Panel: Charles Max Wood

Guest: Benjamin Hong

This week on My JavaScript Story, Charles speaks with Benjamin Hong who is a Senior UI Developer at Politico where he lives in the Washington, D.C. area. He has worked with other companies including Treehouse, Element 84, and Udacity. Charles and Benjamin talk about his past and current projects, and how it’s different working for the government vs. working for a business. Check it out!

In particular, we dive pretty deep on:

1:06 – Chuck: Tell us a brief introduction, please.

1:23 – Ben: I am a lead frontend developer at Politico.

1:43 – Chuck: It’s an area that can affect everyone. How did you get into developing?

1:52: Ben: I had everything you can think of to develop at first.

2:10 – Chuck: For me it was a TI90 calculator!

2:18 – Chuck: Was it somebody or something that pushed you towards this area?

2:32 – Ben: I wanted to change something with the theme, Googled it, and it went from there, and the Marquis Tag.

2:51 – Chuck: And the Blink Tag! The goodies. So you got the he HTML book – and what website did you build that was your first big project?

3:07 – Ben: It was fiddling around, but it was fortune cookie universe.

3:20 – Chuck: You will have to recreate it!

3:27 – Ben: I think this was 1993/1995 timeframe.

3:40 – Chuck: Yep, me too same time frame. If you had something move on your website it was so cool. You went to building…

4:02 – Ben: JavaScript was a roadblock for me. There was nobody to correct me. I had a JavaScript book and it was a massive failure.

4:33 – Chuck: You took a break and you came back?

4:40 – Ben: Oh – people will PAY you to do this?!

4:54 – Chuck: Did you go to college?

5:01 – Ben: Yes, I have a Master’s in a different field. I was always a tech junkie. I just wanted to put things together.

5:20 – Chuck: Take us through your journey through JS?

5:30 – Ben: I started off with the jQuery piece of it. I needed Java, and it took me awhile to wrap my head around it at first. Through the trial and process of trying to get into Angular and React, too.

6:19 – Chuck: Did you play with Backbone, Knockout, or Ember?

6:32 – Ben: I did do SOME Ember and some Knockout. Those were my first interactions.

6:49 – Chuck: What got you into the profession? How did you get from your Master’s to being a tech guy?

7:14 – Ben: From the Master’s field I learned a lot about human experience, and anted to breed the two together. Also, consulting and helping to build things, too.

7:44 – Charles: What was the career change like?

7:53 – Ben: I went to the federal government at first around the recession – it was good having a stable job. I was bored, though. While I was working for the government I was trying to get my foot in the door. From there I have been building my way up.

8:30 – Ben: I was working on and then later…

8:46 – Charles: We won’t use the word “disaster”!

What is it like to work for the government?

9:20 – Ben: Yep. The federal government is a different area because they are stake holders. They were about WHO owned the content, and who do we have to talk to get something approved. It was not product oriented like a business. I made my transition to Politico, because I wanted to find solutions and diversify the problems I was having.

10:31 – Chuck: Have you been there from the beginning?

10:39 – Ben answers the question.

Ben: They were looking for frontend developers

10:54 – Chuck: You are the lead there now. What was that like with the transition?

11:08 – Ben talks about the beginnings stages of his time with Politico and the current situation. He talks about the different problems, challenges, and etc.

11:36 – Chuck: Do you consider yourself a news organization or?

11:47 – Ben: We have Politico Pro, too. I have been working with this site more so. There are updates about campaign and voting data. People will pay a fee.

12:25 – Chuck: Do they pain themselves as leaning one way or another or nonpartisan?

12:38 – Ben: We are objective and nonpartisan.

12:51 – Chuck: I know, I was hesitant to ask. What’s the mission of the company and into what you do?

13:09 – Ben: The projects get dumped to us and we are about solving the problems. What is the best route for solving it? I had to help pioneer the new framework into the tech staff is one of my roles.

13:48 – Chuck: What’s your tech stack?

13:55 – Ben: JavaScript and Vue.js. We are experimenting with other software, too.

14:16 – Chuck: We should get you talking about Vue on the other show!

Are you working at home?

14:32 – Ben answers the question.

Ben: One thing I am helping with Meetup. Community outreach is important and I’m apart of that.

15:09 – Chuck: Yep, it’s interesting to see various fields into the tech world. I am not one of those liberal arts majors, I do have a computer science degree. It’s interesting to see the different perspectives. How little it is for someone to be able to dive-in right away.

What are you working on?

16:09 – Ben: Meetup population and helping with the work at Politico.

16:27 – Chuck: Reusable components. Are those opensource or only internal?

16:41 – Ben: They are now opensource but we are seeing which portions can be opensource or not.

17:01 – Chuck: Different companies have come out and offered their opensource.

Where do they find you?

17:20 – BenCodeZen! They are more than welcome to message me.

17:36 – Chuck: Any advice on newbies to this field?

17:46 – Ben: Attending those meetings and making those connections.

18:18 – Chuck: I have been writing a book on HOW to get a job as a coder. That’s the same advice that I am giving, too.

18:46 – Chuck: Picks!

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