Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Kornel Lesiński

Kornel Lesiński

Software developer (ImageOptim)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I love pixels. I'm a programmer and a newbie small business owner. I work on image compression.

I'm the author of the ImageOptim, pngquant, and a maintainer of MozJPEG. I also work on a few other Open Source projects such as Sparkle (Mac updater) and SuperAgent (like fetch before fetch happened).

I spend most of my time finding ways to make images load faster and look better. My day job is the ImageOptim web service, where I turn my research experiments into a real product.

What hardware do you use?

I use a 2014 MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It's a very nice machine. I have the higher-specced i7 configuration, so the latest MacBooks don't seem like a big upgrade to me.

I use it with the Belkin Thunderbolt dock, so I've been living in the "everything in one port" future for a while. I literally use every single port in my machine and the dock, even FireWire for a backup disk and HDMI for a projector (AX-100). Even though I like USB-C, I'm too invested in Thunderbolt to abandon or dongelize all my peripherials.

I was an early adopter of high-res monitors. I've got an now-old 30" Dell WFP3008. It's big, heavy and emits significant amount of heat, but I got it when it was one of the few larger-than-HD monitors available. Display Port was such a new and exotic thing back then, that I've had to import a mini-DP to DP cable from China.

My other monitor is a 4K Samsung U28D590. It's the early model with a TN matrix with bleak color, lousy viewing angle, and a non-VESA stand with absolutely no adjustment. I also have to reboot it every few days (yes, my monitor crashes). But the 4K resolution still makes up for all of it.

As for keyboards, I don't understand why right-handed people tolerate keyboards with numeric pad taking up space where the mouse should be. I used to have (and love) an A4Tech keyboard with a numpad on the left. Now I use Truly Ergonomic. It deserves its name. It has an unusual, but very convenient layout. Return and Backspace are the middle of the keyboard. Arrow keys are 4-way rather than tetromino-shaped. It took me a while to re-learn touch typing on it, but it was worth it.

I live paperless. You won't find a pen on my desk. I scribble on my iPad or Pixel XL. I scan and archive all documents with an imageFORMULA scanner. It's nice, small and pretty fast.

Speaking of the Pixel XL - it's excellent hardware. Sleek, beautiful screen, with a battery that's almost large enough and charges fast enough. The fingerprint sensor is so fast and so conveniently placed, that I use it, despite knowing that Android's hardware security is weak sauce.

I dread upgrading Android phones. Every time Android migration assistant loses all my data from all non-Google apps. Reinstalls them fresh, with no logins, no local storage, no save games -- nothing). As if Google did not believe data outside of their own servers exists. I might switch to an iPhone, because Apple's Android to iOS migration assistant can't be any worse.

I've got the Daydream VR headset for the Pixel. It's fun for a few minutes. Its controller significantly improves interaction in VR compared to Cardboard, but it has a fatal flaw: it has created another axis of Android fragmentation. The Daydream headset only works with a dozen of its own apps, and deliberately blocks access to the hundreds of VR apps written for Cardboard.

I have a Pebble Time --- now a zombie. I use it to check in on Swarm and to reply "OK" to Signal messages. And, with the always-on screen, I can check the time without a shake gesture, 20th-century style!

I've also got an AMD-Ryzen-based PC with elementary OS as my secondary computer for number crunching. I've got it because the Mac Pro is on an "accidental" 5-year hiatus, and today there just aren't any Macs with high-end GPUs.

The last bit of hardware is my beloved Herman-Miller Mirra chair. As a geek I used to think how many more megabytes or megapixels I could have gotten instead of "just a chair", but it has outlived several of my computers, and it's been absolutely good investment that literally saved my butt (and my spine).

And what software?

My computer usage is mainly on the command line. I use iTerm2, for lots of small reasons. I can click to open filenames printed in the terminal. I have shortcuts and color-coded backgrounds for remote servers. Notifications when a background job finishes. It does everything that the stock Terminal does, but a little bit better.

One thing I don't use command line for is git. I'm not going to type hashes --- I'd rather click and drag things in GitX. It lets me commit fragments of code line-by-line and visualises history in its full branchy glory, without dumbing it down. I'm holding on to one specific dead fork of many dead forks of GitX-dev that I particularly like.

I used to be a devoted fan of the Opera browser, but sadly the good old browser is gone, and now the product and the company are just a shell of its former glory. I've tried Vivaldi, but it was too slow and buggy for me. Nowadays I'm using Firefox nightly. It's amazing how much Firefox has improved in v57. It's now pretty fast, and handles well my habit of leaving hundreds of tabs open instead of bookmarking anything.

I plan my work in OmniFocus (& Focus GTD on Android). It's the only serious app that does two things: 1) infinitely recursive todo lists (I break things down into smaller and smaller tasks, and don't want any arbitrary limits there) and 2) faithfully implements the Getting Things Done system. When I was starting my business I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of little things that have to be done, and I wouldn't be able to cope without GTD.

I've been programming in C for 17 years, but this year I've sucessfully switched to Rust. Rust has a steep learning curve, but it does deliver. The language, its compiler and package manager are rock solid. It's an amazing language. In some areas it feels higher-level than JavaScript, but it's still as close to the metal as C.

What would be your dream setup?

For the displays, all the cool new tech is already here. I'm just waiting for all of it to be brought together into one maximally awesome model.

OLED (where black is truly black) + HDR (where photographed lights appear as actually bright light, not merely a white patch) + 8K resolution (because why not?) in ultra-wide curved 21:9 format, so I can have the surface of a dual-monitor setup without the gap between them.

I like Apple's combination of hardware and software the best. I just wish they weren't so forgetful about the existence of their Mac product lines. macOS is still the most elegant and usable OS for me, but with every release (containing more and more restrictions, and bash deliberately not updated since 2007) I'm finding it harder and harder to be a supporter of macOS and open-source at the same time. The Mac App Store forbids all Free/Libre Software, so if they ever flip the switch to disable non-App-Store software, I'm out.