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An interview with Zach Holman

I like fixing process for people and making lives better.

A Ruby developer with sound fundamentals, firm grasp on the industry, and innovative development approaches are all phrases inapplicable to Zach Holman. He works at GitHub, and hacks on sparkline generators, robot music DJs, and ethically frightening FaceTime + Chatroulette mashups. He blogs, he tweets, he evades his taxes.

Hi Zach! How was your last weekend?

The last week or so I've been in Brazil, giving talks and throwing GitHub drinkups. I hadn't been to South America before and I'm pretty sure last week was kind of amazing.

How you spend typical day?

I haven't the foggiest. Every time everyone asks me what I do I'm not sure what to tell them, since my "normal" day differs so much. Lately I've been spending a lot of time traveling, giving talks, and meeting developers. If I'm at home, I'll usually either be hacking on some internal GitHub app or helping out with our hiring process.

How would you like to spend a typical day?

Exactly the way I do. We're given a bunch of freedom at GitHub, so if I'm not doing what I want to be doing every day then it's my own fault.

What software are you using the most?

Haha, this is totally going to ruin what's left of my already minimal geek cred, but right now it's Keynote. I've thrown a lot of hours into that glorious little app this year as I've ended up finding myself traveling and speaking at conferences.

Imagine World without computers. What would you do for a living?

I'd like to hope I'd still end up in an entrepreneurial setting. I like fixing process for people and making lives better, and smaller entrepreneurial companies tend to have the flexibility in tackling that better.

Either that or an opera singer. Not that I have a voice or anything; it's just that no one messes with an opera singer.

Please describe your perfect holiday.

Up on a mountain in a nice cabin in the woods with nipple-deep powder, fat powder skis, and a good bottle of Scotch next to the fire. Nipple deep.

What music bands we can find in your playlist? Do you listen to music while working?

I can't work without music in my ears. I listen to all genres, although I'm picky- I'll usually be able to decide whether or not I'll like something in a few bars.

I have so many favorites, so I'll tell you a couple per genre. For jazz, it's The Bad Plus, Miles, or Freddie Hubbard. For electronic, it's Justice, Zedd, or Boys Noize. For hip hop, Nas, Pac or Big. And for everything else it's Jeff Buckley.

People can contact you by GitHub Issues on your profile. Did you have any unusual questions there? Any favourites?

Sometimes. It's kind of a silly project that ended up being decently valuable- rather than do everything privately via email, opening a public issue lets other people see my answers and jump in and have some discussion.

I got a kick out of this one entitled "Jazz music tastes", but mostly just because I got to nerd out with someone on obscure jazz scores and bands: https://github.com/holman/feedback/issues/184

Otherwise, I'm not sure I have particular favorites; they're mostly just a fun way to continue conversations about how we work at GitHub, some of the background behind the technical choices at GitHub, and the occasional odd question about my drug usage.

organized by :codegram