Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Zach Beane

Zach Beane

Developer (Common Lisp, Quicklisp)

Posted in developer, linux, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Zach Beane. I work on Common Lisp and homestead projects. My most popular project is Quicklisp, a library manager for Common Lisp.

What hardware do you use?

For working with Common Lisp, I use a 2016 13" MacBook Pro, sometimes with an external 27" 4K monitor. For building Quicklisp I have a homebuilt Linux server with lots of memory and a fast SSD running virtual machines.

For homestead projects, I use a John Deere 1070 tractor with some attachments: a FransgÄrd V-4000 logging winch, a Valby/Normet CH150 wood chipper, a John Deere Model 3 wood splitter, a Land Pride RTR1872 rotary mower, a Bush Hog FM72 flail mower, and a Tartan/CountyLine rototiller. I make lumber and other sawn wood products with a Thomas 6013 bandsaw mill. I fell trees and buck logs with a Husqvarna 365 chainsaw. Sometimes I use a smaller 435 for lighter jobs or as backup.

And what software?

I've used the same core software for many years: GNU Emacs, a web browser (currently Safari), and xterm. These translate pretty well to any environment, but I've used Mac laptops for 20 years so I run them on Mac.

When writing Common Lisp code I use the SBCL implementation of Common Lisp. It produces fast machine code and has a big community of users and is actively developed. I deploy most of my Lisp code on Debian Linux servers, fronted by nginx proxies and static asset servers.

For Quicklisp hosting and distribution I use AWS S3 and CloudFront.

I used Wunderlist for a few years for todo list tracking, but Microsoft bought it and turned it into Microsoft To Do, so now I use that.

Within Emacs, I use SLIME and ParEdit for writing Lisp. I'd like to try SLY as a replacement to SLIME but haven't been able to commit the time to switching. I take notes with Org mode but I feel like I'm only scratching the surface of its functionality. I manage checkouts with Magit.

I keep various seasonal journals in Google Docs - tracking my goals and progress for firewood management, orchard management, and maple syrup production.

What would be your dream setup?

I really like my current setup and I'm blessed with a lot of nice tools and toys. So all this stuff is certainly dream territory, not stuff I truly need. With that said...

Computer hardware wishlist:

  • Newer, faster laptop
  • Rack of quiet, fast Linux servers

Software wishlist:

  • xterm 7x14 font with emojis and better glyph coverage in general and XQuartz that understands multiple displays OR
  • iTerm2 that exactly replicates xterm (then I could ditch XQuartz/xterm) without constant little missing parts that trip me up
  • Multiple profile support in Safari (the one thing I miss from Chrome)
  • Tight Common Lisp/Mac interaction and integration that compares to the old MCL capabilities or Symbolics systems; not merely nostalgic emulation but supporting modern, native-style applications that are Lispy all the way down. Maybe it's not possible...

Homestead hardware wishlist:

  • Bigger tractor - something in the 50-60HP range like a 4052M
  • Smaller tractor for cultivation like a Farmall Cub
  • Mini-excavator for digging and ditching
  • Newer Husqvarna saw in the 70cc class - something like the 572 XP
  • Fancier sawmill with hydraulics and a trailer package, like a Wood-Mizer LT35
  • A big barn to store everything under cover

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