Tag Archives: profile

Diana O. Eromosele: Developing Software that Matters for People that Matter

The year was 2016. It was a scary time for journalism. Publications were issuing out layoff after layoff. The infamous “pivot to video” loomed ahead. Diana O. Eromosele was a 26-year-old working at The Root. She had been fairly successful in journalism, having landed a CNN Editorial Fellowship prior to her job at The Root.

At 26, however, dreams are quickly overtaken by a need to survive — and pay rent. It was then that Eromosele decided to make her second career change. She had already taken an unconventional path to journalism. After completing an undergraduate degree in political science from Duke University, she worked full time in communications.

After a change of heart, she began working on a graduate degree in journalism at Georgetown University, which granted her eligibility for a CNN journalism internship. After CNN and The Root, with a couple years of journalism experience under her belt, she began to look for something more stable. She was browsing The New York Times when she noticed publications were laying off some of their best writers and editors.

“If this 20-year veteran is getting laid off because there are no jobs, what does the future look like for me?” she asked herself.

She needed a job that she could pivot into quickly and affordably, that would pay her bills and allow her to use all of her current skills. Software development checked all of those boxes, so she began her journey with a 3-month stint at Dev Bootcamp, a software engineering bootcamp designed for professionals to learn coding and be job-ready at the end of the program. Her class was dominated by people between the ages of 20 and 30, looking to change their careers.

“For me, it was do or die. It wasn’t just a hobby. I knew I wanted to transition. I knew I wanted a higher-paying career that was a bit more stable,” she said.

A few of her colleagues had already begun the transition and urged her to come along. She is now a full stack software developer at Newsela, an instructional content platform that allows users to read content at different levels. With the click of a button, educators can read an article at a second-grade reading level with their students.

Eromosele loves what she does now. “The beauty of software engineering is that whatever field you come from, every industry requires tech, requires applications they can use to make their processes faster or offer better services.”

One of the most common misconceptions, she said, is that you have to be a nerdy white male who plays video games in your mom’s basement to be a software developer, or that she sits at a computer all day staring at ones and zeroes.

While it is a white male-dominated field and being an African-American woman places her into an underrepresented group in web development, she has been able to use it to her benefit. Dev Bootcamp granted her a scholarship to attend because of her minority status.

Eromosele is dedicated to changing stereotypes and creating a space for diverse mindsets. Google’s annual diversity report reveals that about 53 percent of its workforce composition is white, with the closest minority group being Asian people at about 36 percent. Black people comprise merely 2.5 percent of its workforce and Latinx people comprise 3.6 percent.

Eromosele basks in her differences. “I’m an urban chick from New York City. I come from a liberal arts background and I love to code. I like to build things. I don’t think like anyone else,” she said. “I’m going to build things that have a social justice component.” Because of the lack of diversity, she receives emails and calls from companies heavily recruiting people like her.

She has leveraged those differences to create a tool called Categorized Tweets. It is a Rails app, running Ruby on the back end and JavaScript on the front end. The tool separates the tweets of politicians on local and national levels into nine categories, based on issues. She got the idea as a project during her bootcamp, after wanting to create a tool that would allow the average person to have an idea of what is going on in politics.

Tweets were an easy pick to build the tool around because of their brevity and the simple language that politicians have to use on the application. Combining her interest in civics and her liberal arts and journalism backgrounds, she was able to create a tool for people like herself.

Though she received pushback when she initially presented the idea, she continued with it and built the back end the next day. Upon its launch, it was so successful that she decided to launch it as its own entity. Most recently, she added a category of tweets for the polarizing Kavanaugh proceedings after seeing how active everyone was on Twitter, voicing their opinions on the matter.

She wants to continue building useful tools like Categorized Tweets and encouraging not only minority groups, but everyone to learn software development. “The tide is turning,” she said. She predicts that coding will become one of the core subjects taught in schools. She urges minorities to start building things that interest us and learning from people who look like us. With the future looming, it is imperative to have a stake in our narrative and create tools that are reflective of our entire society’s needs.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Web Developer Profile – Jamie Newell

