The people who use our boards.

308 interviews since 2018

Haley Smith

Engineering Manager @ Slack

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

Hi! I’m Haley Smith. I grew up in the Napa Valley, and after 10 years in San Francisco, I am now based out of Oakland with my husband and my 13-year-old rescue cat, River. I studied computer science and philosophy at USF and have been working in the tech industry ever since, first as a Java developer (backend and Android development) and lately as an engineering manager for a small team of mobile developers. For the past 5.5 years, I have been working at Slack, which is a messaging and collaboration hub for teams. I started there as an Android developer when we were rewriting the Android app from scratch, and a little over a year ago I transitioned over to management, so I don’t code anymore (and honestly, I don’t miss it).

Outside of work, I like to say that my life revolves entirely around food—cooking it, growing it, and of course, eating it. I am fortunate to have a large, south-facing backyard where I can grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs. Our climate in Oakland can even support tropical fruits, so my most prolific plant is the passionfruit vine that has taken over my fence! I am also very interested in learning about California native plants. Recently we redid our front yard to introduce an entirely native ecosystem, including habitat for endangered butterflies. I love to cook, and just like everyone else in shelter-in-place I have begun making sourdough bread and naturally leavened pizza and all those types of things. In the before times, I would plan trips around restaurants and street food, and spend most of my free time at my favorite local bars and restaurants, sharing a nice meal or glass of wine with friends. Fortunately, some of my local faves are still open for pickup, delivery, or even shipping across the country!

Haley Smith's setup
An eclectic but organized workspace

What hardware do you use?

Before COVID, I wasn’t a fan of working from home—it’s hard to focus, and I didn’t have an ergonomic work environment. When Slack told us to start working from home in early March, I spent the first two months co-opting my husband’s gaming setup—we even got a nifty KVM switch that made it really easy to swap between my MacBook and his desktop PC without having to disconnect and reconnect all our peripherals. In late April, though, Slack announced we’d be staying home at least until September, and then in June, they confirmed we will be home indefinitely until it’s safe to return to the office. I figured it was time to invest in my own workspace, so I set up shop in our spare room, which is affectionately referred to as “Haley’s goth room” because we painted it dark blue and all my weird art and trinkets are in there.

Haley Smith's home office
A pleasantly weird workplace

My work machine is a 2018 13” touchbar MacBook Pro. It’s plugged into a slim thunderbolt hub that allows me to connect to a ViewSonic 27” monitor, Avaya Huddle webcam, small Evoluent VerticalMouse, and of course my black ErgoDox EZ Glow. Every single desk I could find is 30” high and I am not six feet tall, so for ergonomic reasons I installed a Jarvis keyboard tray. It was the only one I could find that 1. is wide enough for my keyboard and 2. has enough vertical clearance for my mouse. For video conferencing, I use my Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds, but if I want to listen to music I throw it up on my Sonos One speaker. The living room has a 5.1 Sonos setup, but for now I just have the one speaker in my office. I have a pair of JINS screen glasses with a slightly lower prescription than normal that I keep by my desk to use when working on the computer—it helps to minimize migraines and eyestrain. My chair is the Herman Miller low-back Cosm in the Canyon colorway, which I found at a local authorized reseller for half price right before the shelter-in-place order hit. Since the library is closed, I picked up a small portable Canon printer for the odd return label or hand-signed document, and I appreciate its slim profile. Finally, I recently picked up a Pixelbook Go to use as my personal laptop, in an effort to remove distractions from my workday and keep my personal data separate from my work data.

A longer view of Haley Smith's setup
A chair and keyboard worthy of a mecha pilot

Other ancillary but necessary hardware includes the eero mesh Beacon that delivers my gigabit fiber from sonic, a local ISP whose ethics and service I much prefer to the big national providers. I also like to keep an air purifier next to my desk, because of allergies but also because my cat’s litter box lives in this room (though it is hidden well by this cabinet I found online). Every morning I make coffee in my trusty AeroPress and enjoy it out of my favorite Chips mug. Lately, I’ve been trying different blends from a rad woman-owned local roaster from my old neighborhood in San Francisco, the Lady Falcon Coffee Club.

And what software?

Back when I was coding, I spent all day in Android Studio (Darcula theme, of course), which is a delightful fork of IntelliJ maintained by the Android dev tools team. Now, I spend most of my day in Slack, Dropbox Paper, Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, Zoom, Jira, and a bunch of people management software like Lattice, Workday, and Ally. I have tried every single note taking app but always fall back to TextEdit.

For recipe/grocery/pantry management I use Paprika. It’s the best I’ve found so far but still has some quirks—and someday I will end up writing my own app for this purpose—but it works for now. For task management, I use a combination of bullet journaling in my favorite Field Notes notebooks from XOXO and the TickTick app on my phone/desktop, which I like because it has the concept of priority on top of your typical checklist app feature set. I listen to music on Google Play (and have ever since Rdio shut down), but that is being sunsetted in favor of YouTube Music, so I’m not really sure what I’m gonna do about that.

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

My main board is a black ErgoDox EZ Glow with Cherry MX Blue switches and the tilt kit. I have a set of green gradient alphas that I just found on Amazon. They’re nothing special (and the n key is constantly popping off), but they are backlit and look pretty cool. The TRRS cable is a custom one from Clark Kable.

When I was sharing a desk with my husband, we had the keyboard layers set up such that layer 0 was my Mac layout and layer 1 was his PC layout, but now that I have my own setup I’m back to just the one layer. I like the purple glow through the green keys. Maybe I’ll throw some orange keycaps on as an accent and go full Unit-01 with the theme.

I also have a white ErgoDox EZ Shine that usually lives at the office. That board is rocking Cherry MX brown switches and the incredible Astrolokeys designed by my good pal Amy, aka @sailorhg.

Haley Smith's office keyboard
Out-of-this-world keycaps

What would be your dream setup?

I have been thinking about getting some desktop speakers and recording equipment to start messing around with music again—it’s been ages. My house is really small, though, so there’s not a lot of space for new hobbies. Eventually I’d like to replace my monitor with something a little more modern and high-res, but I am not doing design work or anything, so it doesn’t really matter.

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