Hi! Tell us about who you are and what you do.
I’m Chris, a software engineer based in the UK.
I worked in finance for seventeen years, but recently left to join a startup. 100% WFH has changed my life for the better. I now get to see my young son in the evenings; I avoid a three-hour-daily commute and save £5,000 in annual train fares to London.
Back in 2013 I took a year out of work to teach myself Scala. I built a rentals marketplace website as a pet project to focus my learning. The website didn’t work out, but learning Scala reinvigorated my love of coding, and gave me a marketable new skill.
Seventeen years ago I built an online caption contest which I still run, and I’m currently converting its tens of thousands of lines of PHP code into Scala/ReactJS.
What is your hardware setup?
I have a couple of high-spec silent Linux PCs built by QuietPC. One of them has 128GB of RAM, and hosts a large (100M+ nodes, 1B+ connections) graph database in memory for a personal project I’m working on called “journo bot,” which can classify tweets in real-time for a given topic or local area of interest.
For my day job I have an M1 Macbook Pro, which is astonishingly fast. Having been forced to use Windows PCs throughout my time in finance, it’s an absolute joy to finally use MacOS and Mac hardware for career-related purposes
The monitors are Dell Ultrasharps: two 32" screens and a 49". The ultra-wide format is perfect for development work. I can have my IDE in the centre of my field of vision (rather than the pair of bezels that I used to have with a two-monitor setup), and apps, docs, log files and terminals in the periphery.
And what are the favorite items in your workspace?
Herman Miller Aeron chair - it is the king of ergonomic chairs, and has a vented seat and back-rest which is great in the summer. An AEG portable A/C helps, too, but is pretty noisy.
High-impedance headphones (Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pros) and a quality headphone amp (Marantz HD-DAC1) do magical things with high-res audio from my iPhone.
Any favorite programs/apps/tools?
IntelliJ is my go-to IDE. Always evolving. Great ecosystem of plugins. Great in nearly all major programming languages and database management.
ReactJS makes web development fun. I added a drag-and-drop photo upload feature (powered by FilePond) to my caption contest site the other day, and it was trivially easy to wire in.
I use Barrier as software KVM (allowing me to move my mouse pointer seamlessly across the monitors despite them being plugged into separate machines)
Behind me, I have another Macbook Pro rigged up to an 88-key MIDI controller keyboard, running Keyscape, a software synth. I’d recommend this if you’re into classic electric pianos (watch this amazing demo video and you’ll see what I mean).
Is there anything you are missing in your setup?
I’d like to have a couple of wall-mounted TVs for Grafana.
I use Grafana to track everything I can - all the usual PC stats, plus temperature and CO2 levels across the house (using Raspberry Pis), the value of my home and investments, the progress of my social media bots.
What book comes to your mind that you would like others to read?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Don’t be put off by the fact it’s a self-help book. It focuses on building a character ethic that is universal and timeless. A unique and worthwhile read.