You think you know…but you have no idea. This is the interview of PJ, the first employee of Indaba Music. Alright, fine, so maybe it’s not that dramatic, but you still get to know a very talented person and dear friend of Indaba.
The Marketing Team at Indaba decided to interview PJ because after years of hard work and accomplishment, he has decided to try something new. PJ will soon be moving to Rome, Italy where he will set up shop building a location-based live music technology. Pretty exciting if you ask us! Good luck to PJ and enjoy the interview.
Marketing Team: What is that first sparked your interest in Indaba Music?
PJ: Originally, I had no idea what the company was, only that it was a startup. It wasn’t until after I submitted my resume to a recruiting firm that I was given a link to the site. Once I saw it, I immediately created an account and began messing around with the console. Then I told all of my friends and every musician I knew about it. I loved the idea of collaborating online. Prior to Indaba, the only way to work on music remotely was to set up an FTP server and trade files back and forth, with no organization to speak of. I had just completed an entire album this way with one of my good friends from Boulder, CO. That process would have been infinitely more seamless if we had been able to use Indaba. When I showed up for the interview, I found it hard to contain my excitement about the possibility of helping to build Indaba, and to think of ways I could improve it for my own use as a musician. I think that was apparent, and I was given an offer the same day.
Marketing Team: What was your role at Indaba?
PJ: Chief Motivational Speaker and Awesomeness Management Technical Guru
But seriously folks….
In the very beginning I was working closely with Chris and Jesse to develop and improve the first version of the site. I would build out an entire feature after discussing it with Jesse, and Chris would make it look pretty. Or Chris would code something awesome and Jesse and I would connect it up. It was very ad-hoc. Someone would say “sessions need to have feature x!,” then we’d build “feature x” and launch it right away. Then someone would say “feature x is great, but it needs y to be truly epic!,” so we’d do that. Things are simple when there are only six people in a room running an entire site.
As the company grew and we took on more developers, we needed to have an organized process for how we developed the site. So I became the Scrum Master, and it became my responsibility to make sure everything went smoothly, and to make sure that when problems did happen we could avoid similar ones in the future. I had never been in a position like this previously, so it was a really interesting challenge. It greatly improved how I think about working on a large project with a core team of very talented developers.
Marketing Team: What is the most exciting project you worked on at Indaba?
PJ: It’s tough to say. I’ve worked on so many really cool projects here. That’s one of the many reasons I’m going to miss it so much.
Early on, one of the outstanding bugs on the site was our inability to process 24-bit AIFF files. When I say “process,” I’m referring to the series of tubes your audio files fly through when you upload to Indaba that give it an mp3 preview (what you hear when you click a play button) and a waveform. As it turned out, adding the ability to process 24-bit AIFF meant that we needed to overhaul the audio processing system. I got to write an entirely new system from the ground-up that we still use for processing all audio on Indaba. So that’s pretty awesome.
As more people began to use the site on a regular basis, we needed to expand our ability to do this processing in the background. That means you don’t have to wait the extra few minutes after you upload your audio for the page to refresh. It gets queued up in a system that operates outside of using the site. Jesse and I came up with the architecture and wrote the whole thing in two days, right before a major contest was going to launch that would increase site traffic by a huge amount.
More recently, we’ve overhauled everything and re-written a lot of old code to make Indaba a better place for musicians. One of the ideas we came up with during that time was a way to speed up pages that do very common things by “holding on” to those things across multiple requests to the site. In keeping with our musician-centric ethos, we called it Johnny Cache.
Marketing Team: What’s your favorite Indaba memory? (work related or not)
PJ: I have a laser tag vest, complete with awesome laser gun hanging above my desk at all times. I will not go into the details of how I acquired this, but everyone at Indaba knows what I am talking about. I sang Mr. Roboto by Styx at company karaoke wearing said vest. Greatest moment of my life. Either that or the time Chris got hit directly in the eye by really expensive beer as Dan uncorked it for the big site relaunch last August. We all just stood there slack-jawed for a second and asked, “Did that really just happen????”
Marketing Team: Though we hate to lose such a great developer and the everyday company of a good friend, we’re excited to hear about all your pursuits in this new stage of your life and career. How has your experience at Indaba impacted your next steps?
PJ: I can’t even begin to say enough about the level of talent of the people who work here. I remember telling friends of mine that I had worked with some smart people at previous jobs, but never like this. I feel that my time at Indaba has transformed me into a true professional. I only hope that as I go on to pursue my own endeavors I am fortunate enough to work with people as great as this team. I’ll be carrying this experience everywhere I go. On a more technical note, I feel a lot more connected to the goings-on in the Ruby community as well. Again, I have all of the other amazing Indavelopers to thank for that. The openness of the Ruby community is outstanding. More often than not, someone has solved the same problem you have, and moreover has solved it in a really elegant way. I hope to continue making contributions to the community as much as possible as I move forward.
We’re pretty sure that there’s a lesson in there somewhere, or maybe some sort of helpful tidbit that will carry you in an exciting new direction. So best of luck to all who are feeling adventurous and seeking new opportunities. We hope you are successful.
-Indaba Marketing Team