We’re regular readers of The Setup. We really like it. We like it so much that we’re doing a local version for the Lab. Matt is up first.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Matt Phillips.
I work in the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. I try to make libraries better, usually by writing software.
What hardware do you use?
While at the Lab, most of my work happens on an i3, 21.5” iMac. I have a second 24” Acer monitor sitting next to it. I use an Apple Magic Mouse and a 109 key Apple keyboard. Pretty vanilla.
When I’m not in the office I use an i5, 15” Mac Book Pro. I love this machine.
We have a few Dell PowerEdge machines sitting in a closet upstairs we use for testing, data crunching, and to serve up our public site. We also have a couple of Amazon EC2 instances we use for Library News and a skunkworks project.
That’s the bigger hardware.
My head spends about a third of its day wrapped in Sennheiser HD 515 headphones.
I occasionally break out of the digital world and scratch things out on paper. This usually happens when I’m trying to architect a piece of system or I’m working through some tough logic. I’ve found that I really like strips of paper for drawing out ideas. 8.5” x 11” pieces cut lengthwise are perfect.
Rollerball pens are my go to.
Paper also enters my workspace when I’m proofing a draft of a blog entry or something that I think might reach more than a handful friendly people. Paper and pen are so easy to use. They require very little cognitive overhead. They let you focus on the content and not the tools.
I have a first generation iPad and a third generation Kindle, but I rarely use them. If I want to do computer stuff, I use my laptop. If I want to read a book, I’m generally on paper. I’m not a paper fetishist, it’s just that my library generally lends me non-digital items.
My iPhone 4s gets regular use during the day. I use it for music and for quick pictures and videos.
And what software?
Most of my day is spent in OS X. When I’m working on one of our servers, I’m in CentOS, some Redhat somethignororther, or Ubuntu.
I rely heavily on Quicksilver for application launching.
I have a whole bunch of different user accounts and API keys. I use Keychain to keep track of them.
I manage myself using lists. Lately, I’ve been hot on Trello.
Chrome is the browser I prefer. I’ve bolstered Chrome with the JSONView plugin, the Google Screen Capture plugin, the Readable bookmarklet, the AdBlock plugin, and the Instapaper bookmarklet.
I spend most of my development time in PyDev (which is a Python centric bundling of Eclipse).
We track code using git and push almost all work to GitHub. We use GitHub Issues for project management. We really dig GitHub in the lab.
GitHub encourages Markdown for READMEs and the like. When I write Markdown, I use Jon Combe’s online editor.
Spotify for tunes.
I use Skype and IRC to communicate with those outside the office. IRC happens through Colloquy.
I like to check the weather to see if I’ll be able to spin the bicycle around for a few miles after work. I’m into WeatherSpark for forecasts.
What would be your dream setup?
I could go wild with the dream setup, but I feel like bounding it a bit. Here’s what I think might be feasible in a couple years with a generous office budget.
I want a really great laptop. A third generation, i7, Retina display, 15 inch MacBook Pro. I’d pair it with a 27” Apple Thunderbolt Display. I’d pile all of that on a standing/sitting desk.
I’d also create an ideal office space. No office mates. A glass wall that insulates sound very well. I want to be able to see what’s going on in the common work areas and I want people to see that they can get me if needed, but I don’t want the noise when I’m focusing. I’m sold on the Joel Spolsky office setup.
Quick access to great coffee and water would be nice too.