Who is Pamela Fox?
I’m a twenty-something-year-old living in San Francisco. I suppose I would be best described as a web developer, though I’ve never identified as one. I just like making stuff, and coding is my means to that end.
I graduated from USC in 2007 with a bachelors and masters in Computer science, with minors in linguistics and 3d animation. After that, I spent 5 years in Google Developer Relations, working on the widely successful Maps API and the ill-fated Wave API. (Hey, you win some, you lose some). I recently left Google to pursue my own projects and see what they might turn into.
Where and when did you start programming?
On one fateful Mother’s Day, I realised I did not have a gift for my mum, and since we lived approximately in the middle of nowhere, I didn’t have an easy way to obtain a physical gift. We did have a T1 line in our house though (my dad’s a computer scientist), and I was very aware of the internet – so I decided I’d make her a webpage. I Yahoo’d for webpage making instructions and promptly presented my mum with her digital gift. As soon as my dad saw that I was interested in programming, he spurred me on to learn more (real) languages like Perl and Java. From then on, I was hooked, and the rest is history.
Your favorite: Language, JS framework? And Why?
What does your typical day look like?
Short version: I spend about 1/3 of my day coding, 1/3 cooking, and 1/3 socialising. Long version: I wake up, cook myself breakfast, code a bit, cook lunch for my brother and I, bring lunch to him at the startup where he works, settle into a coworking space for a few hours and code, and maybe meet a friend for dinner or go to a class in the evening. It’s a good life. :)
What do you do in your free time?
I love to learn new things, both technical and “traditional.” Now that I have excessive free time, I’m taking the opportunity to learn more non-technical skills – the kind of things that won’t technically ever benefit me career-wise, but will make me happy. :) I’m currently taking a tile mosaics class, a trampoline class, and I’m attending workshops in cheese-making and sewing in the next few weeks.
Current favorite apps?
I recently discovered Star.me, a creation of the brilliant Ze Frank. Star.me is pretty simple – you give people stars, people give you stars, and the more stars you give, the more you get to give. It’s a game-ified way of reminding people to compliment each other from time to time. It’s an incredibly positive experience, and I command the team behind it for trying to make the world a nicer place.
What OS do you prefer?
As a kid, I was raised in a very Windows-centric environment. My dad didn’t think highly of Macs (particularly before they were Unix-based), and basically banned us from using Apple products. That bias stuck with me for a long time – to the point where I was the only one of my colleagues proudly sporting a Windows machine. I finally decided to give Apple a chance a month ago and got myself a 15 inch MacBookPro. I’m really happy with my Mac purchase, and I love being able to develop in a pretty but Unix-based environment.
Small picture for your Workplace?
Since I’m now a nomad hacker, I have a new workplace every day – like a startup’s office, a co-working space, a cafe, my kitchen, or even the local Safeway. I will go wherever I can find both a comfy couch and free Wi-Fi.
Here I am on the couch at my brother’s startup:
Name something that has inspired you recently?
Thanks to my trusty Kindle, I’ve rediscovered my love of reading and am often finding myself inspired by the books I read. Most recently, I read an oldie but a goodie, Andrew Carnegie’s “How to win friends & influence people.” I had heard of the book before but never wanted to read it because the title made it seem like a how-to book for skeezy salesmen – I was very wrong. The first principle of the book is to smile to everyone (makes sense!), and the rest of the principles continue the idea of being nice and understanding to your fellow human beings, whether they be your family members, your friends, or your employees. Sure, you can use the tips in the book to be a successful salesmen, but you can also use them to be a great friend. I remind myself of the ideas in that book every day now.
What do you prefer (and why)? Freelance work or full time employment?
As a general rule, I prefer to do work where I am working on my own ideas, and not anyone else’s. At Google, I was working towards their goal of supporting API developers, but I was using my own ideas to figure out how to best do that, so I quite enjoyed it. I once tried freelance development in high school, but I didn’t like the lack of creativity in simply implementing what the client wanted. For me, the primary joy in developing is in making the ideas in my head into a reality – not in the developing itself.
What are your personal projects and goals for 2011?
Excellent question – one I ask myself each day. :)
After many years on the “work” side of the life/work balance, I look forward to spending more time exploring “life” – hanging out with people I haven’t seen in a while and enjoying my free time. I imagine I will soon tire for that and long for “work”, and I hope to work on a project that I truly love, whether that is something of my own invention or someone else’s.