For my midterm, I profiled a coworker’s husband, Jamie Newell, who works for Discovery Communications, or as many know it, The Discovery Channel a.k.a. SHARK WEEK! But Discovery also owns TLC and Animal Planet, among many other popular T.V. channels. Jamie has been a web developer there for 3 years at the headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Prior to joining Discovery, Jamie was the Director of Web Development at Amplify Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. for 3 years, and before that, spent around 11 years doing freelance web development in the area. I asked Jamie to tell us about his journey to becoming a full stack developer.
//* What is your current job/title and what do you do for Discovery? 
My title is Web Developer and I primarily develop websites and interactive learning modules. Our website is very interactive by design, which was one of the reasons I chose Discovery! *//
//* What programming language(s) and CMS do you use for work?
Well, of course JavaScript as I just said, but at Discovery I also use HTML, CSS, and PHP languages, and work a lot with Drupal and the React JavaScript library. *//
//* How did you get into web development? What drew you to it? 
I messed around with programming growing up and enjoyed the challenge of solving technical problems, along with the satisfaction that came from creating something. In my early 20s I volunteered to create a website for a recording studio that I was working for at the time and decided then that I would pursue web development as a career. *//
//* Is that still the same reason you enjoy it today? Or has it changed with time? 
Yes, the challenge of solving technical problems is still what I enjoy about web development. It’s true — even someone with years and years of experience still encounters new and tough challenges when programming (more often than you’d think!). The problems are just often more highly technical.  *//
 //* If possible, can you recall some early struggles you had learning languages/programming and offer any advise to us newbies? (Anything you can think of that helped you succeed.)
My biggest struggle in the beginning was not being able to find answers to my questions. At the time, there were very few online resources to go to for help, so I spent a lot of time experimenting. While finding answers, tutorials, and examples is much easier nowadays, I would still advise experimenting. *//
//* If you had to pick, what would you say is of your favorite language and why?
At the moment I am enjoying working with the recent versions (ES6 and later) of JavaScript. There is always something new to learn and to manipulate. *//
//* Can you describe a favorite development project and detail (high level) how you built it? 
While working at Amplify, I designed and developed a collection of highly interactive advocacy tools that I integrated into our clients’ WordPress and Drupal sites in order to engage users and encourage them take action in support of a cause. The tools were built with PHP and JavaScript, and would push and pull data from the APIs of social media platforms, geolocation and mapping platforms, third-party advocacy platforms, and the Sunlight Foundation, to name a few. *//
//* How do you stay up to date on the latest in the programming world? Blogs? Websites? Programs? 
By spending time reviewing projects on GitHub! It is a great resources once you figure out how to navigate and utilize it. *//
//* Any other insights you’d like to share with the class? 
The industry advances very quickly and it can be overwhelming trying to keep up. Many of the shiny new languages and frameworks do not stay popular for very long so stay focused and don’t jump from one hot framework to the next. Experiment a lot with the language you are already learning and build from there. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (and jQuery) will outlast us all. I’d say to all those learning the ropes to just practice, practice, practice! *//
A huge thanks to Jamie for taking the time to provide us all with some words of wisdom. It was encouraging to hear him say he uses the same languages we are learning now in his daily work. I know I have a long way to go, but this made me feel like I could talk about his work with him — I now have the basic tools/words — and maybe, one day, work alongside him. We are only halfway through the semester and I’m already seeing results!
I can only imagine how difficult it must of been for Jamie to teach himself how to code… And it made me think about how much I have been relying on Google. I know Greg encourages us to search for answers to our problems, and it makes sense since the resources are so readily available, but perhaps going forward I need to experiment and fail a couple times to really learn. I will say that Codecademy gives us the opportunity to experiment a couple times in each lesson, and I have found that by try 3 tries, often, I will finally get it correct. The failure forces me to really scan the code I’ve written looking for errors.
The project Jamie worked on for Amplify really struck me. I work in cause consulting so I was able to really connect some dots and see how a tool like that would have a huge impact for a non-profit or advocacy group. His example got me excited to learn PHP next week and got my brain cogs churning in thinking about a possible final project.
I laughed when Jamie said he uses Github as a resources to stay up to date on all things web development and to learn new techniques and tricks from colleagues. I think I found it funny because Github seems so abstract and mechanical. But in understanding how it works to some extent, I can see how reviewing others projects could be quite helpful. Sounds sort of similar to inspecting webpages to see how certain things were coded.
The insight Jamie left for us is poignant I thought. It was the first or second class when I asked Greg why everyone isn’t using Apple’s programming language, Swift, because like all things Apple, (I’ve read) that it is super user-friendly and clean. I think I even asked if there may be a future where there is one universal, open-source language… but that is for another time. I appreciate how Jamie warns of the “shiny new languages” and says to instead keep practicing the “oldies.” That is just what I plan to do!
I really enjoyed this exercise and hearing from a web developer in the field. I can’t wait to read everyone else’s profiles or project descriptions this week — and see what advice or take-away they provide.

