The people who use our boards.

Alin Cota

Information Security Manager and Application Developer

Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?

Hello, I’m Alin, originally from Romania, now living in Oxford, United Kingdom. I’m currently the information security manager and application developer at a local company by day and working on building my own company in my spare time.

I’m very much into coding, and I research any subject/practice that I believe will help me become a better programmer. I believe that as a developer I need to be aware of what tools are available and use them as needed.

My recent reads have been around functional programming and data-oriented design as well as learning Rust, which has been very rewarding so far. You can find me on GitHub.

On the side, I’ve started reading Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold. Currently reading Chapter 16, but really great so far.

I’ve always been into motorcycles, probably since before I was into computers. I’ve been a fan of Suzuki, so I had two of them, the latter being a GSX-R 600. I recently sold it, and I’m now going through a flying phase. I’ve tried both gliding and flying a small airplane, and now I’m trying to decide which route to go for. Outside of these activities, I like swimming and downhill mountain biking.

Alin Cota on a motorcycle
Next stop: The sky

What hardware do you use?

I’ve got an ASUS ROG laptop, which I use for programming and other sysadmin tasks, and an HP server, which is providing a few services (e.g Plex for my projector) for my house connected to a separate network only for us (guests don’t have access to it).

At home, I tend to use my laptop speakers if I’m alone or my noise-cancelling headphones (TaoTronics SoundSurge 46), which I am happy to say do their job pretty well for the price. They’re a bit heavy on the bass.

My mouse is a pretty basic one, a Logitech M180, which does the job very well. However, it’s slowly being replaced by the keyboard’s own mouse emulator, which I love but sometimes makes me feel too slow (I’m open to any tips to improve this—I’ve tried putting the mouse out of my reach :) ). I’m unsure at the moment what I’ll decide regarding this…I may get an upgrade for my mouse.

At home I have been using an ErgoDox EZ keyboard for a few months now. This was after an extensive search online. It was my first mechanical keyboard and also one of my most expensive accessories, but I highly recommend it.

Alin Cota's setup
Good light; a simple setup; and the answer to life, the universe, and everything

And what software?

To help me keep track of what I need to do, I use a simple task manager on my iPad and use Trello for more detailed planning.

I spend at least 70% of my time reading code, so over the years I’ve jumped between a few IDEs, but now I use Sublime Text and Vim/Onivim 2. I prefer Vim, but it’s not as good at adapting to different languages without much tinkering or extra plugins as I would like, so I switch between these. I sometimes use VS Code, as it integrates very well with Xdebug.

I also use Notability and MindNode on my iPad quite a lot. They are really useful for organising your thoughts. I use both of them all the time—Notability more, though. It’s so much better than pen and paper. You can move bits around and reorder ideas without going to a blank new page. I like to call it my favourite whiteboard (even though with my config, it looks like paper).

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

Alin Cota's keyboard
Glowing keyboard and watchful moose

I have an ErgoDox EZ Glow that I use at my home desk. My original idea was to use the LEDs to figure out groupings of keys. I neglected the fact that I don’t actually look at the keyboard when I type (I’m not a proper touch typist, though). I do like how it looks, although I wish the keyboard had LEDs for the thumb cluster as well.

Probably a lot of people will think I’m a noob in this aspect, as I haven’t done any tweaking at all to it. I bought the keyboard with Cherry MX Browns and I think I should’ve gone for Blues. I am, however, using a custom layout I designed myself using different parts from other layouts I found to be practical.

On my todo list: Buy a pair of braided cables to connect the sides.

I actually like the keycaps the keyboard came with, so at the moment I feel there is no need to look for replacements. Maybe I’ll change my mind over time, but for the last six months I haven’t felt the current ones were lacking in any way.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is not actually far off from where I am. All I’m now looking for is a good ultra-wide 49” screen. Not many options out there yet when it comes to IPS panels and 1000R curve.

I also have a plan for attaching the keyboard to the chair’s armrest, but that’s going to happen only if I get along with the mouse emulator.

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