ErgoDox EZ Users

Varun Saini

Software Engineer
Varun Saini

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?

setup.jpg
Varun's original setup

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?

keyboard.jpg
Varun's ErgoDox EZ Glow

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?

updated_setup.jpg
Varun's in-progress setup, with standing desk and ergo mouse

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.

Update: I bought a standing desk and ergo mouse. The desk is from Costco, the Tresanti standing desk, and the mouse is the Logitech MX Ergo, the one with a trackball.

updated_setup2.jpg
Varun's updated setup, with 4K monitor