We build our computers the way we build our cities—over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.
― Ellen Ullman

I’ve built this exact same site four times now. First as a React app; then as a Next app; then a Svelte app. And now I’ve done it without any JavaScript whatsoever.

Why? Well at first, I just wanted to get something out there! And for me that meant using React. It’s what I knew best. But as I started exploring other libraries and frameworks, and my priorities for this site changed (for instance, that it be easily updatable static content vs. a quick and dirty MVP), I tossed out the old site and started again with new tools.

Most recently I thought it would be fun to try and use even less. While I really enjoy Next and Svelte, I wasn’t actually changing things and adding features as often as I first thought. It was still just a bit of static content. I couldn’t resist the idea of yet another version but with as little as possible. No fancy application framework. No package manager. Not even a build step. Okay maybe I’ll add one later. But let’s start small!

So here it is. A new site with old tools. All that's going over the wire is simple, hand-written HTML. And some styling. And now an About page! Oh right, about that. You didn’t want to read about this site; You wanted to know more about me. How's this to get us started: Not only do I love writing code, I love writing about code too.

Software Engineering is a second-career for me, and 2023 will mark 2 years of professional experience in developing software on the web as part of an Engineering team.

My skills include programming, web technologies, software and system design, algorithms and data structures, problem solving, writing and communication, presentation & public speaking, teamwork, design thinking & UX.

My current employer has been making their own software solutions since they started 10 years ago (when fewer off-the-shelf answers existed). They’ve since learned to be laser-focussed and highly-adaptable for where our very limited Engineering resources are needed most. Amongst this small but experienced team, I’ve had production experience with all sorts of technologies across the full stack of our direct-to-consumer ecommerce business, from our AWS infra to our public-facing site, and everything in between and around. (See my Linkedin profile for more.)

As for languages, I’m fluent in JavaScript, TypeScript, SQL, HTML, CSS, and English. I’ve also done some less-critical Go, Bash, Python, C, Scheme, and French. I'm always interested to learn new languages, try out new frameworks and paradigms, and dive into the source code of unfamiliar tools.

I've been fascinated with the Internet since making Geocities sites as kid. And although I saw MySpace and Tumblr as ways to express my design sensibilities, they were also great for teaching me HTML and CSS.

It wasn’t until Summer 2020 that I first learned what a variable was. If you had asked me to name programming languages, I’d have probably gotten stuck after saying, Java? (and then wondered if that's short for JavaScript). Looking for a new distraction, I started teaching myself programming with Python in the hours before my ad job. Within the week I was hooked. And it wasn’t just on programming. I was hooked on the whole darn thing: It had been a long time since I picked up a book, but by the end of that year, I’d cracked open books about computer systems, programming languages, and software design; The one on Distributed Systems was still too far above my head; The Algorithms books were on my birthday wish list.

I said ad job didn't I?

Before developing software, I’d gotten a Bachelor of Design from OCAD University and then worked as an Art Director at various ad agencies around Toronto. For about 7 years I lost sleep concepting, presenting, and crafting Big Ideas™. From TV commercials to print ads, billboards to direct-mailers, I executed campaigns in nearly every medium. Even fashion lines, temporary tattoos, and a song on Spotify.

Deep down, I love solving problems. That's what I did before, in creative advertising, and that's what I do now with software. I’m also enamoured with the ways we all create things together, whether that's a television commercial or an open-source software project. Needless to say, I’m a lover of arts, culture, design, and now computer science. Thanks for reading. Feel free to hit me up on Linkedin if you’d like to get in touch.

— Jason, May 2023