Developer Profile: Dave–Consultant and Freelance Web Developer

Dave is a consultant and freelance web developer who does both front-end design for applications that provide analytics and marketing landing page design. Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of his government contract work, he has asked that I refer to him by his first name only. Dave is currently employed at a small consultancy in Virginia, and in his spare time, he does freelance web design for several small companies based in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area.

Prior to earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Dave taught himself basic HTML when he was in middle school, and later took a few programming classes as a high school student. I connected with Dave through a colleague, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his experiences and career as a website and applications developer. 

How did you become interested in web development, and how did you get started in the field?

I was always interested in software development as a creative outlet. I originally got into engineering because I wanted to develop video games, but became discouraged from pursuing that as a career before completing my education. While in college, there was a lot of [negative] publicity about people in that industry being overworked and underpaid. My brother is also an engineer, and he recommended that I interview with the large government contractor where he was employed. They gave me a fine offer, and I accepted it and did many years of uninspired work.

When the iPhone was released, I again became interested in software as a creative outlet. The proliferation of the iPhone seemed to have led the government to take an interest in better designed, better looking software. This led to me joining a smaller government contracting company and working on projects that involved a lot of web design, which was the closest I could get to doing app development while retaining career stability and my standard of living.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? What about your least favorite project? Can you explain what made these projects your favorite/least favorite?

My favorite project was a single-page web app for a government client. It was a very complicated application, but I worked on a small two-person team with someone for whom I have a lot of respect. We accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. I found a lot of joy in this project because of the sense of accomplishment that came from designing and implementing a full-fledged product with such a small group and over a short amount of time. It taught me a lot about how important good chemistry is when working on teams, and how truly beneficial it can be to have assistance from others when working. It also taught me that nothing is insurmountable when you are in the right situation.

My least favorite project was a large government project that involved maintaining a poorly designed contracting/procurement application. It was not enjoyable because there was no expectation or desire for quality and efficiency, but rather, we were expected to follow a flawed process full of red tape.

What is your preferred programming language, and why?

I have been enjoying working in JavaScript with the AngularJS framework, because of the speed in which you can create a well-functioning, highly-visual output. Familiarity with CSS has also led me to be able to develop something aesthetically pleasing with relatively little effort.

What are your favorite customizations or features to add to your sites or applications?

I like sweating the details. For example, making sure that a site functions under all resolutions, like the smaller iPhone SE, which web developers frequently omit and as a result cause undesired scrolling issues. I also like to make sure high-density screen resolutions are properly supported, so that images aren’t blurry and upscaled. These are the kinds of small details that exhibit that care went into development.

What are the best and worst things about web development?

The best thing is when you make a minor CSS tweak and it makes the entire design click into place. Something like a font weight, or border, which turns a decent design into an excellent design. The worst thing is the sheer volume of web frameworks and buzzwords in the industry. I have no interest in always using the newest, trendiest technology, and web development is fraught with that.

Can you share any helpful (free) resources or tools for debugging a piece of code?

I’m typically able to complete all work using Stack Overflow for consultation, and the Google Chrome Development Tools to debug code and layout issues.

What sites do you have bookmarked to refer to when coding a site or developing an application? You mentioned Stack Overflow–why is that a go-to site for you?

I always start with a Google search, and then favor any results from Stack Overflow. I find Stack Overflow to be the most useful because it is self-correcting. There are several different ways to solve any programming issue, and their ratings system is an easy way to evaluate the answers that present each method. It’s also helpful to have comments embedded from users right next to the answers, which will warn you about possible pitfalls in using that approach. The one exception to my “Stack Overflow first” rule is when I have a more generic question that has a lot of components to it–something like “how to get started doing [x]”–in which case posts from independent blogs tend to be more useful because they’ll provide detailed walk-throughs with plenty of lists and screenshots to assist.

In your opinion, what qualities make a successful web developer, and why?

It helps to be a perfectionist. There are a lot of different operating systems, browsers, and devices to support, and you need to always be diligent in making sure that code changes did not introduce regressions. Working with JavaScript is problematic because it is not as easy to detect code errors as it is in a compiled language like C++ or Java. JavaScript is easy to write but tends to be overly accommodating for code errors.

