ErgoDox EZ Users

Matt Moriarity

Engineer @ Travis CI
Matt Moriarity

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Matt Moriarity. I’m a staff engineer working remotely for Travis CI on their macOS build infrastructure. I’m currently living in Austin, TX, but that may change at some point. I really love working for a remote-friendly company that doesn’t care where I live. I’ve relocated for previous jobs, and it’s nice to know that the next time I move, it will be for me and not for the company I work for.

What hardware do you use?

These days, I’m switching between a 12” MacBook for personal use and a 13” MacBook Pro for work, both in stylish space grey. I’ve been a Mac user for almost 15 years now, after spending some quality time with Windows and many distros of Linux. I think I’d be very sad if I had to stop using a Mac for my work.

Setup

My desk setup is a bit janky right now. I have a rather large desk I got on Craigslist back when I was using three monitors at once. Since I got it, though, I decided that being able to stand sometimes was more important, so I got a desk topper that can adjust to standing height. It can’t support the weight of so many monitors, so I’ve downsized a bit, and now the desk is ridiculously large for what’s on it.

When I am sitting at my desk, whichever Mac I’m using is plugged into a Dell 27” monitor, my ErgoDox EZ, and a Magic Trackpad 2. Apple makes the best trackpads hands down, and I’ve found that I like using a trackpad even when at my desk, at least out of the options I’ve tried. I’m considering getting a good vertical mouse instead, though: it’s on my wishlist.

When I’m away from my computer, I use my iPhone X to stay connected with things. It’s a really great phone.

I recently bought an AeroPress for making my morning and afternoon cups of coffee. I’d thought about getting one for years, and now that I’ve used it, I feel ridiculous for waiting so long.

And what software?

I use Vim a lot. Pretty much all of the code I write now is written in NeoVim running in iTerm2, whether that’s Ruby, Go, Bash, or any number of other things. I’ve used almost every other text editor under the sun at one point or another (including Emacs in many forms) but right now Vim is the tool I’m trying to master. To do that, I’ve been reading Practical Vim and Modern Vim, which are both excellent books full of tips that helped me get way more out of using Vim.

I spend a lot of time in Slack as it’s the main way I can keep in touch with my fellow remote teammates.

When I’m being good about it, I use OmniFocus on my Mac and iPhone to keep track of things I need to do. I tend to go in cycles of using a task manager or not.

I use a combination of 1Password and iCloud Keychain to keep all my passwords and software licenses. iCloud is mostly there for convenience, especially on my iPhone, where it’s available in places that 1Password isn’t integrated into the system yet. Most of my passwords are in both.

Most of the time I like using Twitter to keep up with people and the world. I use Twitterrific rather than the official client or website for reading my timeline. However, when it comes to posting, I prefer to post to my own Wordpress site with Micro.blog and let it be cross-posted to Twitter automatically. It’s nice to know that whatever happens to Twitter in the future, I will always have access to the things I post to it.

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

I’ve used mechanical keyboards for years since I got my first, a Das Keyboard. At some point two years ago or so, I noticed I was getting some RSI symptoms in my shoulder and wrist. I started looking at what I could do to address it, and I discovered the ErgoDox as a mechanical keyboard that was ergonomic and that I could program to work however it made sense for me.

I actually started off trying to build my ErgoDox from parts based on guides. That may have been too ambitious a project given my lack of experience with electrical work, and I think I fried the board. I finally decided that having a great programmable ergonomic keyboard and building my own keyboard could be separate goals, and I’ve been using my ErgoDox EZ as my desk keyboard ever since.

I use Brown switches. I’m not sure if they’re my favorite feeling switch, but they are probably the most practical for me. I work remotely, and louder switches can lead to unpleasantness when typing while videoconferencing. At some point, I’d love to try using the Matias Quiet Click switches to get something clicky but still quiet, but it’s a lot harder to find keycaps that fit ALPS-style switches.

My keyboard layout is pretty far from the stock layout. One of the things I love about this keyboard is that I can tweak anything I want about the layout. I started from the “townk_osx” layout in the QMK community layouts, and I just kept tweaking it as I found things I wanted to improve. I’ve been using my current layout for a few months, but it’s probably not complete. It’s good enough now that I’m not super motivated to iterate on it at the moment.

My keycaps are pretty basic solid color caps for now. I’m looking forward to replacing them soon with some awesome Scrabble-themed caps designed by Cassidy Williams. I like board games, and the design for these was so well done that I knew when I saw them I had to get them.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is actually probably a bunch of different setups! I get pretty fidgety if I work in one place for too long, so I like to change things up frequently. Sometimes I like to work at my desk, other times you’ll find my on the couch, at the kitchen counter, or at a coffee shop!

When I am at my desk, lots of lighting, especially natural lighting, is crucial. I would love an office with more windows, but in Texas that would make the room get way too hot in the summer. Instead, I’d love to setup lots of Hue lights and adjust the lighting and color based on how I’m feeling. Right now, my office is too dim, and I’d like to fix that.

As mentioned above, my current standing desk setup is a bit cobbled together, so I’d love to replace it with a real mechanized sit-stand desk, complete with laptop and monitor on mounted arms. The less stuff that has to be on my desk surface, the better!