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293 interviews since 2018

Di Turner

Designer and Front-End Developer

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

My name is Diana (Di) Turner, and I’m a designer, front-end developer, and occasionally a WordPress developer. I live in the UK. I formally trained as a graphic designer and added on the technical knowledge throughout my twenty-four years of working.

We bought our first house four years ago. It’s a cottage built in the 1750s and so makes for an interesting place to live. We like to say that it has everything a modern house does, just not necessarily in the normal places. I’ve discovered that I like to garden—we’re fairly rural, so we have quite a large space—it’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s nice to do something that doesn’t involve screens and pixels.

During the pandemic, my partner and I took on three rescue cats: Claude, Peanut, and Monty Bojangles. They’re quite timid and so are indoor kitties, but we have reconfigured the old conservatory attached to the house and put down some artificial grass in there, it’s now their play room, or catio, as we call it. They use it to lounge in the sun all day in the winter months. The summer makes it a little too hot, so we’re planning on putting up some internal shading to help.

Di Turner's cat Peanut
Peanut enjoys the catio

What hardware do you use?

My home setup consists of a MacBook Pro i7 that’s pretty much fully specced up (yes, I bought it right before the release of the M1-based Macs, but I’m still happy with my choice). For work I recently made the switch to running a Windows 10 Dell XPS 13. After nearly 25 years of using purely Macs, it’s been a bit of a journey, but since my last serious use of Windows was doing homework on my dad’s Windows 98 machine, things have improved a little since then.

Di Turner's setup
Di's desk, with Dell XPS on the left and MacBook Pro on the right

I have two 27-inch screens along with my Moonlander and a Logitech MX Master 3 mouse. They both run through Synergy, so if I want to I can use both machines at the same time, which can be useful for testing on a wider range of browsers. Alongside these I have a Wacom Intuos Pro that I use for drawing or just a change of mouse hand. Everything’s connected to a CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Finally, I have a Stream Deck with various hotkeys for opening apps and toggling mics and cameras in meetings. It was a bit of a mad purchase, but the concept is so sci-fi, I just had to have a keyboard made of screens.

For mobile, I made the switch a couple of years ago from iPhone to Android. I’m now on my third Android device, and recently bought a Samsung S22 Ultra. The S Pen is great for doodling. I also have both an iPad mini and a Microsoft Surface Go 2. I tend to prefer the Go, as it’s more of a full-fledged computer. That said, the Apple Pencil can’t really be beaten in terms of responsiveness.

I have light sensitivity and wear special glasses to help with this. For me an upside to the pandemic has been the transition to remote working, as this has given me complete control over the lighting at my desk. Gone are the painful office strip lights, and in their place I have Philips Hue bulbs and LED strips controlled via an Echo Dot 3rd Gen. The Echo also serves as a music player with some external speakers connected. I tend to set the lighting to green, as that is most comfortable for me. I do have some lighting presets on the Stream Deck to switch to something a little brighter if needed.

The view from my webcam shows off my Star Trek obsession. It includes some artwork I bought from a convention along with a full-sized Klingon Bat’leth. This was the first present my partner bought me way back in 2003. He collects swords, so it’s not as odd as it first sounds. Finally, there’s a photo of me with half of the Discovery season two cast.

Di Turner's back wall of desk space
Back wall of Di's desk space shows her Star Trek artwork, Klingon Bat'leth, and photo with Discovery cast members

And what software?

For UI layout design work, I mostly inhabit Figma. Up until last year I used Sketch, but with switching to a Windows 10 machine for work, Mac-specific apps are now out of the question. Vector design work is usually done in Affinity Designer. I really like the Affinity apps. I’m morally opposed to subscriptions for software, and Designer does pretty much everything I need to do vector illustrations and icon work.

My front-end and WordPress work is all done in Visual Studio Code. On my Windows machine, I run all of my dev setup in WSL, which VS Code plays nicely with. On my Mac, I’m still rocking Vagrant boxes, but am planning to get into Docker when time permits.

To keep myself organised, I use Todoist for tasks along with Obsidian for notes. I always insist on my productivity apps being able to sync across my entire ecosystem, so anything purely iCloud-based is unfortunately out. I have Concepts on my Note and Go for sketching ideas.

Di Turner's keyboard
Di customized her Moonlander for comfort

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

I run a variation of a standard QWERTY layout due to an old wrist injury that’s left me with limited feeling in my little and third fingers on my left hand. All of my keys are shifted one column outwards so that my Q and P keys are on the edges of the keyboard. This makes it easier to find the outer keys with my limited feeling and means I have more modifiers on my index fingers. I’ve tried to mirror a layout I have on a smaller Atreus keyboard I have for mobile use so that there’s minimal readjustment when I switch between the two. I have a few layers to account for using on both Macs and Windows, although I’m switching to the Windows layers less now that I’m running Synergy.

I’ve added some SA Dreameater keycaps from Mech Supply. They’ve quite a tall profile, so I’ve adjusted my keyboard using high-tech methods: I’ve Velcroed two Lego bricks to the underneath (green, of course) so that I can build up a little negative tilt. I’ve also added some squishy wrist rests to account for the added height. I await the day when a kitty puts a claw through one. I guess I like to live dangerously.

Di Turner's Lego brick keyboard mod
Di's clever Lego brick mod adds negative tilt

I’m in the process of replacing the top number row with artisans. It’s slow going, though, as I’m a bit picky on colour, profile, and content. My favourite is a green one with a little dragon embedded in it.

Di Turner's dragon artisan keycap
Cat or dragon: Which is more dangerous?

What would be your dream setup?

I’m already pretty close to my dream setup, although a nice wide-screen monitor rather than my current two would be a good addition. It bugs me a little that the bezels are different widths.

Di Turner's cat Claude
Claude says Di needs another Moonlander, as this is his pillow

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