Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Jack Chen

Jack Chen

Software developer (Ferocia)

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hey! My name is Jack Chen, but I'm mostly known as 'chendo' on and off the internet. I love solving problems, building products, and working with technology.

I build things at Ferocia, currently building a new digital-first banking experience named Up. Before that, I was the CTO of a telemedicine startup, and built the cloud backend for connected lighting at LIFX.

For fun, I like to build things, go fast in go karts, and play video games. My usual creative outlet is photography.

Some of the things I've made that you may have encountered:

I have a keen interest in human-machine interfaces and am especially looking forward to thought-based control when they become a thing (and iron out security issues!).

What hardware do you use?

My primary machine is a 15" MacBook Pro with the controversial TouchBar. I kind of like it, but it desperately needs haptic feedback.

I always have my iPhone 6s with me, and I usually wear my Apple Watch S0 assuming I don't forget to charge it the night before.

At work, I use a LG UltraFine 5K display with my MacBook Pro open. Sound isolation is provided by a pair of Bose QC35s.

For desktop gaming, I went a little overboard and put together a i7 6700k, 32GB RAM, GTX 1080, a bunch of SSDs encased in Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX with tempered glass sides. I have a Logitech G910 keyboard (which I'm kinda meh about) and a SteelSeries Rival 310 for input devices. My headset is a SteelSeries Arctis 7.

I have a Nintendo Switch, Xbox One S and Steam Link for living room gaming.

I enjoy toying with home automation. I use LIFX lights for general lighting and basic information emitters. I have the Hello Sense for sleep tracking and environmental sensors, and I reverse-engineered their API to push sensor data into Datadog for monitoring and dashboards. I have a Google Home for voice control, but find the grammar for light control rather limiting.

For energy monitoring, I have a Smappee energy monitor, and I push this data into Datadog for monitoring to have alerts set up for abnormal sustained usage.

Data is stored on a Synology DS2415+ with mostly WD Red drives, with an SSD cache. Routing of 100/40mbit internet is done by an ASUS RT-AC68U running AdvancedTomato for improved bandwidth limiting and QoS, with bandwidth and latency data pushed into Datadog for monitoring.

I recently picked up a Sony a7r ii as an upgrade to my old Panasonic GH2 and absolutely love it. I also have a GoPro HERO5 Black for go karting and occasional snowboarding.

And what software?

The basics:

Development tools:

I use BetterTouchTool to set my heavily-used global shortcuts for my most commonly used apps for idempotent shortcuts that require minimal cognitive overhead. Usage stats show I average about 500 invocations on the average work day!

For photography, I used to use Aperture but am experimenting with Picktorial.

What would be your dream setup?

If we somehow ended up in a world where human-machine interfaces were secure, I'd love to have bionic eyeballs, the ability to naturally invoke mental commands, external memory storage, a thought augmentation engine and my own AI agent -- kind of like Clippy, but less annoying.

Otherwise, I guess I'd settle for unobtrusive high-resolution augmented reality glasses that cover my entire vision with built-in eye tracking. It would run an intent-centric shell of my own design. If safe thought control was viable, I'd use that. If not, positional input would be through eye tracking, and high bandwidth input would be a chorded split keyboard if I was able to learn to use that at an effective speed.

I'd be sitting in some sort of zero gravity chair for minimal stress on the body. Ideally though, I'd love to be able to upload myself to the internet so I can be everywhere and live forever!