The people who use our boards.

312 interviews since 2018

Angie Chiraz

Senior Software Engineer

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

I’m Angie Chiraz, a software engineer based in NYC. I’ve worked across the stack but mostly specialize in the front end for web applications. Currently, I work for Chapter, a Medicare and retirement navigation platform. My team is building a mobile app that helps seniors take full advantage of the benefits that come with their health insurance.

Angie Chiraz's setup with her phone app
With this app Angie works on, seniors will be able to maximize their health insurance benefits from their phones

I love dancing with Mint Dance Company, a community dance team in NYC, but I’ve been a dance hobbyist since I was three years old. My older sister and I grew up competing in the Long Island dance scene, and our mom worked the front desk at our dance studio in order to cover tuition costs (even when it meant bringing my little brother as a newborn!). I was a very shy and nerdy kid, but I was able to express other parts of my personality through dance.

Photo of Angie Chiraz with Mint Dance Company
Dance gives Angie great joy—and a great understanding of the need to take care of one's body

The dance lifestyle was never conducive to an ideal work setup—for academics or dancing. As a kid, I was accustomed to doing my homework sitting on the floors of school hallways and dance studio lobbies during breaks before and during multiple dance team practices. Then, I’d get home at 10:00 p.m. to eat dinner and finish my work on the kitchen counter without waking up my family.

Fast forward to adulthood, and joint pain became a reality. My knees would crack if I skipped one night of stretching after dancing, and my back would ache if I worked in a hunched position. My wrists were constantly sore from typing all day. One of my dance teachers even pointed out that my wrists were relatively inflexible. Around the same time, my most consistent college dance friend started dancing less due to chronic knee pain, and another dance friend had to get hip replacement surgery in his mid-twenties. These wild occurrences, combined with working from home due to the pandemic, were the wakeup call that I needed.

Prior to COVID, I had invested next to nothing in my home setup because I’d always go to an office or café. Luckily, I had a work-from-home budget and a manager who recommended I go for an ErgoDox. And after a month of getting used to the split setup, I never looked back! I love my shortcuts and haven’t experienced any wrist pain due to coding since. I definitely type faster on my ErgoDox EZ than on my laptop at this point, too. In 2023, I switched to a hybrid work environment, but I feel spoiled in that I actually have another EZ at the office!

Angie Chiraz's encounter with a monkey
Angie befriends a tiny monkey while traveling in Japan

Outside of coding and dancing, I love to journal, work out, travel, stretch while half-watching TV, style my own nails, babysit my one-year-old nephew, squat at cafes, read, and hang at my friend’s dance studio, Modega (which has some of the best sprung wood dance floors in the city!).

Angie Chiraz's setup
Angie's work setup is all work

What hardware do you use?

I have a 2021 16” MacBook Pro with a 27” LG 27BN88U-B Ergo IPS UHD 4K Ultrafine™ Monitor and Logitech MX Master 3 Wireless Mouse. I use a Hiearcool USB C Multi-port Adapter to connect my ErgoDox to my laptop, which is perched on a laptop stand. My keyboard and mouse are on an Aothia Leather Desk Pad Protector, and my desk is a 53 x 29 bamboo Autonomous SmartDesk Pro. I connect all of my desk hardware (including my desk) to a Tripp Lite TLP1208TELTV 12 Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip.

Angie Chiraz's home setup
Angie's home setup includes inspiration in the form of a sneaker signed by her favorite dancers

I stuck two Yoousoo Drawer organizers under my desk for the clutter I don’t need every day. The drawers typically have paper clips to flash my firmware, backup earphones, a notepad, and a pack of gum for when I am in crunch mode. I sit in a Steelcase Series Air 2 chair with a 3D Microknit back, four-way adjustable arms, wheels for hard floors, a mesh headrest, and additional lumbar support. If I’m taking video calls when other folks are around, I use my AirPods Pro (second generation).

Angie Chiraz's home desk drawers
Angie keeps intermittently used objects stowed so they don't become clutter

I always have a few journals handy at my desk. I use a spiral notebook that has built-in sticky notes when I am wireframing. I like using Post-Its because I can draw widgets and easily move them around on my fake screens, and the flag stickies are great for explanations if I’m sharing pictures of the wires. It’s like Figma for dummies. More recently, I started using Blackwing pencils for wireframing, too.

My other notebook is more of a dance journal for rehearsal notes or staging formations, which I prefer doing at my desk with the rehearsal videos playing on the monitor. Dance staging is a fun, but surprisingly difficult, optimization task. For a given section of the routine, you need to consider who is comfortable with what style of dance, who needs more time to shine in the overall set, and who might be too exhausted to execute the section given how much they’ve danced in the rest of the set. Once I have it loosely mapped out, I then consider height symmetry and visibility for the short folks in a given formation, feasibility of travel distance for each person during a formation change, and where people may need to be for the upcoming section.

