The Setup

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

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Kate Ray

Kate Ray

Web developer, technical co-founder (scroll kit)

Posted

Who are you, and what do you do?

Kate Ray (@kraykray), technical co-founder of scroll kit, Ruby/Javascript coder. Also made some stuff like this documentary on the semantic web, and this app TeachYourselfToCode. I'm into tools that make people creators.

What hardware do you use?

I've got a 15" MacBook Pro that's about two and a half years old (2010 model) but is good to me. It's set up on this laptop stand with a wireless keyboard and trackpad. I wear a big pair of over-the-ear headphones even though I don't listen to music while working; I think the physical metaphor of plugging into my computer improves my focus. I have a standing desk (actually an IKEA bar table), along with an anti-fatigue mat, that I use sometimes.

What I'll pick out though, is the large lined paper notebook that's next to my computer at all times. Every morning, I write out my day's to-do list, drawn together from all the apps and emails and github issues. It's immensely focusing to look at exactly what I plan to accomplish for the day on a plain sheet of paper. Then for the rest of the day the notebook is my scratchpad, for lists and drawings and frequently just my internal monologue as I'm working through a problem (looking through my book, I find such useful observations as, "WTF IS GOING ON???"). But actually a lot of those notes help me later on when I'm trying to remember why I coded something a certain way or made some decision. Something about my own handwriting seems to trigger my memory.

I also have a laser star projector that I'm sure improves my code in some occult way.

And what software?

I spend most of the day switching between Chrome, iTerm, and Sublime Text 2 (Monokai color scheme). I can corroborate this because I use RescueTime to track my productivity based on which applications I'm using. I'm a terrible insomniac so I also use f.lux, which slowly warms the colors of your screen based on the time of day and supposedly helps with your circadian rhythm or something.

I'm on Github of course, and use Github issues as my main to-do list, plus GitX for complicated code merges, and this GitApp iPhone app for whenever I decide I must read some part of my code on my phone, which happens surprisingly often.

My cofounder and I have also been using Google Docs for awhile now and I can't imagine how we'd work without it. We literally write together - I'll start a new paragraph but leave only sentence fragments, he'll go through them and add examples while I'm in a different part of the document correcting his grammar and punctuation. We write emails, blog posts and slide decks this way, and end up with things neither of us could have written alone.

Other tools/services we use and <3 at scroll kit: heroku, chartbeat, mixpanel, Amazon s3 / Cloudfront, and Olark - which enables the most human of feedback and often helps me remember why I'm working at all.

What would be your dream setup?

Okay, if this is like fantasy sci-fi dream, I'd say a noiseproof single-person pod, designed by Apple, built for a standing/leaning posture, with most of the front being taken up by a screen and a window on one side so I wouldn't get claustrophobic (and, if I'm allowed, in outer space with a nice view of stars). I like burrowing into small spaces.