Chris Caldwell

Creative Director at gskinner, CSS aficionado, photographer of interesting things, ponderer of life, and friends with the fish.

Cultivating Candid Feedback in Creative Culture

A big cake with icing on topI’ve been exposed to a variety of corporate cultures. Some fill me with inspiration, fellowship, and support, where my co-workers are my best friends and I trust them to give honest feedback — knowing they want to solve problems, and help me produce my best work. Others, leave me exhausted: struggling with job satisfaction and feeling alone. At the root of this, is a feeling that surfacing issues or concerns to managers will fall on deaf ears. When managers listen and do not take action or follow up with action, I’m left feeling powerless to affect change.

If this sounds familiar — have hope. With a few insights about shaping feedback and some tips to cultivate an open, supportive, and candid culture, you’ll be on your way to creating an environment where you can thrive together. It all starts with good feedback.
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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 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.