Thanks to the awesome folks @ UsesThis – we are continuing our interviews of awesome designers, developers, and technologists. Here’s another great one:
Game designer, technologist (Hide and Seek)
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m a game designer and technologist at Hide and Seek. Prior to this, I was a creative technologist at Berg for two years. I design games and make stuff on the internet. I run a blog called Infovore, where I write about design, technology, culture, and games. I like making toys on the web – most notably on Twitter, where amongst other things, I gave London’s Tower Bridge an account.
What hardware are you using?
2.4ghz 13” Macbook Pro, one of the last Core 2 Duos, 4gb ram, 500gb hard disk. I would have loved an i5, but this suits me just fine – it was more important to get it when I did, rather than spend another six months waiting for a 13” i5.
At work and home I use the same monitor – a Benq E2220HD. It’s nothing fancy – just a 22”, 1080p TN panel – but I like the way its panel looks, and I like that it has two HDMI sockets as well as a USB hub: means I can plug consoles into it at work, and makes for fewer cables when I dock the laptop. I’m very much a one-computer person. I’ve tried juggling multiple computers before, and it just drove me mad, and still would even with tools like Dropbox. One computer, one inbox, everything’s a lot simpler.
I use a cabled Apple keyboard at work and home, because I really like the feel of the low-profile keyboards, but also because I use the numeric pad a lot. For pointing, a Logitech VX Nano travels back and forth with me. I recently got a Wacom Bamboo tablet, which has changed my life in Lightroom and other graphics programs – super comfortable, very natural. I wouldn’t go back to using a mouse for those tasks for the world.
I’ve got a 1 Terabyte external FireWire 800 drive for storing the remainder of my Lightroom library, big media, that sort of thing. I also mirror my internal drive about once a week to an external USB drive. That’s my backup policy: a bootable mirror, and enough other stuff in the cloud (via Gmail, version control, Dropbox and similar).
I have an iPhone 4. It’s very good. I’m annoyed I had to upgrade my iPhone 3G which was effectively end-of-lifed in the last iOS update (and both very slow and afflicted with some nasty bugs – which won’t ever be fixed now). But the new phone is great, and its camera is superb.
Things that are not quite so computer-related: a Nikon D90 and a bag of interesting (and less interesting) lenses. A Yashica Electro 35 for shooting film.
And what software?
I’m currently moving to MacVim for writing code, and after an initial learning curve, I’m really liking it.
For longer writing – articles, big blog posts, fiction (whisper it quietly) – I adoreScrivener. I’m a very structural writer; I plan in chunks, re-organise, and only finally yank disparate threads together – so its corkboard metaphor fits my brain nicely. It’s a great app, and makes it lovely to watch your work come together.
I do 95% of everything to do with my photographs in Lightroom, which I’ve used since 1.0. Again, it totally fits my brain, in terms of how I process images: roughly what you could do in a real-world darkroom, if you had a bit more patience than me. I like its cataloguing and support for multiple drives, and the fact that most things I do to picture are now in a single application. I don’t think I’m going to give it up anytime soon.
I use Launchbar as a launcher. I was a Quicksilver diehard for years, but really, the stability (or lack of it) got to me. Launchbar is now very good indeed, and because it’s paid for, at least I know I can expect support. I don’t just use it as a spotlight replacement; I really like the noun/verb syntax Quicksilver had and Launchbar implements to a degree.
Backup is handled by cloning my drive with Superduper. I can’t recommend Superduper enough; it’s unsexy, but swift, well-designed, and nothing beats a bootable clone for disaster recovery, really.
In the menu bar: Bowtie for putting songs on my desktop; Stay for handling screen layouts as I change monitors; Dropbox, of course. Skitch is very handy for quickly flinging images up to the web, with minor edits – useful for previewing photos, or discussing screengrabs. Fantastical tells me the date, and shows me calendars in a nice manner.
I use Things across both Mac and iPhone for task management, which I’m not very good at.
In the shell: macports for package management, mainly because it’s what I’ve used for a while, and I don’t quite have the energy to change just yet (though were I starting again, I’d probably be on homebrew). git, everywhere, for version control, and thus github for storing code.
The usual swiss-army knife stuff in the shell, mainlygrep/awk/xargs/curl/wget/less. Ruby is my primary language, and I use it for everything from websites (in Rails) to tiny command-line toys and utilities. I’m known to write in lots of other things, but Ruby is my native tongue now, and it’s what I return to whenever I have a problem I need to solve. It’s Good Enough, which is what I care about.
What would be your dream setup?
Not far off this one, really. Perhaps a slightly quicker processor and nicer graphics card. I like the 13” form factor, but am too attached to both ports and optical media to go to a Macbook Air. Seriously: I still buy music on CDs. So my main wish would be some way of fitting a small SSD for the OS and Appsalongside a larger drive for storage, on a 13” Macbook Pro. That’d be lovely.
Otherwise: a nice IPS monitor, backup I didn’t have to think about, and wireless sync with my phone. And I don’t want anything I carry to get anyheavier.
Oh, and a Pilot Vanishing Point – other than losing them, I adore fountain pens, and a propelling one would be cracking.
But, short of crazy future-tech, I’m hitting the point where I have everything I need.