Spotlight On Engineer Airhead Banner

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This week we aim our Spotlight at our very own Codemonkey: Engineer Airhead! He lives in a smallish town called Dongen, somewhere in the south of the Netherlands. Having yet to fly out of the nest, this also happens to be the place where he grew up. His town may have the biggest glass factory in the BeNeLux, as well as the biggest Coca-Cola factory!

So Airhead..When did you become a Toy Soldier? And…are you having fun yet?
I became a Toy soldier during Gonzo’s Efteling invasion, last summer.
Not that much of a story around that either.
I was dressed in an old English looking outfit, trying out the Newsie look and hoping for some good responds. When Gonzo walked up to us and told me about Toy Soldiers Unite and how I looked like someone who could easily fit in.
After coming home and giving it a few days of rest. I decided to have a look at the website and all.
And was hooked right off the bat! Seeing how many people with different hobbies, cultures and backgrounds come together and build up something they believe in.
That’s simply amazing! And I wanted to become part of that and help out in any way I could.

What got you interested in becoming a codemonkey?
What really got me interested were the challenges and possibilities.
The first thing I actually programmed, was a calculator for resistors.
Having “enjoyed” one year of electrical engineering, it was something to do while taking some time off the regular homework and stuff. After that, I switched educations and actually started to learn the basics for web development.
It’s a combination of formal training and teaching myself.
Learning the basics at school and trying to combine them with experiments at home (or at friends).
Having enjoyed a complete education in both IT management and Media Technology.
I’ve had my hands full with almost everything from fixing computers to building websites and applications. Both during training and in my free time.

Do the goggles help?
Well, they do prevent my eyes from getting too much light while at home.
Having to look at 2 screens from the office (where I can’t use my goggles for obvious reasons) for 8 hours. Followed by another set of 3 screens at home (where I can use them).
It’s a good thing that my keyboard at home has some back-lighting in the keys… Otherwise I would not be able to code with the goggles at all!
But for a short answer. No… No, they do not help. They are more of a stylish point, keeping the engineer part to the name I guess…

What would you tell someone who would like to be able to code for a living like you do?
Practice makes perfect..But that goes for many other things.
If you really want to make a living out of it, it’s important to combine your job with your free time.
Make time to practice while at home but don’t forget to keep on going with your social activities.
Also, make sure you really like to do this for a living. Every job has it’s ups and downs, and so does programming. Not every assignment will be as fun to take on as the last one.
And that’s why it’s important to have some personal projects you can work on in your own time.
Just so you can get your mind off of the things at work and can work on some self improvement.

What is the most frustrating and/or strangest thing you have had to code?

Well… I am not allowed to share company secrets with the outside world. So I can’t tell you about the most frustrating thing in detail. But the general idea was that I would build a system based on an Excel file, which took me over 40 hours to build. Only to find out that the client had send me a new template in the last stage of presenting the system involving a complete rebuild of the system.
As for the strangest thing… That might as well be the bouncy logo page. Which started off as an experimental facebook app, involving you throwing the avatars of your friends around. But…Dutch told me that “Friend tosser” was not that good of a name for it, seeing as it could have a double meaning.

Since you have been with us you have created a few amazing features for our site. The ID generator, The Toy Soldier map. The Bouncy logos page. We greatly appreciate them all! Are these fun for you?
Heh, funny that you should ask that. I was in a conversation with Dutch the other day about the things I made and why I made them.
“What I do for the TSU is what the TSU does for me.”
I have been looking for new challenges, to test my skills and learn new stuff along the way and after the Digital playground topic, I started looking at the feature requests and asked Dutch if there was anything I could do for the site. Those requests were the challenges I liked!
And thus, the TSU provides me with a challenge, which I am more than happy to accept.
I ask, the TSU provides, I deliver. It’s a win-win situation that keeps everybody happy :)

What other computer skills would you like to learn if any?
I still want to learn more about server management and front-end developing. I’ve been giving both a few goes during the last few years but, neither are good enough for use in the corporate market.
I can’t apply for a job with the words “yeah, I’ve tried a few things, so I think I could handle it”.
Also, a little designing wouldn’t hurt, seeing as I am never happy with the designs I create because, they are to flat and to basic in my eyes.

What is your ultimate goal in your career?

My ultimate goal is to go freelancing. Being my own boss in a cabin in the woods. Not having to deal with projects I don’t like but, focusing on the things I do like and eventually making a name on the Internet without having to use an alias. But yeah, for now that’s just a dream.

Thank you Engineer Airhead for providing us with another great interview! We certainly appreciate all you do for us! We are so glad you joined us and that you are having fun! *salutes*

If you want to see some of Engineer Airheads work check out some of these links within our own site:
Toy Soldier Army Map
The ID Card Generator
And this fun Ball page he created:
TSU Logo Balls!