Timeouts are lightning-quick interviews, questions to help you get to know the players holding court at Dribbble. To celebrate our fifth, we at Dribbble are sitting in the Timeout seat. Today: Patrick.
Who are you? Let us know where you hail from and what you do.
Howdy, I’m Patrick Byrne! I’m a developer living in Roseville, Minnesota, nestled between Minneapolis and St Paul. When I’m not working on Dribbble (mostly the servers and backend code), I’m working on open source projects or getting ready for our first child due in October.
What are you working on?
Day to day, I work mostly behind-the-scenes, ensuring the servers run smoothly, keeping the platform fast and secure, and enhancing the admin tools. The new HTML emails we started rolling out have been well received by our members, so we want to keep that going across the remaining notifications.
Outside of work, my wife and I are getting as ready as we can be for our first baby in October. My current programming project is building a companion to cronchecker.net focusing on the chmod command.
Choose a favorite shot of yours. Tell us why it’s a favorite.
Slide Deck. Being a developer rather than a designer, my design work is rather … utilitarian. While I appreciate good design, I find that I’m not able to produce much of it myself. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d probably be my debut shot, which featured slides for a talk I was preparing for a couple of local developer meetups.
This presentation was the first that I’d given in public, which was a major milestone for me. It went well enough that I presented at a few more Meetups last month.
Tell us about your setup. What tools did you use to create the shot (e.g. hardware, software, pens, paper, blowtorch)?
I make my shots (so far) in the most boring way possible: the screen capture functionality built into Mac OS X. Since that’s a boring answer, I’m going to answer a slightly different question: What tools do I use to make Dribbble? Hopefully that’s a bit less boring.
I do all my development on a 13-inch MacBook Air. It’s the best computer I’ve ever used. Small enough to slip into a bag; long enough battery to not worry about charging when I’m out and about; and on top of that, more powerful than anything I’ve used before. I spend most of my day in Vim with all sorts of customizations, working on the Dribbble code or Chef cookbooks to manage our servers. While I’m working, I make heavy use of Dash to look up documentation, using its Alfred integration.
When I’m brainstorming or taking notes, I prefer to work in pen and paper. I’ve kept the dozen or so Moleskines (black, hardcover, ruled) I’ve used over the past decade, even though I rarely reference back to them. Recently, I’ve started using our brand-new Dribbble-branded Gameplan Sketchbooks for this purpose and I’m smitten. You should stop reading and go buy a bunch of them. My current pen of choice is a Uni-Ball Signo 207.
Choose a favorite shot from another player. Tell us why you dig it.
There’s so much good work out there, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Our players are showing off amazing logos, icons, interfaces, sketches, and products. Some of my favorite shots, though, are in-progress work, since they give some insight into someone’s process that you otherwise wouldn’t see. If I had to pick just one (and, apparently, I do), I’d go with Bullet Charts Take 2 by Kyle Neath of GitHub.
That shot exhibits so much of what I love: in-progress design, lack of polish in the shot itself, it’s a rebound of an earlier iteration on the chart, the original shot has a good description of what he’s trying to accomplish.
How did you get to Dribbble?
That story goes different ways depending on how far back you look. The short, boring version is that I saw Garret Dimon retweet that Dribbble was looking for a developer. Dribbble was on a short list of companies that I’d drop just about anything to be a part of, so I applied. My wife thought I was nuts, since I was working with a talented team at Sport Ngin doing a job that I loved, so why would I give that up? I assured her that nothing would come of it, since Dribbble was looking for remote employees, which meant I was competing against the whole world.
Well, I’m here now so that’s not exactly how it worked out. The interview process was thorough, including several hours on the phone and spending a couple of days out in Salem, meeting the team and doing a bit of work
Rewind a few years earlier. I’m a Dribbble member, keeping an eye on some tags, like https://dribbble.com/tags/form, staying current with trends for my job as a UX Designer at a search engine company. I’ve always had an interest and appreciation for good design, even if my talents tend toward the utilitarian, so when I returned to my true calling of development, rather than design, I still checked in to see what cool stuff people were making.
I can’t remember when I first heard about Dribbble, but I have to assume it was from Dan’s blog post announcing it. Simplebits was a blog that was always in my RSS reader. I probably shouldn’t gush too much, in deference to propriety, but I’d been a fan for a long time by this point.
Rewind further still to the early 2000’s, I’m trying to teach myself how to make websites so as to develop some kind of marketable skill and get out of my dead-end tech support job. I started learning at a convenient time, as the web standards movement was swinging into full gear, overturning the old, outmoded ways of thinking. Among other resources, I discover a series of blog posts titled SimpleQuiz. Each one is simple (get it?), outlining a small markup problem and asking readers how it should be marked up and (most importantly) why. This was such a great exercise for someone like me who was just learning HTML. The comments were lively and illuminating; I learned so much.
Then I see that this blogger, this Dan Cederholm, has written a book, Web Standards Solutions, which outlined in even greater detail his thought process for marking up websites. I read it, learning even more. I figured this guy’s pretty smart; I should probably keep an eye on him.