Uses This


What do people use to get the job done?

Waldo Jaquith
Photo by David Kidd.

Waldo Jaquith

Designer, developer, director (U.S. Open Data)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Waldo Jaquith, and I make data be more available to the world at U.S. Open Data, as a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow. I'm a software developer, designer, and writer. My work is largely about helping governments work more effectively with each other and with the private sector, by getting them to make their data holdings public. I live in Charlottesville, Virginia with my wife, young son, and a small menagerie of animals.

What hardware do you use?

Most of my work is done on a late 2013 13” Retina MacBook Pro (late 2013 model) hooked up to a basic 24” Dell LCD. I also maintain a home office where I use a 27” Retina iMac (which I just bought recently, upgrading from a 2009 iMac), with 32 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. On both I use an Apple keyboard and mouse, plus an Apple trackpad on the iMac. I also manage to get a surprising amount of work done on my iPhone 6.

My home file server is a Synology DiskStation DS414, with 8 TB of storage. (Well, 4 TB. The other 4 TB is to back up the first 4 TB.) I use a 1 TB Western Digital Passport drive to maintain an offsite backup of my most important data.

I love my ScanSnap S1300i document scanner, which I use to digitize any paper that comes into the house, so that I can toss the paper but keep the information. I'm also using it to gradually scan in the thousands of physical photos that I've taken over the years.

All of this is powered with an array of 14 280-watt SolarWorld Sunmodule solar panels, and a corresponding number of Enphase M250 microinverters. I track my home's power generation and consumption with a Raspberry Pi 2, and I use that to adjust my Nest thermostat, basically using my house's temperature as a huge battery.

My everyday carry includes a Uniball Vision Fine pen, a Spyderco Native 5, a YubiKey 4, and a PowerGen 5200mAh USB battery pack, in a Jandd Gabriel messenger bag that I bought in 1995 for which they unwisely included a lifetime warranty.

And what software?

My core desktop software is Chrome, iTerm2, Transmit, Tweetbot, GitHub Desktop, MacDown, IRCCloud, and Slack, all of which I run basically at all times. I manage all of my passwords in 1Password. Unable to stomach continuing to pay Adobe for Photoshop upgrades, I've switched to Pixelmator for image editing.

I was a BBEdit guy for years and years, but that's kind of stagnated, so I'm trying Sublime Text on my laptop while keeping BBEdit on my desktop. There's no tool more central to my work than my code editor, and the switch isn't going well.

For video processing - which I do a lot of, to open legislative video - I use RipIt and MPEG Streamclip.

For office applications, I vacillate between using Pages and Numbers on the desktop, and just using Google Docs.

I run both ImageAlpha and ImageOptim easily a dozen times a day. I don't let an leave my computer - whether to share in Slack, post to Twitter, or as a design element on a website - without optimizing it.

For a long time I managed photos in Aperture, but since that was EOLed, I've decided to trust Apple, and jumped to their new Photos app. Happily, that coincided with me having a kid and no longer having the time to shoot RAW and fiddle with each photo.

I manage my life in Calendar, Reminders, and iMessage.

For security while traveling, I use TunnelBlick to connect to OpenVPN, running on an EC2 instance.

On my servers, I lean heavily on PHP, Python, Apache, MySQL, SQLite, and Elasticsearch. I'm a big fan of mod_pagespeed, which magically optimizes my websites' assets. Pushover has been great for allowing my software to tell me when something unexpected or important has happened.

What would be your dream setup?

I have sporadic need for substantial computing power, and it sure would be nice to be able to lease computing power on the fly for automatic offloading of RAM or processor-intensive tasks from my personal computer, as a native function of the OS. A new office chair would be great - mine is falling apart. I'd like to have twice as much desk space at home, so I'd have project space. Gigabit at home and work would be awfully nice, too.