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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Paul Lamere

Music hacker (The Echo Nest)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm an international executive music hacker - that is, I go to lots of hackathons like Music Hack Day where I combine my two passions of music and programming to create music hacks like The Infinite Jukebox, Boil the Frog and The Bonhamizer. When I am not at a hackathon, I'm usually at The Echo Nest office where I work and play all day with big music data. I also write a blog called Music Machinery.

What hardware do you use?

I do all my programming on a 2 year old 17" MacBook Pro, which, sadly, they no longer make. I really like the bigger screen, so even though I travel quite a bit, I'm willing to carry the extra pounds for the extra screen size.

For my ears I have a pair of Beats Studio headphones for when I am on the road, and a pair of Behringer MS40 Digital Monitor Speakers for when I am at my desk. I have an iPad 3 which I only use for book reading and an iPhone 5S that I use for everything but programming. I'll sometimes travel with unusual electronic music instruments like the Stylophone or the Korg Monotron. I put all my gear in a Wenger Pegasus Backpack.

And what software?

For most of my coding, I use vim in a terminal window. I mostly debug by thinking and with print statements. I couldn't get the job done without the many of the Unix text processing commands such as grep, sed, diff, sort and awk. My go-to language for processing big buckets of data is Python. I use gnuplot for quick data plots, and use graphviz for visualizing graphs and networks. For back-end webserver stuff, I use CherryPy. I may have 50 different servers running on a machine, so I use Pound as a reverse proxy to send client requests to the correct server.

For web work, I typically rely on jQuery, Underscore and Bootstrap for DOM sanity. I'll use Raphaƫl for drawing on the 2D canvas and Three.js when I want to get all 3 dimensional. For playing music in my apps I rely on the Rdio API and the Web Audio API. I use Audacity and ffmpeg for audio processing.

Although I tend to avoid using IDEs I will use Xcode when writing for iOS and Netbeans when writing Java. I use GitHub for source control since that's what all the cool kids are using nowadays. I deploy my web apps to S3 using Amazon's S3 tools.

For organizing hackathons, I use Eventbrite for ticketing and registration and Hacker League for managing the event. I use Wordpress to host my blog.

What would be your dream setup?

My current setup is pretty close to my dream setup already. I like to have everything I need to code with me at all times so I don't need a big desktop machine or display. However, my 17" laptop is too big to use on a plane, so having an 11" or 13" MacBook Air for those times would pretty nifty.