Spherical Phoke Interview #001 :: Paul Stamatiou

It was only days into my life as a blogger that I stumbled across Paul Stamatiou (and his blog). He had written the excellent "How To: Boost Your Blog Traffic" article. This was a keystone point for myself as a blogger. Even though, months afterwards, I have settled into a slightly less-travelled path, it still remains as a turning point.

Paul continues to write wonderful articles on his blog. He shows you how to customize K2 (absolute kicker of a WordPress Theme, and this is the first of three articles), how to do cool things with your Header Graphic, and a bunch of other useful information articles. When I say useful, I mean it. Paul doesn’t wax long and boring with inane anecdotes. He provides one of the better tutorial sites (small at the moment in number though it is) that exist on the web.

Quite apart from his helpful articles, Paul is also a first-tier news provider. His focus is noticably Mac & Web oriented. Even with a thumb-screw, he wouldn’t divulge his sources, so suffice to say –  they are pretty good. Good enough to lose digits over.

I made that last bit up.

So I asked him to be the first Spherical Phoke Interviewee, understanding that he was one of the more high profile candidates on my first phase list. However, thankfully, he accepted.

Introduction

Paul, welcome. You have the joy of being the first participant in the latest project from Dev Dawn.

The purpose of Spherical Phoke is to look beyond the content of what we do, and reveal the creators of that content. We are drawing into an Age where the hallowed web halls will resound with life. So it is that people need to know who we are. Not our content, but Us. That’s right – it’s time we stood up to embrace our purpose. To stop fighting destiny, and become the inner Bats/Supes/Wolvie that sparks within us. As the great poet Derek once said  "Who Am I?" and that’s what Spherical Phoke is all about.

We at Dev Dawn are extremely honored that you agreed to be interviewed. The web is a strange and sometimes scary world, and there are people out there who .. shhh .. they talk about stuff like Desktop Applications being beaten down into a quivering mass by this "Ajax" fellow. Seems to me, if memory serves, Ajax fell on his own sword.

Ahem.

Truly, thankyou for answering our questions.

    Web/Development

  1. What are the three most exciting developments in your brain at this very moment?

    I’m really impressed with what is possible with PHP. Now that PHP6 is being developed (no one even uses PHP5 yet, heh) we are really going to start seeing some monumental web apps powered by the next generation of PHP and MySQL. AJAX has always been an interesting field to watch but I’m more interested in AHAH, asynchronous HTML and HTTP for dynamically updating web pages. I’m also interested in where successful web services like Technorati, 30 Boxes and RoundCube Webmail are headed.

  2. What’s going to be the next catch-phrase/idea/… to sweep the Web and/or Development Community?

    g-Everything Beta. Google will buy out the internet and prepend the letter “g” to everything they have acquired as well as appending their almost trademark “Beta”.

  3. What aspects of development get you excited to be alive?

    I’m not as much a developer as a blogger, but I have to say I love it when things just work. I have an idea, open up a text editor and type some code. When it runs flawlessly on the first execution, that’s a great feeling.

  4. What aspects of development give you the willies?

    Debugging takes the life out of me. It’s tedious and is the largest part of developing anything from web sites to a game for the GameBoy Advance (which I’m learning to do in my computer science course now).

  5. What’s your dream Project – I’ve already called creating the first anti-matter teleporter.

    Working for Apple in Cupertino on some top-secret piece of next-gen hardware/software. However, building the ultimate computer and reviewing it for a publication like Tom’s Hardware would be just as great.

  6. If you could own a single Domain Name, what would it be?

    Paul.com! I would love to own paul.com. Currently some guy only uses it for email, which is extremely obnoxious. If I had this domain, people would actually be able to spell my domain and not have to rely on bookmarks and referral links to find my site.

  7. What are your first memories of the Internet?

    I believe my first experience with the internet was sometime in 1994 after my father had purchased a new Compaq computer. Unfortunately, we were using AOL to dialup and AOL is a horrible piece of software and the company has become extremely annoying with their attempts to sell overpriced bloatware. I remember seeing an auction on eBay with someone selling 5,000 AOL cds; crazy.

  8. What is the worst Project you’ve ever worked on? Cleaning toilets at camp doesn’t count.

    I can’t say I’ve ever really worked on a bad project.

  9. What’s the toughest Project you’ve ever worked on? Ditto for the toilets.

    My Java OOP class last year was quite the challenging course. The weekly homeworks were vague and demanded perfection, which wasn’t possible with the teachers that had been recruited. However, I was able to make it out alive.

  10. If there were Oscar’s for Development, what is the piece of functionality you’ve created that should/would/could win?

    I would have created the perfect web design creator. Just write a paragraph about what you want your website to look and feel like and a professional, Rundle-quality website will be created within the minute. Elements of the page would be AJAX’d so you could move them where you wanted. The program would need to be open source as well, there are a lot of great minds out there that could really advance the project.

  11. How would you begin your Oscar speech?

    After my family, I would first thank everyone in the 9rules network, they’ve taught me a lot about web development. Oh and definitely Paul Scrivens, the CEO of the 9rules Network, for recognizing my talent and accepting me into the network, as well as teaching me that you can be cool and do techy stuff by day, haha.

  12. It’s tough to work in a hot little office. What’s your favourite work environment?

    Haha, I don’t have a hot little office right now .. just a hot little dorm. I’ll often open up iTunes internet radio or dip into my archives and play some techno, that really gets my thinking. I’m fine with working in my room, but if I’m really under stress from too much work or my noisy roommates, I often escape to the library or the Computational Media Lab. The CM lab is for students of my major and is a room of dozens of high-end computers, such as Dual G5’s with massive Apple Cinema Displays. It’s a great work environment, everything in that room is high-end, even the Herman Milleresque chairs.

