The people who use our boards.
The people who use our boards.
Varun SainiSoftware Engineer
Who are you, and what do you do?
Hello! My name is Varun. I work as a Staff Software Engineer at Walmart. I have mostly done backend development for the past 12 years, and have been writing network services in the Go programming language for the last five years.
I work from home full-time and live in a mid-sized Chicago suburb with my wife and two children. My son is eight years old and my daughter is two years old. In my free time, I love reading and sometimes cooking. I also like taking photos sometimes.
In my free time, I organize meetups and contribute to open source. I organize the ChicaGo meetup, and I am a contributor and maintainer of the Sarama library. I also blog sometimes at https://varunksaini.com.
What hardware do you use?
My personal computer is a 15” MacBook Pro from 2012. It had bunch of problems three years back, so Apple fixed its motherboard and keyboard, etc., and now it is working fine.
I also have a 13” MacBook Pro (2019) for office work. I don’t like the keyboard much on that.
It took me some time to convince myself to buy the ErgoDox EZ, but once I had it, I became a huge fan of it. I always use my ErgoDox EZ with my office machine as I spend most of my working hours on my office laptop.
I have a Raspberry Pi, and I run Pi-hole to block ads for the whole house. I use an iPhone SE and Anker Bluetooth earbuds for workouts. I also have a pair of Sennheiser HD6XX over-the-ear headphones which I use for listening to music.
And what software?
As much as I would like to use Linux as my primary, I am still using macOS on both my office and personal laptops. When it comes to writing code, I spend most of my time working in the Go programming language. I was using Vim inside tmux in a terminal mostly, but nowadays I am also using VS Code with Vim key bindings.
I use Safari and Firefox for my browsing needs. I don’t have many extensions, but the 1Password extension is must-have for password creation and filling-in across all my devices. For office work, I use GitHub, JIRA, Confluence, etc.
Other frequently-used tools are Alfred, Slack, Pixelmator Pro, Mail.app, Anki, etc. Anki is an interesting one; if you want to get into spaced repetition to learn a concept, Anki is very helpful. I use Anki on my laptop as well as my phone.
For note-taking, I use Bear and Notes.app on Apple devices. All my notes are synced to iCloud so they are available on all of my devices. I generally write notes in Markdown and then export them in whatever format I need.
What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?
I have a black ErgoDox EX Glow with matching wrist rest and Cherry MX Blue switches (I love the clicky sound). I love the backlit keys and keep changing my light scheme. I have official keycaps (thinking of getting fancy ones in the future but haven’t found any that I like that have backlighting).
I use a custom layout (ErgoDox EZ Configurator), which is a work in progress but getting better every day. I have space and backspace keys on the left half of the keyboard, so that my right hand has to do less work. I also moved the Command and Option keys to the home row, so that I can use keyboard shortcuts to move among browser tabs. I also have some keys as shortcuts for VS Code.
Before ErgoDox, I had a WASD CODE mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches. I still like that keyboard, but I started having some discomfort in my right hand/upper back. I was worried that I was going to get RSI, so I decided to get an ErgoDox EZ instead. The ErgoDox’s split design has definitely helped me with my RSI-like symptoms: I don’t get any numbness in my right hand and can code all day without many issues. I am also making some changes to my posture and workspace. I am sitting straight, and my hands are hanging and not touching the keyboard or table while typing.
I am not using an external mouse anymore. I either use mouse keys on the keyboard or the trackpad on the laptop itself. It’s been working, but I have been looking into some ergonomic solutions for mousing, too.
What would be your dream setup?
As you can see in my pictures, my ErgoDox EZ is connected directly to my laptop, while my laptop sits on a Rain Design laptop stand. I am planning to buy a 4K monitor in the next month or so. My current Ikea desk can be changed between standing/sitting positions, but the process is manual and tedious, so I am also planning to buy a motorized desk that can be used for both standing and sitting setups. I have a Steelcase Leap chair and love it. Ask me next year and I might have my dream setup. One thing I am sure of is that the ErgoDox EZ is going to be a big part of my dream setup.