How I work

I have seen a few different blogs interviewing people showcasing how they do their daily work.  It inspired me to do my own version.

How I work
My name is Axe and this is how I work

Current gig: Senior Developer @ Ives Group Inc.

Location: Milford, MA

Current mobile device: iPhone 7

Current computer: 13″ Macbook Pro running a lot of Linux virtual machines.

One word that best describes how you work: Obsessive

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Being a remote employee I really rely on Dropbox to keep working files syncing between my local machines and my remote machines.  That tied in with Google Drive lets me be able access everything that I have for working documents.  Evernote and Google Keep keep track of my notes and references while I am on the go or walking around the house on my Nexus 7.  I use VirtualBox a lot.  Currently on my Mac I have about 12 virtual machines that I use for various things and having a dedicated development environment that is completely separated from my machine is a must have for me.

What’s your workspace set up like?

Cluttered! I realized a long time ago that I am not good at keeping my desk neat, but I am still able to find everything in the clutter. So I gave up on trying to keep a neat desk and have learned to embrace the chaos. I have a regular desk with my laptop, a 27″ external monitor with all my wires and hard drives velcroed to the back of it. A cork board and a wall sized white board. I have a big window in my office and depending on the mood it is either very light or very dark.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Better living through automation! There are a couple things that I lump into automation.

  • Templates I have templates for everything, t-sql (several depending on what I am writing), C# (projects, classes, references), php (projects, classes, tools), emails, notes, project plans.  I find it much easier to document things when the bulk of the mundane text is already entered and there, then the doc blocks are unfinished entries and I feel compelled to fill them in, as oppose to being to lazy to just not add them.
  • Text expansion.  If you type a lot, start using something to expand small text snippets into longer ones.  Initially I had a hard time using these because I went too short with my snippets, having “S” expand to “SELECT” will cause you trouble.  But having “WNL” expand to “WITH (NOLOCK)” are the kind of things that can add up over a day of typing.  It does take some tweaking to get it down to what works for you, but if you keep at it until you have a system that works, you will not regret it.
  • Writing code that writes code! One of the biggest that I use is Excel. Copy in a list of things, a little string manipulation equation, drag across all the data and BOOM you just wrote a page long switch case in a couple seconds.  The longer the manipulation you have to do across a range of values the more satisfying it will be to copy-paste that into you code.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

A pen and paper. I have tried several task managers, note takers, and everything in between and I found that for me a moleskin large notebook a couple colored pens and a couple highlighters are the best way for me to go. Everything from project management to random ideas goes into that notebook. I keep it laid out like a lab notebook from back in my mechanical engineering days.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

My moleskin notebook and my Levenger Bomber Jacket International pocket briefcase. The pocket briefcase is my carry around note taker. I keep several index cards in there as well as a FieldNotes notebook.  The notes on the index cards do not last in the wallet long, they are either discarded as random craziness or get put straight into my moleskin for later.   The notes in the FieldNotes notebook are more long-term notes, like Christmas shopping ideas or notes from a trip or for an upcoming trip.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I am a really good cook, and I love to cook.  My favorite thing is trying to take ordinary things and make them really pop with flavor.  I think the thing that I get requested to make the most are my deviled eggs, which are out of this world.  I also make a really good pizza!

What do you listen to while you work?

I have a nice little music setup through a Raspberry Pi connected to external speakers running an MPD service on it.  I have an MPD client on my cell phone and tablet so when I get a phone call the music pauses and starts back up once it is done.  I also can change what is playing easily on the tablet if I am in the mood for something different.  I have two current playlists that I use while I work. The main list is my all AC/DC playlist from across their entire collection. The second is a classic rock playlist with a little of everything in there just set on random.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Boring, for me most nights it is to bed by 11 pm and up again around 7 am, even on the weekends.  Some nights it does not work out that way and I just can not shut my brain off to get to sleep, but most nights it is like clockwork.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Always have something to write with, and to write on!

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