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 am a System Administrator at MIT. When I am not writing about technology I am running up hills for fun.
What hardware do you use?
I build small form-factor PCs for gaming, and buy low-cost netbooks for writing and coding on the go. AMD lets me break the rules and overclock my CPU, while any affordable laptop with a half-decent keyboard will do. I traded in my Apple Extended Keyboard for a Das Keyboard Ultimate S. Its blank keys and Cherry MX Blue mechanical key switches have made me a better typist.
I have a iPhone SE in my pocket. I appreciate its small size, and functional style. T-Mobile gives me unlimited data and 100 minutes of voice for $30 a month without a contract.
On my desk there is a Newton MessagePad. I use it for taking notes and distraction free writing. At the end of the day I email my notes back to my computer over WiFi.
On my wrist I wear a Omega Seamaster 300M Chronometer. It makes me feel like James Bond, and never runs out of batteries. My Apple Watch Series 2 lasts all day except when I am running a three hour marathon.
And what software?
I switched to Fedora after Mac OS X Mavericks and never looked back. Apple doesn't prioritize the Mac the same way they once did. Fedora's Gnome 3 GUI is beautiful and as close to Mac OS as you are going to get without paying the "Apple Tax." When I don't need the power of Gnome I use dwm on my netbook.
GIMP has replaced Photoshop for me. Macromedia FreeHand is my preferred vector drawing app, but Inkscape is great for SVG. I remain hopelessly locked into Adobe Lightroom 3 and its DMGt file format. Luckily both Lightroom and FreeHand run pretty well in a VirtualBox virtual machine.
On my iPhone I spend my time between the following apps.
- Firefox Focus for browsing
- Overcast for podcasts
- Terminus for MOSH on iOS
- Textastic for text editing
- Twitterrific for tweets
- Unread for RSS
It will be a long time before iOS replaces my PC.
What would be your dream setup?
I started a career in graphic design because I wanted to work with Macs. Today I value the freedom to choose my computer. Choice keeps technology interesting.