Do you have any advice you’d be willing to share with beginner developers?

Don’t fall for the startup/overwork culture. If a company offers you three free meals, it’s because they expect you to be available at work all day. All jobs have occasional crunch times, but you’ll never be truly rewarded for pushing yourself too hard and spending time away from your family unless you have ownership stake in the company.

What are your interests outside of web development, and do they overlap with your work?

I am interested in music, cars, creating cocktails, and architecture/home improvement. These are very different from my profession, but there is an overlap in terms of my overall drive to create the best possible product and find the best examples of a craft.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your work, and the field?

Our field is in very high demand. Make sure you do something you like and surround yourself with colleagues you respect.

Interview With Web Developer Andres Spagarino by Rob Snyder

Andres Spagarino has been a web developer for over a decade. He currently works for California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego California, where he provides online solutions for meeting the needs of the non-profit company. Andres has a deep appreciation for open source solutions and the open source community. He believes that it is a great way to collaborate with other people and re-use some of the development efforts for the good of the community.

My wife worked with Andres for two years while we were stationed in California, and she introduced us this evening over e-mail. I sent him a few general questions to get a web developer’s perspective on my own areas of interest on the subject.

What is your favorite site online today?

I am a little green/solar-geek, so I like http://www.renewableenergyworld.com and treehugger.com. My favorite part is not too much the design aspect but rather the content and functionalities (mobile ready, smart newsletters, etc).

How are you inspired by other web developers, and how does that show in your work?

I admire open-source solutions and the community behind it, I have used heavily a CMS open source called Joomla and we just recently switched to Drupal, we also are very involved with a CRM open-source called CiviCRM… I do get actually inspired by a few developers in these community since they are willing to help other developers like me in their spare time… In my work I am a strong advocate for open source solutions and I use them whenever possible and try to support them by contributing (both by donations and development support).

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years, as web development and web design continue to evolve?

I believe the online media is shifting from computer base to mobile/cloud storage base. My challenge in the next 5-10 years is to keep myself ahead of the curve in implementing new technologies. I believe that I will always be in the open source development environment and that soon corporations will be moving into this format… many companies are already doing so.  For example our local utility company is using open source Drupal, the next generation of mobile devices and seamless data integration will be a lot easier when we will use open-source and not proprietary software… I believe this technology evolution is happening right now.

What advice would you give to a new web developer today?

Get involved into any project that you are interested and use the community to not only master your skills but also to give back by helping other developers. This is a great way to learn, network, and stay updated with whatever software you get involved.

Web Developer Patty Tompkins

Jennings Web Developer Profile

Patty Tompkins, 58

President, Autumn Software, Inc

Applications Developer/Web Developer

Patty Tompkins started at University of Bridgeport, graduated pre-med three schools later, went to intern at a programming company, took a left turn as a ski instructor, and then worked her way up to building her own company that she runs today. Her career has seen the beginnings of client-servers, PCs, and the internet, and she has had to change along with the technology.

Tompkins feels that only certain people can be good programmers, and that it is a state of mind rather than a simple learned skill. “I don’t want to stereotype men or women either. I have met many men who were terrible developers, and I have met many women who were terrible developer,” she said, “I think that it is a matter of how they think; how they solve problems that makes them good.”

Owning a company puts Tompkins in a position where she has to be the PR representative as well as the president. She is always thinking about how she is showcasing herself and her company to possible clients.

Being a woman in a male-dominated profession has not been lost on Tompkins, as she has felt the need to prove herself to men who haven’t seen her work. “They were like, ‘She can’t do that,’ and I think they pre-judged me before they even met me,” she said. She has made significant contributions to the programming community, leading multiple seminars a year to give developers experience in many different languages or skills, teaching at New Hampshire Technical Institute, and helping those developers in her employ to gain new skills that will help them be more marketable.

Tompkins wonders what effect the next generation of developers will have in the programming careers. “They have grown up with the internet always being there, and we have gone from having nothing, to having all of this,” she said, “They might be great or they might not understand.” She thinks that a lot of the things that are hard for someone older will come more naturally to a younger developer, but that they might not have the experience of how it all came to be, and why things are put together the way they are.

Many people go to college with no experience and little idea of what they want to do as a career. Tompkins was in that boat. She was a pre-med student who got disillusioned with the university, took a year off and then took classes out of the University of New Hampshire, Notre Dame, and Saint Anselm’s, ultimately graduating as pre-med but finding an internship programming for a database company.

