Who are you, and what do you do?
Unlike many industries where ideas are fiercely guarded as trade secrets and competitive advantage, we share our knowledge freely in the web industry. You don’t see much sharing of ideas between mobile device makers, for example. Instead you see Apple and Samsung suing each other over copying each other’s product design. In the web industry, sites like css-tricks.com have the latest tips and tricks from the smartest people.
Anyone can learn how to make websites. They can take their education as far as they want without paying for more than a computer and internet access. In many ways, I think the web is the best example of democracy that we have today.
Like many web developers I’m entirely self-taught, and made my first website back when Dreamweaver, Flash, and HTML tables were hot. It would probably be embarrassing to see that website now, but figuring out hosting, domain names, FTP, and getting my work live on the web felt like quite an accomplishment at the time.
Discovering WordPress and figuring out how custom themes are put together was a “mind blown” moment for me. I realized that I was a little bit better at this programming stuff than I assumed I was, and the possibilities that templating and content management systems opened up were revolutionary to me. Today I feel extremely fortunate to earn a good living doing what I do.
Though the title seems quite popular these days, I’m a little reluctant to call myself an engineer. To me “engineer” suggests a level of formal education and competence in science and math that I don’t think I have, but maybe I’ll grow into it. Maybe it’s just imposter syndrome, which seems to be a common affliction among the self-taught. When people ask what I do, I typically say I’m a web developer or front end developer, as I think that more accurately describes what I do.
When I’m not working, I spend time with my wife and two daughters in and around Tucson, Arizona. If I was still single or one of those people that didn’t require much sleep I would be out trail running, cycling, hiking, and camping all over the world. But I have children and need a solid 7-8 hours of sleep to function properly, so I fit the fun stuff in when I can.
What’s your preferred hardware and software setup?
I’ve been an Apple guy since the PowerPC days. I geeked out on my dad’s Power Macintosh 6200, and later got my very own G4. I’m not a fanboy by any means, though. Sticking with the single button mouse for as long as they did is one of the most ridiculous product design decisions ever made, but overall I think Apple nails it. Today my preferred machine is a maxed-out MacBook Pro.
I spend most of my day in Sublime Text 3. I use iTerm 2 and zsh for the command line, and I’m not ashamed to say that I really like Tower for a Git GUI client. The visual diff, line staging, and conflict merging experiences are just so good compared to the command line or any other GUI tool I’ve seen. For graphics editing, I love Photoshop and Illustrator, and I’ve been mostly impressed with Sketch. Github is, of course, a phenomenal tool for code management and collaboration.
Time management is an unsolved issue for me. I’ve always been pretty good at prioritizing and staying on task without much more than a To Do list and Github issues. I can see that a more structured time management system might be in order, because lately I find myself not taking enough breaks and feeling burned out by the end of the day. I recently started using the Pomodoro system to break work up into 25 minute segments followed by 5 minute breaks. So far 25 minutes seems short most of the time, and even small interruptions can be devastating for productivity, so we’ll see how this works out.
How do you consume media? Any favorite formats or publications?
I get my media almost exclusively online via social media and websites. We cut the cord several years ago, and get TV over the air and through Roku. The only thing I occasionally miss about cable is sports, but online viewing options are improving all the time. We’ve considered Sling, but we’re averse to yet another monthly subscription. We also believe in limiting our time spent staring at the TV.
For reading and news I like what Quartz is doing these days, and the New York Times is doing some amazing data visualization work. I get most of my quick hit and breaking news from my Twitter feed, and I’m a recovering Reddit addict. Fortunately I just don’t have the free time to surf endless cat gif (hard “G” for life) links from imgur.com.
What excites you most about what’s coming next at Fusion?
I’m really excited to see and be a part of the way Fusion is pushing the boundaries of journalism and online media. Fusion seems to be on the tip of the latest stories and cultural shifts in a way that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
I enjoy the focus on empowering young people with knowledge and talking frankly about difficult subjects like gender, race, and inequality in a constructive way. Too often I think media organizations either stick too much to a neutral reporting of the facts, or focus too hard on jumping on the latest sensational headline. Fusion has a unique voice and personality that’s much needed in media.
I’m also excited about Fusion’s commitment to open source projects. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the WordPress community and the web, which have given me so much over the years.