Know this Nerd? Meet Toby Cryns



Toby CrynsThanks to The Nerdery for underwriting our new series ‘Know this Nerd?’

Toby Cryns is a freelance web developer by day and a rock start by night.

His technical niche is WordPress; fitting as he’s the organizer of WordPress MSP User Group and a frequent speaker + teacher of the trade.

To nominate a nerd for future consideration drop us a line.

When and how did you originally become interested in technology?

Allow me put this discussion into perspective: this was my first computer. It could handle BASIC programming, which is a way more functional programming language than its name would indicate.

The ATARI 2600 was my first gaming console, but I was behind the times in that my parents could not afford the NES console.  I openly lusted after the NES Power Glove while setting house records in Megamania.  A kid on my block had the Power Glove, and it was so choice.

So, I suppose the Power Glove was the first time I remember being truly fascinated with technology.  It was way ahead of its time in some ways and still is.

At what age did you write your first computer program?  What did it do?

I was probably 12 years old when I wrote a simple program in BASIC that counted from 1 to infinity.  Awesome.

Which do you prefer in programming, the struggle or the achievement?

The Achievement.  The struggle is just something we do.  It’s painful and scary sometimes, and I don’t enjoy it very much.  Thankfully, I have a high tolerance for pain.  I like accomplishing things.

The Nerdery

What people, groups, projects, or resources were most influential in your development as programmer?

The local tech community has had a profound impact on my development as both a developer and a citizen.

I also have to credit the U of M’s old free tuition policy for getting me into coding.  Without it, I would be a mid-level manager and not a coder.  Through the wonders of free tuition, I was able to explore all sorts of code-related stuff while meeting some great teachers of code.

What do you do now? What languages are you proficient in?

I build custom WordPress stuff, which requires php.  I also enjoy playing with jQuery.  My coding strength is probably my design eye and my ability to pull together code that makes artists happy.

What does agile software development mean to you?

Nothing.  (Sorry!)

If you were to be doing anything else, what would that be?

I would probably be an actor or a stand-up comic or a writer for a tv show bearing my name or a stage performer of some sort.  In general, I long to get out and do things that require me to be physical.

Where do you spend most of your time online?

I rarely surf the web these days.  Outside of work, my main online time suck is Netflix.  They have Star Trek II streaming now – the most underrated movie ever.

What concerns you most about where technology is headed?

I am very concerned with my privacy and do not enjoy the American public’s laissez faire attitude towards private and government information-collecting and sharing.  Public video cameras, Facebook facial technology, and online sharing in general scares me.

What excites you most about where technology is headed?

There seems to be a movement in the tech community towards thinking about good usability and design.  It’ll probably disappear like Newt Gingrich’s Mars program, but it will have been good while it lasted.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I want to pay respects to the local coworking movement, specifically the community at CoCo, which has inspired me and provided me with a home base to do all sorts of neat things personally and professionally.  Oh!  And a big shout out to my wife and daughter!


  • Colin Hirdman

    Toby is awesome.

    • Toby Cryns

      Ha! Thanks, Colin!

  • Matt Hardy

    +1 on Toby being awesome. Such an important contributor to the MN tech community. (Though now I feel guilty for having a Powerglove as a kid – they were much cooler from afar…)

    • Toby Cryns

      There was nothing more real than driving a Rad Racer with a closed fist!

  • Nick Ciske

    I too lusted after the awesomeness of the PowerGlove. Was seriously disappointed when I actually got to use one. The thought of how disgusting it would be after hours of sweaty gaming… I was quickly cured of my desire.

    Glad to see a friend and co-worker profiled. Great choice to kick things off!