The people who use our boards.
The people who use our boards.
Enzo LombardiSeasoned Software Engineer
Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?
I am Enzo, a seasoned software engineer currently employed at Google, where I work on a product that’s part of G Suite. Sometimes I don’t get to write enough code for work, so I have my own side projects and I am currently tinkering with some Arduino boards. Outside of work I am a father first, but I love to divide my attention on roughly three hobbies when indoors: photography, close-up magic, and a little bit of chess. I live in the PNW, so I am indoors a lot. When outdoors, I like to adventure with my electric bike and take road trips.
What hardware do you use?
For my home workstation, I’ve been putting together my own hardware since I was twenty: currently a 6-core/12-thread “last” generation Xeon machine. I’ve been fascinated by virtualization, and at one point I challenged myself to consolidate all computing needs in a big fat machine which is, obviously, spending most of the time with the CPU idling. I use the Anker Vertical mouse, a nice and compact standing desk converter, an HDMI KVM, a generic Bluetooth soundbar, and Bose 700 ANC headsets. I have a few USB hubs hidden around, a Canon multi-function printer, and a semaphore LED light to signal my status on the doorless entrance: red for busy, green for interruptible, blue for “I am debugging, so my conscious mind is not even here.” My monitor is a 32” Lenovo ThinkVision IPS.
For work I have a corporate MacBook, docked to the same KVM and sharing the same I/O peripherals. In my office sits a ThinkStation, to which I connect sporadically for the few times I need a CLI.
I recently moved to an Apple Silicon Mac M1ni and my iOS / Arduino workflows have improved a bit. It’s my first venture outside the x86 legacy and I can say we are lucky to live in this present: I could not imagine seeing myself buying an ARM for my home activities 5 years ago.
And what software?
My work life is in Chrome on MacOS or Linux: Gmail and Google Docs fit my workflow perfectly. I use an IDE with debugging capabilities, and all that I need that runs in the browser, which allows me to write and debug by just popping up a new browser window and leveraging the power of the cloud. I very seldom need to run something that requires a CLI, and this forced work-from-home setup has changed some of my preferences quite drastically. For “home” I run Windows on top of Ubuntu/KVM; mostly IDEs, Paint.NET for my graphic needs, and a few other things. And lots of Docker containers to handle things like NAS, backup, VPN server, etc.
What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?
I switched from ErgoDox to Moonlander immediately. I often type in Italian, which requires special graphemes, and after all these years I’ve settled on Mac/Linux way for typing them. I started customizing the layout as soon as I got it to take advantage of existing muscle memory and I am mostly using the base layer only before introducing new habits. On the ErgoDox, I felt it was hard to use special keys and symbols on top of numeric keys so I bought custom keycaps and got a few special ones printed. I self-imposed some restrictions like having all cursor keys being backlit, and that was not working as well as I liked.
I was very excited for the Moonlander launch, as I feel it solves a few minor issues I had with the ErgoDox: almost all keys have the same shape, all keys are now backlit, and there are fewer piano keys. It’s better for me. I still replaced cursor keycaps with aluminum ones and I am in the process of ordering the few I believe are important: the symbols I placed on the rightmost column, as I occasionally have a blank moment when typing; and the modifier ones, mostly for the look. My keyboard setup isn’t done yet, as I still keep pressing Page Up when I intend to type the character Y too often.
My first switch choice was Brown, but they were too noisy; also the tactile feedback was not for me, causing a few mistypes. I switched to red non-silent ones, but it was still too much typing noise, so I finally settled on black switches. I started looking around for a new keyboard when I wanted the classic Ergo 4000 with backlit keys, but I am glad MS never launched a decent alternative that was both ergonomic and had backlighting: It led me to discover ErgoDox first and now Moonlander.
What would be your dream setup?
My dream setup would be a Moonlander with fully printed keycaps matching my layouts, a very compact overall setup where things are arranged by convenience and proximity, which was easy to achieve by repurposing a small closet. In an ideal setup, docking and undocking would be as simple as plopping the laptop into the hub. There are good MacBook docks out there, but by the virtue of being molded for a specific model of laptop, they ended up being too expensive. I settled for a power delivery hub connected to the laptop via a single USB-C port with a magsafe-like adapter capable of sustaining power and data throughput. Undocking is now very easy, while I can dock without having even to watch or fiddle.
On the other hand, I bought multiple power adapters—one per each “main” room and one always kept in the laptop bag—so roaming is as simple as picking up the laptop and going somewhere else. Convenience for me trumps everything else.