Computer Diary: Patrick Steadman

In Computer Diaries, lab members record a week of their computer use, with sometimes comic, often tragic, and always revealing results. This week: Computer Lab founding partner Patrick Steadman, 25.

Smolson at Mood Ring.

Using my smolson at the bar Mood Ring.

Monday, October 30th 2017

4AM: Wake up because I fell asleep with the lights on and my contacts in. Before going back to sleep, I write for about forty minutes using the Thinkpad T440S Business Ultrabook that lives on my desk. I’ve removed the laptop’s bottom plastic enclosure because of some sort of issue that causes the fan to randomly run at full power. When the case is removed, the fan works normally. This computer is called daughter. I bought it in college, when I was super obsessed with ThinkPads.

8AM: Wake up and spend about twenty minutes on my iPhone 6s catching up on Slack. I call my iPhone shitbird because of its various glitches. I’m excited about an article about medical over-treatment my colleague Willis has shared; it’s related to the writing I was doing just a few hours earlier at 4AM.

10:30AM: Arrive at the Computer Lab office in Tribeca. I don’t look at my phone on the train, instead I read the Wall Street Journal, though I do block out the noise of the train using Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones. It’s Monday, so I spend about 45 minute performing accounting tasks using my desktop tower computer, called largeson. I built it earlier this year, it’s a beast with an 8 core i7-7700k CPU running at 4.2GHz, 16GB of RAM, a GTX 1080 graphics card, booting Ubuntu from 512GB M2 SSD. I deposit a bunch checks that arrived on Saturday, which puts me in an even better mood.

Noon: Feed the pigeons and get a haircut.

1PM: Take a call from my desktop using GoToMeeting and my Plantronics USB Headset headphones. I really want to find a headset that’ll make my voice sound great in all sorts of environments.

2PM: Head back to Brooklyn to work at my friend’s house. I code on my new GPD Pocket , or smolson, which has 8 gigs of RAM and fits in the pocket of my coat. No need to carry a bag!


6:15PM: Take a call with my friend in the parking lot of Costco. I’m worried that my shitbird phone will have issues, so we use Zoom on her iPhone 6s Plus.

8:30PM: Head a screening party with my GPD pocket (smolson). Hope that I’ll get a chance to write, but drink because I feel anti-social.

Tuesday, October 31th 2017

9:00AM: Get a ride back home to Bed-Stuy from Ridgewood. Decide to work from home, since I’m going to yoga in Greenpoint that evening.

10:00AM - 6:00PM: Bill 4.5 hours for coding and research. Debug some issues related to JSON Web Tokens. Auth is always tricky, and I find working from home is often good for trying to figure out issues like this. Figure everything out by the time I head to yoga.

9:30PM: Get out of yoga after a two-hour long class. I go across the street to get some Japanese food. My phone is dead. I sit there a long time, drinking the complimentary sake and reading the Wall Street Journal.

11:30PM: Get home and fall asleep after a shower.

Wednesday, November 1st 2017

10:00AM: Wake up without an alarm. Wednesdays are a day off for me, or rather a “hack day” where I don’t really do billable hours. I like to break up the work week like this.

10:30AM - 11:45AM: Buy a new phone plan from the Verizon website. I’ve wanted my own plan for a while, because even though I get a better deal paying for my part of my family’s plan, my siblings and I typically use up all the data before the end of the month and get throttled. I’d rather be able to use as much 4G LTE data as necessary, because I don’t like connecting to public WiFi networks and want to use my phone as a tether. At the last moment I decide to get the iPhone SE (which has the same form factor of the iPhone 5, but the processor of the 6s) instead of the iPhone 8. What’s the point of having a big phone when I have my smolson, especially since I have cubital tunnel issues? I’m also excited to be getting a 718 area code number.

1:00PM: Head into the Computer Lab office.

2:00PM - 11:00PM: Spend most of the day using my largeson to research health insurance options. Do a quick call about the coding work I did the day before. Feed pigeons.

11:30PM: Get home. Feel like I haven’t accomplished much, but remind myself that it’s a day off. I feel like this every Wednesday.

11:45PM: Decide to smoke weed and write. Get surprisingly high and waste more time (using bumble on my phone…), before finally settling in on my ThinkPad and making some good edits to my writing.

2:00AM: Eat eggo waffles and pass out.

Thursday, November 2nd 2017

10:00AM: Wake up, go to gym, then pick up my new iPhone SE. I name this phone youngbird. I like it.

