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299 interviews since 2018

Aaron Patterson

Tenderlove // Ruby & Rails Core Teams

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Aaron Patterson, but I’m better known online as ”tenderlove”. I work for a tiny startup company called GitHub where I am a Level 5 Software Engineer (I am trying to earn more XP so I can level up). I’m on the Rails Core team and the Ruby Core team, so I do development on Ruby an Rails!

What hardware do you use?

Right now I’m running a 2015 13” MacBook Pro, though I’m hoping to upgrade sometime this year. My monitor is a 27” Dell U2718Q, basically just a 4k monitor. I use a Logitech webcam and Apple AirPods for video conferences, and I use a CST Laser Trackball, and an ErgoDox EZ for inputting stuff in to my computer. I also use a GQ GMC-320 for detecting nuclear radiation. I like it because it logs data and I can get the data off it via UART over USB. I own 3 geiger counters, and this one is my favorite (I bought them because I lost some uranium ore in my apartment and wanted to find it).


And what software?

I really only use my computer for 3 things: Programming, chatting online, and surfing the web. For programming I use Vim (my favorite plugin is fugitive!) and regular I use Git for version control, and I’ll program in whatever language I need to get the job done. Preferably that language is Ruby, Scheme, or C. Though, the other day I had to do some Python for lldb!

I’ve been using Vim at work since 1998, and I’m really excited that Vim is finally becoming hip! I don’t have any reason to use except that I try to mostly use Apple’s built-in stuff because it usually just works. For chatting online, I use LimeChat for IRC, Slack for work chat, iMessages, Telegram, and sometimes Skype.

I’m not sure if people still say “surfing the web”, but for surfing the web I use Safari. 😲

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

My daily driver is an ErgoDox EZ with SA caps and Kailh Box Navy switches. It’s taken me way too many keyboards to come up with this setup, but I think I’ve finally found my end game keyboard. This is my 6th ErgoDox, I have one original, two ErgoDox EZ, and three Infinity ErgoDox boards. I like building my own keyboards, but mainly because I wanted to try out different switches. Switch testers just don’t accurately replicate the full typing experience, so I kept building keyboards with different switch types. But now that I have an ErgoDox EZ with switch sockets I don’t have to build a new keyboard just to try out new switches. It’s the best!!! I prefer the Navy Box Thick switches because I’m trying to build the loudest keyboard possible and these are louder than Cherry Blues.


I use Norman for my keyboard layout. It’s similar to Colemak, but is derived from QWERTY. The Norman website does better to explain the layout, but its goal is to change as little as possible from QWERTY but increase comfort. I guess it’s optimized for typing comfort versus efficiency. This was ideal for me because my foray into mechanical / ergonomic keyboards started after I got a bad case of RSI.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I’m pretty close to my dream setup as-is. My next project is to build a carriage return lever with a bell like on old typewriters. Then every time I need to hit return I can slap a lever and hear a “ding” sound. I’m sure the cats would love it too. Fortunately for my coworkers I work from home!

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