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305 interviews since 2018

Pierre Cavaroc

Software designer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Pierre Cavaroc and I’m 35 years old. I’ve been living in Quebec for almost 5 years now, but I am from France.

I’m currently a Cloud software designer at EXFO, an optic fiber monitoring device manufacturer. When the evening comes, I put on my C# coder suit and have fun developing with this platform. As you may have understand, development is more a passion than a simple job! There’s something artistic in the way anyone can develop anything in their own special way.

I’ve been coding since I was 14. I started learning BASIC on a Casio Graph 65 first, then on my TI-89, where I definitely fell in love with development. I’ve learnt PHP when it was not even Object Oriented Programming and started C# on Visual Studio .NET 2003. I think I’ve grown some gray hair while writing this section! Feeling old. ;)

I’ve always been curious about many things. As a child, I used to take apart pieces of equipment (VHS recorders, old cameras, etc.) to understand how they work. Nowadays, I’m a Jack-of-all-trades kind of guy and I’m always thinking about new projects that would simplify my day-to-day life. Sadly, the days are waaaaaaay too short to allow me to explore every idea, let alone get somewhere with them!

When I’m not coding, I love to ski, play badminton, do Crossfit, watch various TV shows or movies and play video games (I’m an Assassin’s Creed fan since the very first one).

What hardware do you use?


I love tech and sometimes I have to retrain myself from buying gadgets that look like a lot of fun but won’t be very useful in the end. Fortunately, I am also very picky when it comes to my spending habits on this and I usually invest lots of time researching and comparing every piece of tech I consider buying. I want my devices to last!

I built my main computer by myself about a year ago, right when AMD released its second-generation Ryzen CPU. The specs are good but not too crazy because I wanted to make it a workstation, not a gaming rig (I have a PS4 hooked up to a 65-inch TV for this).

If you’re curious about the nitty-gritty, you’ll find all of the specs on this dedicated page. I have a pair of Viewsonic VP2468 monitors. I particularly like them for their very thin bezel, versatile stands and their excellent connectivity: they support DisplayPort daisy-chaining which is quite nice for clearing away some the cable madness behind my case.

My computer mouse is a Logitech MX Master 2S. I’ve always loved Logitech mice, they are so well engineered and built. For me, the 2S is definitely their best one to date.

Because of a cyst in my left wrist, and before getting my ErgoDox EZ, I have been using an ergonomic keyboard (but not a mechanical one): The venerable Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (not the most creative product name). It’s one of the most ergonomic keyboard available in retail stores and it did quite a good job at keeping my wrist healthy and pain-free.

I also have a four-bay Synology DS-410 NAS, configured in RAID5. It “only” has 3x2TB drives in it because I never maxed out the 4TB of storage. It proved to be a good choice, running faithfully 24/7 since 2010 across two continents. It even survived oversea transportation by Fedex! It’s the toughest piece of hardware I ever owned. I use it for my backups (which are mirrored to Amazon Glacier) and as sharing center to be able to access media around the house.

When I listen to music or watch videos, I use the Bose QuietComfort 35. With their noise cancellation, they’re perfect in noisy environments (open space office, bus, plane, etc.) and they’re comfortable enough for me to use all the time.

Finally, for the past three years, my daily mobile device has been a Samsung Galaxy S7. It doesn’t feel as shiny-new as it used to feel, but it still gets the job done.

And what software?

At the office, where I do Cloud related development and DevOps, I currently use two IDEs: IntelliJ when I develop Java apps, and Webstorm for script languages (Node.js, serverless, etc.). Also, I recently started to use Docker as part of my current project at work. I used to work with VM and other manually configured production environments. Containers make things much simpler and lighter, and are just a breeze to work with.

For C# development at home, I mainly use Visual Studio 2019. I tried many IDEs over the course of my career and VS is definitely one I prefer to work with and is the main reason I love to work with .NET. That said, when I have to do WPF UI work, I like to use Blend for Visual Studio that comes with some very useful tools to edit and customize WPF controls and behaviours.

I also rely on some other tools:

  • Notepad++, the ultimate lightweight editor,
  • Postman, my best friend for everything related to REST API,
  • Paint.NET when I need to express my poor graphic skills,
  • GitExtensions to manage source code.

For browsing I mostly use Firefox because of its respect for privacy. Sometimes I do turn to Google Chrome for its Developer Tools which I find slightly better than those of Firefox.

Last but not least, I constantly use EZ Layout Display, the desktop application I develop that allows ErgoDox EZ Configurator users to display their layout right from their desktop. I started to develop this app the very next day I received my ErgoDox EZ because I was constantly looking for that Configurator tab with my layout and I don’t own a printer. Funny story: To help motivate myself, I decided not to use the ErgoDox EZ as long as the first release of the app was not published! This decision dramatically boosted my evening productivity.

So far,community reception has been great. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all the kind words and support! That is only the beginning of this project and I have a lot of work and even more fun ideas to improve this application.

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

I currently only have an ErgoDox EZ Glow at home and I still use the Microsoft one at work so I have to keep the two in a similar key configuration somehow.

I have not customized my ErgoDox yet but I’m considering changing the cables for something a bit more fancy. I have seen some very nice things on Clark Kable and I’ll certainly order something there at some point.

When it comes to custom key caps, I have some mixed feelings: there are some very cool ones but availability is poor at best, and, on the other hand, I must admit that I like the standard key caps that come with the keyboard! For now, I’ll stick with the factory caps I enjoy.

On the software side, I’m an avid user of the Configurator! Since I started using the ErgoDox EZ, I’ve been constantly moving keys and modifiers around, and most of the time it’s from one half to the other. I developed EZ Layout Display for this main purpose: being able to modify my layout while having an easy way to get a reminder. I don’t know if I would be playing so much with my layout if I didn’t have this app.

As a native of France, I used to type on an AZERTY layout. When I first came to Canada, I switched to QWERTY because ‘when in Rome’… Now, with my ErgoDox EZ, I’m considering giving the Dvorak layout a shot in the upcoming month. That will certainly require a second keyboard for my office!

What would be your dream setup?

I’m quite satisfied with my current setup but I might increase my display surface with a third screen. Either a third 24” or, if I let myself go wild, a curved 32” with my two 24” on each side.

Also, I would very much like a Microsoft Hololens, as one of my 2019 goals is to build a mixed reality app. I know there’s an emulator that comes with the SDK, but that would be so much more fun to actually test the build!

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