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  1. #1
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Member of the Month - May 2009

    "Good evening SitePoint.com!" I meant to put this up about oh... 20 hours ago, but between falling asleep, new medication for my elderly mother, the forums going down, and other things, I'm stuck with no choice but to post this now. So, as the time flies -- oh, where was I? Oh yeah. "...and our intrepid young hero ventures forth into the smoldering heart of Mordor to defeat the evil Sauron so Web sites can be standards compliant, accessible and easy to use..."

    "CUT!"

    "What?" Excuse me. The director is yelling again.

    "I told you not to change the script. Not only are you ruining this interview, but your'e also violating who knows how many copyright laws!!!"

    Who does he think I am? It's bad enough Megan Fox wouldn't return my phone calls. I wanted her to interview our new Member of the Month since today is his birthday (well, here in the US anyway). Besides, I wanted to go with another intro, but our new award winner wanted a "Lord of the Rings" motif. Anyway, before someone pulls a Monty Python-esque "Get on with it!" on me, allow me to introduce the latest Member of the Month, who actually sat down with me over the course of a few days for this interview.

    The lights are turned on, revealing the visage of a handsome young man with short cropped hair of obvious English descent... the song "Happy Birthday" can be heard playing in the background.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Web professionals and enthusiasts of all ages... please stand up and wish AlexDawson, SitePoint's latest Member of the Month, a happy birthday!"

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    So Alex, how did you find SitePoint, and what made you decide to stay?

    I found SitePoint years ago when I was looking for new web related articles, added it to my favourites and there it stayed gathering dust for a few years (you know what it's like with the mass of bookmarks we get). Either way I "rediscovered" it a year ago and started reading the articles full time (along with A List Apart, Smashing Magazine and the other big names) - sort of a morning ritual when I woke up (must have been fate... I normally end up surrounded by crazy people ).

    What made me stay put in these forums was that in January I decided that enough was enough and I was fed up with software development, it was a slow process which yielded few results and as everything was focusing towards web apps I decided to abort closed source commercial (or contract) work and go full time into my true passion and this place pretty much was the most active forum I saw which was respected in the industry.

    What got you into Web design and development?

    I have always been good with my computers, It's the one skill in life that just came naturally to me, I also love the Interwebs and got into web development around 12 years old (I learned in notepad) and it pretty much grew from making basic pages to hold freeware I wrote (early on) to being a really interesting profession! Most people think websites are all code and glitter but I love the psychological stuff like consulting and advising on accessibility, usability, UX design et al, I guess that makes me a critic.

    What kinds of closed-source software did you work on for your commercial/contract work?

    Well most were small scale utilities for business, basically the kind of programming odd jobs you would find on freelance websites like ELance or Guru though I did release a code snippet manager application commercially which I am considering making freeware / open source now that web design is my full time career.

    Do you have any examples of the freeware you've authored over the years you'd like to share?

    People who talked in MSN Chat while it was still around may have been aware of freeware I wrote, I was among the many developers who wrote chat clients for MSN so that people could have more control over their rooms. It was probably the pinnicle of my programming career because even though I didn't make money from it I got to work with some awsome developers and was involved in over 100 projects over 6 years (some solo, some group) which had several million downloads. It was a real experience for me in development and marketing.

    What tools do you personally use in your Web design and development work?

    My code editor of choice is currently Notepad++, I am a huge fan of the open source movement and this product gives me all the raw editing I need.
    For flash work I use SWiSHMax (I am not that creative as far as multimedia goes, its my one major flaw)
    For image editing I use a mixture of GIMP and PaintShop Pro 7.
    SmartFTP is what I use for uploading sites via SSH/FTP.
    I also use Color Schemer Studio (it is an amazing tool for organising color schemes for websites) and SnagIt (screenshots).
    I do use other products occasionally but those are the ones I have open at least once a day!

    Is it true that the British tend to be better at HTML/CSS than Americans?

    Well I could be biased and say sure why not! We do have a lot of great professionals in this country like the "Brit pack" http://www.stuffandnonsense.co.uk/britpack but many other parts of the world like America have their own web celebs too so I guess we are about even! I do think though that the British seem to be quicker on the uptake in terms of adoption to standards than many other countries.

