The Computer Lab README
“The key to the UCI boathouse was always on the sill above the back door. Just let yourself in - lower your single from the rafters - do your workout - wash your boat and put it away - lock up when you leave - put the key on the sill above the back door.
No fuss, no muss. No dues, no hassles, no insurance, no security codes, no liability issues, no nothing. Nothing. Nothingness is enlightenment. Enlightenment is extremely rare.”
Lido for Time: 14:39 - Brad Alan Lewis
This README should help you understand the organization, goals, processes, and tools of Computer Lab. It’s a non-comprehensive, living document.
Computer Lab is a software consultancy and research group. We’re flexible, anti-fragile, lightweight, and extremely online. We deliver great engineering paired with domain expertise in healthcare, biotech, finance, and the arts.
There are currently two roles in the Computer Lab organization: Partner and Consultant.
A Partner owns a part of the Cloister Products LLC, the Limited Liability Company that backs Computer Lab. A Partner can make deals on behalf of the company and recruit Consultants to work on projects as necessary. Computer Lab’s profits are distributed annually to partners based on an “Eat What You Kill” formula that includes the business generated and managed by each partner, each partner’s personal billable work, and other contributions as agreed on by the partners.
A Consultant has access to Computer Lab resources within the scope of a certain project, whether the project is client work or research. Consultants are independent contractors, with their own software or design practice, and are paid as such. Computer Lab maintains an index of good contractors, and reaches out to them when good projects arise (sometimes using our mailing list). Sometimes Computer Lab will just pass projects on to them, if there isn’t a Partner willing and able to manage the project.
- We use Slack and face-to-face for most project discussion.
- We use text and phone calls only for urgent issues.
- Each project has a single designated point of contact who is a Computer Lab partner (member of the LLC). All important communications (money issues, team issues, scope issues, contract issues, bugs) should ideally go through this point of contact.
- That person should respond to the client promptly (ideally within 24 hours), even if the response is simply providing a time that they can render a full response.
- If desired by the client, we like to set up a project-specific Slack channel so the client, point of contact, and other involved parties can discuss the project.
We ensure a common code style and eliminate bugs by using linters. Linters are set to run during development so problems can be addressed while writing code.
Testing allows us to refactor and confidently deliver code to clients. We test all important production components.
For each project, we create and maintain appropriate development, QA, and production environments.
We create documentation on GitHub for important things, and expose it publically if appropriate. This documentation is key to successfully handing off code to clients who are in the process building their own engineering team, or for successfully maintaining our own work in the future.
Our work Slack is located at computer-lab-paid.slack.com. Slack is used for discussing projects in detail, and setting up feeds from integrations. The “work” Slack requires 2FA so it is a relatively safe place for sharing keys and secrets.
Each full-member user costs $8/month. These users can access all channels. Some users who are working on a specific project might just be invited to the relevant channel.
We also have a more social “free” Slack at computer-lab.slack.com.
Our email newsletter is managed at Campaign Monitor. We use send emails to the newsletter list to inform potential subcontractors / partners of projects in the pipeline. It is a very low-noise mailing list, you can sign up here.
Contract creation, time tracking, and invoicing is done using Bonsai. Bonsai makes it easy to create/e-sign contract and send invoices with automated reminders.
Subcontractors on projects can also use Bonsai for time tracking and invoicing Computer Lab.
Bonsai also hosts our contact form and a list of subcontractors (our “talent network”).
Our GitHub organization is located at github.com/computer-lab.
GitHub stores source code and documentation, we don’t have any private repositories.
Our Trello boards are located at trello.com/computer_lab.
Trello is for project managment and keeping track of general operations.
Email, identity and documents are provided by Google Apps. It’s also the place where we store shared files and documents. Google Apps accounts are $5/month.
We also have a GCP organization named
We have a Capital One Spark Business checking account with credit and debit cards. We use Bill Pay and the credit card to pay expenses (you can send paper checks for free using Bill Pay), and use the Capital One mobile app to deposit checks from clients.
We use Xero accounting software to maintain good records of income, expenses, and distribution of funds.
The Xero account costs $9/month currently.
Our accountant is Scott Hunzinger.
Our AWS account alias is
computerlab, so if someone has created an IAM account
for you, you should be able to sign in
here. This website is
hosted on AWS with s3, cloudfront, and CI/CD using TravisCI.
Last Updated: January 15th, 2019