The people who use our boards.

304 interviews since 2018

Andrew Olney

Professor of Intelligent Systems & Psychology

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

Hi, I’m Andrew Olney. I’m a professor at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. My research over the past 20+ years has focused on using AI to help people learn. I have a Ph.D. in CS and a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology. You can see my work at my website.

Outside of work, I’m a bit of a tinkerer with an interest in music. I do a fair amount of making/repair work and have a passion for modular synthesis, where these things often meet.

Andrew Olney's setup
Andrew keeps his setup simple—which helps keep it sustainable

What hardware do you use?

I’ve been in ThinkPads since the late 90s. My most recent (which is not that recent) is a P50. I appreciate how expandable it is and have 64GB RAM and several TB of NVME. If I have high compute workloads, I use Lambda workstations in my lab.

And what software?

I’ve been using Linux as my primary OS for about twenty years, typically alternating between Ubuntu and Debian. I like using open source software for all the obvious reasons and also release my software open source.

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

I came to ErgoDox by way of the Kinesis Advantage2, which is a really nice keyboard. I had developed ulnar tunnel syndrome and was having a hard time typing at all on a regular keyboard, so I appreciated the ability to reconfigure my keyboard to make it unnecessary to use my right pinky.

However, over time, I suspected that the inability to split the Advantage2 keyboard, or change its tilt, was problematic for my long-term progress. I also liked the idea in principle of reconfiguring a keyboard completely for one hand if that ever became necessary.

So I made the switch to ErgoDox EZ and I feel like it has helped me a lot. I use a custom layout with blank keycaps. My layout is closely related to what I was using on the Advantage2.

Instead of taking all the load off my right pinky, I still have it do a few keys but mostly offload those to my thumbs and other fingers. The idea here is to keep it working just enough so I don’t lose function but at the same time don’t experience excessive discomfort :)

I have the keyboard sitting on a simple custom tray that I laser-cut. The tray has registration marks for the keyboard legs so they don’t move around. There is also a platform in the middle for a Magic Trackpad 2, which I previously had attached to the Advantage2. The tray sits on my lap as I work, close to my knees so my arms are stretched out. My chair is a zero-gravity style, slightly reclined, and my monitor is on an adjustable arm that I can position as needed.

Andrew Olney's keyboard
Andrew made this beautiful keyboard tray, and it looks very portable!

What would be your dream setup?

This is my dream setup. The open source/sustainability aspect is also a big deal for me.

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