    Where do you see Web design and development progressing in the next 5 years?

    In 5 years time I think that we will see more focus towards web applications rather than desktop software (especially with platforms like Air being promoted so highly) so perhaps there may be a shift to "SaaS" (Software as a service) and storing all of your vital documents on the cloud. As for web design (as we see it today) I really do not know what to predict, there are too many variables to make such a guess.

    What are your thoughts on HTML 5? Love it, hate it, or still sitting on the fence?

    I feel rather indifferent about HTML5, it is still a draft specification (like much of the W3C at the moment), there is very "wobbly" support and until the average user ditches their old browsers it really isn't worth trying to implement unless you want to "play" with the bleeding edge.

    Where do you see yourself in five years? Both professionally and personally?

    Wow, by that time I will be almost 31, that is a scary thought , in answering the question I would like to see myself perhaps doing more educational stuff in the industry (maybe workshops or confrences), I am really passionate about getting people making use of all the technology we have (like when I talk here), so it might be nice to do some teaching at some point. Other than that, I am pretty happy to go wherever the offers come.

    If you had no choice but to stop working online designing and building Web sites (that includes consulting), what career field would you probably enter, and why?

    Well at college I studied health and social care (AVCE level - that is basically two A levels combined for other people from the UK). If I had to stop working in this industry I would probably end up retraining and becoming a psychologist or something quirky like that, after all the progression from usability and studying peoples behavior to make the web better to full time shrink (and part time fruitcake) isnt that far away!

    Do you have any hobbies outside of Web design? If so (and I'm sure you do), would you like to share them?

    Well to be honest I don't really have much free time at the moment, I an exciting project going on at the moment (can't reveal at the moment but some people here know *wink wink*) but I do enjoy Tennis (watching and playing if I get the chance), Chess (I am a geek... what can I say) and I am very much a movie addict.

    What kinds of movies do you like? Please share some of your favorite titles, even if we've never heard of or would understand them.

    Lord Of The Rings, Kill Bill, Donnie Darko, Pans Labrynth, Sin City & Dogma are among my favorite movies. I am a huge fantasy / scifi buff so I also love the terminator and alien franchise. And that has spilled over into television (Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Supernatural... you get the picture).

    If there was one thing about SitePoint you wish you could change, what would it be, and why?

    Wow, now that is a tough one, there are always a few things which nag you (no I don't mean Tommy! ) like how the articles are split over multiple pages (sometimes I just like seeing things without having to break concentration) but truthfully if there was one thing I could change it would be the amount of times we get the SAME question, and occasionally 2 or 3 times a day... I wonder if SitePoint should add a Wiki where we could all build up a large knowledge base.

    Question out of left field here: Who's your favorite SitePoint blogger? Have you ever thought of possibly writing for SitePoint?

    Wow, now thats putting me on the spot! I don't really have favorites in terms of people who blog, I more judge based on the usefulness and quality of articles rather than the writing style (I am used to reading stuff which barely makes sense, thats why they invented code!). As for writing for SitePoint, it depends in what capacity... Perhaps in the future when I am not as busy with projects as I am for the next couple of months if people continue to like reading what I type I might apply for a blogging position with SitePoint (if they were interested in having me as a contributer) as I usually have lots of ideas and think it could be fun to do something alongside coding.

    Bonus After-Interview Question (That Alex gets to answer right here in the thread.). Do you have any Web sites you'd like to share by any chance?

    Oh, and one other thing, Alex....

  2. #2
    Guru in training bronze trophy SoulScratch's Avatar
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    Nice interview, congrats!
    Cross browser css bugs

    Dan Schulz you will be missed

  3. #3
    SitePoint Member
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    Where do you see Web design and development progressing in the next 5 years?

    In 5 years time I think that we will see more focus towards web applications rather than desktop software (especially with platforms like Air being promoted so highly) so perhaps there may be a shift to "SaaS" (Software as a service) and storing all of your vital documents on the cloud. As for web design (as we see it today) I really do not know what to predict, there are too many variables to make such a guess.


