Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Lena Reinhard

Lena Reinhard

Director of Engineering, CircleCI

Posted in developer, mac, manager

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Lena Reinhard. I'm based in Berlin, Germany. After a career in finance, arts, and media, I got into tech, co-founded a software company, and became a CEO. Ever since, my main focus has been supporting distributed engineering organisations around the world, currently as Director of Engineering at CircleCI.

I love working with people and helping build organisations where they can learn, grow, and thrive and deliver great products together. I really enjoy being organised, and helping organisations get organised through structures, processes, and frameworks has become a focus of my career.

I'm also a public speaker, writer, and photographer. I like reading books, petting dogs, hiking in forests, making pizza and bread, I play the violin and am slowly learning to play the piano.

What hardware do you use?

Let's start with work:

  • My desk is two wooden trestle legs with a former bed frame part as the tabletop. On the desk, I have:
  • My MacBook Pro 2018, 13", is a very good laptop for all I need, and handles those days with lots of open applications and endless browser tabs very gracefully.
  • I'm considering getting a second Dell UltraSharp Monitor U2415, for extra-large spreadsheet editing.
  • I'm in a lot of virtual meetings, and the Logitech C920 HD webcam helps me be there.
  • The Apple Magic Keyboard is bad for my hand posture and I dislike the tactile experience, I need to make the time to find a new keyboard sometime.
  • I got the Logitech M570 trackball years ago when I had issues with my hands and wrists and like it a lot, especially the trackball is great (I love a speedy mouse).
  • Using my Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones for meetings, of all things, is very ironic, but they're really great for this purpose: the soft ear pieces make them great to wear for long stretches of time.

For my personal & freelance work:

  • I have a MacBook Pro 2015 which I got for my freelance photography & writing work. It's unfortunately long beyond its hay days, and the amount of bugs make it really difficult to edit pictures with it at this point.
  • I use an iPhone XS with a pair of Sony MDR earphones for music and phone calls.
  • End of last year, I got my first tablet, an iPad with a pencil (the latter being the main reason I bought it), and use it a lot, mostly for note-taking, drawing, and watching TV shows on long flights. I'm on a plane right now and writing this post on the iPad.
  • Whitelines notebooks are beautiful and make writing so much nicer.
  • Pan: Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker makes bread baking and making pan pizza so much fun.
  • Knife: I got a Swiss Army Camper knife as a present over 20 years ago, and it still accompanies me on every hike.
  • Camera: A Canon EOS 6D, with my favourite lenses (50mm 1.4, 35mm 2.0), has been a trusted companion for many years.
  • By far the chunkiest piece of hardware I own is my piano, a Kawai CA58, which I enjoy very much. It's a lovely instrument and being able to practice at 11:30pm at night, while still staying friends with my neighbours, is only one of its many nice features.
  • Bag: I carry things around in Frank by Aly Capellino, and it goes very smoothly from grocery shopping, to work meetings, to bike trips, to travels.
  • Suitcase: I travel quite frequently for work, and a Samsonite Neopulse Spinner in S travels with me.

And what software?

  • Calendar apps: – Checking my calendar is part of my routine for ending and starting my day – the majority of my (work) life runs on a tight schedule, and managing it all would be impossible without calendars. My default is Fantastical on desktop and Google Calendar on mobile.
  • To-dos: – I manage all my work tasks through Todoist to maintain my intricate weekday-based task management system. In addition, I sometimes put to-dos into my calendar (especially if I need time blocked out to work on them), same goes for my personal to-dos.
  • Documents: Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms are my bread and butter. This is where 1:1 documents live, as well as process notes, presentations, and feedback forms. My teams and I work asynchronously a lot, and we rely heavily on the ability to discuss through comments and suggestions. I have the Docs and Spreadsheets apps on my phone as well.
  • Communication: – For all email, I use Airmail on desktop and Spark on mobile. For real-time(-ish) communication at work, I use Slack & Zoom.
  • Reading: – I read a lot online, and Pocket is one of my all-time favourite apps. It's also become my personal archive that I use for talk preparation and at work, and I probably care a little bit too much about the annual highscore email from Pocket. I love RSS feeds and use Reeder for my daily dose of blog posts by friends, short stories, food content, and local news.
  • Tracking progress: – I got into sleep tracking by accident and have been using Sleep Cycle for almost nine years now. I track bike rides in Strava, my spending in Buddy, the books I read in Goodreads, and use TripIt to organise my travels.
  • Note-taking, writing, blogging, conference speaking: – I LOVE Notability – being able to write using the pencil with my iPad, but also add images, type text, draw, highlight, all in one app, still amazes me, and fits my writing style very well. I use it for note taking at workshops, panels, conferences, as well as for research on my conference talks, which eventually go into Keynote. For writing in Markdown, I like Typora and iA Writer.
  • Sketching, drawing: – One of my favourite things about the iPad has been doing more sketches and drawings using Sketches and Procreate.
  • Playing:Spotify is on all my devices, and I still continue scrobbling to I like playing games on long flights, and especially enjoy Monument Valley, Alto's Odyssey, Eloh, RULES!, and Tiny Wings.
  • Really nice tools: – I like keeping my hands on the keyboard wherever I can, and there are a few tools that help with that: Alfred for shortcuts and making my recurring tasks so much easier, Magnet for keeping my workspaces organised, Rocket for adding emoji (everyone should use more emoji!), and the app for urgent vocabulary needs.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm pretty content with this setup – my only annoyance is the amount of cables on my desk (mostly for aesthetic reasons). Otherwise, a small wish list:

  • A height-adjustable desk would be fabulous. I sawed a few centimetres off the trestle legs on my desk recently and accidentally sawed off one leg twice (the first time I saw the real version of the German proverb "zweimal abgesägt und immer noch zu kurz" ("sawed off twice and still too short"). Since my desk is now held up by a pile of books underneath this leg, I think it might be time for a more stable setup.
  • An ergonomic mechanical keyboard: I'd love to find one of those, but so far haven't had the time to look into them yet. It would be great to get one with a German layout, since I work in English, but learned typing on a German layout typewriter, and have set all my (by default English) layouts to German, which is very confusing.
  • A smaller camera. I wish my camera was everything that it is, only smaller and more portable.