Once she started programming, she found that the work was more fun than simple work, and she wanted to continue in that career path. “The guy asked me at the end of the six-month internship if I wanted to make some money at it,” she said, “I was like, ‘YES!’ and from then on I’ve been doing this.” After a few years, she started a team for her company that was based out of New Hampshire, and when the company got sold to Lockheed Martin the owners wanted her team to move to Texas. Since no one on the team was willing to do that, they started their own company, Chestnut Hill Software, with Tompkins as their president, and worked on in artificial intelligence for six years, until the company finally folded and she rebooted with her current company, Autumn Software.

Tompkins finds the freedom of having her own company to be its greatest asset. “I’m not becoming a millionaire with my own company,” she said, “But I am able to stay on the cutting edge of technology because I can decide which direction to take the company.” She enjoys the work because it is always changing. “In a company with a lot of employees, you can get bogged down in maintenance, where the development is all done,” she said. It’s easy to find developers in situations where they aren’t doing anything new, just maintaining the status quo, and she doesn’t like that. She prefers to find the projects that test the boundaries and challenge her company to keep up with the current trends of technology.

Developer Profile: Rafael Reynoso

Rafael Reynoso, System Administrator at Lockheed Martin

Rafael Reynoso, System Administrator at Lockheed Martin

Rafael Reynoso graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering from George Mason University in 2012. He is now a System Administrator for Ballistic Missile Defense at the Lockheed Martin Corporation. He is currently pursing his Masters in Systems Engineering from St. John’s University.

What inspired you to get into Web Development and Computer Science?

I wanted to become a software engineer in 10th grade at Garfield High School in Woodbridge, VA. My computer science teacher had been in the Army and was trained in computer science. He always told really awesome stories about software development and it made the subject come to life. I remember him telling a story about how he had written code that was used to take down a missile. From that point on I was hooked. When I got to GMU I originally wanted to be a software engineer and that was strictly code, but I also really enjoyed working with my hands so computer engineering gave me the ability to use my hands and also write lines of code, the perfect mix of the two.

What is you single most favorite coding language and why?

My favorite coding language was Java. It was the second coding language I ever learned and it became an almost universal language for me. It incorporated assets from a lot of other languages. It was my favorite because I like the concept of object oriented programming. Before I learned this language, everything was written linearly and I think modular is a better way of writing code. It makes debugging a lot easier when your code is separated into pieces. It has a more real world approach. If you take a car for example, linearly you’d have to write, turn the key > shift into gear > press the gas pedal > turn the tires > move the wheel. Everything is dependent on the other, by writing code for each piece if one thing breaks you can go in and change that piece instead of going back through and adjusting everything.  I also like that Java runs on a lot of different devices and it is very easy to create a GUI (Graphical User Interface.)

What’s the longest you’ve spent debugging a piece of code you’ve written?

The longest I’ve spent debugging a piece of code was an entire three days. It was a project while I was in school and I slept an entire eight hours for the entire three days. The most frustrating piece of debugging is just when you think you found the solution and then you adjust it and it turns out that you were wrong. It’s like giving yourself false hope over and over again. What’s even more frustrating is when you find the solution, it makes you feel dumb that you could have miss-typed a letter, and even worse that you didn’t find the mistake after staring at it for hours.

What’s your favorite web development tool?

I’ve been getting into mobile application development in my spare time. My favorite development tool is Phone Gap. With so many devices and file types out there, this program eases the transition from one platform to the next. They have a developer forum as well with a great active community that speak in plain english for self taught first time developers.

What’s the most enjoyable project you’ve ever built?

In my Masters program we used Visual Basic Programming Language, which is a language for creating applications for Microsoft Windows. We were interfacing with the Microsoft Kinect and we connected two Kinects to one computer to monitor a bigger space. We used them to monitor the movements of robots we placed on a field. The idea behind it was if there was some type of emergency situation like a school fire drill and you put all the children in a field monitored by the Kinect, so that the limited staff can tend to the emergency situation instead of using those human resources to babysit the children. Should a child/robot leave the field we set up an alert system that would alert a phone with the application we built installed on it. It would increase efficiency in a emergency situation leading to possible saved lives.

How often do you come across code during your day job at Lockheed?

