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 Thomson Nguyen

Thomson Nguyen

Data scientist (Lookout Mobile Security)

Posted in data, linux, mac, scientist

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Thomson, and I'm the data scientist at Lookout Mobile Security, where I ship models. I'm also a visiting scholar at the Courant Institute at NYU, where I ship papers on models. I'm only now beginning to understand the depth of mobile malware detection as it relates to machine learning, and I'm excited, humbled, and just plain lucky to be able to hack on meaningful problems that have some positive effect on people.

In my free time, I enjoy finding good reuben sandwich places and working on competitions on Kaggle.

What hardware do you use?

A large majority of my time is spent thinking, pacing, and writing -- a lot of my ideas first start on various napkins, whiteboards, and scraps of paper. I have a lucky pair of green converses that I wear when I need to take "math walks" around the city. When computers are required, I use a 15" 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and an SSD. In the office, the laptop is on an mStand and attached to two 24" Samsung monitors, one of which is connected through a Diamond USB Display adapter. I have a Magic Mouse and an external Apple Wireless Keyboard, although I'm replacing that with a Kinesis Advantage Pro when I get around to it. I spent like three hours trying to tweak my Aeron chair, and it actually feels just as comfortable as my neighbor's. I don't think I know how this works.

We're a mobile security company, so in addition to an old HTC HD2 that's been reflashed to Android, I also have a Droid Bionic that serves as my primary phone, mobile hotspot, alarm clock, and dubstep player. When I'm on the plane to New York, my two lifesavers are my noise-canceling headphones and my iPad, which I use to read and annotate papers.

My stats-crunching baby at Lookout is an Ubuntu cluster named celery, because celery is crunchy and it crunches data. I have no shame.

And what software?

Most of my models are written in R and Ruby. I do like RStudio, but lately I've been finding myself using Vim-R almost exclusively these past few weeks. I use bitchx to chat on my work's IRC server, and finch for most IM protocols. I read and compose e-mail in mutt, but keep handy whenever I need to read HTML mails.

I really like iTerm as my terminal emulator. I just converted to tmux from screen as my terminal manager. vim is my text editor, and I'm almost afraid to admit that twitVim is my Twitter client. I write my papers in LaTeX and my slide decks in Keynote. My friends and I trade playlists in Spotify and really cool machine learning papers on our shared Dropbox folder. I use Divvy when I need to arrange windows, and I actually can't open programs without Alfred. For all the console based software I use, I still can't find a better news reader than Reeder, or a better task manager than Wunderlist.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is actually an unlimited supply of Pimm's cup, my backlog of papers and books to read, and all the time in the world.