in reply to Programming with Multiple Personalities

This article rocks Stephen! I could not have said it better myself.


HTML editors are notorious for putting proprietary code (Go Live, Dreamweaver, and the worst offender, Word) in your HTML and thus makes it impossible to manage by hand. What if your office works all in PC's and they won't get you a Mac? You should be able to use the command line and a basic text editor. Basic HTML text editors with even a little color coding I suppose are OK, but Emacs or Pico have worked for me for nearly 10 years and I will probably never use the WYSIWYG editors because I can type/template pages faster than any designer I've ever met. Test in Netscape to make sure your pages "render" properly, (IE forgives most HTML code bugs) and you'll be set.

I'm the Webmaster for the largest aerospace pilot/tech training training firm in the world. I work almost exclusively solo, to borrow an industry term. I am a former Website developer, and the company seemed to think I could do it all myself and denied any hiring of assistants for me, which I could use for the busy work.

In in any given hour, I'm neck deep in Perl, CGI, SSI, Apache, BSD command line, Photoshop, ImageReady, FTP, SSH, Flash, HTML, SHTML, Javascript, Fireworks, and more. It's hilarious to see me work all over the map. I have a virtual screen config with 6 screens full of programs open.

Anyone who knows this business can sympathize, but I manage to do it and no one seems to realize I'm doing the job of about 4-5 people, including designer, Perl programmer, program manager, QA, and usability tester. My manager, a non-technical Director of Marketing, is finally realizing what's up and has been shielding me from all the inane requests that come through; she blocks people so I can work. That's a huge win.

My advice is to never concentrate too hard on just one thing in this business. I'm pretty good at all of the above listed things, and can carry a conversation with just about any "pro" in any of those categories, but no way am I GREAT or a STANDOUT in any one. I know Perl people who couldn't tell a JPG from a GIF. I know designers who look at me like I'm a nutcase geek when I try to talk Conditional SSI and with them.


I can do each of the jobs they of ask me. Headcounts are down all over the place, if you can be all things to all people, you'll be the head that's spared.

All these silly personal betterment and business environment books say you should be a "team player" -- how can you do that when you're playing singles tennis? Or you're 1-1 with the goalie in a breakaway? Either you will score or not, the team has nothing to do with it at that point.

Creating your own team by building a small but potent Web building library, having friendly co-workers act as testers, and using OPEN SOURCE software will save you time, money, and keep your reputation highly regarded, especially by those higher-up managers who think you are a magician.

Back to the kitchen...

Head Chef
Monk's Cafe
112th & Broadway
New York, NY

  • Comment on Do a little bit of everything or you'll in for "Redrum"