Almost everyday, even when I’m placed in a role where I don’t think I will be using code. I find myself trying to simplify processes using code. On one team we received a large data set of errors from certain programs. We then have to take those errors and remove the duplicates, and finally prioritize them by typing them into excel. That process often took an employee 20-25 hours to go through that information and prioritize the errors in order of importance. I wrote a piece of code that did the entire process and now writes the errors in excel in a fraction of the time. It was my biggest accomplishment at Lockheed thus far because it has been used a dozen of times in different verticals.

You mentioned you were self-teaching yourself more about mobile application development. Why the sudden interest?

It’s timely for me because it’s so prevalent in the market today. It’s important for me because I want to stay relevant in my industry. Having a life-student mentality is crucial because if you don’t adapt to the changes you could be rendered useless in your own profession. It also gives me the opportunity to have a side job to pay off all my student loan debts a lot quicker.

What’s your favorite website?

The content on Wired.com makes it my favorite website. I recently read an article on connecting the brains of mice and transferring information between them. Another favorite of mine is the Space Jam website. It really shows you how far web development has progressed.

Rob’s Interview with Google Search

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 9.01.11 AMIt is perhaps the most identifiable screenshot ever taken from a computer. The Michael Jordan “jump” logo of the Internet. For over a decade it has served as a door for billions, into a new world with endless possibilities and information. A world without demands, and one without prejudice. With its simple design and single fill-in field, Google Search asks only one thing of its visitor: Where do you want to go?

Since 1998, Google Search has received billions upon billions of answers to that question, using some of the most complex coding to provide its answers. However, everything that makes Google Search work its magic has been humbly hidden by its single, and mostly blank page. The process is transparent to users. Aside from the occasional defacing of its brand logo, Google Search has stuck to its simple and original approach to coding: “I’ll worry about the back end. You just enjoy yourself.”

So on August 4, 2013 I sat down to ask Google Search a few questions of my own, about the future of web development, why it matters, and how our lives will continue to be shaped by the greatest communication tool ever known.

Disclaimer: Google Search is not an actual person or web developer. This was a mock interview conducted using Google Search to answer the exact questions you see below … because I don’t know any web developers. Enjoy.

You’re an Internet giant. You answer more than 60% of the world’s questions. How does Google Search handle the workload?

This is a complex question, and honestly one I don’t get asked too often. So serving a Google query is truly a multi-phased process that begins with multiple clusters that are distributed worldwide. This helps me get the answers as fast as possible. Let’s say you want to know something about “society.” I’m going to check terabytes and terabytes of raw documents for your answer, after spell checking it of course. This is uncompressed data, mind you, so the index results are terabytes as well. Then I’ll form that data into pools that are split amongst several machines, which will back each other up in case one goes down during the process. It is a very efficient process, and one designed to serve the user the best results as quickly and reliably as possible.

You seem so simple in person, though, not complex at all. Why the plain appearance?

Ha! Now you are getting to the juicy stuff. The truth is that I didn’t know much about coding when I first entered the scene. I didn’t have a webmaster, and I didn’t really do HTML. So I put together the simplest design I could in order to test myself out. I didn’t even have a search button back then, which is kind of embarrassing. The enter button worked just fine. I remember I met a group of Stanford students one day, and asked them, “What would you guys like to know?” They just stared at me quietly. I asked them, “What are you waiting for?” They said, “The rest of you to load.”

Have you ever considered advertising?

You know, I was going to Starbucks the other day to check on some guy’s rewards account, and I saw this young man waving a sign around on the side of the street. I think it was for Domino’s or some mattress sale. I thought to myself, “I could do that, and I could probably make millions a day.” The truth is businesses would love to run an ad on the most visited webpage on the Internet. But that’s not what I want people to know me for. I’m not here to let the world invade your life, rather I’m here to let you invade the world.

You have been accused of collecting personal information from your users, though. Doesn’t Google Search collect personal information?

Yes, I do retain some log files that record search terms used, websites visited and the Internet Protocol address and browser type of the computer for every search I conduct. However, I have a policy of making money without doing evil, and I believe that infiltrates every bit of coding that makes up my existence.

So then, what’s the future of web development?

Wow, I can think of about 207 million things in about .44 seconds that could answer that question. Some people think responsiveness is the future of web development, but I disagree. I really think the future of web development is in web components. I think this is a technology that has the potential to change how developers write web apps. What web components do, essentially, is give developers an easier way to great websites and recyclable widgets on these sites with the help of the HTML, CSS and JavaScript they already know. This is a completely new way for developing web applications, but I think it will open the door for more developers and speed up the browsing experience for users – which is right down my lane.

