Interview with Rey Bango(@reybango)

Happy New Years! I wish anybody weird enough to read this blog a healthy and happy 2013.

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Tonight's interviews is with Rey Bango is a very accomplished web developer now working at Microsoft. Like me, he is a honey badger. Jealous? You should be.

I was so happy Rey decided to answer my questions. Here is the interview we came out with.

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How/why/when did you get into coding?

I've been interested in computers since I guess the late '70s or early '80s when my parents got me an Atari 2600. I loved playing the games and actually set my goal to be a video game programmer for Atari at around age 12. That was followed up with a Commodore Vic-20 & Commodore 64 which really became the basis for my interest in computers. While you could play games on these systems, they were really meant to be real programmable computers and building simple apps was a very cool thing to me.

Ultimately, baseball and BMX racing took over as my passions until I was about age 18 where I purchased my first real IBM-compatible PC; a Tandy 1000TX. I remember that it had 5.25" & 7.5" floppy drives (because hard drives were $1,000+ for like 10mb..yes that's mb, not gb) and a good friend of mine, Tony DelCampo, helped me set it up with MS-DOS. He also hooked me up with a copy of Clipper, which was a dBase-compiler. I'd have Clipper in the 7.5" floppy and my code in the 5.25" floppy and compile the application that way. I spent hours on hours learning how to program and Tony was my first real mentor. He was patient and really took the time to show me the ropes. 

College came up next where I graduated with an AA in Computer Science. I started a semester at Florida International University but landed a job and finishing my undergrad went by the wayside. I kick myself for not finishing it but I've always been passionate about programming so I learned concepts like OOP, client-server, SQL, RDBMS, event-driven development and eventually web development on my own; the school of experience. It's worked out pretty well so far and my industry experience has helped me quite a bit. I've done consulting work as well as worked for Mozilla. I was also a founding member of the jQuery JavaScript Library project team and I'm now at the greatest software company in the world, Microsoft.

What does your workspace look like?

I'm fortunate to be able to work remotely for Microsoft Corporate. I have a dedicated home office with everything I need to do my job. My main PC is a Dell Optiplex running Windows 8 using dual-screens. I try to use as much Microsoft equipment as possible since it allows me to dogfood what we sell and offer feedback accordingly. I will say that I have a preference to Logitech mice, specifically the Performance MX mouse. I still haven't found another mouse that feels as good as that one.

I have two desks placed in an "L" shape so I can work on my two desktop PCs. I keep a Windows 7 PC because there's so many people still on that OS version. It helps me better test out websites and Win7-specific experiences. It's also my personal box and so things like the kid's pictures and videos go there, along with video games I play from time to time. I am running out of desk space though so I'll be investing in a "U-shaped" desk soon.

I also have a TON of programming books on my shelf. Someone actually reacted in a bit of a critical way the fact that I still buy books. I actually find many of the books coming out today to be excellent and I never feel that I'm an expert in everything. Most of the time, I buy a book for one chapter because that one chapter makes the book worth the purchase to me. It helps me learn something I may not be really familiar with. Also, I REALLY prefer print over ebooks. I have a Kindle and an iPad and I've found that neither offer the same experience as reading from a real book. Call me old school I guess.

Are you a honey badger? Why?

I guess you can say I am. It's a nickname given to the team I work on at Microsoft. We're sharply focused on specific initiatives and when we're on a specific task, we're pretty veracious about it. I also think it applies to me because I'm an advocate for Internet Explorer. You need to have a bit of thick skin (just like a honey badger) in that role since so many developers still have a bad taste from non-modern versions of IE. It allows me to go into any situation and work to help/educate/work with developers even if they may not be the friendliest. I'm in the fortunate position that IE9 & IE10 have made that so much easier for me. My colleague, Giorgio Sardo (bless his soul), had it much tougher than I did and I've been fortunate to have him as a friend and mentor at Microsoft.

I can also be fairly spirited. I've been known to be very vocal about topics I'm incredibly passionate about (e.g. railing against SOPA). It's a good and bad thing. I carefully manage how & when I engage in something. It has to be worth my time. Getting trolled by competitors is something I tend to ignore. I'd rather take the high road and advocate for cross-browser web development which is what I ultimately want from web developers.

What is your favorite food?

I'm Cuban so I'll have to go with ropa vieja, arroz, frijoles negros, y platanitos although my wife's pastel de papa is a VERY close second.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Change, lot's of it. I've been programming professionally for 23 years and at no time in my career have a I seen technologies, patterns and methodologies change so quickly as I have in the last 5 years. One of the changes I'm so happy about is that web developers are actually applying computer science principles to their projects! It's no longer just sling some crap code and hope that it works. There's a lot of thought being given to patterns, architecture, scalability and such. That's really great for the web and development in general.

I also believe that we'll see more startups focusing on the enterprise. It's INCREDIBLY difficult to break into the consumer market now and if you do happen to build something interesting, try monetizing it in a world which has become so accustomed to the "freemium" model. The enterprise is used to paying for great services and are chomping at the bit for things that will help them streamline their business. Companies like Asana get that and of course, Microsoft has been there forever.

David Silverman