Working with the people you admire

posted in Internships on May 23rd, 2008

Let me tell you a story: a couple of years ago, back when I was still living in Austria, I discovered an application, called Trillian, a multi-network chat application that just worked.

Trillian was (and still is being) designed by Pak-Kei Mak, better known as kid, who, back then, was “just” a student who won a design competition.

Trillian’s design appealed to me; it was new, it was non-standard, it carried the mood factor and it had emoticons that, to this very day, make me smile (or frown, depending on the selected emotion).

Kid, besides being a kick-ass designer, also did some PHP coding on the side and created a script that would index a directory in the same (visual) style as Windows XP, and I loved that, as did Ben.

In fact, we enjoyed the greatness of said script so much that we basically created a clone of the whole indexer, distributed it amongst friends and made a few people happy with it, oh, and Ben and me close contacts of each other, often conversing long hours on the most interesting (or the most ridiculous) topics.

Fast-forward to January 2007, when I was invited to the Trillian Astra Alpha-testing cycle and decided, on a whim, to start a conversation with Kid, after all, this was my chance to talk to one of those that I admire.

One conversation quickly became many, admiration was joined by respect, advice, dare I say: (online) friendship? In any case, we felt that we struck a note with each other and we got along very well, so well, that Kid and I started working together.

At first, our collaborations only included brainstorms on various things, basically toying with ideas and sharing some dreams with each other, up until a point where I asked Kid to step up to the plate and design something for me. His work turned out great (more on that in another post) and we decided to continue our collaboration in the future.

A couple of weeks ago, when my first internship was entering the home lane, I had to make a decision: would I go for the medium or big company with the well-known name and earn a few pesetos but probably do stuff I have been doing the past couple of years, or would I go for the company that is not even a company but much rather an idea.

In my (professional) life, most of my choices have been about doing the thing that I am the most passionate about, I am interested in learning new skills and hone old(er) skills much more than I am in making a big buck (at least, right now) and so I went for the idea that I am passionate about.

From June 3rd, 2008 up until, at least, sometime mid-August 2008, Pak-Kei and me will be on a journey, a journey of exploration. We will be battling against many of the same things that (web) start-ups have to deal with and if bad meets worse on the way and they manage to get along well enough, we might end up with nothing but great experiences.

And in fact, the few people I discussed this with mostly told me, often in very specific terms to drop the idea of makin’ a big buck and just go work for an established company and be done with it.

While I value the input of the people around me, I believe that the following quote sums it up best:

He who tries and fails is wiser (and happier) than he who does not try out of fear of failure

And that is why I am going.

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Intern Report #9 (The Final Countdown)

posted in Internships on May 16th, 2008

Seventeen weeks ago, on January 19th, I started my first ever internship, at a company called XOLO.TV.

My college’s internship period officially did not start for another three weeks, but that did not bother me, I wanted the experience and I was not afraid of investing my free days in order to get that experience.

Now, seventeen weeks later, I have about seven weeks more experience than most of my co-students and am leaving XOLO.TV with a whole treasure-chest filled to the brim with new knowledge, good stories and new contacts.

It is said that all good things must come to an end, no matter if you want them to or not and In a way I am sad that my internship is over, for I will surely miss the guys (and gals) from XOLO.TV.

Without trying to come off as being too emotional, I think it is safe to say that I did not only find (business) contacts at XOLO.TV, but rather friends.

The past months, starting with the, by now, famous, New Year’s Party, Video Vortex, the actual start of my internship, Paaspop and The Next Web 2008 it has been a fun-filled ride for sure.

GabeB, GabeMac, Marc, Paul, Stephan, Tatjana, Walter, Wiendelt - you guys rock and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this internship experience as great as it was.

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Intern Report #8 (Next!)

posted in Internships on April 18th, 2008

Just two weeks after Paaspop, the 2008 edition of The Next Web was planned to happen at the beautiful Westergasfabriek area in Amsterdam and once again (for the third time in a row), I decided to join this fest of innovation and, to quote another attendee:

this buffet filled with delicious brainfood

This time around however, I decided to make things a bit more interesting, for obvious personal reasons.

As concluded before, working at XOLO has it’s perks, one of them being that we have a myriad cameras available for use, so I decided to assault the conference armed with a camera and a number of questions.

