Who is Kevin Gisi?
Kevin W. Gisi is a software engineer, Eau Claire Ruby User Group co-founder, Rails Rumble administrator, open-source advocate, piano accompanist, and nice guy.
Where and when did you start programming?
My first experience programming was with a toy V-Tech laptop when I was little. There was a primitive BASIC interpreter, and a manual with a few games I could program in. Eventually I switched to the QBASIC interpreter I found on the Windows 98 CD, then a bit of TI-BASIC as I entered high school. I took some preliminary classes in Java and C++ in high school, and started to dive into Bash scripting on various Linux distributions. Halfway through college, I switched my major from music over to software engineering.
I personally got started with Ruby on Rails after I got a job on campus doing web development under Brian Hogan. Within six months, I had won an award for competing in the 48-hour Rails Rumble development competition. After that, I was hooked. Ruby is a language designed for programmer happiness, and Rails is a framework that so well optimizes the process of development that we can have events like the Rails Rumble. The idea of being able to create a minimum-viable-product within a 48-hour timespan is fascinating, and one of the reasons I try to help evangelize the language and framework.
What does your typical day look like?
My days vary depending on the activities I’m involved in, but I usually work from home. I occasionally grab lunch with some other local developers mid-day. I’ve been finishing up my workday at a local coffee shop recently, enjoying some free wifi before heading to community theatre rehearsal. Evenings vary for me – occasionally I’ll continue working if we have a deadline approaching. Otherwise, I may be working on some pet projects, or preparing a presentation, or just relaxing.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m reasonably involved with the local community theatre, as a performer and as a pianist. Beyond that, helping facilitate the ECRuby group, organizing the Rails Rumble, and working on my own open-source stuff takes up a fair bit of time.
Current favorite apps?
I’m a sucker for simplicity and good workflow management. Right now, I’m very impressed with CloudApp.
What OS do you prefer?
It’s really a toss-up between OS X Snow Leopard, and Ubuntu with the Ratpoison window manager. I love the flexibility of OS X, but you just can’t beat Ratpoison for managing focus.
Small picture for your Workplace?
Favorite: Color, Font, Language, JS Framework?
I’m partial to black and white, am still learning my typography, Ruby, and jQuery.
Name something that has inspired you recently?
I’ve been really enjoying finding the connections between a few really great books (Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us to start). They’ve talked about how our traditional way of thinking and managing the process of “work” really doesn’t fall in line with what’s necessarily the most productive.
What do you prefer (and why)? Freelance work or full time employment?
I have the perfect job – working remotely for Intridea. I have all the stability and benefits of a full-time position, but with all the flexibility that you’d see from doing freelance work. Intridea is the high-school teacher who lets you have class outside.
What are your personal projects and goals for 2010?
I just wrote a blog post that got a fair bit of attention called So You Want To Be A Ruby Dev where I talk about the newcomer’s experience with the Ruby community and how with so many choices, it’s difficult to get started without one-on-one mentoring. I’m working on addressing this problem by being available as a mentor, and ensuring that we have updated and easy-to-find tutorials for newcomers.
In the meantime, we’re working hard to get the Rails Rumble 2010 competition ready for the October date. It’s a huge undertaking, but a great experience. I’m looking forward to seeing what teams come up with this year!