With the creation of websites such as CodeAcademy and Treehouse, the doors are opening for people to create their own sites using stable platforms such as WordPress to build from. Will there be less jobs for web developers in the future?

Smashing Magazine actually did a good piece on this, where they discussed the future of web designers and developers. They even threw me in there, claiming I want to take over the Internet. I think there was a lot of truth to what they said, however. It’s true that sites like WordPress, Facebook, and even I can aggregate much of the content that would otherwise be spread across the Internet. And with a single design, it doesn’t leave much room for independent design. However, that doesn’t mean the field will die. The Internet is an ever-expanding and living thing, therefore there will always be room for people to make it a vibrant and fulfilling experience. Content is growing at an exponential rate, as more and more people use the Internet to communicate and help them with many aspects of their lives. Someone has to help keep all this organized, and I certainly can’t do it on my own. The most important thing is for those who want to work on the Internet, is to stay up to date and be willing to change. The basic concepts will always be there as a foundation, but the surface is ever-changing. If a web developer remains engaged and forward-thinking, she will undoubtedly be included in the future of the Internet, through all of its transitions.

This Interview was conducted by Rob Snyder for Web Development at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. For more about the future of the Internet and web development, or to ask Google Search your own questions, visit www.Google.com and type in your question.



Developer Profile – Angela Banks: Simply Amazing!

Angela Banks

Angela Banks-Beach Body Coach, Engineer at GE

Angela Banks achieved her Masters in Information Technology, May 2012 from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VT). Angela began her course work as a student of Computer Science, but decided that she preferred to have a higher level understanding technology  versus hands on. As a result, she changed her degree to Information Technology.

Her degree, hard work, and commitment to success have helped Angela overcome barriers. She obtained a Human Machine Interface (HMI) Engineer position at General Electric in Salem, Virginia, a predominately male occupied position. On top of serving as an Engineer, Angela for the past two years has been working on defining a new path for herself as Beach Body fitness Coach. She has found that aside from developing and testing she enjoys helping people achieve fitness goals.

The programming skills, which Angela obtained at VT, have been key to her career.  As a Validation Engineer (a position held by Angela early on in her career) she used programming to modify and/or create automation scripts that were used for testing.  For her current HMI position Angela leverages her programming skills to configure switches.

For her Fitness business as a Beach body Coach, she created a site using Word Press. There she called on her programming skills to create a site, which had the look and feel that she desired for her customers. “By knowing what to look for in the common gateway interface (cgi) code I was able to modify the template for my website”.

The Programming Journey 

During our interview Angela and I talked about her journey from learning programming in school, leveraging her learned skills at work, and leveraging the skills for her business.  Per Angela, programming is all about continuous learning. Programming languages are similar in many ways, but not identical, leaving room for learning.

At work, programming skills allowed Angela to achieve career advancement, strengthened her ability to communicate with business and technical personnel. Her programming skills and her ability to push through obstacles have made her a valuable asset to General Electric.

Angela became a Beach Body Coach about two years ago. Upon embarking the journey, she decided to create a blog which enabled her to communicate upcoming events to her clients and to increase client involvement. Angela started the journey to create a WordPress site for her Beach Body business with foundational programming skills.  She soon found herself depending on research and trial and error to standup an interactive site. And troubleshooting solutions that would enable her to produce to her goal.  The concepts which were the most difficult for Angela include:

  1. How to make her site interactive
  2. Personalizing Widgets
  3. Personalizing frames

The WordPress journey was professional and personal to Angela. The further she advanced in the journey the more she learned about herself.  The journey led to learning new programming concepts and to the realization that she enjoys troubleshooting and seeing her development work come to life. The most important concepts which she learned was knowing when to walk away from the computer and the criticality of making decisions at the right time.   The effort to launch the Beach Body had just kicked off when Angela found herself updating code and making progress and then she found herself hitting a huge wall.  At that moment Angela found herself devoting a lot of time to fixing her site and not building it up. That is when she made one of the most difficult decisions anyone can make regardless of the field: Starting Over. No one ever wants to start over, just think of all the time that she had already invested. Anyone that has ever developed knows, it is a huge commitment. Regardless of the time already invested, Angela decided that starting over was best, so she made the call. Beach Body WordPress take one was aborted.  Angela very quickly launched take two of the effort.  She is very glad that she did not give up.