My hopes were that I would get at least two, maybe three interviews, at the end of the second day, I had a total of two hours of uncut footage. Even cut, I still had a good 90 minutes left, including high profile interviews with Robert Scoble and Jessica Mah as well as the, sometimes very controversial, views of a number of different attendees.

Day 1, for me, was mostly about interviewing companies and speakers, trying to get their views on how web 2.0 affected their lives in one way or another.

On Day 2, I focussed on capturing the views of females on web 2.0, because, after all, it is widely known that females tend to be more social beings than (most) males and as such, ought to have a different view on all things web.

The result is that I got some very good footage, with participation from people from, amongst others: VPRO, eBuddy and IENS.

As remarked during my live-blogging session, a camera is a powerful tool and if one asks the right questions (which I hopefully did), people are more than willing to share their stories, no matter if they are speaker or attendee.

Taping two hours of footage, obviously also requires a lot of editing, cutting and encoding but close to ten days after the conference, I was done with the better part of the clips.

Again, my thanks go out to for making it possible to use their equipment, it made the whole conference a much more enjoyable event.

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Intern Report #7 (Mudfootball)

posted in Internships on April 18th, 2008

Wow. Last time around, I thought that the break between two intern reports was too long, well, turns out that this one was even longer and the reason for that, just like last time, is that I am too busy to actually blog.

Shortly after the last posting, GabeMac and I went to Paaspop in Schijndel, as an attached asset for KINK, one of the better radio stations in the Netherlands.

Paaspop was held during the (Dutch) Easter weekend on the 22nd and 23rd of march and and was comrpised of a good selection of acts, such as Blof (yay!), Krezip, Racoon, Within Temptation (kick-butt pyrotechnics show) as well as Stevie Ann and others.

Working during a festival certainly has its perks, one of them being that you get to go just about everywhere, because of your backstage pass. And go everywhere we did. To quote GabeMac:

working at XOLO has it’s perks

And right he is. Having a beer with the artists from one group and talking about the newest CD with the singer/songwriter from another really makes work a lot more bearable.

All in all, a very fun-filled weekend, even though the whole area looked like a mud hole most of the time.

For a number of good pictures, I would suggest going to the album for day 1 or the album for day 2.

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Intern Report #6 (Times Like These)

posted in Internships on March 22nd, 2008

If there is one thing that I hate, it is most probably getting up early. It is not like I can not get up early, it is just that I have a strong dislike against getting up early.

I am not lazy, but rather nocturnal and a big part of my creative cycle revolves around the late (and sometimes: early) hours of the day.

Some people have suggested that being nocturnal, as far as humans go, is a conditioned behavior and even though I partially agree, I do not care enough to actually change my set way of operating, not unless I absolutely have to.

Having to get up at 5 am (!) to prepare for a set-call at 7 am some 60 miles away from where you actually slept, in my book, qualifies as one of these situations where deviating from your normal way of doing things is acceptable.

Ten days ago, Wiendelt invited me to take part in a shoot for the CliniClowns’ show Neuzenroode, where I acted as the boom-mic operator.

Not even five days later, I got another chance at joining both Wiendelt and GabeB (our resident singer-songwriter) for a shoot comissioned by the NISB, and that is where the story began.

The shoot was split into two days, Monday was in Maassluis, Wednesday was in Zwolle, both locations being a fair distance from Amsterdam meant getting up early, very early, namely during a time when every sane person is actually sleeping.

Still, the morning started off nicely with a fairly sized bowl of cereals and the Foo Fighters’ Times Like These playing on the radio, I already knew that the day would turn out to be good, and it would. I am going to spare you the details, but shooting can be quite entertaining, especially if you have company that can make it worth your while.

Apart from having a great day, I also learned a valuable lesson: cables are never long enough for the task you need them, yet always long enough to get in the way, which can be quite annoying when you have someone moving around your boom-mic all the time and stepping on the cable (I figured out a simple way of solving the problem with the help of a keychain and some ducttape).

That’s it for this entry, the only thing left to say is: thanks Wiendelt and GabeB for inviting me and a very big thank you to GabeB for hooking me up with a place to crash, thereby actually making it possible for me to join the team during the shoot.

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