All my life I’ve been interested in learning about what has come before me. It pretty much started when I was about eight years old and would go on journeys in the woods behind my home in Newark, DE. I used to love checking out nature and its processes.
While I was searching through the woods, my Dad and I would talk about the area. He told me about how the many U-shaped hills I often played on were from the WWII era and were supposedly used to house ammunitions. All I could think about from then on was what my backyard would have looked like sixty years ago. From then on, history class in school was a highly anticipated part of my day.
Nowadays my interest in history has shifted to geology, engineering, wars, civilizations, etc. I get a lot of this information from television channels such as the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and the Military Channel. I know I should probably use some other tool besides television to educate myself about history, but these channels do some great programming that’s not worth missing.
Much like many American children these days, I grew up playing sports. I got started at the age of five playing T-ball and soccer. From then on I was playing sports pretty much year round. Up until my sophomore year of high school when I broke my leg, I was playing baseball, basketball, and football and loving them all. I still to this day am involved in my fair share of pick-up basketball games.
Over the last few years, I’ve become more and more interested in the game of golf. Golf is the kind of sport that requires a lot of attention to detail and constant analyzing of one’s form, not to mention a long day out in the sun surrounded by grass and trees — the kind of things I love.
Much like my love for history shows, I thoroughly enjoy sports programming, especially on ESPN, and love the management strategies that go into sports teams. And love me or hate me for it, I’m a huge Philadelphia sports fan! I’m just as much a sports junky as I am a history buff!
Since the forth grade when I signed up late to play the trumpet in my school’s concert band, I’ve had a strong passion for music. Thankfully, the concert band was full and did not need any trumpet players. Even though it may seem sad that I couldn’t participate in something I was interested in, it was actually a blessing.
After a whole year of banging on random objects, I realized that I wanted to play the drums and decided to join the school band as a percussionist. The following Summer I was given a drum set as an early birthday present and the rest is history. From that point on I was hooked on music and all aspects of drumming.
I eventually quit all sports for music in high school, where I played in the concert band, jazz band, marching band, pit ensemble for musicals, and a few rock bands. I played the snare drum my freshman year, and tenors my sophomore, junior, and senior years in the Saint Mark’s Marching Band. During my freshman and sophomore years of college at the University of Delaware, I continued pursuing my musical interests in the tenor line. However, my junior year I was forced to quit the marching band due to academic conflicts, something I still regret to this day.
Even though the music aspect of my life has been somewhat pushed aside as of late, playing in rock bands had a big part to do with one my favorite things in life: Web design.
Designing websites has been a passion of mine since my freshman year of high school in 1999. The .com boom had just occurred and many of my favorite bands had websites that I enjoyed browsing. So I said to myself, “Why doesn’t your band have a website, Paul?” I recognized the Web as an awesome tool for publicity and marketing and set out to learn how to design for the Web. Within a year of my first stint with Web design, I was beginning to pass by the people who helped me understand HTML.
My high school offered some basic programming classes in C and C++ and so I figured that a logical step from Web programming would be computer programming (even though I wasn’t doing any real programming on my websites per say).
After high school, and many Web design projects later, I enrolled at the University of Delaware as a computer science major, not really knowing why. It wasn’t until my junior year at UD that I finally realized how I could use my design and coding skills. The answer to my worries: Web applications.
Web applications are not the same as your typical static website, they are dynamic. Web apps provide users with a unique experience every time they visit a site. This is done through such things as cookies, databases, forms, searches, and more.
Web apps require a harmony between code/functionality and design. I feel that I have the skills and passions from both schools of thought, something that is not necessarily common. That is, usually programmers code to make their job easy and don’t take design and usability into account, whereas I often design a user interface first and worry about the down and dirty coding later. These concerns for how pretty a website is and how effective it can be have recently lead to a new favorite topic of mine: Web usability.
Ever been to a website that makes you think too much? Odds are you’ve probably given up on that site and gone back to Google.com to find another site with the answer to your question. Web usability is a big deal on the Internet these days. It is very important that websites use good contrast with colors and type, have clear global and local navigation, feature a dummy-proof search field, and create an enjoyable atmosphere for its users.
I find all these aspects of designing online information fascinating and I’ve been reading up on website optimization and how it affects users. It turns out that usability is a much bigger issue than I ever would have thought. There’s much to learn about how people use the Internet and as more and more companies utilize Web applications, good Web usability will become absolutely essential.
Since I became legal drinking age almost two years ago, I have had an ever-growing passion for craft beers. One thing that really sparked my interest in craft brewed beers was my father, who would bring home specialty brews on occasion. Another reason for my interest in good beer stems from working at State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD off and on over the last few years. While working there, I was exposed to all sorts of good beers, and both the beer geeks and common folk who drink them.
I have become absolutely enthralled with brewing, tasting, storing, and talking about craft beers. In fact, so enthralled that three friends and I started a craft beer blog called CureForWhatAlesYou.com, a project I am very adamant about. I hope to begin home brewing in the near future, an adventure that should prove comparable in complexity to analyzing my golf game.
Tired of reading my life story? I suggest kicking back with a nice Belgian Tripel, German Hefeweizen, or an American IPA (three of my favorite beers) as a reward for your time spent reading. And while you’re at it, turn on the History Channel and watch some quality, intelligent television!