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308 interviews since 2018

Zelda Hessler

Professional Rustacean @ AWS

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

My name is Zelda Hessler, and I’m a Rust developer. I currently work on the AWS Rust SDK for Amazon Web Services. I work remotely from my home office in Chicago, Illinois.

Outside of work, I’m a serial hobbyist. I play several instruments and like to make electronic music. I also like reading, growing (and often overwatering) plants, watching old movies, riding my electric bike around Chicago, and taking photographs. I also write programs that generate art, either to be looked at on a computer or drawn out by my drawing robot.

Zelda Hessler's plant
Zelda waters her plants assiduously

Recently I bought a microscope to look at the creatures that live in pond scum, and that’s been fascinating. I also enjoy 3D modeling things in Blender, and I’m working on a game developed with Godot.

Zelda Hessler's mycelium microscopy
Zelda snapped this pic of a dried mycelium part

What hardware do you use?

For work, I use a 16” MacBook Pro. For my own amusement, I have a gaming PC that I put together. They’re both connected to a Gigabyte M32U monitor that acts as a KVM switch. I use a Magic Trackpad with the Mac and a Logitech MX Vertical Advanced Ergonomic Mouse with my PC. My desk is a hand-cranked standing desk from Ikea, and I sit in a Herman Miller Aeron chair.

Zelda Hessler's setup, up close
Zelda's setup is lively but tidy

I have various synthesizers and music-related things around me because I like to play when I’m stuck in boring meetings. My main synthesizers are a Novation Summit and an ASM Hydrasynth, and I love them dearly. Also close to my heart is my SOMA Lyra 8. I listen to all of them through my KRK Rokit monitor speakers driven by my Focusrite Scarlett 18i8. There’s also an oversized KRK subwoofer under the desk. When I’m not recording into my computer directly, I’ll record with a Tascam DR-40X.

Zelda Hessler's setup
A more complete picure of Zelda's setup includes her synthesizers

I have an AxiDraw v3 for drawing out some of my computer-generated art.

And what software?

When writing code for work, I use either VS Code or IntelliJ. When coding for myself, I use VS Code alone.

For music making and recording, I prefer Ableton Live. I use MuseScore to write sheet music. I also enjoy playing the soft synths produced by Arturia. Many of them recreate the sound and interface of classic synths from the past, and it’s so cool to have those old sounds at your fingertips, especially considering many old synths had no way of saving presets and quickly switching between them.

I take a great deal of notes on everything, and I use an app called Logseq. I love it for three reasons:

  1. All notes are saved as simple markdown files, which means I’m not locked in to using Logseq forever.
  2. The UX of the editor is very customizable, and you can style it however you wish so long as you know CSS.
  3. The style of taking notes that it encourages fits very well with how my brain works. The structure of notes emerges after writing them, freeing me from figuring out where an individual note should be placed. I can just write, and then link things together as I go, freely embedding notes or links to notes within other notes.

I also use and love many other open-source programs, including Audacity, Blender, GIMP, Inkscape, Krita, and Syncthing. We’re really lucky to live in a time when such awesome software is freely available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection.

Zelda Hessler's keyboard
Zelda keeps her keyboard colorful with lights, not keycaps

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

I have a Moonlander. I’ve replaced the original Cherry Brown switches with Kailh Pro Burgundy switches. They’re wonderful to type on, relatively quiet, and easy on the fingers. For keycaps, I’m using some of the original black keycaps, but I’ve replaced most of them with plain white translucent keycaps. I used to have a problem with looking at my hands when typing, and removing most visible symbols has helped me cut that out.

Zelda Hessler's keyswitch
Zelda's favorite keyswitches keep her fingers happy

I use a custom layout, and it’s based on the Workman keyboard layout. It has some extra settings that make it easier for me to code in Rust, and it also includes a QWERTY layer for when I want to play games but don’t feel like plugging in my other mechanical keyboard. It also has a mouse emulation layer just in case I need it. I switched to Workman about two years ago now and never looked back. It feels very nice to type in, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to try out a new layout. I was able to get up to my old QWERTY speed after two months of practice, which I wrote about.

What would be your dream setup?

I kind of already have my dream setup. Every day, I get to look out my back window into a quiet alley filled with greenery, birds, and squirrels, and I love them. I have just enough space on my desk for a few plants, and I love them. My synths are always right next to me and ready to be played, and I love them. My Moonlander is a pleasure to type on, and I love it.

P.S. Sometimes I dream of getting a Yamaha Montage 8, but they’re quite expensive and I don’t have anywhere to put it (which is probably for the best.)

Zelda Hessler's cute plant
Thanks, Zelda! There really is a lot to love here

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