Egg Freckles
Notes from my Newton



The following interview was inspired by The Setup, a collection of nerdy interviews, asking people from all walks of life about the hardware and software they use.

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Thomas Brand. I dropped out of art school to spent time behind the Genius Bar. Today I work at MIT. When I am not writing about technology I am running up hills for fun.

What hardware do you use?

I build my own small form-factor gaming PCs. I use them for a couple of months and then sell them for the cost of the parts. Building a gaming PC is about as difficult as putting together a box a Lego. Researching, buying, and assembling PC components keep me interested in technology.

I use low-cost netbooks for travel. Cheap enough I don't have to worry about losing them. Powerful enough to run a web browser and a terminal. I would love to try an iPad running iOS as my travel computer, but I am hopelessly tied to the command line, keyboard, and file system.

I traded in my Apple Extended Keyboard for a Das Keyboard Ultimate S. Its blank keys and Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches have made me a better typist.

I have a iPhone SE in my pocket, a Newton MessagePad 130 at my side, and a Apple Watch Series 2 on my wrist. I pay $30 a month to T-Mobile for unlimited data without a contract to keep my devices connected.

When I want to go for a walk I slip on my Omega Seamaster 300M Chronometer and go for a walk.

And what software?

Apple doesn't prioritize the Mac the same way they once did. I switched to Fedora after Mac OS X Mavericks and never looked back. Fedora's Gnome 3 GUI is beautiful, but I often find myself in dwm or Openbox staring at a terminal.

Everything I write I write in VIM; email, code, and prose. Through the power of MOSH and a hosted server I can take my writing environment with me everywhere I go. VIM's persistent undo is my poor man's version control system.

I read email in Alpine, RSS in Fever°, and HTML in SeaMonkey or surf. Everything else I send to Instapaper.

The GIMP has replaced Photoshop for me. Macromedia FreeHand remains my favorite vector drawing app. But I am hopelessly locked into Adobe Lightroom 3 and its DMG file format. Luckily for me all three run pretty well in a VirtualBox virtual machine.

What would be your dream setup?

I started a career in graphic design because I wanted to work with Macintosh. Today, I value the freedom to choose my own computer. Choice is what keeps me interested in technology.