Earlier in August, Shawn Boyette joined the Equinox team as a Data Migration Specialist.
Shawn is a programmer/sysadmin/language designer/cook with (in his words) “over a decade of cripplingly painful industry experience.” He comes to ESI from Google, where he did things he says “were really, totally, amazingly cool,” but he can’t tell you about any of that (except that he’s sad his plans to dress the T. Rex up as Voltron never came to fruition).
Shawn answered a few questions for us.
What interests you about open source and libraries?
So far as FOSS goes, I barely know anything else. I’ve been a Linux user since 1993, and have contributed back to various communities since about 1997. The only commercial software I use is Mac OS and video games. I haven’t used Windows since v3.11, and have never owned a “Windows box” (though I grew up on DOS after my Commodore 64 died).
Tell us about you and libraries. What’s the connection?
Libraries… well, I was more-or-less raised by my local library. I’ve had a decent book collection my whole life. I’m captivated by problems of language, documents, archiving, and the preservation of knowledge. It seems fairly natural 🙂
Why did you come to work for Equinox?
I’ve known the core developers for a long while now, and I’ve always been impressed by their commitment to Doing The Right Thing. Competence is rare enough, but competence and ethics — that’s amazing. So take that, my gnawing desire to work in the library world, and my desire to be able to make a difference and shape things… when I chanced to see job listings on the company site, I was on the phone with Mike Rylander in under a minute.
How did you get involved in technology?
I met an Apple //c in the fourth grade (that would be 1984). I learned how to draw ASCII art forks with ‘F’s and played Infocom’s Seastalkers.
Fast-forward to 1992. My best friend (who was a year ahead of me in school) enrolled at Georgia Tech and told me I had to come check out the computer labs, so one weekend I went to visit. That Saturday night I met Unix, Emacs, and the Internet, and my life was changed forever.
I notice you bike to work.
I wake up at 8, head out around 8:45, and catch a MARTA train from N. Springs to Lindbergh Station. From there I hop the northeast line to Doraville, then cycle 10km to the office.
I do it for a couple of reasons, but the biggest one is simply that I hate, hate, hate traffic. I’d rather do anything than be stuck in traffic.
Aside from that it’s mostly about being in shape and feeling self-reliant. I like being able to shop daily and carry it home on my cargo rack. Having a commute that costs $13/week doesn’t hurt any, but it’s not my main concern.
When you’re stuck on a problem that you’re having trouble solving, what do you do to get through it?
I usually just let it go for a while, at least in a fore-brain context. My mind refuses to completely stop working on problems. There have been stumpers in personal projects that took literally years to see the right solutions to (though most things don’t take that long). I’m always reading, learning, and hooked up to my network of similarly-minded friends, so new data and points of view are constantly filtering into my consciousness (and, I suppose, subconscious).
Anything else you want to share?
I’d like to thank all the people from #code4lib without whom I would have missed out on a lot of great conversation, piles of laughs, a wealth of knowledge about the library IT world, and, of course, this job. Special shout outs to Ross Singer 🙂