The Setup — Jonathan Frei

The Setup is a site I have followed for the past few months now. It is a series of interviews of people who make things with computers. Each interview follows the same format asking who they are, about what hardware and software they use to do what they do, and about their dream setup.

I wanted to examine my setup and write my answers to the interview questions. It turns out there is a community of people who have done the same.

So, without further introduction, here’s my ‘The Setup’ interview.

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Jonathan Frei, and I am the digital marketer for NeoGenomics, a genetics cancer testing laboratory.

What hardware are you using?

I have a work-supplied ThinkPad T420i docked to two 20-inch HP monitors. Hooked up to the dock are a basic Logitech keyboard and mouse. Work also supplied me with an iPad 2, which I have extended with a wireless AmazonBasics keyboard

At home, I use a MSI Wind Netbook with Ubuntu 12.04 Alpha and a CR-48 ChromeOS Netbook.

My other main piece of hardware is a third Generation Kindle, on which I do most of my reading. However, I’m slowly moving more of my reading of shorter pieces (non-books) to the iPad.

And what software?

I use Chrome for the web, but I have most of the other major browsers installed for cross-browser testing.

I’m in a corporate environment, so I use Outlook for all my work email. For personal email, Gmail hosts my main address, but I use various apps to use that account based on what machine I am using to login.

I use WriteMonkey for composing Markdown documents; Word for its good grammar checking features; and Notepad++ for editing code. On the iPad, I do most of my writing in iA Writer.

I also use FileZilla for FTP access, and a number of CMSs (EzEdit for Work, Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress for personal projects).

For image editing, I use Photoshop as well as some time in Picasa for simple batch editing. At home, I use Paint.Net because it is free and much simpler to use.

Dropbox is my main app for everything file related because it makes sure my files are “never not everywhere.”

I use Klip.me and Instapaper to send articles, essays, blogs, tutorials, and other reading materials to my Kindle.

What would be your dream setup?

One system. My biggest complaint I have with all of my computers is that there is more than one of them. Compatibility and portability issues make me want to have one doitall machine. I do not want to have to lug things around, but I want the small thing I carry to do everything.

A room of one’s own. The dream system is more than just hardware and software. It is about the space where I do my best work. The dream setup is about finding the perfect space and making the most of it. I would still want a small computer that I can remove from the space but I want that place to be home to everything, and the central place where I work.

Big monitor. I want a 50” retina display monitor on the desk, and a couch facing a wall with a high-resolution projector that can extend what the monitor is displaying. This will give me a desk to work and a space to watch.

Comfy chair. The right chair is another very critical part of the dream setup. I need something I can sit in all day and not feel sore.

Peripherals. Having the right peripherals will also make the computer-ing experience that much more enjoyable. I have heard a lot of about Das Keyboard, and, in full awareness that I have fallen for the marketing, I want the black, mechanical and silent (give me options) versions. I do not know if I would want it to be wireless or wired. Wireless is more flexible, but wired is more responsive, is always available, and does not need batteries changed.

Getting Good. The other half of my dream set up is about me learning how to use a computer better. I consider myself a power user in many regards, but I know I could still take much of what I do to the next level. I want to move closer to being a ‘keyboard only’ user; learn to use the terminal, shell scripts, SSH, and anything else that gets me closer to the inner workings of the machines I love so much; and start programming my own apps.