I live in the Republic of California with my wife, son and various creatures — some of which are also family. I prefer dogs over cats since I’m allergic to the latter. The rest are mostly varmints.
Even though I’m retired now, I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up. I’m convinced that curiosity and tinkering are useful afflictions, so there’s a good chance I’ll be working at something again before I expire from more prosaic ailments.
I didn’t start out as a Web geek
Growing up, all I ever wanted to be was a comic strip or comic book artist. I not only had a natural talent for drawing, I was diligent in my practice of it. Later I even had some success with my artwork. Now I rarely draw anything other than the occasional fly.
After illustrating some obscure underground comics as a teenager, I became a professional newspaper artist where I finally managed to get a steady paycheck. Back in the ’70s, there was no money in comics. Of course, there was no money in newspapers either.
Later in that slowly dying newspaper business, I pioneered using the Macintosh for information graphics. And I didn’t just learn how to draw with computers. Out of curiosity and need, I taught myself to write software with them. In the beginning, I wrote code to make better graphics. Soon though, that effort got out of hand.
Turns out I was good at programming. And I liked it better than drawing. But just so we’re clear, I still have no engineering degree. Nor formal management training. I even dropped out of college. Twice. I’m one of those annoying self-taught people you’re told to avoid.
After leaving newspapers I’ve been, at one time or another, a senior engineer or engineering manager of MacTOPS, Director, Illustrator, Navigator, Nautilus and Safari. Apparently, not everyone was avoiding me.
I was a member of the team at Netscape which released Mozilla as open source. I hired and led the Safari team at Apple where I chose KHTML and KJS as core technologies for the WebKit project. There’s a good chance you’re reading this now in a WebKit-based browser.
While at Apple, I also led the department developing the Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Messages and FaceTime apps on OS X — as well as Core Services, a set of frameworks familiar to anyone programming for the Mac. My teams did the original versions of some built-in iPad applications. And, of course, I was responsible for WebKit on iOS in addition to the desktop.
Then, after over 10 years at Apple, I retired from my position as Engineering Director of Internet Technologies in early 2012 in order to focus on writing. At least that’s what I told everyone at the time. When I’m not pretending to write, I love to tinker with things. Like this website.
How I’m playing with the Web here
For the initial version of this site — roughly its first three years — I went full-on hipster and used a static website generator of my own making — which I released as Magneto — to create and maintain it all.
While the free-range, handcrafted, artisanal nature of the HTML it produced afforded me a certain self-righteous smugness, it was actually a pain in the ass to use. And though I liked the command line it required, I didn’t want to spend all my time there.
What I really needed was a publishing system easily accessible from anywhere — even mobile devices — to quickly create and deploy content. Which is the whole point of having a blog that people want to read.
So I joined the herd and switched to WordPress. Moo.
Sure, I modified an existing theme and wrote a few plugins, but I’m not trying to tweak every little thing that WordPress does by default. That kind of mad cow disease ends with building your own anal-retentive system instead. You know, to get all the details just right that nobody ever sees anyway.
And I’m not doing that again.
I’ll be the first to admit that WordPress requires constant vigilance to keep it working. But that kind of forced participation is a good thing if it draws me back here to write. Because neglect has been this site’s only real problem.
Of course, that’s no guarantee I’ll keep using WordPress. I love to tinker with things.