When and how did you originally become interested in technology?
I don’t remember exactly how but I do know when I was first interested in technology. I have always been naturally curious, and, to that, I’ve always wanted to get my hands on things. It’s kind of an ADD thing, kind of a curiosity thing.
My father, who was an enterprise-level field service technician for Digital Corporation at the early 90s (yep, I’m a 90s kid), would always bring home extra parts — and no matter if they were server disks, CRT monitors, or RAID arrays, I’d always want to touch.
The one thing that sticks out in my mind is when I was playing Commander Keen and I couldn’t get the sound to work. I was 4 years old, and I asked my father, who, like always, was too busy to answer my petty questions. So I dug through a manual found some pictures, tried to decipher some text, popped in a floppy drive, played with the Windows 95 control panel, and low-and-behold, the heavy bass.
At what age did you write your first computer program? What did it do?
I wrote my first computer program when I was 9. It was fairly trivial looking back on it but I guess I can hang my hat on it since I was 9. It was interfaced by MS-DOS and used files and folders to initialize and assign attributes to monsters and players and stats. A command-line RPG I think someone would call it, yeah. A very hacked-together command-line RPG.
After that came my first website. I was hosted on either 1asphost.net (now defunct), or Freewebs.com (now webs.com). I would regularly check out popular web hosting forums as I was fascinated by all things internet. I wanted to know how it worked, what powered it, and what made it happen.
My favorite bookmarks back then were http://www.funkychickens.com/main.asp for HTML help (Tizag wasn’t around at the time), TechTuts (now defunct), and Pixel2Life before it got riddled with trash.
I remember getting my first glorious cPanel 7x account off of freewebhostingtalk.com. A guy named Gurpeet. Long-story short, he also gave me my first GMail Beta invite, and was my first employer.
What do you do now? What languages are you proficient in?
Right now I wear a few hats. By day I’m a co-founder of a startup in San Francisco. I also do security consulting and research, some contract work, and side projects when I’m feeling creative or nifty. I’m a huge fan of Ruby and its community, and that’s been my focus since early 2013 and it hasn’t done me wrong yet. I can also do the dance Python, Perl, or PHP when necessary.
How have you increased your skillset over the years, formally or otherwise?
My current skillset can be attributed to curiosity and an entrepreneurial drive. With the two, it’s helped me always create my own when what I wanted wasn’t available. To look deep into who I am… I guess because I was always the littlest guy on the baseball team, last to be picked at recess, etc. I wanted a way to stand out besides having the need for physical attributes which I couldn’t control.
In short, between my curiosity, and always finding an excuse to start little side projects or code bits to get stuff done, I’ve become the programmer that I am.
What people, groups, projects, or resources were most influential in your development as programmer?
Google has to be my number-one resource, but that usually spins off to Github or StackOverflow. When I first started out with Ruby, my go-to was, in fact, a former co-worker Mike MacDonald out of Boston (hi Mike!) He answered my stupid questions (and still answers my stupid questions) with patience, a chuckle, and a wicked beard. I still go to him for conceptual stuff and I’m sure I will be working together with him in the future at some time. Security research and its relatives are something that I’ve dabbled with for some time. Like the rest of me, nothing formal. My curiosity always has me wondering what would happen if I changed this query parameter or if I changed this field name or sent this request ten times simultaneously.
Security research and its relatives are something that I’ve dabbled with for some time. Like the rest of me, nothing formal. My curiosity always has me wondering what would happen if I changed this query parameter or if I changed this field name or sent this request ten times simultaneously. s
What do you enjoy about it? Is there anything you dislike?
I love the problem-solving that comes with programming, and the ability to build whatever your heart desires with simple keystrokes from your fingers. It’s a scratch that I can’t itch.
One of my biggest pet peeves is that of, “well since you’re [not at an office in a cubicle] can you do x, y, z.”
I come from a traditional family where both I’m the black sheep and the elephant in the room. I chose to forego formal education (partially by sheer choice) and spent a long time growing into the person I’ve become.
If you were to be doing anything else, what might that be?
If I was doing anything else I’d probably be a neurochemist, lawyer, or drafting marketing campaigns all day long. Maybe a politician or some Peace Corps kid.
Where do you spend most of your time online?
I spend most of my time online between HackerNews and my Gmail account. Sometimes Reddit when I need cat pics. I’ve recently found HackerNews to be quite distasteful if you decide to question one of the community’s darlings (whether people or products/apps/busineses), even when you’re more than correct.
What concerns you most about where technology is headed?
I’m concerned that we’re trying to revolutionize too much with too little focus on the security of the bigger picture. People have great ideas but they’re being executed poorly without taking security seriously enough that it could damper the idea or ruin the industry it’s trying find its market fit in. Insert bitcoin / cryptocurrency here too.
What excites you most about where technology is headed?
I’m excited to see where 3D printing will take health services. Arduino, and its friends, are also really fun to see as they continue to gain popularity.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to remind everyone that we’re all just people, and if we try to love each other we won’t lose anything but time. Am I allowed to plug my projects here? Listen2EDM.com, though in Alpha, is something that I’m currently working on. I’m also developing a smarter, more modern way to create and schedule reminders for your life. Combination of SMS, speech, calendar events.
You’re free to check out my blog at http://josh.mn where I write about APIs, random things and how the Twins might just be relevant in 2014. I’m on Twitter @joshmnTEMP and you can creep on my AngelList and LinkedIn. Furthermore, if you have an idea and want to see it executed, let’s talk :)