Angie Chiraz dances with a group
This kind of performance takes a lot of planning!

For fitness, I recently started wearing a Whoop band after some coworkers convinced me to give it a shot. It has mostly helped me realize that dance is a relatively high-strain activity even when I don’t feel that it is, and that I need more sleep.

And what software?

For coding I spend most of my time in VS Code and the terminal. Outside of the VS Code extensions used by my team, I use Jest Runner and Auto Rename Tag. I mostly use Chrome. I use the Mac Notes app for to-do lists (work and life) and to jot down ideas before I’m ready to structure them in a team workspace. I use QuickTime Player to screen record UI progress updates that I want to share, and I currently use Sequel Ace to see what’s up with our database at work.

Figma is the tool I would marry if I had to pick. I started using it at a previous job when we did not have a designer, so I would actually use it to design components and screens that needed to be higher fidelity than my journal post-it drawings for scoping and handoff. But I mostly use it to intake and inspect sweet designs made by legitimate designers.

For work communication and socializing, I use Slack. Most importantly, I use to get new emojis to add to our workspace—I am convinced a company’s Slack workspace emoji catalog has a major impact on work culture. For personal life socializing, I use Discord for close friend group chats and to keep tabs on engineers or projects I follow (mostly Kent C. Dodds), Instagram, and Signal for family group chats.

As mentioned, I use the Whoop app for fitness and sleep tracking. I have logged in my Whoop Journal almost every day since getting the band! Most surprising discovery was that there is a positive correlation between eating dairy and my recovery score. I also use the Nike Training Club app when I want to work out but don’t have access to a gym.

I use Spotify for music, which is super important to my workflow, mostly because I hate working in silence. I have four main playlists: one with songs I would choreograph to, one mondo playlist that has everything that I want to listen to again except the songs on the choreograph playlist so I don’t hear them while locked in, one that has music SFW, and one that has music I would hypothetically play at a party. I rarely need to edit music, but when I do, I use Audacity. And if I’m teaching choreography and the musicality is difficult to count or verbalize, I use Tempo SlowMo to change the tempo and loop the music.

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

My keyboard setup is really just Mac QWERTY with some cool shortcuts sprinkled in. Because I do a lot of UI work, my favorite shortcuts are my screenshot shortcut and the shortcuts to start and stop QuickTime screen recordings. I used to code for work in Amazon WorkSpaces, so some of my other shortcuts are still optimized for working in Linux—I just got so used to using them and haven’t readjusted yet.

I have Cherry MX Browns switches on my home keyboard, but I have Cherry MX Reds on my work keyboard. I went for the reds for the slight difference in volume—after being remote for 2+ years I was self-conscious of how noisy my typing would be in an office. I was even self-conscious of what people would think of me for bringing in an ErgoDox in general…like wow she is extra. But I was relieved when another coworker whipped out their Moonlander. We actually inspired someone from the marketing team to get a Moonlander!

Angie Chiraz's work keyboard hanging out with other keyboards at work
Angie is relieved not to have the weirdest keyboard in the office

I swapped in some peach, yellow, pink, and green keycaps on my home keyboard and some pink and gray keycaps on my work keyboard. The gray 2u keycaps on my black work keyboard are literally the original thumb keys I swapped out of my home ErgoDox. I would definitely go all out if custom keycaps were less expensive…maybe some floral keycaps for my home keyboard and then full graffiti keycaps for the work keyboard. Been meaning to read up on how to make them!

Angie Chiraz's home keyboard
Angie expresses herself with custom keycaps

What would be your dream setup?

I prefer working around people and with noise, so my ideal setup would actually be to have some button I could press at cafés that would instantaneously transport my home setup. Because that won’t happen any time soon, here are some other ideas:

  • More automation—mostly, it would be nice if my AirPods could automatically switch from being connected to my laptop to being connected to my phone when I finish a video meeting. Also, I currently only use a white noise machine for sleeping, but if my white noise machine could start playing when I join a video call (apparently I talk really loudly during virtual meetings), that would be sick!
  • Space for another desk with another monitor, so friends and family could more comfortably co-work
  • An add-on to my chair that allows me to sit pretzel-style more easily
  • Better cable management, starting with a coiled cable to attach my EZ halves
  • More things to fidget with on my desk (maybe even an ErgoDox Satellite!)
  • More custom keycaps that reflect my style
  • A better case for my EZ—currently I use a GoPro case with the foam inserts cut out. I know the Moonlander is easier to transport, but I just love the extra thumb keys on the EZ!

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