Uses This

1279 interviews since 2009

A picture of Ubi De Feo
Image by Federico Gatto.

Ubi De Feo

Creative technologist

in developer, mac, technologist

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Ubaldo, but ever since I moved outside of Italy I switched to "Ubi", so people know me as "Ubi De Feo".

I am one of those folks who began coding in the 80's and never thought it'd be a job one day. When I found myself programming websites in the late 90's it still failed to hit me. Now, at 45, I believe I can say this: "Computers and technology are somewhat related to the fact I can afford a house and food".

Now, at 45, I still don't know what I am: programmer, engineer, craftman, baker (the first 3 somehow put food on my table).

I dropped out of university very early, because I couldn't find my way, but at the same time got back into computers and that's what ended up shaping my career, my hobbies and my life.

I currently live in Amsterdam where I have worked in advertising as a technologist.

After many years running my own show as an independent creative technology studio for Nokia, Heineken, Nike and many other brands, I have recently accepted a (remote) job for Arduino with a non-specified role working across functional teams and business units.

I began designing some accessory boards and then moved to being an all-purpose designer/coder/maker.

This gives me chance to interact with designers, engineers, coders and educators.

What hardware do you use?

This might turn out to be a black-hole, so I'll try and keep it simple. I already know I'll fail miserably.

My daily driver is a MacBook Pro 13" with the butterfly keyboard, and in 3 years I never had a failing key. This might be due to the fact that since the age of 10 I have been a trained typist. I was also a telex operator in the Navy for a year.

In my backpack you'll also find one of the first iPad Pro 12.9", which I absolutely adore but don't use enough.

Also always with me a couple of Raspberry Pi because... you never know.

At home I use an eGPU because I have the need to use 3D CAD and the 13" doesn't come with a discrete graphic card (meh!).

When I'm not on the move (which happens way too often for my taste) I am in my studio and there I run a Hackintosh with a ton of cores and 64GB of RAM.

I followed a guide on TonymacX86 which allowed me to have a fully working machine including 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports.

This sort of happened because Apple didn't make a computer for me: I run a BlackMagic capture card for 4K video and a graphic card which I like to update every now and then. Not long ago Apple finally released the new Mac Pro, which will be one of the things I'll spend money on very soon.

I'm very happy with the Hackintosh, but I want the real deal <3

For HDMI recording purposes I also use a MageWell USB Capture card.

On the desktop I use a Microsoft Precision Mouse and a 3dConnexion Space Navigator (now called SpaceMouse but it's NOT a mouse).

I also have a portable Space Navigator to use at home and on the move.

You won't believe how much this little device changes your way to work in 3D.

Most of the video stuff I work on is controlled by an Elgato Stream Deck XL which is a magical device (I own two).

As video camera I have a Sony a6400 with a couple lenses and a bunch of LED lights, microphones, tripod, etc.

That was about the computers I use, but the most important hardware for me is what I use to work on electronics and microcontrollers.

I have been using Arduino boards and other hardware for the past 12 years (I also teach Physical Computing), so I have plenty of toys all over the place, but since I began working for Arduino my stock of original hardware has expanded beyond reason.

My favourite tools for electronics are

A lot more stuff I either have in the lab or carry around with me. You never know you need to debug a microcontroller's firmware in an airport or at the Saturday market.

Ubi wathing his 3D printer working.

In my lab you can also find an Ultimaker 2 3D printer and a Shapeoko XL CNC machine (with Suckit Dust Boot) which I spend a lot of time on.

In the future I'm planning to start a wood-working workshop but for now I'll spare you the rest of the tools I have which can be considered "hardware."

And what software?

Well... brace yourselves for this one.

I run macOS Mojave. I always stay one release behind because Apple finds ways to ruin it for me every time they have the chance.

My most used application is probably iTerm2 version 3 (way to confuse people). I run a fully customised ZSH environment with configuration scripts spread across machines. I use Prezto and PowerLevel10k (much faster than PowerLevel9k) as my configuration setup for the shell.

Homebrew is my package manager of choice and it helps with all the stuff I need in my shell and more.

Slack is constantly open for work, and I recently began switching to Visual Studio Code as an all-purpose editor, but I still believe Sublime Text is better and less confusing.

Writing code is not my primary activity, but I still write quite a lot of text in several languages.

Two main applications have recently merged, but I'll still list them as separate for respect towards legacy:

I use(d) these two to design 3D objects for printing/machining and to design/engineer electronic PCB (Printed Circuit Boards).

Ubi's CAD plan for his Arduino-based synth. Ubi's Arduino-based synth.

As browser/mail I use Apple's stock apps Safari and Mail, they work well and don't make me desire more.

For news reading (I follow over 50 blogs using RSS feeds) I use News Explorer which is from a Dutch developer and works very well. I have been a user of NetNewsWire for years but it changed way too many owners before it went back into the hands of Brent Simmons but don't feel the urge to just go back yet.

Spotify is pretty much always open, and so is Quiver, which is what I use to write notes, including this text. It supports Markdown, LaTeX, code formatting in multiple languages and diagrams. Worth a look.

I then have a plethora of mini-apps and utilities which run in the background: Techtool Pro, Hazel, CleanMyMac, CleanMyDrive, ShiftIt, 1Password, Dropbox (gosh! I can't get rid of this one, I wish it was like it used to be) and iMazing for my iDevices backups, management and so on. Yes, I still do stuff offline (if you want to interview me about obsessive compulsive behaviour we can run another session another time).

For my video capture, screencasts and internal material I run OBS with a bunch of add-ons including Python scripts for MIDI controllers and WebSocket based control software. Of course the Stream Deck handles all the scene controls and transitions.

I'd stop here, because otherwise I might incur into a data transfer tax. If you're still reading at this point, I guess we might be friends... Wait... I don't have friends...

What would be your dream setup?

As I mentioned I plan on buying a Mac Pro this year, and I think I want to replace some of my electronics tools.

Possibly a JBC soldering/rework station, but that costs more than a Mac Pro so I'll have to see.

Also this year I plan on setting up my wood-working shop so I see a lot of power-tools such as a table saw, miter saw, router table, sanders, and so on and so forth.

Of course I can't stop working on electronics and using computers, so since saw-dust and fine electronics don't get along very well (especially those Butterfly keyboards, they say) I'm planning on moving my delicate operations into another room of the building I rent a studio from so I can keep all my working activities within reach.

I'm lucky enough to rent a space in this amazing building in Amsterdam called "Da Vinci Creatieve Ruimtes" (Da Vinci Creative Spaces), which is full of artisans, designers, crafters and musicians.

The atmosphere is great, but so is Amsterdam.

I really hope my dream comes true, and I can become a furniture designer/maker at some point in my life.

Hope you're still reading...