Angela’s site is up and running and has become a gateway for adding new clients to her Beach Body portfolio. It has helped her keep existing clients informed, and enables her to maintain a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Angela’s Lessons Learned 

Know when to walk away from your computer.  According to Angela, hitting walls and/or barriers is part of the development life cycle and knowing when to step away from your computer to re-strategize is just as important of a skill as programming.

  1. Research and learning are never-ending. Angela obtained her Masters in Information Technology, but she still spent time researching and learning new tactics for developing as she created her WordPress site.
  2. Don’t give up. One thing that Angela is known for is giving it her all. Never give up applies to everything. Angela when developing her site leveraged this modo and now she leverages it for her Beach Body Coach business.

Angela plans to continue leveraging her programming skills to make a difference in her life and that of others.



Web Developer Profile: Dan Rowden

It is difficult to pin down where passion begins or what ignites it. For Dan Rowden, creator of Magpile, his passion for web development began with learning to play a musical instrument. To be more specific, it all began with learning to play the bass back in the late ‘90s at the age of 13. What began as an interest in music, evolved into an interest in sharing and making the learning process easier for others seeking to learn. Bass-tabls.co.uk was born and although it would not last, the interest in web development would linger in Dan’s mind for years as he fiddled with sites here and there and finally got serious about the whole process while obtaining his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Media Engineering with a focus on web development, printing technologies and European business from Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. 

When Dan is not working his day job as a User Experience Designer for a Science and Technology university in the Middle East or browsing Stack Overflow and Dribbble, his favorite industry sites, he is dedicating his time to his true passion: web applications and the UX, UI and development that goes along with it. Last year, Dan combined his interest in magazines and web development into Magpile, an online community for magazine lovers. Dan was kind enough to take some time out of his week and share his thoughts on web development, magpile and the future of magazines.


Espresso (editor) is one of my favorite development tools. I only use that and Photoshop to make websites. There are a few compression tools I use, too, like jscompress.com or tinypng.org

If you have a team you have varied opinions and expertise, which leads to a more rounded and solid product. But as an individual you are forced to make decisions yourself so you can be quick and nimble, and work to your own deadlines.

Favorite developer language? Definitely Python. It’s a lot cleaner than most languages, in that you write only what you need (In Javascript or PHP, you should end lines with semi-colons and there are a lot of brackets needed in loops or if functions; Python has neither).

Working in web development, you can have an idea and make it into a product that people can use, within hours. Then you can change it and update it (and charge for it!), and it never has to be a 100% developed product, like if you were making a physical product.

There are a lot of sites I like the look of, but two that stand alone in my mind: gov.uk, which shows a lot of different information really clearly and easily available with its recent design (it has won awards) and Issuu, which is both beautiful to look at and interact with, and you can read magazines on it!

Magpile is like a Wikipedia for magazines. It is a reference to the world of print and digital magazines. It also has a community, where readers can sign up, say which magazines they own, discuss them and follow other users. I also launched a Store, where publishers can easily sell their magazines to Magpile’s global readership.

I wanted to keep track of my own magazines, which were spread across three countries. I decided once I’d started planning the site that I should develop it into something other users can use. This then spiraled into the large magazine reference it is today as users added more and more titles.

The site is built with Python, using the django framework. django is an awesome codebase that gives you a leg-up creating web applications. I did the coding (back-end and front-end) and design gradually over the past 1.5 years.

I think, like Wikipedia, Magpile should be a freely available and long-standing resource. Any change in the publishing field won’t affect this mission, nor Magpile’s impact as a record of print history. I can’t see magazines going away anytime soon, so Magpile should be around for a while, too.

For nearly every feature I’ve added there is something I didn’t know how to do. A simple thing like getting a cover image from the internet and saving it in the Magpile database and onto the Magpile server isn’t really that difficult, but as I’d never done it before I had to go out and read up on how it would work. I’m on stack overflow an awful lot researching different ways to accomplish a coding challenge.

I just launched Maggly, which is also aimed at the magazine market. It gives publishers a magazine-specific website with very little set up, which means that they can focus on releasing their magazine rather than spending time setting up and managing their website.

To be able to do my work, I have to be on the computer. I don’t like to be tied to a screen all the time, and would love to someday do things with my hands (like woodwork) instead.