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 Mark Nottingham

Mark Nottingham

Web infrastructure developer (Atom, HTTP)

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Mark Nottingham. I'm an American who got a degree in photojournalism, but somehow became an expert on the HTTP protocol living in Melbourne, Australia.

For about six years, I've chaired the HTTPbis Working Group in the IETF, where we're working on both revising RFC2616 (HTTP/1.1), and defining the next version, HTTP/2.0.

I work at Akamai, where we're doing lots of cool distributed stuff that the label "CDN" doesn't really do justice to.

I usually work from home in Melbourne; most of my time is spent e-mailing, prototyping protocol extensions, writing documents and specifications, and travelling to conferences, standards meetings, and Boston (our HQ).

What hardware do you use?

When sitting at my desk, I use a Mac Mini with 8G of RAM and a Crucial SSD added to the stock hard disk. No microphone, no camera, but I do have a pair of Logitech V20 speakers. I use an Apple Wired Compact Keyboard so that I don't have to reach too far to the right to use the mouse, an Apple Magic Mouse. My monitor is a 24" Dell.

For anywhere else, I have an 11" MacBook Air (I like to travel light).

The home server is a HP Microserver with 8G of RAM, another Crucial SSD for boot and three Western Digital Red 1T disks. I have a couple of cobbled-together boxes for testing too (although one has been appropriated by my sons for playing WWII submarine simulation games and Minecraft). In "the cloud", I have a Rackspace VM for my Web site and a few other services like REDbot, and also spin up instances there when I need to do testing or research.

I don't really shoot photographs of anything but travel and family any more, but my current camera is a Panasonic GF-1, which I'm very happy with. I have a few different lenses, my favourites being a 7-14mm ultra-wide zoom and a Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton. The Nokton is amazing; an absurdly fast lens that gives amazing control over focus and has a really beautiful image as well.

And what software?

Pretty much everything on my two computers is sync'd with a combination of IMAP, Github, Dropbox, Unison, and a couple of shell scripts. Ansible is used to build and configure boxes (both desktop and server). My goal is to make it easy to reproduce my setup on new hardware as easily as possible, and to avoid having my data in proprietary formats or only available using proprietary interfaces.

Most of my time in GUI apps is spent in browsers; I use Safari for most browsing (making me a frequent target for derision among Web devs), but also dipping into Firefox, Chrome and Chrome Canary.

Textmate is for editing. I'm just making the switch to the alpha version of Textmate 2; I tried Sublime Text 2, but didn't feel the love.

Wherever possible, I'm trying to use Markdown; right now, I use kramdown-rfc2629 to write IETF specs, respec.js for W3C ones, and reveal.js for presentations.

Photos are edited and organised with Aperture. is good enough; I don't need tabs. I use bash (big surprise). Programming is usually in Python or NodeJS. Because I'm involved in a number of projects, I have to use lots of different source control systems, but prefer Git, even though it tends to be a bit more complex than it needs to.

All of my servers are currently running Fedora, although I'm starting to dabble with Ubuntu, as some of the daemons in Fedora 18 are a bit memory-hungry.

What would be your dream setup?

We're about to move into a new house where I'll have a bigger office, so I've been thinking about that. The hardware isn't really that important; I've been thinking more about getting a really good desk, and making the room a comfortable place to work and think.

I dream about cameras much more; at the moment, I'd love to get an RX-100 to carry around.