The people who use our boards.

Nchinda Nchinda

DevOps Lead, Molten

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

My full name is Nchinda Nchinda. Online I go by Firescar96. I work at Molten on developments that touch all of our infrastructure stack, from Kubernetes deployments, through our Python API, to the Vue frontend.

Outside of work I enjoy playing the bass guitar. Especially now that I’m working from home, I pick it up whenever a song with a good bassline comes on the radio. Last year (2020) when I was stuck at home, I really doubled down on learning Spanish as a second language so I could stop saying “I took five years in grade school but I forgot it all.” Duolingo has been a challenging and powerful learning tool. I’m very much a night owl, but I do venture out during the day for errands or to ride my motorcycle.

What hardware do you use?

I have four different monitor/TVs in my setup, none of which I paid for. People tend to just leave perfectly good monitors behind when they move. The TV is always mirrored with one of the other monitors. I’ve found the brands and sizes don’t matter. My productivity just linearly increases the more screens I have.

My current laptop is a ThinkPad T480; the keyboard is super comfortable. I had no roommates as a student, but I used to love working in random places. Whenever I switch to a new computer I like to be able to switch the hard drive and instantly be up and running.

Nchinda Nchinda's setup
Many monitors in a snug space

My desktop lives in the milk crate, even though virtually all but some screws have been replaced since. It’s a callback to when I mined Ethereum with four GPUs in 2015. Now I’m primarily running with a Samsung 2TB NVMe SSD, MSI Z590 motherboard, and EVGA RTX 2070 GPU. I had to cut some new holes in my chassis to fit the GPU.

My Moonlander and Logitech G700s are connected to the desktop. I really like this mouse because it lets me toggle the click wheel between discrete steps and low-friction scrolling.

Also on my desk is a Focusrite Scarlett audio interface and Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone to make my voice easy listening on calls.

The hardware I’m most proud of, though, is the lofted bed I built. You can see the underside in the photo below. It’s perfectly sized for my 5’11” frame. As a bonus I can hang things, like a green screen, from it.

Nchinda Nchinda's setup with the bed loft visible
An excellent use of the space under the bed

And what software?

I use Debian on my laptop and servers and Ubuntu on my desktop because it works better with my GPU. I use the space-efficient and elegant I3 window manager with configs on my GitHub. I switch to Windows exclusively for playing a few games that can’t run on Linux. I’ve thought about using a virtual machine, but my SSD means it takes about fifteen seconds to switch operating systems.

At any moment I’ll have open VSCode (I used it to write this post in Markdown), the Chromium-based browser Vivaldi, xfce4-terminal (a terminal), and Spotify. Other tools, such as Blender, GIMP, and LibreOffice will make an appearance when needed, but I usually prefer browser-based apps vs installing software.

I’ve wired up a few pieces of software—OBS, Radiance, and Cadence—in a way that lets me add live video and audio effects, and split any music I’m listening to into my calls.

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

I use a black Moonlander to fit my black-and-red color scheme. I like a very wide-set position for my hands, about ten inches between my thumbs, when I’m typing, and don’t use the right side of the Moonlander at all when I’m gaming. There are a few buttons on my mouse, too, which are game specific.

My Moonlander layout is public. The layers are as follows:

  1. Alphabet and optimized for hotkeys
  2. Coding symbols for the left hand, numpad for the right
  3. Media keys
  4. Gaming: same as 1, with layer toggles disabled

What would be your dream setup?

Most important, I prefer to feel my bass rather than hear it. I would like some massive subwoofers to replace my Logitech Z623. I also would like a single button to let me toggle all of my monitors between my desktop and laptop. I could also use a second Moonlander for my laptop, or some hardware switch for that, as well.

I’ve gotten some inspiration from other designs on the Moonlander people page. I really like the LED backglow effects some people have going on. My cable management could use some work too. I’ll get it straight from the start when I move later this year.

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