Our latest Geek of the Week, Julia Ferraioli, knows a thing or two about electronic signatures, graphing calculators, autonomous aerial robots, and yes, the television show Firefly. (Which is suddenly a recurring theme around GeekWire, after the discussion on on our latest podcast.)
Continue reading for Julia’s answers to our questionnaire, including some sage advice for her fellow geeks and her thoughts on the future of technology.
Name: Julia Ferraioli
Job, hobby and/or other geeky pursuit: I am a Technical Evangelist with DocuSign, Inc. I create resources for external developers who are building on top of the DocuSign API to integrate electronic signatures directly into their existing workflows.
Coolest thing about what you do: I have a lot of varied interests, and I get to explore nearly all of them in my job at DocuSign. I get to geek out while still exercising the social side of my personality. It’s really interesting to hear about the innovative applications of electronic signatures that external developers are working on, and talking with them is definitely a highlight of my job.
What does it mean to you to be a geek? Geekiness to me means loving the details of … anything! You can be a music geek who loves music theory, or software geek who wants to know exactly how your robot can run on top of Python. If you love digging into <x>, then you’re a <x> geek.
Geekiest thing(s) you’ve ever done, built, or worn (photos encouraged): Built: This has to be Bubbles. Bubbles was an autonomous aerial robot, which is a sophisticated way of saying “intelligent blimp.” It was a group project for the Indoor Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC), where a flying robot had to navigate a maze based upon markers.
My team at Bryn Mawr College figured out how much hardware we wanted on board, and then calculated how much lift we would need. Bubbles came out second in the competition (we rocked the hover-and-stare section), and actually won an award from AAAI for “Innovative Hardware Design.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life: Acknowledging the importance of both. It sounds simple, but as soon as you say that your personal life is really and truly important to you, you will realize that you can find time for it. If you can’t, then maybe you don’t value it enough.
Mac, Windows or Linux? I run all three. Always use the best tool for the job and don’t become too tied to one particular stack.
Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko? Reynolds! I’m a Firefly fan.
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Transporter. I’ve got friends and family around the world, and would love to remove the distance barrier. The amount of time I spend on planes and in airports is astonishing. Though you might want to read some of Daniel Dennett’s essays on consciousness before committing to a trip.
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Probably find some way to fund cool research projects. Many great projects don’t find funding opportunities, and thereby languish. I’d love to be able to give them life. Making a profit…well…I’d need to figure that one out.
I once waited in line for … My own graduation? Concert tickets, I suppose.
Your geek role models (And why?): I don’t have any currently, but I am accepting applications.
Greatest Game In History: Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure! This was the first game I really ever seriously played, and it revolves around Cosmo whose parents are abducted. You guide him on a mission to recover them. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmo’s_Cosmic_Adventure)
Best Gadget Ever: This might be a bit too geeky, but I seriously loved my TI-83+. That was a rock-solid piece of hardware. It faithfully helped me through high school and college, and allowed me to play Tetris when I was bored in class. It died about three years ago after a six year run, and I still miss it.
First computer: I believe it was a IBM 3270, but don’t hold me to the model number.
Current phone: Motorola X. I originally read the research paper on Swype, and knew that whatever phone I bought would need to have it!
Favorite app: I’m a big fan of the droid app reddit is fun. Yes, I’m a reddit lurker! Besides email, it occupies a good deal of my time on the bus. (http://www.appbrain.com/app/reddit-is-fun/com.andrewshu.android.reddit)
Favorite hangout: Vivace on Capitol Hill
Favorite cause: Women in technology. I dream of the day that women have more of a representation in technical disciplines. Right now, there are good resources dedicated to achieving that, and I encourage all women currently in technical disciplines or considering a technical discipline to explore them:
Most important technology of 2011: The cloud. The cloud enables small businesses to play in the big leagues. It’s an awesome equalizer to let the startups and neighborhood stores become serious players in the market. I think that this is good for the economy and good for technological advancement. Take DocuSign — we allow people to leverage the cloud in order to execute previously ground-based processes!
Most important technology of 2015: Data visualization. Data just keeps getting bigger, and our ability to comprehend it keeps going down. I firmly believe that data visualization will help us overcome this concept of “number numbness” and allow us to understand what the data means. Great strides have been made in recent years for visualizing data, and the libraries available to the analysts have just gotten better. While I don’t work in this space, I’m really excited to see how it is developing.
Words of advice for your fellow geeks: Share what you know, and admit that you don’t know the rest. You’ll inevitably learn something!
Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive for more.
Does someone you know deserve this distinguished honor? Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Geek of the Week photography by Annie Laurie Malarkey, email@example.com.]