Inside Orbit with Paul Weinstein
Welcome to the 9th installment of our series “Inside Orbit.” This week, I’d like to introduce you to Paul Weinstein, our Web Programmer Analyst. Paul’s part of our amazing Server Admin team who keeps all of our clients’ websites (including ours) safe and secure. You know how Tank and Dozer are outside the Matrix keeping the people in it safe from the sentinels? Kind of like that.
Where are you from?
I’m a Chicagoan.
What made you decide to become a Developer?
I knew I wanted to study Computer Science in college after learning BASIC and Pascal and spending copious amounts of free time writing, sharing and running programs with friends. However, outside of that I didn’t have any particular focus in mind.
As it happened during my freshman year Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen founded Netscape Communications. By the time I graduated the “dot-com boom” was in full swing and I had my first full-time job in the San Francisco Bay Area working for an Internet startup.
What brought you to Orbit?
A colleague, Dan Rench, was doing consulting work for Orbit at a time when I was looking for my next thing and pointed me in this direction.
Tell me about a favorite project you worked on and why?
From my perspective a project ends when we no longer maintain the website. For example, we launched Independent Publishers Group in 2011, but there are still plenty of days when I or someone else works on it.
In fact, the IPG website has evolved many times over the past few years and continues to push Orbit technologically in many ways. There are some of the basic e-commerce hurdles; routinely updating a large product catalog, securely processing credit card information and maintain site availability for both people and ‘bots. But there are also other business requirements specific to IPG; being able to handle the purchasing of books in multiple digital formats, integrating individual publisher stores and rapidly serving tens of megabits of book images per second.
All of which has led to many enhancements to both the CMS and the underlying server infrastructure. In fact, in many ways the IPG site is its own computing platform.
Can you share at least one tool or trick that makes your life easier as a Developer?
The “trick” with any technology is understanding its purpose. In software engineering we call this requirements analysis. The basic point is any technology is a means to an end.
Do you want to take your music wherever you go? Or do you want an immersive experience in a single location? These, and other, requirements will determine what technology you adopt.
And yes, you may find that you end up embracing multiple technologies, even technologies that are considered “out-dated” or “at odds”. With music the location requirement can change, which may lead one to purchasing both a turntable and a portable media player.
What is your favorite CMS and why?
What industry blogs or sites do you read religiously?
Too many for one list, but my top three are probably:
- Monday Note – Written by two Frenchmen, Jean-Louis Gassée and Frédéric Filloux. Gassée started Apple France in 1981, moved to Silicon Valley, became president of Apple’s Products Division and then went on to start Be, Inc (which almost became the future of Apple). Now he’s a partner at a venture capital firm and writes great commentary about the Valley. Frédéric Filloux, I know less about but also provides interesting commentary, mostly about digital media.
- Schneier On Security – Bruce Schneier is a well known security technologist, he’s an author of numerous books, articles and research papers. He also runs a mailing list newsletter, “Crypto-Gram” along with his blog, which highlight interesting news about technology, security and society.
- FiveThirtyEight – Probably the most broadly known of my three, I’ve been reading Nate Silver’s blog since its original incarnation in 2008. Now a days Silver and his team work for ESPN and cover not just politics and sports, but other data-driven topics such as the economy, weather and society.
Who’s your hero? Why?
Any of the individuals I’ve already mentioned would qualify, along with many, many others.
What motivates or inspires you?
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
The day I was born, the first joint international space flights took place in Earth orbit between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thanks to my father, I have a small number of memorabilia and artifacts from the mission, including a piece of the Apollo command module’s heat shield.
How many cups of coffee do you consume in a day?
One. Cream, no sugar.
What’s your favorite nickname and how did you get it?
I have yet to hear a nickname that I like.
If you could see any band (past or present) who would it be?
I’m going to appropriate a story of my wife’s to answer this one. Katie and her family are from Ireland, they came to the States in the early 80s so her father could attend university. As a result, both Katie and her younger brother attended public schools here and became immersed in American culture. To expose them to Irish culture their parents would take them to see musicians and other artists that came to town while on tour of America.
The day came when her parents asked if she wanted to attend a show by a group that was in town. Thinking of other Irish music she had been exposed to and, no doubt, the uncoolness of telling her friends about attending a concert with her parents, she said no. The day of the show came and went and much to her dismay at school she discovered her classmates were all about this great new band called U2.
What adult beverage do you currently have in your fridge at home?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any Orbit Brew at the moment. However, I do have some Revolution Rosa, Eugene Porter and New Glarus Spotted Cow.
What do you like to geek out on?
I collect spores, molds and fungus.
You can find Paul over on Twitter. Oh, and today’s his birthday so wish him a “Happy Birthday” in the comments below!