The people who use our boards.

Justin Elliott

Junior Software Engineer

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

I’m Justin Elliott, a junior software engineer at Technology Advice in Nashville, Tennessee. Most of my time is spent working with Laravel and Vue. When not writing code, I’m typically either playing music or some sort of video game. I’ve lived in Nashville for about seven years now, love travelling around the country with my wife, and am expecting a son any day now!

What hardware do you use?

Justin Elliott's setup
A rambling expanse of screens and visual reminder that this is Nashville

I work on a Dell XPS laptop running Ubuntu, and my personal laptop is a 13” Macbook Pro from 2018. I’m too greedy with screen space to close a laptop (and don’t have a separate webcam for Zoom calls), but I also have 27” LG and 24” HP monitors. I have an Astro A10 headset on almost all day for Spotify/Zoom, a Logitech M720 Triathlon mouse, and of course my ErgoDox EZ Shine!

Justin Elliott's audio equipment
Sound and vision together

When playing or recording music, I use an Orange Micro Dark amp, an Orange 2x12 speaker cabinet, a PreSonus AudioBox, and a Shure SM57 mic. Most of this sits on a custom-built 9’ partners desk that I share with my wife.

Long view of Justin Elliott's setup
A beautiful wood-topped desk for two

And what software?

Most work things are two-factor authenticated via 1Password, and Slack is always open to stay in contact with my team.

VS Code has been my go-to for a few years now, I love how much I can customize things as my demands/preferences change. I use Postman for testing APIs, MySQL Workbench and DBeaver for working with databases, and Chrome to browse the web. I probably use the terminal more often than I should (all things Git, some database queries), but that’s how I learned to do a lot of things, so it’s home, and the window is always nearby.

On my Macbook, I use the Spectacle app to manage windows, and I do the same with gTile on my Ubuntu machine.

Justin Elliott's desk
Coffee beans find another use

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

I’m unjustifiably afraid to stray from the QWERTY path, but beyond that I love optimizing and have customized my layout quite a bit. Being a big fan of the “there’s a shortcut for everything, use the mouse as little as possible” school of thought, I love doing things like changing three-button shortcuts into single key presses.

My base layout has everything I use most frequently, with things that would normally be less convenient to reach on a standard keyboard tucked under layers and more centrally located. I code mainly in PHP and Javascript, so special characters that I need often are brought closer to home row on a layer that I can trigger with my J key. I have the mouse layer triggered with the L key, can use the G key for Alt if I hold it, and hate reaching for Control with my pinky, so it gets a nice big button that’s close to my dominant index finger.

Constantly switching operating systems is annoying, so I let the EZ do the work for me. Layer 0 is set up for my Ubuntu machine, then I built layer 1 to be a clone of it with keys swapped out for their Mac equivalents (ex: Control swapped for Command). With this setup, I can swap computers without completely rewiring my brain. A layer dedicated to Minecraft and a button for muting on Zoom are also nice to have.

Justin Elliott's keyboard
Mousepad Cat looks impressed with Justin's keyboard layout

What would be your dream setup?

Swapping keycaps to something more colorful is definitely in the works. I was afraid of switching to blanks, but haven’t missed printed caps at all. Custom cables and some cleaner cable management would be great as well.

I’d also like to get a second board to prevent having to carry mine back and forth to the office. While I do like the modified laptop case solution I came up with, carrying something around every day is always going to add more wear and tear than just letting it sit safe and sound on a desk at home.

For my home setup, I’d like to stack my monitors vertically so I can have both laptops on the desk at the same time and KVM-switch the peripherals with a shortcut.

Justin Elliott and his wife
The beginnings of a dream setup for home

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