Uses This

1203 interviews since 2009

A picture of Emilie Reed

Emilie Reed

Writer, games historian

in game, windows, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Emilie Reed, and I do a bunch of scattered things at the moment. I completed my PhD in exhibition histories of videogames at the University of Abertay in 2019, and since then I have been doing a variety of freelance writing, event production and workshop facilitation that my skills and background in art history and curation allow me to do. I also maintain my low tech homepage at emreed.net, where I do a lot of writing no one would ever pay me for, curate a vaguely tech and culture themed zine library and run the Plaintext Distro site. I just started a bi-weekly newsletter where people can stay up to date and partially subsidize this really hard to monetize work.

What hardware do you use?

My laptop is a Lenovo Yoga 510, it was discounted because it was the last one of this type at the PC World and I got it in late 2016 when my other laptop wouldn't start up after I came back from a trip! So I kind of got it in a panic but it's lasted well. My phone is an iPhone SE mainly because everything else is too big for my hands. I stopped updating the iOS when there was a big change that would make some of the older app store games, like Flappy Bird, not work, so it has some historical artifacts on it and also still has a pretty steady battery life.

As for the other stuff on my desk, my headphones are just some corded Sony ones my partner lent me and then became provisionally mine just because I use them so much. I have a Blue Snowball microphone a colleague lent me so we could work on a podcast together but I also use it for video calls in general over the past year since the built in laptop mic makes me sound like I'm trying to yell something across a factory floor at you. I have a basic Lenovo wireless mouse too. I also use a Hitachi LG Slim USB drive a lot since I still prefer buying CDs or DVDs when I really like something. I keep track of what I'm doing with a really cute planner notepad printed by Glasgow Zine Library. Also in the midst of optimism about social distancing ending last year I bought a Tandy WP-2 to use as a single-use writing device, but obviously haven't been able to take it out much still...

And what software?

I started using OpenOffice when I got kicked off my student Word subscription, so that's where I do the majority of writing and layout work, unless it's a collaboration, or shared spreadsheet, or presentation, in which case I use Google Docs. My typical browser is Firefox, and I do most work-related communication through Gmail/Discord/Slack and Twitter via TweetDeck... just because that's where people are really. Similar to my relationship with iTunes, it kind of sucks, but it's the way I know how to sync music to my phone so I still use it.

For research I use Zotero to keep track of sources, and Calibre's ebook reader or just Adobe Reader for reading and marking up documents. HexChat is also an important part of this workflow. When I have to edit a bit of audio or video, I use either Audacity or Shotcut, and VLC is my general purpose media player. I use GIMP 2 for the occasional stuff that MS Paint can't handle, though I also like playing around with old school and unconventional image programs like Flying Colors.

As for making games and web based stuff, the three engines I've used are Bitsy, Twine and Construct 2, I'm trying something in RenJS right now. I post my stuff and find games through itch.io, I really hate when I have to open one of the storefront applications so try to avoid it. When I have to go in and tweak the code, I use Notepad++. It can be helpful for writing website stuff as well but usually I just do that right in the editor Neocities offers. Most of my site stuff is handwritten HTML but I've also done some fun things with Marina Kittaka's Zonelets, Domino by candle (which is also a great brainstorming and presentation planning tool), and Patternify, Ditherlicious, and Strike for making tiled backgrounds and dither effects.

Oh, and mComm is how I send the text files on my WP-2 to my laptop!

What would be your dream setup?

When I think about what I want from technology, I find the stuff on the Low Tech Magazine blog really helpful. My ideal computer would still be something portable, I think, but also "industrial grade" in terms of sturdiness and longevity and with fully repairable/replaceable parts, so it would basically be something you live with, rather than have to move from every few years! That's my ultimate fantasy! Aesthetically I really like e-ink and wish there were more options for devices that used that. I also really like using lightweight and always-offline programs when I can. I feel like I've had a shift over the last few years of more explicitly seeing the value of these things, so when the time comes to replace this extremely sleek and impenetrable machine I'll be looking into building something like this.

I probably need a better chair and desk, since the ones I used were just picked from the nearest charity shop. My partner and I both have our desks in the front room of our flat which has a big window and gets a lot of sun, which is a big plus... when it's sunny. Once we're vaccinated, we'll probably move to a slightly bigger place, so I can pick out something a bit more deliberately in that area again, but honestly the best thing about the extra space will be being able to get a cat and maybe start some casual pickling projects. Maybe plant a berry bush.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.