Laura McFarland joins Equinox Software at a fortuitous time, when Evergreen is in a very robust development stage and more and more libraries are coming on board. Laura spoke with Equinox about open source, good software, her work habits, and (we have pictures!) her family and pets.
What interests you about working for Equinox?
It’s a thoughtful product. Good software that is thoughtful and well-planned is hard to come by. Evergreen developers have made something truly awe-inspiring, and that’s hard to do when it comes to software (I hate most of it and can find a thousand ways to make it better, usually 🙂 ).
Then there are the people. Everyone here has been simply fantastic. I felt welcomed the moment I stepped through the door. My first day, when I sat down at my desk, I finally felt like I was where I was suppose to be.
What’s important about open source software?
What isn’t important about open source? Seriously, open source software has always had a special place to me. It’s amazing what can happen when you take people who care about something and give them free reign.
The naysayers will complain about lack of quality and maintainability, etc. – but when you take out the aspect of having a corporation decide how much code should be written, what the product should do, and “Hey, can you get that done in say…6 weeks?” and you put the power of the development back into the developers’ hands, you’re almost guaranteed a better product.
Where do you see open source development going in the next ten to fifteen years?
OSS development has gained a lot of momentum over the past decade already. I can only imagine that the trend will continue, and begin trickling over into corporations (which it sort of has, already).
When you get stuck on a problem, how do you solve it?
I compartmentalize, mainly. I begin by removing layer upon layer of known data to get down to where the true problem lies. Once I figure that out, I can rebuild to correct or solve said problem. I also must know why the problem happened in the first place in order to prevent it from happening in the future.
When it comes to code, I prefer the “head upon desk repeatedly” method, until I finally analyze and chew over the problem in my head enough that the true problem comes to me in a flash. This usually happens right as I wake up in the morning, and I rush off to the laptop to try the solution. This also happens with difficult math problems…my brain is an interesting creature, to be sure!
What do you keep on your desk?
Coffee. There is usually a cup of coffee on my desk. I am also an office supply field; I love organization. So, at the moment, there are a TON of notebooks on my desk, but as the weeks progress there will be more organizational things, and office supplies. I have notebooks for specific purposes and don’t write in them unless it’s for that purpose. Some may call that obsessive-compulsive, I call it…wait for it…ORGANIZATION!
I also have a lot of O’Reilly reference books. I like books-duh!–and my kids are constantly asking me why I keep buying/acquiring new books when I have so many already. I want my own personal library. That may be a sickness, but that’s ok. [Editor’s note: you’re in good company.] I also keep gum and trail mix on my desk…you never know when you’ll need clean teeth/breath and/or protein…I’m just sayin’.
What do you do to chill out? Or is that even possible with three boys, a full-time job, and a degree program?
I like to knit socks, scarves, fingerless gloves/mittens…I haven’t done a sweater yet, but I have one started. I also go to Girls’ Fight Club every Sunday at a local park. A group of women that I know all get together and train in Muay Thai.
I trained at a gym for a few months, but then moved from the area, so a friend of mine (from the gym) started Fight Club so that she and I could workout and we could teach others the joy of fighting.
Then there is photography, coding, and bike riding (although I don’t do as much bike riding as I’d like, but I try for once a month at least-a good 20+ mile ride is my idea of a good Sunday!).
And in all honesty: math. I have a renewed respect for mathematics, and I actually enjoy math, on occasion-when it isn’t before a test and I’m cramming as many formulas into my brain as I can manage. I guess I should admit my love of video games too while we’re at it…airing the dirty laundry, FTW!
Do you have any pets?
I do! I am an avid animal lover. I have two cats, Alice and Tallulah and a Chihuahua, Linux. We also have a snapping turtle, Horatio, who lives with my boys along with the black lab we adopted from the pound 11 years ago (her name is Sammie), she’s always protected the boys, and they adore her –the boys love animals more than anything, just like their mom 🙂
I keep asking for fish or a puppy for my office, but no one thinks I’m serious!