Interview with Ashley Blewer

My name is Ashley and I do a lot of things related to technology. Sometimes this means writing code, sometimes it means managing projects, sometimes it means dealing with sysadmin or devops tasks, and often it means doing a lot of writing and teaching about technical things. My background is working in the cultural heritage sector (think libraries, museums, and archives) and building open source tools that help workers in that space do their jobs better and faster.

> What tools as a developer do you use?

As a developer, I used to have everything very optimized but now things are sort of all over the place, now that I do more technical analysis work and less writing code. For taking notes, doing documentation work, or any light tasks, I use SublimeText. If I am writing code, I use VSCode because everything is set up to do linting, line-breaking, and syntax highlighting that help me write code faster, better, and more aligned with the expectations that happen when I go to make a pull request. Obviously for very small tasks, I just use vim. So like I said, I am kind of all over the place. It would be better if I used one and just stuck with it. Beyond that and git, I don't do anything too special. I like to work with just the basics and not try to over-engineer my tasks. Even with things like CSS and JavaScript and HTML, I like working with just the language and not fuss too much with pre-processors.

> Do you use any time management techniques to be more productive?

I have tried the pomodoro technique, which I think works well. Lately, I have been trying to organize my tasks so that I only work on specific things during specific parts of the day. I heard about this from this post by Lara Hogan about "defragging your calendar". I am not a manager, but I do have to manage multiple projects, and the context-switching was making it difficult for me to focus on the specific problems.

> What does your workspace look like?

I recently moved from New York to Philadelphia, and now I have my own office space that I am working on decorating. I have a laptop that is on top of several books and one basic external monitor, along with a split keyboard and ergonomic mouse. Being a computer fan and not a sports fan for such a long time has taken a toll on my neck and shoulders, so I have to pay attention to ergonomics and make sure I'm sitting with good posture.

[TODO: take and upload picture]

> How COVID-19 changed your working routine?

I was a remote worker before the pandemic started, so it really has changed very little for my day-to-day. I used to travel a lot for work, to do training sessions or software integration projects on-site, so that part of my job has moved to being online. It sounds glamorous but was actually pretty exhausting, so it wasn't bad to have a break and be at home for a while. I'm very lucky in that regard. Other than the lack of travel, it's been as "normal" as possible. I used to work a bit at coffee shops or my local programming community space, but my favorite place to work was at home where I could focus the best.

> Why Is Open Source so important for you?

Open source is so important to me! I think it's important to give back and share information as much as possible, and allow people to build on each other's work. I wish more about the world was open source, not just technology.

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