No way do you know me! Ok maybe you do. I do what I can to express a lot and always make people laugh, even in the toughest of times. This interview is a special one that I decided to do back in the early days of the interview post idea. It’s done in conjunction with my 27th birthday today. All of the questions, except one, are submitted to me from the people you’ve already met in this blog series, as well as a small handful from others on twitter. I appreciate all of them spending some time to suggest one or three. Lets get to it, I’m getting sappy.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to
see play the lead role as you and why?
Michael Beckwith: Mary Elizabeth Winstead so that I’d be considered really f’n hot for once.
Oh, I have to stick to the appropriate gender? OK. Hmm..Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I have always enjoyed his work, from my time in high school watching 10 Things I Hate About You to my recent time realizing how great of a show 3rd Rock From The Sun was. He has also shown a lot of serious acting chops the past number of years as he’s matured. If JGL wasn’t available, I’d have to go with Yahoo Serious, famous Australian actor/writer/director of such films like Young Einstein and Reckless Kelly. The reason for choosing Yahoo is because I recall growing up at a really young age watching Young Einstein when it came on tv. Very satirical and funny take on Einstein’s life, including splitting a beer atom to discover E=mc^2. Love it
What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Michael: Due to the fact that I have not really gone grocery shopping lately, especially for things that need to remain cold, not much. Bit of milk, your usual condiments. My freezer however…a ham, some small cuts of beef, hot dogs, breakfast sausage. I used to have some bacon, but I eated it!
I should really invest in a shopping trip.
When it comes to building WordPress themes, what is your absolute favorite feature / capability / tag?
Michael: I guess I don’t really have a specific love of a feature/capability/whathaveyou, but I have noticed that I enjoy the challenge of a client wanting some sort of specific functionality and me being the person in charge of making it work. The idea of determining what information I need, how to retrieve that information, what to do with it, achieving that need, and then outputting the result. A lot of it is php and programming logic, but when it comes to WordPress themes, half the work tends to be done already through the built-in functions, making it somewhat entry level programming. However, you still need to know what functions you need to achieve these results, and how to make the functions format the information to fit your need. Other than that, just seeing all the areas of the theme working the way the designer and the client envisioned and requested. When that is true and the code is good, then I know I did my job.
I recently had a job interview for a “web developer” position for a local company, but they told me it’d be a lot of PSD to WordPress theme development. As soon as I heard that fact, I knew I wanted the position and that it’d be along my knowledge and current skill set. I should hear about if I landed the job or not this week, if I haven’t already by the time this post goes up.
What is one thing that you have learned in the real world that contradicts what “they” taught you in school?
Michael: Given the fact that my alumnus was big with Microsoft and taught a lot of their stuff, probably that Internet Explorer is a decent browser. Whether actually spoken or implied, I forget.
What is the very first thing you learned in college?
Michael: While some would argue that learning that at some point I’d get to use Microsoft Frontpage later in my first semester of Intro To Computers 101, should be the first thing I learned(and the first thing I should have wished to change), I’m going to not go with that one. Others would argue that it’d be my first chance to really learn how to live on my own and be away from my parents. While definitely true for a decent amount of incoming freshmen, my brother and I spent the summer living on our own in a (really) small apartment about an hour away from our hometown. It was far away enough to be “away from the parents” but close enough that they could easily check up on us in person if needed.
No, none of those are the first thing that I learned in college. I am going to go with what I learned in English 101, much to the initial annoyance to my teacher. The very first thing that I learned in college is that I no longer had to ask if I could go to the bathroom. I was allowed to just go.
What is your single most desired quality in a client? The single most hated?
Michael: For most desired? I won’t be alone in this one, but having the client comprehend and understand that, unlike their nephew/son/family member offering to do things for free, they hire the designers and developers because those people know what they are doing and have been doing it for usually many years on professional levels.
They need to learn to put their trust into the people they are hiring. Chances are the designer/developer isn’t going to try and screw the client over, because they want to earn their worth on the project as well as a decent living like everyone else. You know, one of those things called a career. Also, the designer/developer is going to want to produce work that is going to, hopefully, bring in more work in the future from either the same client(unless a really bad experience happens), or new clients.
