Who is Giles Bowkett?
Giles Bowkett is a thriving programmer, a struggling actor, a prolific blogger, a once and future information marketer, and a former DJ whose vinyl records simply did not sell, at all. He’s writing a book on how to create algorithmic music with Ruby. He expects it to sell, because people have been telling him they expect to buy it.
Where and when did you start programming?
I first started programming at 11 years old, in a computer class, writing BASIC on a TRS-80. Then I stopped and didn’t give it another thought until I was 17. We had graphing calculators; I programmed mine in BASIC to do Feigenbaum sequences, chaos math analogous to slices of the Mandelbrot set, and hit the memory limits of the calculator quite quickly. Then at 18 I did a summer job cleaning air conditioners at a local university. The job had a lot of downtime, so I borrowed a friend’s book on Pascal and taught myself the language with a paper notebook and no computer, not because I was planning to do anything useful with it, just because I was bored and needed a mental challenge. Then when I was 20, I was working as an office temp and writing screenplays, and I got into doing production art for graphic design firms, Photoshop, Illustrator, stuff like that, and they needed people who knew HTML. I taught myself HTML, moved to San Francisco, got into the dot-com boom, learned Perl, and became a programmer.
You favorite Languages/Frameworks? And why?
Ruby and Rails, for the combination of beauty and practicality. Smalltalk and Scheme, because I’m a classicist.
What does your typical day look like?
Difficult to answer because my life changes unpredictably and constantly. Currently a typical day is a 9 to 5 in an office. Six months ago I was creating my own products and selling them, so I was working from home, and a typical day began with cooking breakfast, working out by climbing steep hillside steps (I live in a very hilly neighborhood of Los Angeles which actually contains the three steepest paved roads in the United States), and putting myself in a hypnotic trance for half an hour for the relaxation and health benefits. Six months before that I was doing a 9 to 5 where I was absurdly underpaid, but I was building a web app for a Hollywood production company, and I got to learn quite a bit about the entertainment industry in the process. Six months before that, I was consulting, so again, getting up when I felt like it, working out, hacking at cafés.
What do you do in your free time?
I don’t really have a lot of free time in any rational sense, because if I’m not writing code for money, or working on my acting career, or working on my information marketing businesses, or my startup (a business based on automated refactoring, which I have a proof-of-concept for, but which will probably take years before it works in any truly serious sense), or my music, then I’m probably either fucking or asleep.
Current favorite apps?
iPod: Awesome Note, Epic Win, iThoughts, Impossible Game, Sentinel 3 (video game).
Drop7. It’s this awesome iPhone/iPod game. I got completely hooked on it, wrote a Ruby clone, and got to the number one spot on its daily leaderboards twice.
What OS do you prefer?
I could not give less of a shit about operating systems. Life is too fucking short.
Small picture for your Workplace
Well, here’s where I’m working
They’re both standup desks done in a rather hurried and ghetto fashion. I also tend to do a lot of laptop hacking at cafés, on my sofa, on my bed, and sometimes even outside, if I can find enough shade. I have a cozy little porch, for instance, which is pretty great when the light isn’t overwhelming.
Name something that has inspired you recently?
The other night, my acting class was absolutely fucking amazing. If you offered me Mark Zuckerberg’s billions, and all I had to give up was the six hours of that acting class, I would keep those six hours and say fuck the billions. Not even kidding. It’s just awe-inspiring the committment, passion, and relentless courage that great actors bring to their work. I have no fucking idea how in the hell I managed to get into a class this good. I feel like the luckiest man on earth.
What do you prefer (and why)? Freelance work or full time employment?
Freelance work is better, hands down, but I think that’s actually a very dangerous false dichotomy. I prefer working for myself, by an overwhelming margin. If you don’t own the things you create, you’re trading money for time, which is the stupidest thing in the world. If you run out of money, you can make more money. If you run out of time, you’re dead. Everybody runs out of time sooner or later, but the world is constantly generating more and more money than ever before. Trading away a precious, limited resource for an abundant, readily available one is just stupid beyond words.
What are your personal projects and goals for 2011?