Patrick McGuckin

New kid on the block. Emphasis on kid.

Breaking Into the Web Industry

Taking Your First Steps

Finishing school and stepping into the industry is both daunting and exciting. Having gone through the process of graduation and job searching myself just a year ago, I want to shed some light on what to expect and offer some tips along the way.

After working at gskinner for one year, I was fortunate to attend the grad show where I had first met Grant when I was a student. Along with the CTO and Creative Director, we observed the new grads and discussed possible hires. It was an eye opening experience, learning how management assesses talent. It allowed me to empathize with the hopes and fears of the new grads as they try to find a way into the industry. Luckily, the web platform is broad and provides a large pool of jobs to fill.
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C# from an ActionScript/JavaScript Developer’s Perspective

Traditionally, gskinner has been a shop with expertise in Flash/ActionScript technologies, and then JavaScript/HTML/CSS since the slow decline of Flash. However, in the past year we have spent a great deal of time working with C# and XAML, specifically on the Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8/8.1 platforms.

I’m not going to dive into the super technical aspects of C#, since there are plenty of resources available for that (I included some at the end of this article). This is more of an overview of some experiences working in a new technology stack; A brief description of differences in core concepts, language features, and a comparison of development tools our team has used.

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@gskinner is on Twitter

I tried hard to resist, but I finally broke down and started using my Twitter account ( @gskinner ). I’m not sure exactly what I’ll tweet about, but I’m leaning towards a mix of ActionScript related content and random stuff.

This blog will remain the location for anything that makes sense to formalize and document, but Twitter will give me a place to post all the little miscellaneous thoughts, tips, one-offs, and rants that I don’t want to clutter the blog with.

I’m also hoping to use it as a place to have spontaneous conversations and gather feedback on random topics (topic for today was: What do you think are “Things Every Flash Developer Should Know”).

GPSD’07 Results are in!

Halloween has come and gone again, so it’s time to tally the votes and declare a winner. For the second time in 4 years, Wes and Kyle emerged as winners, with the “Girl Next Door” winning with 89 votes (35%).

“The interns” Nick and Eddie pulled on your 80’s nostalgia heart strings, bringing the Deceptikin in to 2nd place with 65 votes (25%). The Teenage Mutant Ninja Pumpkin by Ryan and Lanny, try as it might, could not overtake the transformers, and came in to a close 3rd place with 61 votes (24%). In last place, Michael and Sebastian’s Mac o’Lantern failed to invoke the fanboy support it expected with 39 votes (15%). It probably did better than a Windows pumpkin would have done in any case.

So that’s it. Back to labor and toil for the gskinner boys. To wrap up this year’s festivities, here is the aftermath of the desecrated pumpkins. This year we left them outside to avoid the pumpkin smell and fruit flies, so assumedly they held up longer than last year.

Thanks to all who voted!

The Great Pumpkin Showdown ’07

One of our favorite non-flash events here at gskinner.com is the pumpkin carving contest. This year was no exception, and we split into 4 teams (in order of seniority), and converted ordinary squash into ordinary squash with holes and a candle, which is just as good an excuse as any to drink beer and eat copious amounts of sugar at 2:45 on a Wednesday.

Unfortunately, even though our company grew. the number of entries is the same as last year. Grant and his wife are galavanting around Europe, so not only did they miss out on the festivities, but we missed out on Bobi’s yummy halloween goodies (and their company of course).

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SCPlugin updated: SVN Support for OSX

The awesome folk working on SCPlugin for OSX have just released the 0.7 update. I haven’t started using the update yet (downloading it now), but from the release notes it looks like a great release that should provide pretty much all the functionality Mac ActionScript developers will require in day-to-day Subversion use. The most significant updates:

– Accepts user name and password. No more need for a separate command-line copy.

– All the major commands work. Everything in the menu works.

Previously, we’ve used a combination of SVNX for creating repositories, SCPlugin for commits and updates, and the command line for more advanced tasks. Looks like with this release we can stick with just SCPlugin, and the occasional command line operation.

If you’ve been trying to find a good Subversion/SVN client for the Mac, this should be it. I know source control has been a missing part of the puzzle for a lot of Flash and Flex developers who have switched to OSX.

You can read more, and download the installer (also new, no more manual install) from here.

The Paperless Office: Fact or Fiction

I try to run a fairly environmentally conscious office. We recycle everything possible, use low-power CLF lighting, work on laptops and LCD monitors exclusively (with the exception of our server), and only turn on the (water cooled) AC when we really need it. We’re not exactly “cutting edge” on the environmental front (like Adobe for instance), but I try to do what we can.

It occurred to me today that the one area that we have been really successful is in paper use. We are essentially a paperless office. We don’t even have a printer in the office, and I don’t really miss it. Documents are all passed around electronically via an interesting combination of SVN, file sharing, email, and bluetooth. Everyone has a second monitor, so it’s usually fairly easy to reference one document while working on another. The only real paper we use is notepads that people use to sketch ideas and take notes. Even that is being partially replaced by tools we’ve built in-house like “gTimer”, gTodo, gDocs (our internal shared notes tool), and others.

I’m lucky right now because my condo is only a minute away from the office, so the occasional item that really needs to be printed (contracts mostly) just gets printed at my place and walked over. I think when we move I’ll set up a printer in the office, but keep it off the network to minimize the temptation of printing things off for quick reference.

I thought this was kind of interesting, because it made me think back to my first web job where we printed mountains of documents, and this was during the height of the “paperless office” hype. I’d be interested to hear if other people are also finding that their dependency on paper is decreasing as screen resolutions increase and the technology for sharing and organizing documents gets better.

gskinner.com Hits 3 Years and 10 People

I’m pretty excited that my little company recently reached 10 full time people. We’re just entering our fourth year as a company, and it’s been a wild ride. I have an awesome team, we have a lot of fun, and we get the opportunity to work on great projects in addition to building out some of our own internal ideas.

Our continued growth means we can tackle bigger and more interesting projects, as well as broaden the scope of the services we offer. But, it is a little weird to be running a company that offers benefits. 🙂

It is also kind of cool to finally be able to select the second option on those “company size” dropdowns (10-50), though I’m not that interested in ever making it to the third option (51-500?).

Thanks to my team (present and past) for being such all round great people to work with, our clients for challenging us to push the boundaries and giving us such awesome projects, Adobe (and the not to be forgot Macromedia) for the tools/platform and the openness with developers, and everyone in the community that has helped make it such a cool space to work in. Cheers!

It’s an exciting time in this industry, and I’m really looking forward to the next 3 years.