The people who use our boards.

Miguel Laginha

Open Source Full Stack Developer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Miguel Laginha (@brecke on Twitter), and I’m a generalist software engineer based in Brighton, UK. I’m originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where I spent most of my life and plan to go back someday. I currently work remotely as tech lead for Apereo, a US-based open-source foundation focused on EdTech, specifically on the Open Academic Environment (OAE). In previous jobs, I have worked on transportation open data and open science research publishing.

Outside of work, I like to read non-fiction books (mostly behavioral economics and self-improvement) as well as spend time relaxing assembling Legos (I’m especially fond of medieval castles from the ’80s and the ’90s and Star Wars spaceships). I also enjoy watching TV quite a bit. That includes popular TV shows, movies, and English football.

What hardware do you use?

Miguel's hardware setup

I do most of my work on a maxed-out new-generation Mac Mini on a Furna electric E2 standing desk. I type on a black ErgoDox EZ Glow with a Logitech MX Ergo mouse and an Apple Trackpad in between the two halves. I have tried several vertical mice, and this is by far the best regarding wrist pain (I’m quite sensitive to that). I sit on a somewhat unremarkable chair, which is neither bad nor very good. Just recently, I have bought a pair of wooden wrist rests which are much larger than the default ones and help me with wrist pain a lot.

Miguel's desk

On the desk, I use a Fleximount monitor arm to hold a hefty 34” Dell Curved Ultrawide monitor, which is great for having up to 4 side-by-side terminal/code panes.

I listen to music all day while I work, either from Soma FM or, some of it on my Sony MDR-ZX770BN Headphones. I also make extensive use of a notebook and I have plenty of Tesla amazing magnetic notes on the wall.

Miguel's desk

And what software?

Firefox is my default browser, mostly because I’m very aware of online privacy and am a supporter of the Open Web. All my connected devices are connected to ProtonVPN 24x7, and I’ve been a ProtonMail user for a couple of years now. All my backups are on SpiderOak ONE. I use Alfred for pretty much everything, Pinboard for bookmarks, and Myki for passwords and 2FA.

For programming, I either use tmux+nvim on Alacritty or VSCode with Vim bindings. I use the Gruvbox Material theme wherever I can because I’m quite obsessed with appearance consistency.

Other apps I appreciate include Tweetbot, Reeder, Divvy, GitUp and Amphetamine.

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

My keyboard setup is still a work in progress. I have tried to adapt it to my kind of work, namely JavaScript and vim, but I also do a lot of non-programming work, so I rolled back a bit towards more general use. I type in European Portuguese 50% of the time, so I had to tweak the layout quite a bit to get easy access to accents like ´`~^. I will probably keep making changes since I am a maximizer and constantly striving to make things better. I’m currently using the QWERTY layout, but I keep dreaming of trying out Colemak one day.

Regarding keycaps, I have the default printed Glow ones from ErgoDox EZ.

I’m still using the Cherry MX Brown keyswitches, even though I think they’re a bit too loud. I’ve tried Zilents V2 and loved how silent they are, but then I started feeling pain because, apparently, their actuation force (62g) is way too high for my hands (I’ve got long yet thin fingers). If I were to buy another ErgoDox, I’d probably go for a lighter and smoother linear keyswitch, such as the Cherry MX Silent Reds or the Kailh Silver ones.

Something else I’ve found is that it’s more comfortable for me to type with plenty of elbow room. I now push the keyboard a bit further towards the screen which forces me to deliberately rest my elbows on the desk. For some reason, this position is less prone to causing pain in the back of my hands.

Miguel's setup
Miguel's setup

What would be your dream setup?

Although I like my monitor very much, I’m always envious of those 3 side-by-side monitor setups you see in movies. However, I’m not sure that actually works well in real life; it looks like too much screen real estate for a confessed unitasker such as myself. Speaking of envy, I keep seeing a lot of nice pictures of Clark Kables, so I might eventually get one myself. Once I have all the cables I want, I’ll finally sort them out properly below the desk, I promise!

In what comes to ergonomics, I intend to buy a kneeling chair in the future, as it helps me to keep a good posture. Not sure my cats would approve, though, as they love sleeping on my lap throughout the day. :)

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