Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Tell us something about yourself
I have been a programmer for about 20 years now. I remember learning Basic when I got my first computer at the age of 9 and I never really looked back. Granted, I can’t say I made anything useful back then, but I fell in love with the ability to make computers do things with a few instructions.
A line or two about the current project you are working on.
At Bocoup, I am the Data Visualization Practice Lead, working with our clients, engineers & community to continue pushing the boundaries of data visualization on the open web. This translates into having many projects at the same time – I am already thinking about our next OpenVis Conf 2015, several community projects that I run: MobileVis, Miso Project and Blocksplorer , as well as working with my fellow engineers and clients to build excellent data visualization stories and interfaces.
What made you choose programming as a profession?
I’ve always really enjoyed math and science as a child, and computing seemed like the applied way to use those skills. I was thankful to be in an educational system that recognized such preferences early on and had wonderful supporting structures to enable me. Right now I feel like engineering is an open door to a variety of fields.
Tell us something about the first project you worked on: what was it, how you went about figuring it out, the obstacles you faced, the outcome, etc.
Wow it’s been so long, I can’t really remember the first. One of my early big college projects involved figuring out a large open source portal system with the goal of adding real time chat to it. This was probably close to 10 years ago, so it was kind of a crazy idea. That’s when I learned the importance of well documented code and open source communities. Not surprisingly I ended up at Bocoup, where writing good open source software is one of our highest priorities.
Two most important data visualization tips or best practices you want to share with our readers.
Know your data – 95% of data visualization work is data crunching. Learn enough statistical methods to make sure you’re being honest with your audience and making the right conclusions. Learn your visualization methods – there are so many ways to visualize data and each is best applicable in certain situations. Learn when and how to look at various data.
- MDN – read the docs. They are great.
- Your Own Project – pick something you want to build, and build it! Try different libraries and frameworks.
What is the biggest criticism you have faced till date?
I’m very precise and methodical – it means that prototyping (writing bad code that needs to be thrown away) isn’t easy for me. I’m getting a lot better at it though – thinking with code is an important skill.
What is the biggest compliment you have got till date?
Some of the code I’ve written was used in some amazing ways – by political candidates, scientists exploring some important questions and journalists writing about important news topics. Having what I make be useful is the greatest compliment I can get.
What do you do when you are not writing codes?
I am a huge foodie and absolutely love to cook. I cook every day, often for hours exploring new ingredients, cuisines, recipes and techniques. I’m very lucky to have such a delicious hobby 🙂
I also paint, sing and hangout with my wonderful dog, friends and family. I am lucky to have a great life in and outside of engineering!
Who or what is your biggest motivation?
I want to build things that are useful to people ― that help them solve a problem that exists in the real world. Fundamentally, I’m much more interested in people than technology, but as it happens, technology is really important in people’s lives.
One life lesson you would like to share with developers who are new to the field.
Be curious, open & tolerant to your fellow engineers.
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