IT Core Spotlight: Jason Goray

This week, the IT Core Spotlight takes a look at Jason Goray, our UX/UI Developer and long time member of the MPC IT Core.

Spotlight Date: March 16, 2015

jason_gorayProject: All (more or less) MPC web facing projects Favorite Dev Tool: MacBook Pro Fun Fact: Despite what it says in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Phædrus does not mean “wolf”.

What brought you to your current professional field? It was sort of a weird set of turns.

  • During my senior year of college, I really wanted my own computer - specifically a mac quadra AV, but I couldn’t afford one. A professor who knew of my dilemma offered me a used NeXT computer. At the time, I just thought it was kind of like a mac but cheaper - the fact that it came with a laser printer and color monitor, ran UNIX, and included the complete works of Shakespeare and Mathematica was kind of awesome but little did I know how awesome.
  • A while later, a company wanted to rent the laser printer from me (NeXT laser printers were rather unique and a bit rare) to run reports. In the process of negotiating that, they gave me an internship using a markup language called SQRL to wrap SQL queries in display postscript to make pretty reports. It wasn’t the physics I went to college for, but I enjoyed the combination of design and programming as well as the supply of Jolt cola. I also made as much as an intern as I would have started out at had I completed grad school in physics, so that was nice too. Eventually, that turned into a fulltime job.
  • In ‘95 or ‘96, the company got a connection to the internet and while I had some experience with gopher, IRC, and usenet before, the program OmniWeb gave me my first glimpse of the World Wide Web.
  • A couple of minutes later, I discovered “view source” and lost about a week of productivity figuring out how to do everything I could with it. My first home page was… well, I’m glad no one archived it. <blink> was not the worst aspect of it.
  • A couple of weeks later, when our main client needed someone to make some web pages for some of their clients (a Gatorade marketing promo and the NHL site), my supervisor noted that I’d spent some “R&D” time on HTML and threw me into the deep end.
  • A couple of years later, we got a real designer and he and I teamed up to build a solid front end design and development team.
  • A couple of decades later, here I am.

What brought you to the MPC?

After some years of working for marketing companies and often doing ethically questionable work such as web sites for defense contractors, building sports gambling applications, and making sites to convince people to buy things that no one really needs, I was feeling a bit discouraged about what I was spending my life doing.

A friend/former colleague/former bassist let me know about an opening here at the MPC, and I found that doing something that can actually do some good in the world combined with working in an environment that encourages a healthy work/life balance makes me feel much better at the end of the day.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the University of Minnesota / MPC?

The efforts made to encourage balanced living combined with the collaborative atmosphere that is fostered here and the push towards personal and professional self-improvement makes it a very good place to work.

If you were a programming language, what would it be? Why?

JavaScript. Because it quickly got in way over its head, but despite not really being designed for what it became, it seems to be managing pretty well anyway.

When you’re not wrangling data at the MPC, what other things keep you busy?

Kids, band practice, kids, cards & table top gaming, kids, biking (human powered and motored), kids, renfest, and kids.

Recently, kids have been a major portion of my life as well.

How do you get to work?

Depends on the day. My default modes are walking or bicycling, but if someone’s coming this way, I’ll grab a car pool in. Occasionally, I’ll ride the bus, but I find I can get most places faster on foot than via MetroTransit since I apparently live in the transit cul-de-sac of Minneapolis.

Dialogue & Discussion