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 Pamela Fox

Pamela Fox

CTO (Woebot), improv aficionado

Posted in developer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Pamela Fox. My day job is being the CTO at Woebot Labs, where we're making a chatbot that helps you track your moods and reduce your negative thinking habits, based on the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

For fun, I run a Friday Night Improv Club and the occasional Improv in the Park. Plus a quick improv every day at 2pm at work, to re-energize the troops. So, yeah, I'm pretty into improv.

For sanity, I have a daily morning practice, which consists of meditation, Tibetan Yoga stretches, compassion prayer, intention setting, and this other crazy awesome thing. More deets here.

I'm also a recovering craftaholic.

What hardware do you use?

Don't try this at home, kids: I'm using a 5-year-old MacBook Pro. Super heavy, broken webcam, broken-90%-of-time USB drive, and a trackpad that gets possessed every 3 months from the spirit of The Water Damage.

Totally works for writing code though, and hey, if ain't completely-and-utterly-broke, don't trash it.

What I actually spend my time fixing: my ergonomic setup. I was totally cool with slouching all day long for my first 10 years in the tech industry, but then I went on a Buddhist retreat for 4 months, and now I'm hyper aware of how my posture affects my mental state.

My setup now: Rain Stand, Bluetooth keyboard, Bluetooth mouse, and a lumbar pillow that I can strap onto any chair in the house.

My improv setup: a laser-cut Improv Marquee of my own creation. I can easily show our line-up for each night and rearrange games on the fly.

My meditation setup: a pillow, a belt or strap (to counter my slouching tendency), and a doorknob hanger to let my roomies know what I'm doing.

And what software?

We're coding up Woebot using JS gosh-darn-everywhere. The bot code is a Node.js AWS Lambda Function, the long-running tasks are handled by a worker tier Node Beanstalk server, and the website is another Node Beanstalk server. Our "CMS" is a Google Spreadsheet, and we use Google Apps Script (JavaScript) to lint and export the content.

We use Atom as our editor of choice, because all the cool kids use it these days, and we wanted to be cool. 😉

Besides coding, I'm an Adobe addict. I use Illustrator to make designs for the TechShop laser cutter, and Photoshop for anything else I can justify.

What would be your dream setup?

Here's what I'm envisioning:

My office is a small room with large glass windows. It overlooks a beautiful park with a garden and playground. There are little kids playing outside throughout the day, and I'm buddies with most of them. Sometimes my cats come to the office and just chill.

When I want to eat lunch, I grab some veggies from the garden, chop them into a salad, and eat at a little spot overlooking a tadpole pond.

When I want a break from coding, I go outside and swing on the all-ages swingset. I might do a quick ride down the mini zipline, too.

Instead of happy hour, we all head into the craft room that's shared by all the companies in this complex, and we work on projects that improve our office, like signs, terrariums, pots, whatever the craft of the week is.

Oh, and in this dream, my laptop would have a functioning USB drive.