The people who use our boards.
The people who use our boards.
Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?
Hi, I’m Nicole, and I use an ErgoDox keyboard and gatekeep it a little bit because my friends are impressed and intimidated when they see it. But half of them are still using membrane keyboards, so they’re a lost cause anyway. I’m a gynecologist and write fiction for fun.
I’m chronically online in the way that I was a kid who grew up in the ’90s with dial-up internet. I had to read Sailor Moon fanfiction on GeoCities websites before dedicated fanfic websites were a thing, so I am exactly the correct demographic for Instagram to correctly surmise that I want to see endless reels of gamer girls with long nails and cool jewelry modding their mechanical keyboards to lo-fi music. I love vibes and LED color-changing things (my wedding dress was LED color-changing, and I got married in a planetarium). I never got over the 2016 Pantone colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity, and every year since then has been a disappointment. I type between 110 and 130 wpm. I have all my devices turned to dark mode. When I grew up it wasn’t safe to use your real name on the internet and I’m real over the five corporations that have monopoly chokeholds on modern American life, so I do not use Facebook, let’s not discuss Twitter, and haven’t bothered deleting my LiveJournal posts. My favorite Pokémon are Frosslass and Tinkaton. I do aerial hoop & silks for my workouts.
I type a lot in primarily two capacities–work, during which I am a gynecologist, seeing about 20-25 patients a day and typing a several hundred-word note about each one (which is a lot of typing). I also write fiction for fun. In the past year I’ve written two pieces of fiction each about 100,000 words long, and if you ask me my secret, I will say a) desperately needing therapy and b) using a mechanical keyboard.
What hardware do you use?
I have an ErgoDox with Mintlodica’s Dark Magic Girl keycaps. I have never broken apart a keyboard to mod out the switches or put foam and tape on the inside, despite watching numerous videos of girls with soothing voices and nice nails do so, because if I’m spending that much time at a keyboard, I need to be writing. I work on Mac because it plays nice with the electronic health records (EHR), the phone, the laptop, and the desktop.
It helps me to have a dedicated keyboard that I associate with writing. To sit down at a place with soft pink lighting and a nice clacky keyboard. In a world of increasingly fractured attention and every single website and program requesting to send you notifications, being able to sit down with a keyboard and let thoughts flow is severely underrated. I have friends who like to use fancy pens and notebooks to write, because that makes it feel special. For me, having a mechanical keyboard fulfills that purpose. It’s like writing longhand, but faster, and you can edit it. The process of writing down your thoughts–whether it’s putting a patient’s complicated history into a narrative and diagnosis, or bringing together fictional settings and situations–lets your brain enter a flow state. Often I don’t know exactly what I want to say until I start typing, and in the process of putting thoughts into typed words, I’m forced to make sense of the world. Doing that seamlessly, without frustration or interruption, is what I want from my hardware.
And what software?
At work, like many physicians, I use Epic electronic health records. It is very powerful software that has great technical support at the national level, and the capability to do a lot of cool programming that no one at my local hospital system can figure out how to use. God bless. Explaining Epic is a bit beyond the scope of this interview.
For writing, I use Scrivener and Google Docs. Scrivener is probably the most powerful writing software out there, but nothing beats Google Docs commenter view when you’re editing or working with someone else, unfortunately.
What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?
I use QWERTY with a few minor tweaks for me; F2 on my left pinky, because Epic, the most widely used EHR in America, has an amazing feature where you can type *** in any document and then, by hitting F2, automatically move between all the *** you have in your note. So if you have a phrase you type all the time, like “Last pap smear was *** and result was ***,” you can just F2 around. I think I also tweaked some Mac-specific things and copy-paste hard buttons? I’ve made maybe one change every six months for the past two years of having it, and the flexibility is key for me.
My dirty secret is I never remember what I have on layer 2.
I have the Keeper deskmat from TheKey.company (I have the night version and my spouse has the day version), a cute headphone case with over-ear headphones from a friend, a USB mug warmer, and some LED color-changing lights because of course I do.
What would be your dream setup?
As you can tell, my desk is sort of small. We’re moving to a larger house this summer, and I’m hoping for a desk where I can use my wrist rests. Maybe have a monitor not at a 30 degree angle away from the midline. It’s the little things, really. And when it comes to color-changing LEDs, more cyberpunk lighting is always better.