Egg Freckles
By Thomas Brand

Setup

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 spend time behind the Genius Bar. Today I work at MIT, and run up hills for fun.

What hardware do you use?

  • I built a 4.9 GHz i7-9700 Hackintosh for home. My ideal Mac desktop has expandable storage, discrete graphics, and comes in a case no larger than ten liters. I appreciate the ability to quickly add terabytes of low-cost solid state storage to my computer. Discrete graphics allow me to play my favorite games at improved quality, and at seven liters my Mac desktop is the same size as most home video game consoles.
  • I use a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro “Escape” for work at the office and on the road. Performance is not as important for me in a Mac portable. If I need more performance I can always remote back into my Mac desktop at home. Thin and light is the way to go, and Apple’s Stella battery life and glass surfaced Magic Trackpad keeps me buying MacBooks.
  • In my pocket I carry an iPhone 7 named “Courage” connected to T-Mobile’s “legendary” $30 a month unlimited data plan. I buy all of my iPhones and MacBook Pros refurbished from Apple.com. I wish my iPhone 7 had better battery life and USB Type-C charging. I still miss the headphone jack.
  • On my wrist I wear a Timex Ironman when I am running and a Omega Seamaster 2531.80 Chronometer when I am not.
  • I traded in my Apple Extended Keyboard for a Das Ultimate S — the Darth Vader of mechanical keyboards
  • My MessagePad 130 rarely leaves my desk these days, but remains my favorite Newton.

And what software?

  • I split my time evenly between Mac OS, Windows, and Unix
  • I write all of my email, code, and prose in Vim.
  • Through the power of MOSH and a FreeBSD server I take my Vim environment with me everywhere I go.
  • Vim’s undo branches are my poor man’s version control system.
  • I read email in Alpine, RSS in Fever°, and HTML in Brave. Everything else I send to Instapaper
  • Images are edited in Acorn, compressed in ImageOptim, and published to the web via Fetch.

What would be your dream setup?

I started my career in graphic design because I fell in love with the Mac. Today I value the freedom to choose my own platform. Choice keeps me interested in technology.