - right now I'm still stuck on the first point - making software that's not broken.