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I like figuring things out. I like making things. And I want to do as much of that as I can. And part of being able to do that is to have the best personal infrastructure I can. Some of them are, yes, quite nerdy. But they certainly help me be productive. And maybe in time more and more of them will become mainstream, as a few already have. Yes, it could and should be larger, and have more commercial reach. I could talk about how I lead my life, and how I like to balance doing leadership, doing creative work, interacting with people, and doing things that let me learn.

Much of it can probably be helpful to lots of other people too; some of it is pretty specific to my personality, my situation and my patterns of activity. My Daily Life To explain my personal infrastructure, I first have to say a bit about my daily life.

Being a remote CEO helps me achieve that, and stay focused. The keyboard is at the right height for optimal typing. Well, nearly 15 years ago i. Early last summer I noticed that for a couple of weeks my resting heart rate had noticeably gone down. At first I thought it was just because I happened to be systematically doing something I liked then.

But later in the summer, it happened again. For many years my wife had been extolling the virtues of spending time outside. But it had never really seemed practical for me. Yes, I could talk on the phone or, in rare cases, actually talk to someone I was walking with.

Twenty years ago I imagined doing it with an augmented reality display and a one-handed chorded keyboard. But then, last spring, I was at a fancy tech event , and I happened to be just out of the frame of a photo op that involved Jeff Bezos walking with a robotic dog. But what really interested me was the person walking out of the frame on the other side, intently controlling the dog—using a laptop that he had strapped on in front of him as if he were selling popcorn. Could one actually work like this, typing and everything?

And after minor modifications, I discovered that I could walk and type perfectly well with it, even for a couple of hours.

And needless to say, I had it constructed with some special features. So my solution is to have pullouts. If one needs them, pull them out. But whenever something does come across my desk, I like to file it.

There are also other things that have changed over the years. I always want my main computer to be as powerful as possible. And for years that meant that it had to have a big fan to dissipate heat. But since I really like my office to be perfectly quiet it adds a certain calmness that helps my concentration , I had to put the CPU part of my computer in a different room. And to achieve this, I had a conduit in the floor, through which I had to run often-finicky long-distance video cables.

Well, actually, I do basically no videoconferencing. Screensharing is great, and critical. But typically I find video distracting. But if video is on, seeing people who are not paying attention just seems to viscerally kill the mood of almost any meeting. No speakerphones. No bad cellphone connections. I myself remain quite old school. I wear a headset with padding added to compensate for my lack of top-of-head hair with a standard boom microphone.

And—partly out of caution about having a radio transmitter next to my head all day—my headset is wired, albeit with a long wire that lets me roam around my office. Yes, I could connect their video directly into my computer. The document camera also comes in handy when I want to show pages from a physical book, or artifacts of various kinds.

I like the fact that the image from the document camera comes up in a window on my screen, that I can resize however I want. On the Move In some ways I lead a simple life, mostly at my desk. When I go further afield, it gets a bit more complicated. I originally wanted a bag where the computer would fit completely inside, but the nicest bag I could find had the computer sticking out a bit. To my surprise, though, this has worked well. If I actually want to write anything serious, though, out will come my little computer, with its full keyboard.

Back in I invented WolframTones because I wanted to have a unique ringtone for my phone. And when I come back from being out I always take a few moments to transcribe what I wrote down, send out emails, or whatever.

Here are the current contents from my backpack: The centerpiece is a tiny charger, that charges both my computer through USB-C and my phone. I bring various connectors, notably so I can connect to things like projectors. Of course, I always have other stuff too, like a very thin and floppy hat, a light neoprene bag-within-a-bag, glasses wipes, hand sanitizer, mosquito wipes, business cards, pieces of chocolate, etc.

The fourth plastic envelope is used to store things I get on the trip, and it contains little envelopes—approximately one for each day of my trip—in which I put business cards. Years ago, I always used to bring a little white-noise fan with me, to mask background noise, particularly at night. And, actually, as I write this, I realize I should use modern audio processing in the Wolfram Language to just listen to external sounds, and adjust the masking sound to cover them.

Another thing I need when I travel is a clock. It also has a button Start sleep timer. It was a different story before cellphones. I thought I had tried everything. Big cars. Little cars.

Hard suspension. Soft suspension. Front seat. Back seat. Nothing worked. I give talks to the fanciest business, tech and science groups. I give talks to schoolkids. And I essentially always end up doing livecoding. When I was young I traveled quite a bit. I did have portable computers even back in the s my first was an Osborne 1 in , though mostly in those days my only way to stay computer-productive was to have workstation computers shipped to my destinations.

But then technology advanced. And it started being realistic to give talks through videoconferencing. I went through several generations of technology, but a number of years ago I built out a videoconferencing setup in my basement. But basically I have a back-projection screen on which I can see the remote audience. An attachable microphone that leaves my hands free to type.

A network connection that lets me reach our servers. And, of course, to let the audience actually see things, a computer projector. I remember the very first computer projector I used, in And that was one of the places where things failed horribly.

Fortunately we did a test the day before. Underneath, there are things called EDID strings that are exchanged, and these are what typically get tangled up. Computer operating systems have gotten much better about handling this in recent years, but for high-profile, high-production-value events, I have a little box that spoofs EDID strings to force my computer to send a specific signal, regardless of what the projector seems to be asking it for.

Some of the talks I give are completely spontaneous. Now that we have our new Presenter Tools system , I may start creating more slide-show-like material. So how do I deal with bringing in this material?

And, yes, this can contribute to horrible tangling of EDID strings. Then on that second display I can have things to click or copy. I have a Wolfram Language function that will take a notebook of inputs and URLs, and make me a palette that I can click to type inputs, open webpages, etc.

In the past we used to have a little second monitor to attach to my laptop—essentially a disembodied laptop screen. But it took all sorts of kludges to get both it and the projector connected to my laptop sometimes one would be USB, one would be HDMI, etc.

My main way of working is to create or edit Wolfram Notebooks. I always organize my notebooks into sections and subsections and so on which, very conveniently, automatically exist in hierarchical cells. All these notebooks are ultimately stored in my filesystem yes, I sync with the cloud, use cloud files, and file servers, etc. I believe I first thought seriously about how to organize my files back in which was also when I started using the Unix operating system.


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