When Timothy Crosley isn’t working on security solutions for DomainTools, he devotes his time to open source projects. He runs Simple Innovation, a software development business that builds apps on a contract basis, using open source technology.
Crosley also owns hug.rest, a system devoted to simplifying API development across multiple interfaces. He’s passionate about open-source technology as a way to foster innovation and the exchange of ideas.
A self-described “minimalist,” Crosley enjoys finding simple solutions to complex problems.
“Beyond my open source work, in my free time I enjoy hiking, reading books, and exploring Seattle,” he said. “I can’t resist a good craft beer, a new board game, an arcade, or any food that contains peanut butter.”
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? “Since I was 8 years old I’ve been passionate about designing and developing software. I get joy out of solving problems in unique ways and building solutions to enable others to reach their goals. This has lead me to create and contribute to many open source projects in everyone’s favorite language: Python. During the day, I work at DomainTools, where I’m helping to develop predictive security solutions on top of truly large data sets.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? That at its core, good software engineering is about simplifying complex concepts and making it possible to accomplish more difficult tasks. Many engineers are interested in solving, what they see, as the core low-level and fundamental problems. However, I have found that if you aim instead to increase the level of abstraction and solve problems there, you start being able to solve much more interesting problems with a much larger impact.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “The same place I find my frustration.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “The Sharp WG-S20 — it’s an electronic notepad that I use to take all of my notes rather than a normal notebook. This was an upgrade from my sketch books. I have a disdain for lined paper. Why should my notebook tell me where I can and cannot write? However, the biggest roadblock to making the switch was my inability to read Japanese (all instructions and commands are in Japanese on this device).”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “You’ll notice I only have one monitor. This is intentional as it lets me entirely focus on one task at a time. Modern windowing systems make it easy to snap two windows side by side or separate workflow into multiple desktops for cases where it’s really necessary.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “I have found having two projects or two things to work on at all times helps keep things fresh. Although I only focus on one task a time, whenever I get bored or frustrated with a project, I can flip back and forth to keep things interesting.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Linux: It has the best support for open source development. I not only enjoy working on this operating system but feel some kinship as I am a big proponent in open source projects, including my own, hug (and many more).”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “I loved R2D2 in Star Trek!”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Time Machine. I’m sure given one of those I could travel to the perfect time to easily attain the other two.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would: “Probably not tell you. It’s a million dollar idea after all…”
I once waited in line for: “Arcade Fire — this is, hands down, my favorite band. I have a personal connection to the band, in particular the Funeral album.”
Your role models: “Linus Torvalds because he is able to maintain respect while flipping people off that he disagrees with. Guido van Rossum because he is able to maintain control of the Python community without flipping people off.”
Greatest Game in History “The Secret of Monkey Island — this game is chock full of cheesy humour and gorgeous 8-bit graphics. It’s a little too linear for some, but I find the story-based approach to be relaxing as I generally use games as a way to wind down.”
Best Gadget Ever: “My coffee maker. Without which these questions could not have been answered.”
First Computer: “PS/2. No, not a Sony PS/2 an IBM PS/2.”
Current Phone: “Moto G 3rd generation with Republic Wireless. Can’t beat roughly $30 a month for data + voice on a modern smartphone.”
Favorite App: “Google Fit — it encourages me to walk and as a tech caveman, this apparently important for my health. I also need to walk off all of my free work-provided barrel aged stouts.”
Favorite Cause: “Open source software — this is my passion and I love that it builds a community that breeds new ideas and innovation.”
Most important technology of 2015: “While it still has a way to go, the most exciting technology I see coming out this year is Virtual Reality. It already shows great promise for education and training applications, and when taken to its logical conclusions the implications are huge. Imagine what would be possible if all five senses could be accurately and convincingly simulated with VR?”
Most important technology of 2017: “Self-driving cars. Ironically this is likely when Seattle’s public transportation will be nearly up to snuff, however, self-driving vehicles will allow people to transport themselves/their belongings cheaply and quickly with minimal effort. There will be less of a need to have population concentrated regions, as commuting will be even simpler than it is now. Imagine being able to get a taxi straight from your home to work for $5.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Determine what is really important to you and forget about everything else. A lot of people in this day in age see so many possible outcomes that they are perpetually overwhelmed and unable to commit, leaving them feeling like they always are making the wrong choice. In the end, your life is defined just as much by the choices you chose not to make and the tasks you choose not to take on.”
LinkedIn: Timothy Crosley