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1281 interviews since 2009

A picture of Terra Field

Terra Field

Developer, activist

in developer, linux, mac, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hello! I'm Terra (she/her). I'm a Systems Engineer (mostly working on Hadoop/Kafka/"Big Data") by trade, though recently my life has been more occupied by "trans activism" which is what they call it when you're trans and get really mad about something on Twitter.

I live in San Francisco, CA with my partners and our cats, though I am still a Jersey Girl at heart. I mostly play video games (Destiny 2, FF14, Pokémon Shining Pearl, and Metroid Dread at the moment) and watch YouTube cooking shows when not working.

What hardware do you use?

Previously I split my time between a personal iMac Pro and a work MacBook Pro. Since I recently left my job, I decided it was time to consolidate. I traded in my iMac Pro for an MacBook Pro 14" (M1 Max/64GB RAM/2TB SSD) and I have to say this is the best computer I've ever owned. I've never been a fan of laptops as a primary computing device because I'm forever pushing up against their thermal limits, but the new Apple Silicon has really changed my mind. I don't feel like I'm sacrificing anything for portability anymore.

As for peripherals, I've got a ThunderBolt dock at my work desk in our office and at my desk in our game room. I use a Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. When I'm at my work desk the dock is connected to two Dell U2720QM monitors that I run at an effective resolution of 2560 * 1440, one in landscape the other in portrait (which is usually where my terminals go) with my MBP on the left on a Rain Design iLevel stand. Three displays is really handy for work since it feels like I always have a Zoom meeting going. I also have a Yeti X Blue microphone on a boom and a pair of AirPods Max at this desk since I do most of my video conferencing from my work desk.

When I'm at my other desk (where I do most of my personal writing) I connect to a single HP Z27k G3 monitor also running at 2560 * 1440, with my MBP in clamshell mode on a Rain Design mStand.

To the right of that is my Windows gaming PC that I've built and upgraded over the years. Current specs are: an Intel i7 8700K overclocked to 5GHz, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, Asus Prime Z390-A motherboard, various NVMe and SATA SSDs to hold all the video games I barely have the time to play, an EVGA Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3 that I bought at a local shop last year (and could never have guessed that paying MSRP for it would seem like such a bargain now), a Corsair RM850x PSU, a Noctua NH-D15S CPU cooler, all living in a Fractal Design Define 7 XL case that was a dream to work with.

When gaming, I use a ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ 27" 4K 144Hz G-SYNC monitor. I switch between HyperX Cloud Alpha headphones and a Corsair SP2500 2.1 speaker set I've had since 2011. I use a Leopold Tenkeyless keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches and a Logitech G502 wireless mouse running on a PowerPlay charging mat.

As for portable gaming, I have a Nintendo Switch that I use around the house (we have a few docks) and a Switch Lite that I use on the go (because it is pink and it fits in my purse). The Nintendo Cloud syncing works a lot better than I expected.

Last, in our garage we have a small rack that has a couple HP 290-P0043W with Intel Celeron G4900 CPUs, 32GB of RAM, and cheap NVMe SSDs. These run Ubuntu 20.04 and have a bunch of Docker containers for things like Plex for hosting video files and Homebridge for connecting non-HomeKit devices to HomeKit. We have a Synology DS1813+ in there as well with a DX513 expansion unit that we store media on and use as a target for Time Machine backups as well as btrfs snapshots.

And what software?

On my Mac I use iTerm2 and tmux with a 6-pane setup and multiple windows. Every few months things become unruly and I declare tmux bankruptcy and start my session over. I do all of my shell editing in neovim, my GUI editing in Sublime Text 4, and for bigger Python or Scala projects I use IntelliJ. I use pyenv to manage my Python environments. Most of my ops work happens in the cloud, but when I do need an actual local Linux environment I either use the VMWare Fusion M1 Technical Preview to spin up an Ubuntu VM, or ssh into one of the boxes in our rack. For browsing, I still use Chrome. I miss Lynx.

As for writing, I do most of my writing in Ulysses. I love that I can just have an idea, jot it down in Ulysses on my phone, and it'll show up on my Mac later when I go to write. Sometimes I even remember what the note I left myself meant!

For gaming, I use Windows 11 (I tend to be an early adopter, I just can't help but click the update button when offered). I still use Sublime for all my Windows text editing (mostly AutoHotkey and PowerShell scripts). I use Nvidia's ShadowPlay feature to capture my various gaming hijinks.

No matter which platform I'm on, I use a billion different chat/social media apps to keep in touch with folks. Twitter, Telegram, and Signal are probably my most used. I do miss the days when contacts showing up on Telegram just meant they were furries, now I have to determine if the person I haven't talked to since 2007 but still had in my contacts is a furry or a nazi. Lame.

What would be your dream setup?

Honestly, I'm pretty sure I have it. I've always wanted a single laptop that I could do all of my work on no matter where I am and now I have that and the only thing I have to do when I get home is plug in a single cable and pick up right where I left off. It is lovely.