Thanks to The Nerdery for underwriting the ‘Know this Nerd?’ series.
Bobbi Perreault is a freelance web developer from Glencoe, Minnesota. Her consulting company, Faxt, began in 1999 as a simple project to send faxes from the Internet to a restaurant for online ordering — ‘something she could do for the ones she loved.’ Nowadays, she pursues everything from enterprise Java and .Net, mobile applications, and POWS (plain old websites).
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When and how did you originally become interested in technology?
Oh, I’m really boring. I didn’t get interested in technology until I was 30! I picked computers when I decided to go back to school because I thought there would be a good chance of steady employment.
At what age did you write your first computer program? What did it do?
30! And I believe it probably added 2 and 2. :-)
What do you do now? What languages are you proficient in?
How have you increased your skillsets over the years, formally or otherwise?
Lots of Hard Work. It’s a never ending process, keeping up with technology changes. I found getting certified will drill something into your head. It used to be that I owned a lot of books, today with all the great training available on the Internet (Pluralsight, TekPub, Code School, Lynda.com) I use that more and more. Working on new applications is a GREAT way to increase your skills.
Which do you prefer in programming, the struggle or the achievement?
Definitely the struggle. I enjoy the process, the planning/building/problem solving. When something I’ve finished is (hopefully) useful to others, I’m ready for the next job.
What people, groups, projects, or resources were most influential in your development as programmer?
I’d like to thank the lady that gave me my first job as a programmer. She changed my life. I owe so much to so many who have encouraged me and helped me get better. The Internet makes it all so much easier.
What do you enjoy about it? Is there anything you dislike?
The best thing about my job is being able to make other people’s daily routine easier or faster or less boring when they use the tools I build. I love that part. The worst thing about my job is when I make a mistake that costs my employer money or relationships. Thankfully that hasn’t happened for a LOOONNNGGG time.
If you were to be doing anything else, what would that be?
I would either be a painter or a seamstress.
What does agile software development mean to you?
I see agile as customer driven software – working together to mold the outcome with constant feedback. Different companies do agile in different ways. Swing by Swing has an ongoing conversation between the devs using Basecamp. Comporium has a daily “standup” call. RCIS does a daily standup in person. We all try to keep the communications between devs and business reps open and honest and productive.
Where do you spend most of your time online?
HA! That’s easy. G – O – O – G – L – E and Stack Overflow. Twitter’s becoming very useful to help keep up with new technologies and open source apps.
What concerns you most about where technology is headed?
Well, I have a lot of concerns. For example, how do we function without electricity? HA! But as far as technology is concerned, it’s becoming too complex and fragmented for workers in the industry to be able to keep a strong skill set in multiple areas. The need to specialize is complicating our toolsets and it leads to more waste. Time is wasted in learning technologies that become obsolete almost overnight, and money is wasted in developing applications in technologies that get mothballed by their owners to move forward with something else that’s new and shiny.
What excites you most about where technology is headed?
Ok! Here’s the magic – with mobile applications we have opportunities to reach many more people than computers afforded. Swing by Swing Golf (http://swingbyswing.com) has had well over a million downloads. The data these users generate is valuable and a commodity. That’s just one sample. This will open doors for people and the more contributions we receive to mobile application development, the faster we are able to grow.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think we need to find more ways to interest young women in technology as a career path. The work is everywhere! On the one hand we don’t need to stand in line on break at conventions. But there is no reason for this imbalance – it’s a great career path and provides steady work for good pay.