    I'm totally with you on this one. About design: I predict a tough time for average designers as more and more website owners are now getting Joomla with a free or paid template, but I predict that the best designers will see an increase in challenges, pay and publicity.

    Mike

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot bgil's Avatar
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    Congratulations! And happy birthday.
    -Brad

  5. #5
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Happy belated birthday, Alex!
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  6. #6
    Is Still Alive silver trophybronze trophy RetroNetro's Avatar
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    Congrats on the award and Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Congratulations - well deserved.
    Stephen J Chapman

    javascriptexample.net, Book Reviews, follow me on Twitter
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Congratulations to a well-deserved award, young man!
    (I did wish you a happy birthday ... on your actual birthday ... so I won't repeat myself.)

    And good luck with that 'exciting project' of yours.

    @Dan, nice interview, even if you took your time with it.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  9. #9
    whagwan? silver trophybronze trophy akritic's Avatar
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    Congrats Alex Keep up the good work

  10. #10
    The CSS Clinic is open silver trophybronze trophy
    Paul O'B's Avatar
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    Congratulations Alex and a belated Happy Birthday also

  11. #11
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Thanks very much everyone! I was really supprised to hear that I had been nominated after being here a relatively short time! But it really means a lot to me that theres at least one person out there who think's I am not completely talking waffle Hope for many more months (and years) of interesting conversations!

    And in answering the final question that Dan sneaked in at the end... Most of the websites that exist which are useful to our industry are already well covered in here but one fun little utility I found which helps you find domain hacks (if you want to be the next del.icio.us) is http://www.domai.nr it might not be "wow" but its a fun little webapp I've used a few times in the past all the same

    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    @Dan, nice interview, even if you took your time with it.
    It's like that beer commercial Tommy... he'll only let you drink it, when its ready

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Nadia P's Avatar
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    Congrats Alex - well deserved, and of course wishing you a Happy Birthday -even if it is a little late :-)

    Nice interview Dan.

  13. #13
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Congrats and happy birthday!
    Saul

  14. #14
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    Congratulations and a happy belated birthday, Alex!
    Maleika E. A. | Rockatee | Twitter | Dribbble



  15. #15
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    Thanks very much everyone! I was really supprised to hear that I had been nominated after being here a relatively short time! But it really means a lot to me that theres at least one person out there who think's I am not completely talking waffle Hope for many more months (and years) of interesting conversations!

    And in answering the final question that Dan sneaked in at the end... Most of the websites that exist which are useful to our industry are already well covered in here but one fun little utility I found which helps you find domain hacks (if you want to be the next del.icio.us) is http://www.domai.nr it might not be "wow" but its a fun little webapp I've used a few times in the past all the same



    It's like that beer commercial Tommy... he'll only let you drink it, when its ready
    I was hoping you'd share one of your sites, but oh well. As for the beer... we don't have that here in the States. The closest thing we have to this thing you call beer is Sam Adams.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy
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    Congrats and well deserved

  17. #17
    billycundiff{float:left;} silver trophybronze trophy RyanReese's Avatar
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    Well deserved-congrats!
    Always looking for web design/development work.
    http://www.CodeFundamentals.com

  18. #18
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy AndrewCooper's Avatar
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    Congratulations Alex and a happy belated birthday too! I too have experienced your wonderfully insightful and helpful posts about Web Design and other topics. And heres to many more posts from you! -holds up a glass of champagne-

    Well done!

    Andrew Cooper

  19. #19
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the kind words everyone!

  20. #20
    SitePoint Zealot digital_shubhi's Avatar
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    Congrats Alex.
    And Belated Happy Birthday also.

  21. #21
    #titanic {float:none} silver trophy
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    Congratulations Alex! Well done! And of course,

    Happy Birthday

  22. #22
    I Love Licorice silver trophybronze trophy Datura's Avatar
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    Congrats Alex
    Ulrike
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  23. #23
    Night Elf silver trophybronze trophy Varelse's Avatar
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    Congratulations Alex
    FreelanceDaddy - freelancer's personal advisor
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  24. #24
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Thanks guys

  25. #25
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    I love the interview, really interesting. I wanna appreciate your work.


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