25 Jun

Pepper Talk with Albert Nguyen

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re doing a deep dive with Albert Nguyen. Albert is a Senior Software Engineer who has been with Eleven Peppers for over 3 years. He’s a stickler for clean code and only the finest caffeinated beverages.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Usually everyone just calls me Albert, but I have been called Alberto, Albie, Al, Albs, and some others I can’t remember off the top of my head.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Cuddle with Kathy (my wife) and try to muster all of my will power to get out of the warm cozy bed.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Since I’m a Software Engineer, I’ll describe my coding style. I try to keep my code clean, concise, organized, and readable. It’s helpful to spend the time to write good code so that the next person who goes through it will easily understand what is happening. It’s always fun to run into some confusing code, wonder who on earth wrote it that way, look into the logs, and find out it was written by you a year ago.

 

4: How did you get started?
It started in middle school when I saved my allowance money to buy my own TI-83+ graphing calculator. At first I got it to play games on it but then I started programming on it as well. In high school I learned Java and some other programming languages. I entered the web development world with my first internship during college at the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology where we did PHP development. From then on I mainly stayed with frontend development, but still dabble in Java and other languages every once in a while.

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
It used to be Eclipse but since we use IntelliJ on our current task, it has been growing on me and I like it better now. I also like using Notepad++ to jot down notes and it has useful plugins to format JSON and compare files. I’m also in Chrome’s Developer Tools a lot to debug issues. It allows you to step through the code, view network calls, modify DOM elements on the fly, and many other things. The worst tool is probably outdated versions of Internet Explorer that rarely render anything properly.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
It depends on the project. For smaller ones, I tend to just jump in and try stuff out. Larger ones require more thought into the architecture.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Technology companies like Google that keep on innovating, coming up with new things, and improving what already exists. I use so many Google products on a daily basis like Gmail, Hangouts, Photos, and Maps. I also draw inspiration from the other peppers and my co-workers. Seeing them work hard and solve difficult problems inspires me to do the same.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Yes, all sorts of caffeine, especially coffee. My favorites include Vietnamese coffee, nitro cold brew coffee, and iced/hot lattes. I did get the 2015 Pepper Superlative for most likely to have stock in caffeinated beverages. =)
Sweet or Savory: I really like both. I can’t decide…
Favorite Movie: I don’t have a single favorite movie, but I like movies that have an expansive universe that you can immerse yourself in and has so many intricacies between the different characters like Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel superhero movies
Guilty Pleasure: Eating free food that shows up in the office
Hobbies: Playing video games, watching anime, cooking, working out, photography, deal hunting, spending time with friends and family

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Squishmallows! They’re the cutest and softest stuffed animals ever. Also, the Samsung S8 has a really sleek design that I like and the specs on it are great. I know that’s two, but they’re both so good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for meeting Albert. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

21 Apr

Pepper Talk with Brian Lynch

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Brian with us. Just a little background before we get started, Brian is one of Eleven Peppers Studios more recent hires. He is one of our Principal Software Engineers and works directly with our federal clients to build websites and web apps to help make their jobs easier.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
“Brian” doesn’t lend itself to many nicknames. Bri is about the best I’ll get and will occasionally just sign an email that way, if not just B. Or I guess there are other names that just aren’t appropriate to be repeated [grins].

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
After my alarm goes off – only on a work day – and my wife jumps in the shower, I usually just lay in bed with my eyes closed not wanting to open them. Not too long ago I set up some home automation stuff in my house and I can now tell my Echo “Alexa, turn on bedroom lights” and they come on at about 30% brightness. I’m still not happy about the light being on, but at least it’s not a complete shock. Otherwise, some phone surfing before crawling out of bed and getting dressed.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Since I’m not a designer, I do better when trying to mimic or improve rather than create new. The best perk-up to my career was meeting the Peppers. I worked with several before becoming one myself, so having my now, coworkers put together designs for the websites I build, or at least having them to bounce ideas off, has become my design style.

 

4: How did you get started?
This could get really long if I let it… but, my dad was in the computer field my entire life and that let me get into the weeds of them very early on. I took a lot of electronic and programming classes throughout school, and graduated from UMBC with a Computer Engineering degree. It then took me another five or so years to realize that front end development – mobile, web, etc – was what I liked the most.

 

5: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
If I say MS Paint, I’ll have to duck from the things getting thrown at my head, but I’m not a designer so I mostly use software development tools. Any uncomplicated IDE is generally all I need. Eclipse is far too bulky, but I’ve figured out enough of its shortcuts to make it useful. Apple’s Xcode for mobile development has a nice look and feel to it, but also has somewhat of a learning curve. Atom on Linux isn’t too bad. Notepad++ is always a great go-to. It’s hard to say I have a favorite. Give me jQuery and something to type some code in and I’ll spit out a website in a week. However, development platforms that need a month to configure with several dozen files cluttering up space and style platforms that try to put a one-size-fits-all approach to displays are the worst in my opinion.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I might run through a few looks at the data I’ll be using and if I’m lucky enough to have a few designs to build from I’ll start creating some skeleton files for my site. If I have access to some of my past work that could be used in the new project, all the better. Otherwise, I just start knocking out some code just to get a display up on the screen. I tidy it up later once most of the functionality is in place. [Thinking out loud] Maybe I do have a favorite tool of the trade… in-browser dev tools. They let me do some on-demand styling to see what I might need to plan for later.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Definitely my fellow Peppers when I have access to them. Otherwise, if I need to style a button or table, I’ll usually poke around google images or some CSS sites to see if a style pops out to me.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Yes, Caffeine. All the coffee.
Sweet or Savory: Usually Savory.
Favorite Movie: Fight Club and Deadpool are my go-tos.
Guilty Pleasure: Hmm… Bourbon Barrel Aged beers?
Hobbies:: Playing guitar, brewing beer, making things look good, pretending to be athletic.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
I think I have more of a problem with not following through with my ideas and seeing someone else do the same later on. I wish I could say that hasn’t happened more than once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Brian. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!