11:00AM - 6:00PM: Do client work using largeson. End up writing a small client library for the Auth0 Authorization API. Most of the time as a programmer I feel like I’m completing video-game-like tasks, but sometimes I find myself dealing with pretty fundamental concepts just to get something to work. It feels good.

Family portrait.

6:00PM - 7:00PM: Use my new phone to call my parents while I clean the office. I notice largeson has accumulated a decent amount of dust. I keep it running almost constantly; it mines Monero when I’m not using it. (The graphics card has already paid for itself with mining!)

8:00PM: Get home and spend a while messing with my new phone. I meant to write, but I end up just doing yoga and going to bed around midnight.

Friday, November 3nd 2017

8:30AM: Wake up feeling …awake. It’s a beautiful day. I take a shower and set up my new phone as a 2FA device so I can log into to some client services to check on things for a weekly meeting at noon. Talk with Rob about security stuff using Keybase teams, which I’ve recently come to love.

12:40PM: Finish meeting with client and head into the office. I feel good about how things are going with the client, we’ve finally selected a middleware vendor.

1:30PM-2:30PM: Work with Rob to set up a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) on AWS which will be used as the “live fire range” of the Computer Lab CTF. I learn a lot about networking in the process: I studied information science in college, so I only have a vague understanding of terms like NAT Gateway, subnet mask, CIDR block. The familiar AWS interface helps make everything seem a lot less mysterious. We also set up an EC2 Container Service cluster. We plan to deploy CTF challenges and scoring servers to this cluster. Now that the cluster is up, we can get started. I look forward to making some great Dockerfiles.

3:00PM-7:30PM: Zachary and Elias are also at lab. I work on client work, occassionally breaks to chat. It’s Friday! Take a long break to feed pigeons. I take some video of the birds eating from my hand.

8:00PM - ???: Arrive at Brooklyn Kava. Get some Kratom and use smolson to research healthcare stuff for the event the next day. A bunch of people I know show up, so I transition to being social. After Kava closes, we head to Rebecca’s and then Skytown. I’m done with computers for the day, besides using my phone to call an Uber to get home.

Saturday, November 4th 2017

10:30AM: Wake up feeling extremely rested. Talk with Emily about how I want to become a part of ‘pigeon instagram’, and use my phone to add music to footage from the day before.

12:10PM: Realize that there’s no way I’ll be able to get breakfast with Emily and bike to Max’s workshop in Red Hook before 1PM. We take an Uber to Pioneer Works and a get quick brunch nearby. I take notes at the workshop using smolson, and briefly use one of the classroom iMacs to scrape my social timeline using a program Max wrote. (The program is an Electron app that hasn’t yet been packaged for Linux.)

4:10PM: Leave workshop, and Uber to Brooklyn Kava.

4:30PM - 11:00PM: Post up in Brooklyn Kava, and alternatively talk with people about their healthcare options and research a HSA for myself. Make good use of Kaiser Family Foundation’s Healthcare Reform FAQs and HSA Search. I tether smolson to my new Verizon phone because Brooklyn Kava’s wifi seems to have an DNS issue that periodically causes the internet to hang. Rob talks with the bartender about fixing it. The mobile tether works fine, but is perhaps a bit slower than I had hoped for.

11:00PM - 3:00AM: Celebrate Rob’s birthday. Daylight savings time begins.

Sunday, November 5th 2017

11:00AM: Wake up and laze about. Start to think that I won’t have time to go to the pigeon shop before it closes at 2PM, but a friend messages me that she’s in the neighborhood with her car, and would be down to give me a ride to the pigeon shop. I grab smolson and youngbird.

12:00PM - 4:00PM: The pigeon store is one of the least disappointing experiences of my life, and confirms my desire to start making more videos of pigeons. Maybe I will even buy a video camera. I have a lovely afternoon with Nadine. We get lunch at a Mexican place and talk about our mutual friends on facebook. She drops me off at Rebecca’s, a bar in Bushwick. Bushwick, three days in a row!

4:00PM - 6:00PM: Do a little coding and writing at Rebecca’s until a comedy show starts. Head over to Mood Ring, another recently-opened bar.

7:00PM - 9:00PM: Eat my leftover burrito and finish writing this diary. I’m sitting in a booth at Rebecca’s with a bunch of other people who are using the powerstrip. smolson always gets attention.

9:00PM - 11:00PM: My friend arrives and we hang out and drink. We use smolson to order some nootropics and look at our mutual facebook friends.

11:00PM - 12:00PM: My friend leaves because she has class in the morning. I make some half-drunk shitposts, and Citibike home in the rain.

Patrick Steadman
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