The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

Lara Hogan

Lara Hogan

Front-end developer, performance engineering manager (Etsy)

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hello! I'm Lara Callender Hogan, and I'm a self-taught front-end developer. At Etsy I've managed the mobile web engineering team, and now manage the performance engineering team. My teammates are the best.

I do a lot of public speaking about mobile web and performance. I'm also writing a book called Designing for Performance, in which I aim to empower designers to make smart decisions that positively impact page load time. I'm fairly active on Twitter. I curate (and sometimes contribute to) the CSS3 Geometry Tumblr.

I believe it's important to celebrate career achievements with donuts. I've had a myriad of jobs, including running my own photography business, co-founding a LGBT wedding website, and a stint where I got certified to be an EMT. I graduated college with degrees in Philosophy and Visual Media, which are just weird enough to equip someone to work in tech.

What hardware do you use?

At work I use a 13" MacBook Air with a secondary 24" Samsung monitor, Bluetooth mouse and USB keyboard. I try not to bring my laptop along to meetings so I can be more present in them; the laptop is then replaced with a small notebook and a Sharpie Pen. I've got an awful memory, and writing notes constantly helps me to better remember things. When I'm at my desk and have time to focus, I'll use Audio-Technica ATH-M50S headphones. On my commute each morning I'll just use little earclip headphones, though. I rest my iPhone 5c on a handmade wooden stand during the day. I also keep a small $5 plastic watch handy when I need to keep track of time in a meeting but don't want to check my phone (like when I'm interviewing a candidate).

At home, I use an often-shut 11" MacBook Air with a Dell UltraSharp 20" LCD Display as my primary display. When I'm writing the book, I'll often switch from sitting at my desk to sitting on my bed to write on the little 11" Air screen, as my posture is strangely better and I'll write for longer.

I almost exclusively use short USB cables at home to minimize clutter, like this 4-inch lightning to USB cable. They're plugged into this 10 port hub, which I love because of the two flexible ports. My backup setup also includes an AirPort Extreme for automated backups, a 2TB Western Digital external hard drive for more controlled/organized backups, and an APC UPS.

I use Full Adhesive Post-Its to measure the progress of the book so I can celebrate each 10% of pages done and each new chapter done with a donut (blue Post-It is % of pages written, yellow indicates chapters written). I also use Aqua Notes in the shower to keep track of any book ideas I have in there. My other favorite shower hack is this EcoExtreme Waterproof Portable Speaker Case, so I can listen to music or podcasts from my phone and feel even more productive. Speaking of productivity at home, the Mint Plus Automatic Floor Cleaner is awesome. I've been remembering to start it up each time I begin a new chapter of the book - it feels like multitasking!

When I'm presenting, I use a Logitech Wireless Presenter Remote thanks to a recommendation from Greg Hoy. I'll also keep an Anker portable charger handy. I use a Crabby Wallet when I'm traveling for work to hold my business cards, hotel key card, etc.; it's nice and flexible and wraps around my phone neatly. I'll keep a backup copy of my presentation and any fonts used on a little, low-profile USB drive. Because my home laptop is an older Air, and my work laptop is a newer one, I travel with a few MagSafe to MagSafe2 converters so I don't have to worry about which power supply I have on hand. All of these little electronics stay in a cork clutch that comes with me to every presentation so I won't forget something.

My laptop/everyday bag is a messenger bag that compresses nicely yet has plenty of room. I love it and swear by it. It has the perfect amount of inner and outer pockets to hold everything I need handy every day. There's a large opening in the back that I use to hold boarding passes and receipts to expense when I travel, and the inner opening is perfect for both Airs, my bulky headphones, a hoodie, the electronics clutch, etc. The bag has held up supremely well for as long as I've had it, and I requested a custom color fabric inside (sky blue!) which makes me super happy every time I open it. When I'm traveling, I'll use it in addition to Herschel's Little America Backpack, which has been the perfect packing size for every trip I've made this year.

Both at work and at home I try to be as energy-conscious as possible. In my apartment I use Belkin Energy-Saving Outlets, and my main media setup uses this Energy-Saving surge protector which turns off peripherals when I turn off my TV. At work we use a Modlet in the physical device testing lab, which we use to measure energy consumption over time and find ways to optimize it.

And what software?

I write everything for the book using Sublime Text and commit it to a Git repo provided by my book publisher. O'Reilly has a pretty sweet setup that takes the chapters in Asciidoc format and outputs them in both HTML and PDF versions so I can see how they'll render in the online and print versions of the book. Using Git for the book has been awesome; I can track plenty of the writing process this way and it's fun to watch the diffs as I go. The HTML version of the book also allows comments from my technical reviewers, which makes it much easier for me to consolidate feedback as it gets edited.

For diagrams in the book I'm trying out Gliffy. For creating and editing other kinds of images for the book I'm in Photoshop. I'm also tracking my time working on each chapter using RescueTime and Google Docs, and am looking forward to reflecting on all the metrics of book writing when it's done. To more easily track time with RescueTime, I use Sublime Text exclusively for book writing and use Coda for edits to my personal website.

At work I'll heavily use Gmail, GCal, Google Docs, and Evernote. I'm not a power Evernote user, but I particularly like that I can create lists that are a mix of to-do's and info by placing checkboxes wherever I want. At work, I use my Air screen primarily and keep Gmail and Chrome open all the time on it; IRC and Evernote go on the secondary display. In Chrome I'm constantly using LastPass, AdBlock, Feedly, and different Chrome users for testing on Etsy as well as switching between personal and work accounts.

On my phone I use Sunrise and the Gmail app rather than the default mail/calendar apps. I use the Twitter app all the time and sync all my photos using the Dropbox app. Dropbox also comes in handy for checking to see what's made it into the early release of my book from O'Reilly's site (using magic). I use LimeChat at work as my IRC client. Skype comes in handy for chatting with my editor and catching up with mobile/performance friends who are doing awesome, innovative work that our team can learn from. I also used Google Hangouts a bunch to coordinate with Paul Lewis as we created our presentation for Google I/O this year.

When I'm doing performance work I'll almost always be in WebPagetest and digging through results using our in-house experiment analysis tool called Catapult. We run a bunch of automated performance dashboards using WebPagetest internally. If I'm actually pushing code, I'll hop in the push queue and use Deployinator. One more open source shoutout to the RFID device checkout system built by our office hackers for our device lab.

When it comes to presenting, I live in Keynote. And sometimes Giphy. When I'm getting close to giving the talk, I'll update the slides on SpeakerDeck, get ready to auto-tweet from the deck using Keynote Tweet, and build a custom URL on my personal website to house the slides and links to resources which I switch to links so I can track clicks. After the presentation is done I'll check Twitter Analytics to see what resonated the most with people.

At both work and home I listen to Pandora and Rdio. Both are tuned to some sort of Motown for working/focus hours. I also constantly have TextEdit open on both laptops for eliminating formatting when copying/pasting. Chrome DevTools is always open when I'm coding. ImageOptim stays in my dock on both laptops, too. Seamless is open more often than I'd care to admit (but who can resist milkshake and/or donut delivery from local diners?). And of course, I love the Etsy app as well as the web experience and buy a lot of stuff regularly.

What would be your dream setup?

Free, public, fast WiFi everywhere. Better battery life on everything. My own Jarvis. A way to write the book on my laptop while on a beach (visible screen, sand prevention). Donut delivery service with no minimums.

Previously: / Next up: