Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done

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Michael Ogawa

PhD student, developer (code_swarm)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Michael Ogawa, a Ph.D. student at UC Davis. I study software visualization (a branch of information visualization) and have created code_swarm and software evolution storylines, among other things. I want to illuminate the dedication and effort put forth by open source developers.

What hardware do you use?

While my research lab-mates have workstations and 30" monitors, I work on my personal laptop, a 15" Dell XPS M1530 that I got in 2008. It has a dual core 2.4 GHz CPU and Nvidia Geforce 8400M graphics card. I chose a somewhat modest setup due to my belief in designing on the same hardware one's audience uses. I think I'm due for an upgrade soon though.

I connect the laptop to a corded mouse, network cable and cooler when at home. I currently use an old pair of Plantronics headphones but I have some Sennheisers on standby. There's a 250 GB external enclosure hard drive on my desk that rarely gets used.

When I'm not at home, I carry a Logitech portable corded mouse and Sony earbuds. My cell phone is an old LG clamshell thing. At least I don't have to worry about scratches.

I recently started experimenting with Arduino. My favorite entertainment hardware is the Ion Drum Rocker I got for my birthday.

And what software?

I have Windows 7 on the laptop. I occasionally ssh into my old Linux lab desktop and lab server. I browse the web with Google Chrome. Other Google stuff that gets me through the day are Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Reader.

Processing is my go-to programming environment when I work with graphics. It's so easy to use and has quite a few libraries. I use gVim for other languages and text editing. GIMP for image editing. MiKTeX, a LaTeX compiler, is always there for when I write papers. And I use Prezi for my presentations. It's really useful for explaining visualizations with its smooth zooming and scrolling.

My lab uses a MoinMoin wiki to keep track of stuff. I recently started using Gephi for network analysis and visualization. It simplifies the layout and exploration process, but I use Processing for final rendering.

What would be your dream setup?

How about a powerful laptop in a MacBook Air form factor?

I want a slate computer that has stylus input and handwriting recognition. It should have a full OS so I can write, compile and run programs. Then I can implement an idea whenever inspiration strikes.

I hope that browsers get better at rendering the HTML5 canvas element and that easy-to-use, yet robust, programming environments are created for it.