For most hated? Going based on a previous WordPress project I was commissioned for: unavailability. If you know you are going to be unavailable for a period of time during the duration of the hired project, let the people you hire know that it will happen ahead of time. Don’t just suddenly pick up and go for awhile, while they’re trying to work on the project and may need to contact you. Also if you know you’re going to be gone, ask ahead of time what material or information the designers/developers need in order to get the project going steadily, and provide as much as you can before you leave. It’s really difficult to work on detailed style presentation when you have no example content to put in the work-in-progress site.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Michael: Hopefully something not done yet! Other than that, I’m going to list being trusted my whole life to learn how to survive and make my own way through it, while always having my parents if I need them. They have really been wonderful and put their trust in me at ages that most parents would not. For that I’m always eternally grateful for them for letting me become the man I am today.
How do you spend your days off?
Michael: Admittedly, I really lack a good solid social life. On top of that, I am currently not at a point in my eventual career that I’d like to be at. I am still trying to get my foot in the door on a local level. I have come to reason that an office-style job would not be a bad thing for me, so a lot of my off-time from my day job is spent trying to stay caught up in some very fast moving industries, and doing what I can on a freelance level to shape and evolve my portfolio. I am a pack rat when it comes to magazines, and lately you can see me somewhat frequently at one of a small handful of local coffee shops sitting there reading older issues of .Net Magazine or Web Designer Mag while sipping on a large round of roasted coffee. Why are all the decent web/graphic design magazines from the UK? Come on, I don’t want to have to pay $15 USD because they have to be imported! 😛
Are there any go-to bands or artists you rely on for a long day and/or night of working, coding, or designing?
Michael: I don’t know if I really have any bands that I constantly rely on, where they’re a shoe-in. I do notice that I go through periods of listening to certain artists regularly or certain styles. The Manic Street Preachers are one of those that I can tend to listen to a lot of for a long while, but then leave alone. Right now, at least when driving somewhere, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sonic Youth. I think I have four of their albums in there right now. All the while, I also tend to have a “hot tracks” tendency. This is where certain tracks, usually from new entries into my personal library, get listened to frequently. The latest example would be “It’s Getting Boring By the Sea” by Blood Red Shoes. This is one of the songs from the soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and it’s the one that stood out the most to me. It’s been played quite frequently since then. The video is playing as I type this sentence :D.
Seeing as I have typed a novel that in no way relates to the actual question, usually whatever is going on in the above novel is what gets listened to during my hard working days and nights of coding/theming. Either that or musical scores to movies!
Aside from the usual (Gmail, Twitter, etc), what are some of the websites you’re drawn to check on a daily basis?
Michael: In terms of my bookmarks, my own site admin to check on spam comments and empty appropriately, Okcupid in attempts to work on my personal life, as well as a small list of music group forums that I have joined over the years. After that would just be my RSS feeds including various design/developer related blogs, Dlisted for my gossip and celebrity trashing, my favorite web comics, like XKCD and The Brads, and Digg/Reddit category feeds. Too many get checked too frequently.
If you could create an unique HTML tag, what would you call it and what should it accomplish?
Michael: The self closing Michael tag. Insert it anywhere with <michael> and have it return my name as a link to my website. Sure it can be done as a WordPress shortcode, but that’s not universal to HTML! Pure narcissism baby!
From who and where do you tend to get most of your inspiration?
Michael: For a who, I’m going to go ahead and list chriscoyier (Twitter) as I have subscribed to his blog and am consistently blown away by his sheer knowledge and creativity in both CSS as well as WordPress methods and ideas. I wish I could have as much output as he does.
For a more generalized answer, any person who thinks outside the circle or any result of an idea that comes from left field. I am always trying to come at things from new angles to see the results. While I don’t always succeed with this(there are only so many angles), I do my best and am inspired by those who do succeed.
If you could animate your dreams, would they be PG or R rated?
Michael: Tragically I do not remember my dreams 97% of the time, and I really find that to be a shame. If you know me well or have talked with me on a personal level, you know I have a healthy and sometimes rather offbeat personality. I imagine my dreams would be my awake personality multiplied and it would be awesome to be able to remember and write down the best ideas for future use. That said, I imagine the dreams would be at LEAST PG-13 or worse.
What is your favorite part of the interview process?
Michael: While I probably answered this in my post about how I go about conducting each one, I’ll reiterate what comes to mind as my single favorite part. Reading the answers for the very first time and getting a sense of how much fun the interviewee had with the questions I came up with. This round I got put in the hot seat so this is pretty fun too.
Sum up your life story in 140 characters
Michael: I was born, I’ll die. What I do with the unknown amount of time in between is up to me. You’re all welcome to tag along as long as you want!
Bonus: What got you started in web design/development?
Michael: Angelfire and too much time on computers in the ancient days of 1998/1999. It stuck and I went with a career path.