Spherical Phoke Interview #002 :: Mark Jacquith

Tempus Fugit (http://txfx.net) is the personal blog of Mark Jacquith. It’s an eclectic mix of just about everything. Which I like. Very much.

Mark doesn’t shy away from reality in looking at what is happening in the world around us. It’s a healthy outlook, and honest too.

In fact, I’ll just copy his own little blurb, it very excellently summises what the website is about ..

Tempus Fugit is Mark Jaquith’s weblog: current events, humor, politics, religion, technology, entertainment, and personal topics delivered with a healthy neo-libertarian slant.


Mark. Welcome to Spherical Phoke.

It’s a great pleasure to have you on the show. Or on the blog. Your site is a little ray of light in my mostly techo reading of blogs. It’s got bits of everything, and I like that you keep a close honest brain looking at what happens today.

Thanks for taking the time to be Interviewed. I realise it’s quite a large amount of questions, but .. thankyou.

As you do, I’m going to open with a closing statement. May your days (for you and yours) be long and joyous.

And congrats on your latest (as far as I know) Public Kudos .. For your work with the 2.02 upgrade of WordPress. Not just a hatrack :).


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

    I just got turned on to CoComment, which is something that I’ve been wanting for a long time. It’s basically a bookmarklet and web service that keeps track of the comments you make on other blogs. I’ve always felt that blog comments were missing that special "something" that draws you back into the conversation, which is why I got involved in the Subscribe to Comments plugin for WordPress. CoComment takes it to the next level because it can be implemented by commenters instead of the blog operator.

    I’m still very much excited about WordPress and some of the ideas that are being discussed by that community. I recently got officially acknowledged as a contributing developer, with my name on the "about" page and everything, which was a big moment for me. It’s a great project and a great community of people.

    For several months, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing and selling a GPL-licensed PHP application of my own. I haven’t committed to anything, but I have several ideas kicking around. Part of me is just curious whether selling a GPL-licensed PHP application is even feasible. The actual business model would like revolve around support of the application and continued development of it, because there would be nothing stopping someone from buying it and then distributing it free of charge. Another possible angle is renting access to it on servers that I control.

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

    Video logs are about to really take off. Bandwidth is getting cheaper, high quality video cameras are getting cheaper, and now with software like Democracy, there is a viable way of getting the content to end users.

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

    Whenever someone tells me that my code solved their problem or made their life easier, I can ride high on that feeling for days.

  4. What aspects of development give you the willies?

    I loathe web site migrations. They never go as smoothly as you plan. There are always issues with file permissions, server quirks, DNS delays, database character set incompatibilities, etc. In theory, it’s a 25 minute process, but in practice, it can take an entire afternoon or more.

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

    Working with WordPress is pretty much my dream project. The only way the pot could be sweetened if I got paid to do it (paid for core development that is, I *do* get paid for private theme/plugin development).

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

    http://steve.jobs/ I’d turn it over… in exchange for free Apple products for life!

  7. What are your first memories of the Internet?

    One of my earliest and most poignant memories of the Internet was during the 1992 U.S. Presidential Elections. I was sitting with my father in front of our 486, logged onto Prodigy.

    They had a map of the United States displayed with the vote tallies updating and turning the states red or blue. Until then I had largely regarded computers as entertainment and productivity devices, but as I watched those results come in I realized that they were portals to the rest of the world… and not just for static "encyclopedic" information, but for instant, current, relevant information.

    I was only 9 years old, but I distinctly remember thinking "this changes everything."

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

    My father offered me and my brother $300 to alphabetize about 7,000 file folders stored in the attic above our garage when I was 13 or 14. It was about 110 degrees with 90% humidity up there. I couldn’t stand up straight, and the fiberglass was irritating the heck out of me.

    After about 6 or 7 hours at it over the course of a few nights I decided that enough was enough… it became obvious that the job was going to take weeks. Evil capitalist that I am, I sold my share of the project to my brother for $100… cash up front.

    He never finished the job (and never got paid). Who says quitters never win?

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

    I’m extremely proud of the Auto Pingback feature that I put into the Kramer plugin whose development I took over last year. It basically fills in the gaps left by Pingback and Technorati by scanning incoming HTTP referrers, filtering them, validating them, and registering them as incoming pingbacks. This allows people with Blogger or Movable Type or even people posting entries on message boards to generate pingbacks to the entries that they link, without them even knowing it.

  10. How would you begin your Oscar speech?

    With me kissing Kiera Knightly (who would be presenting my award) on the cheek, and lingering maybe a split second too long.

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

    Curled up on a sofa, without a doubt. Laptops make us free.

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

    I think blogging serves an important informational purpose, but even more than that, I think it has personal benefits. It’s quite therapeutic. Millions of people blog extensively even though they might remain obscure. Getting your thoughts down on permanent record helps develop your opinions and strengthen your character.

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

    Personal enjoyment, really. My topics change with my mood.

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

    Apple PowerBook.TextMate.Transmit.SSH.Subversion.

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

    I dabbled with JavaScript when I was young, but my first solid piece of code was a PHP/MySQL movie database that I wrote to keep track of all my movies. It was crude, and horribly insecure. I didn’t know much about input sanitization and was pretty much just sticking GET parameters directly into MySQL queries. It’s a wonder no one exploited it.


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

    Leonard Shelby from "Memento".The Wolf from "Pulp Fiction".Michael Bluth from "Arrested Development".Dr. Cox from "Scrubs".

  17. What is your favourite current game?

    Half-Life 2

  18. What is your favourite all-time game?

    Mario 64. Ten years later, and Nintendo still can’t best that piece of magic.

  19. How do you spend your relaxing time?

    Watching TV, sleeping. Anything that doesn’t require too much thought.

    Growing Up

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

    I don’t know that I can point to one thing. I had a very stable home life… loving, supportive parents, and lots of brothers and sisters to help keep me grounded.

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

    Both play a part, but it is probably better to stress the influence that one’s experiences can have. I sometimes cringe when characters in the movies say "but this is who I am!" because they are often just admitting that they lack the motivation to better themselves. They’ve done a poor job at nurturing themselves, so they try to pass it off as their nature.

  22. 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?

    Three years on the interstate, and then two in a construction zone with a broken GPS unit.

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

    I’m not sure that I know it now. I’ve always considered this to be my fallback career… not because I don’t love it, but because I feel that it’s better to reach for the rung of the ladder that is out of your reach rather than just settle on what you know you can do. That way, you can be absolutely sure that you didn’t sell yourself short.

  24. 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?

    Absolutely. I got a late start in the whole web development scene. If I’d started at 14 or 15 and actually studied the stuff instead of just dabbling, I’d probably have dropped out of college early on to go work for some web startup.

    The Infinite

  25. I like to think the Loch Ness Monster is alive and laughing. What myth would you like to bust/prove, if given the chance?

    I’d like to prove that AIDS isn’t caused by HIV and global warming isn’t caused by human activity. No, Chuck Norris is the cause behind both.

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

    I’d like to have raised children, and taught them to be independent, rational individuals.


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

    Taking a nap, without an alarm set.


Go and visit Mark’s blog at http://txfx.net. It’s the real deal.

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