The Setup - Andy Theyers

As part of an ongoing series where we ask industry professionals what they use to get the job done, we speak to Andy, Director and founder of software development business Isotoma.

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Andy Theyers, and I'm one of the Directors and founders of Isotoma, a software development business in York. Me and Doug (my business partner) have been building online applications since 1995 (our rather dodgy claim to fame is we built the first online supermarket in the UK, back when people were unsure if the FRAME tag was going to take off!)

While I've spent most of those twenty odd years as a developer the majority of my job today is talking rather than building, helping our customers define and refine their requirements before handing on to the rest of Isotoma for the build.

What hardware do you use?

The advent of cloud storage, along with good quality package management and source control means that I'm fairly hardware agnostic nowadays. I keep a lot of environments running simultaneously; from an absolute beast of a desktop at home (eight core i7 with 32GB RAM and dual SSDs, also for gaming) through to a more modest machine at work, plus a couple of laptops. Right now I'm in love with my Dell XPS13 developer edition, but this is the first time I've strayed from Lenovo for years. The 3rd Generation Carbon X1 was a real let down for Linux users, sadly, so I've been forced to look elsewhere. I had a brief dalliance with a MacBook Air, but as a python programmer the keyboard drove me round the twist so it had to go.

The desktops both have two large monitors; it's a luxury I can't do without.

I'm obsessed with tiny computers, so have a huge array of machines cluttering up my desk; every conceivable variant of Raspberry Pi, BBC microbit, Sheeva, Pogo, Up, you name it, there'll be one hiding somewhere. Each of them has a purpose, I promise!

I'm currently running a One Plus X as my phone; I love the size and feel of it, but the lack of storage is a real pain. If it weren't for the eye watering price I'd be considering a Pixel as a replacement. I care about form factor more than anything else when it comes to phones; most recent high end phones are simply too big.

And what software?

Day in day out I spend a lot of time inside the Google apps suite; we moved the business lock stock and barrel to Google about a year ago and it's been transformational. We resisted for years, but the simplicity of having someone else worry about all that stuff has freed us up.

When I'm coding Python I use Wing as my IDE. For me the debugger and its support for Django and Django templates make it the standout in its class. When I'm writing Javascript I use Sublime Text; like Wing it won me over years ago and it keeps improving.

I rely heavily on virtualisation, so VirtualBox is installed on every machine I touch. It means I can run any operating system as the host, but still have access to a consistent Ubuntu development environment. Right now my desktops are running Ubuntu 16.10, while my laptop is running Windows 10 with the Ubuntu subsystem installed. This seems to shock people given Isotoma's background as Open Source advocates, but it's an experiment that's working out really well. Honestly! And the battery life is amazing; I can often run for 13 hours between charges. However good the Linux support for the XPS13 is it doesn't return that kind of battery life.

I use Thunderbird for my mail, partly because I have lots of different accounts to manage and partly because the GMail web interface does my head in. Chrome is my browser of choice. We use Slack for team communications. We used to use IRC, but Slack's convenience and cross device support increasingly made us feel like dinosaurs so we moved a year or so ago and have never looked back.

What would be your dream setup?

Ubuntu, lots of RAM, fast processors, two monitors, a standing desk, some really good speakers, an ergonomic keyboard, infinite cups of tea, and the fastest internet money can buy!

One item you can't live without?

I hate to say it, but my phone. I wish it wasn't, particularly with the constant torrent of bad news it's been exposing me to over the last year, but I'd be lost without it. It's everything; my email, social media, news, gaming, guitar tuner, SSH client, navigator, exercise tracker. How did we cope without them?

Thanks Andy!

Andy Theyers on 3rd February 2017.

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