  13. What do you see as the purpose of Blogging?

    I blog to break the news first and let people know how to do those things they’ve only wished they could do themselves. I take pride in my step by step tutorials and they will always have a home at my blog.

  14. If you blog, what purpose(s) do you regularly work towards?

    Perfection is my motivation. When I’m writing a how to or some other lengthy article, I hope for it to be the best tutorial for that specific thing available, the go-to guide, etc. More importantly, however, Is that at least one person has learned something from everything I write. That’s when I know I’ve been doing a good thing.

  15. What are your top work tools? Dr. Who’s Sonic Screwdriver doesn’t count – although man it would be cool.

    Most of my ideas start to take place in Photoshop CS2. If I have an idea of a new design, the first thing I will always do is make the header image. It just sets the tone for the rest of the site and how I will design everything around the header. As for coding, pretty much everything I do is hand coded in the OS X SubEthaEdit text editor. It’s more powerful than text editor but still fairly lightweight and doesn’t require loading all the massive libraries that Adobe GoLive or Macromedia Dreamweaver do. Much of the time I will get stuck on a particular coding problem, but I usually find a quick solution by asking the web gurus in the 9rules member forums.

  16. What the first piece of coding you ever worked on?

    As far as real coding is concerned, I took an advanced Java course in high school and that’s when I really started getting dirty with code. Java hasn’t left me either, I’ve had to take a few courses here at Georgia Tech that required Java skills as well. Before that, it was just me tinkering around with HTML, CSS and Javascript.

    Entertainment/Brain-FreeTime

  17. What are your favourite fictional characters? Picking Wolvie is worth 5 extra Phoke Points.

    Buzz (Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Mascot) is my favorite fictional character by far. Superman and King Kong can’t touch him, but Colin Devroe might argue about the King Kong part.

  18. What is your favourite current game?

    Battlefield 2 is by far my favorite game right now. I’ve been addicted to ranking up and becoming commander. I also have a knack for flying the attack helicopter.

  19. What is your favourite all-time game?

    I was brought up on Counter-Strike, so that is naturally my favorite game for all-time. It was also the first really immersive multiplayer game I picked up on.

  20. If you were a movie star, what genre would be your forte?

    If I was a movie star, I would put Chuck Norris to shame. But realistically I would probably play the role of the guy in the Transporter: excellent driving skills and better fighting skills.

  21. When you get the chance to create a character in a game, what is their name? And do you have a history for them?

    In the game I created for a class last week, the character was named MainCharacter, very original as you can see.

  22. How do you spend your relaxing time?

    If it’s time spent in the room, I usually just browse around online while playing some music. I’m a bit of an audiophile and have about 210GB of music at the moment. The mainstay of my relaxation is done driving around Atlanta or Houston in my car. I’m a huge car guy as well and the deafening sound of my Mustang lets me temporarily ignore all of my problems. Another form of relaxation is going to the campus recreation center on campus. There’s always something fun to do there. It’s a huge place that was actually featured in a Sports Illustrated magazine a while ago. It has 3 pools, a climbing wall, racquetball courts, a suspended track, treadmills with TV’s built into the displays .. typical of a tech school I suppose.

    Growing Up

  23. What experiences growing up helped shape your direction in life now?

    Tinkering. When I was younger I would always take apart things to see how they worked and attempt to put them back together again. That sparked my interest in electronics and computers in general. I would take apart my dad’s new IBM pc, our old Mac Centris 650, the stereo system, just about everything.

  24. Are we products of our nature or nurture, our makeup or our experience?

    I feel that it’s all about how you were brought up and what you’ve experienced.

  25. Going to school can be like putting ore into the blazing forge. What’s the best analogy you can think of for your school experience?

    I’m still trying to find out myself, but it’s something like a turbo-charger spooling up. I’m just waiting for the blow off valve to kick in (graduation).

  26. How long have you known you wanted to be where you are now?

    I’ve always known that I wanted to work with computers when I grew up, even when I was an infant, as referenced by pictures of me holding circuit boards before I was able to walk.

  27. You get the chance to go back in time to high school as you are now. Would you take the hand of the Time-Genie? Why?

    I’m pleased with how my high school experience went, so I don’t need to change any of that.

    The Infinite

  28. If you get to die in your sleep old and full of years, what would be your greatest achievement?

    Working for Apple and pioneering OS XV. Apple OS 15 would be the operating system. Microsoft’s Windows would only be a vague memory in everyone’s mind. Operating systems technology would have reached its absolute peak and OS 15 could do everything. However, it would need a high-end 23.7TeraHertz computer to run, but even that would be fairly cheap.

  29. You have the chance to interview one historical character (lived before you were alive). Who would you choose? What would be your first three questions / format of the interview?

    I would choose someone like Thomas Edison. Instead of an interview, I’d take him around some of the most advanced cities and show him the latest technology and the what the lightbulb has evolved into.

    Finis

  30. Thank you for your time and effort. It’s been a blast treading this short road with you. What are you doing after finishing this interview?

    I have to finish an analysis on how Wikipedia changes the notion of human knowledge by midnight and then I will hopefully make it to a showing of the movie Firewall.

Epilogue

We thank Paul very much for participating in this interview. If you haven’t visited http://www.paulstamatiou.com, then do it.

I’m not sure about how much breaking down of the interview to do. No doubt, over time, this end section will evolve. For now, I’ll let the interview itself do the talking. That, and the comments. Yeah.