ErgoDox EZ Users

Peter Kay

Site Reliability Engineer @ Stack Overflow
Peter Kay

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Peter and I work as a Site Reliability Engineer @ Stack Overflow (SO). I make sure SO is running smoothly without issues and minimum amount of downtime. I also consult corporations on how to utilize the cloud to maximize their efficiency. I am a big advocate of the “DevOps” methodology and automation. My day-to-day includes making the computers do my bidding so that I can relax at the beach drinking margaritas (shhh, don’t tell the robots that!).

What hardware do you use?

We have desktop refreshes every few years at SO and my awesome colleague, Nick Craver, wrote a wonderful blog on the desktop build that all of our engineers use.

Since SO is a remote-first culture, I work from home frequently and built a desktop to my specifications.

Currently, my desktop build looks like this:

homepc

For peripherals, I have two ErgoDox EZ, one for the office and one for home. I use the Cherry MX Blue switches in the office because we are in our own hex offices (or else my coworkers would hate me). I love the clicky noises that these switches produce as the sounds bounces off the glass walls. At home, I use the Cherry MX Brown switches for their subtle but tactile clicks (or else my wife would hate me). I rarely use my mouse, but I use the Razer Mamba Chroma and the Razer Firefly Mouse Mat because LED is life.

I also run a homelab at home with a Dell R710 that I salvaged off of eBay. It runs all of my virtual servers from backups to my Plex media server. As you can see, I’m very invested in my hardware. This baby has 128GBs of RAM and a 12-Core processor, more than enough to run whatever my heart desires (well… almost). I also have a Synology DS216play NAS on a RAID10 setup totalling 4TBs of usable disk space. I also have a 4TB Seagate external hard drive to backup my NAS (although this doesn’t protect against fires or other disasters at home, I have been actively trying to avoid those…).

dell server

Now, enough about backups! The hardware that connects all of this together are my networking gear. I use a Ubiquiti Edgerouter to route traffic to and from the interwebz. I also have a TP-Link 16-Port Gigabit Smart Switch segmented via VLAN for everything else that needs access to my LAN. This includes my PC, smart hubs, server, management cards, NAS, and any other devices that require a hard-link. I also have a NETGEAR R7000 Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router for all of my smart devices, Amazon Echos, and smart bulbs.

Surely with all this hardware, I must have a decent chair to sit and enjoy all of my hard earned investments, right? Yep! I use the Blue Wau Desk Chair by Scandinavian Designs. And yes, this is the same chair that Richard fell from on HBO’s Silicon Valley.

And what software?

I mentioned before that I rarely use my mouse. This is because I use Arch Linux as my main driver for my operating system. My dotfiles are a fork of Algorithm79 and include a bunch of keyboard hotkeys for all of my day-to-day operations. I use this these settings both at work and home.

I use Visual Studio Code for all of my code crunching at work. We are a .NET shop so most of the magic happens in C#. I use urxvt for terminal and VMware Player to run my Windows VM. I’m supposed to be the PowerShell expert, but ironically I’m running Windows over my Linux machine (again, shhh… don’t tell the humans!).

urxvt

As for my home setup, I run ProxMox as my hypervisor on the Dell R710 and deploy linux containers from there. I can write pages worth of stuff, but I think this piece would be too long for the scope of this interview (and again, shhh… don’t tell the folks at ZSA).

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

I use the all-black ErgoDox EZ with LEDs, blank keycaps and Cherry MX Brown switches at home and Blue at work. I might purchase some Kailh switches to try out how they feel and sound.

ergodoxhome

I use a simple layout which offers me the ability to write scripts a lot easier. I also have been switching between QWERTY and Dvorak layouts to see which one suits me best. It’s all about that efficiency life!

ergodoxwork

What would be your dream setup?

Honestly, I would need to be a rich man to have a dream setup in mind. I would have all these LEDs, rack-mounted servers, and more! I would like something simple and clean, but I would have to move out of my small apartment and into a house of my own.