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Back in 2018, I did an interview with Uses This, which captures the tools and technology that creative people use. In that vein, I thought I'd update it for 2024.

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Charlie Gleason, a designerdeveloper, and musician. I push around pencils and pixels at Heroku Salesforce, working on developer tooling and experience. I have worked on a ton of projects, personally and professionally, the most interesting ones of which you can find at my site. I studied design at university, and then went back to do computer science, and I sweat the intersection of design and code.

What hardware do you use?

For most things, I use my trusty Intel MacBook Pro, the last of its kind, which I spent a silly amount of money on during the pandemic right before Apple announced an entirely new architecture. Good times all round in 2020.

I use an Apple Studio Display, a wireless Magic Keyboard with a number pad, and a Magic Mouse.

When doing 3D modelling I use a Logitech G502 wireless mouse because 3D modelling is a lot easier with three buttons and a scroll wheel. I also lose the wireless dongle once a week, and it drives me bananas.

For all things AI and machine learning, I have a Teenager Engineering designed Computer-1 case in day-glo orange, housing an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X with an Nvidia 3060, running Ubuntu. I use Tailscale to make managing my home network easier.

For ideation and design stuff, I tend to sketch ideas out with a pen and paper. (Actually, that's a lie. That's pretty rare. I think I'm faster in Figma than I am at actually drawing things out, and it's infinitely more malleable. So I usally just throw boxes in Figma.)

For music I use a whole ton of bits and pieces I've collected over the years. The key pieces, beyond my laptop, are Ableton's Push 3, Focusrite's Scarlett 2i2, and a Radial DI and microphone splitter. I spend a lot of time trying not to buy an OP-1 Field or an Elektron Digitone. Also, I love Radial Engineering—their stuff could fall out of a plane and it would still work.

And what software?

For design I use Figma, as mentioned. For development, VS Code. The real secret sauce for development is the Operator Mono font, though. It's really pretty.

Oh, I also recently moved from Chrome to Arc, which has some really interesting ideas around the browser and managing tabs.

For terminal stuff, I use oh-my-zsh, powerlevel10k, and a bunch of utilities like zfz and bat.

For backups and moving files around rclone is great. The feature set alone is proof of the power of open-source.

For notes, I use VSCode or IA Writer, but I've previously loved using Bear.

For music I use Ableton with Fabfilter's creative plugins. I love the design of Fabfilter. It has a super clean, clear UI, which is beyond a rarity for software plugins.

What would be your dream setup?

The older I get the more I've realised that the amount of stuff you have doesn't really correlate to your level of personal happiness. And technology changes so rapidly that whatever your dream is, it'll be superseded in a year anyway.

So I think my dream setup is whatever I have right now, that generally meets my needs. In life, as in product design, perfect is the enemy of good. If it works well, then the rest is just gravy.