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A picture of Shiro Kawai

Shiro Kawai

Programmer, actor

in actor, developer, linux, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Shiro Kawai, a freelance programmer and actor. I was fascinated by programming a hand-made Z80 board computer when I was a kid, and I fell in love with acting while I was in a high-school drama club. After finishing my graduate degree in Tokyo, I moved to the US to work as a programmer on projects such as the video game series Final Fantasy, and the full-CG film "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within".

Alongside the programming, I take acting classes and auditions, and have appeared in some films and on stage. In my spare time, I've been developing a Scheme implementation Gauche.

I've lived in Honolulu for the last couple of decades.

What hardware do you use?

I've assembled my own desktops since the '90s. The current one is a bit dated - a Core i7 quad-core + NVIDIA GTX 1060. A Mac Mini on the side, for OSX gigs and media editing. On trips, I carry ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Several years back I got a 3D printer, a da Vinci Jr. It's a good one for light hobby use. Although it has many limitations, the idea that I can convert electronic data into tangible 3D objects still excites me.

The acting side is pretty analog - these days I self-tape my auditions frequently, but an iPhone with an attachable microphone (RĂ˜DE VideoMic Me) does the job. Adding a tripod (with an iPhone attachment I 3D-printed), a couple of LED lights, and a collapsible background, it pretty much satisfies my needs.

My other hobby is music, but that is also analog; I play the piano (I got a secondhand grand right after I moved to the US before I bought a bed and other furniture. I slept in a sleeping bag for a while with the grand piano as the only furniture in the apartment), and an Indian bamboo flute (Bansuri). I have a digital piano (Technics SX-PX222) to practice at night, though.

And what software?

I've been using Linux and Emacs for my main work since around 1995. Adding Chrome to it, I can do most of my work.

Unless the project requires specific programming environments/languages, I use Gauche for my programming gigs. My second choices are Common Lisp (Allegro CL, if I work with Franz guys) and Clojure; though C++ and Go frequently come in to play.

When I have to edit my self-taped clip, I just use iMovie, plus Audacity to work on audio tracks.

When I need to hack up some 3D objects, I use Blender, but I'm no 3D artist. My teenage son knows Blender a lot better than me.

Oh, I have to mention it: Synergy. It's software to share a keyboard/mouse between Linux, Mac, and Windows machines. With multiple monitors, the mouse cursors travels seamlessly between machines as if I'm using a single machine. It's indispensable.

What would be your dream setup?

I grew up in Tokyo where space was extremely limited, and when I was a kid I always dreamed of living in a house with a workshop - a table saw, a drill stand, a lathe, etc. Now I realize if I had a house I'd have to maintain it, which isn't my forte; living in a condo is convenient and I'm lazy. If I were to make lots of money - enough to hire maintenance people - then yeah, a house with a workshop and a soundproof piano room would be my dream setup.

Other than that, my dreams are mostly in what I'll make, rather than what I'll have.