Colin Walker got his first PC at age six, his first custom gaming rig at 12, and by high school he was fully inundated in all things tech. “Fortunately for me, somewhere along the way, I was able to make a career out of that,” he says.
By day, Walker is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer for ExtraHop Networks, by night he’s a gamer and musician.
“Whether it’s computational prowess, high compression, rubber melting, grin inducing good times, or how minor chords are used to evoke suspense and melancholy in the masses without their knowledge, I am likely more than willing to banter about the things that move me,” he said.
Meet our Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
What do you do, and why do you do it? “I’m a cross between software engineer, blogger, docs wrangler, community manager and a dash of solution architect thrown in. Right now they’re calling me a ‘Lead Technical Evangelist,’ which works for me. Basically I get to build really cool solutions (some custom code, some out of the box configs, some chewing gum and bailing wire) and then talk about them in a bunch of ways, trying to connect with and build community. Don’t get me started on community though, that’ll take a couple pages on its own.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Wire Data is the truth. Full stop. You might think your app is supposed to do x, or couldn’t possibly do y, or that your DB couldn’t possibly be the one taking so long to respond, or that your software update would never add 20% more storage churn. What you think isn’t what you know. If you want to know for sure, listen to the wire. It doesn’t lie. After all, things that are happening are generally pretty factual since…you know…they happened.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “Ideally, some combination of loud rock music, whiskey and comics. Barring that I lean heavily on my rock star peers, my friends, and the huge host of bloggers, tweeters and the like that I keep up with from the industry.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “Yes. Is yes a viable answer? All of them. All the things. Ugh, if I had to limit it to one? Probably my phone. Currently rocking an HTC One M8. Loving it so far. I cop out and choose the phone because it does email, text, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter…you get the idea, all from one place. Ideally though, I’d just jack straight in Neo style and learn Kung-Fu. I rather like technology.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “I love my work space! No more grey cube walls holding me in. I am fortunate enough to split a giant 21st floor window office facing Elliot Bay with 3 fellow TMEs (Technical Marketing Engineers). Not only do we have an amazing view, but sharing the space leads to super interesting, inspiring conversations, as well as a massively low RTT when in search of answers my cohorts might have.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “All things in moderation? Cliché I know, but pretty true. I’m not always the best at it, but I know it’s something to work towards. Barring that, I’d say make sure you love what you do, because you’re going to be doing a lot of it.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Mac for a laptop (travel, email, web, etc.), *nix for a server. I used to go hardcore and run FreeBSD on my laptops, back in the day, but OSX gets me close enough without nearly the headaches. The bloat in recent versions is making me question myself, though…”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Totally Picard. I love me some Kirk, but Picard was my era. Grew up loving that cast, and even still follow Wil Wheaton avidly in the ‘verse.”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “So that’s a hell of a question. The cloak is out. Talk about a bogus venture when the other two are on the table. As for the transporter vs. time machine debate … you’ve got to provide more details than that. For instance, is this transporter a theoretically sound device, in so much as it maps the matter to be transported, destroys it and generates an identical copy in another location? If so, it couldn’t effectively guarantee the transfer of consciousness, meaning I might show up looking the same but with a head full of Jell-o that looks a lot like brain tissue. That would certainly cut down on my ability to use it to take the family to Thailand for that Thai food dinner on a random Thursday with a net travel time of 0 minutes.
On the other hand, if it is more hand waving, Star Trek type transporting that can transmit people in multiples, across thousands of miles, through a myriad of circumstances … well, now we might be getting somewhere. As for the time machine, similar questions. Are we talking Delorean? Hot tub? Dare I hope … Tardis? If this sucker is bigger on the inside, we have an obvious winner. Especially if it comes with a sonic screwdriver. I mean, really, who wouldn’t mind going back to invest in some ’82 Microsoft or some Google, Apple, Tesla, etc. at their beginning? Not to mention going forward to find medicinal cures for loved ones and the like. That whole butterfly effect bit might be a hair of a hang-up, but worth the risk I’d say. So really … I could go either way, depending. Trek ‘porter vs. hot tub? Beam me up Scotty. Tardis vs. anything? Don’t blink, or you’ll miss my answer.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would: “Do some serious research on potentially successful market segments in which I could leverage my abilities. Seriously, this isn’t the kind of thing I think about often. How often do people hand you a cool million?”
I once waited in line for: “A midnight release of World of Warcraft, Cataclysm. Yup, I was that guy.”
Your role models: “A few obvious ones, Jobs, Gates, Turing, etc. Because genius is impressive. Also my Mom, for a litany of reasons.”
Greatest Game in History: “Soccer (football) comes to mind. For me personally, in my life? Probably somewhere closer to World of Warcraft, Magic the Gathering, or Dungeons and Dragons.”
Best Gadget Ever: “Smartphone count? Because talk about a game-changer.”
First Computer: “A Compaq 8086. We had one in the house before that, which was older, but the 8086 was mine. ALL MINE!”
Current Phone: “HTC One M8”
Favorite App: “Boom Beach? Hmmm….probably YouTube, Spotify, or a good ole’ fashioned web browser.”
Favorite Cause: “Pretty much anything rescuing animals or children.”
Most important technology of 2015: “Yet to be seen, but if they can finish up 5G and get it to the masses, I’d say it’d be a game-changer. Other than that, the IoT movement is making a big push.”
Most important technology of 2017: “IoT or 5K keys in the SSL everywhere movement.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Once you find a gig you love with people you respect and can learn from, rock it like you stole it ‘till the wheels fall off. And until then? Code hard.”
LinkedIn: Colin Walker