Justin Frankel's Workspace

The developer still writes code on a Microsoft Natural keyboard from the mid-'90s, usually with one big monitor. He also reveals what he's got against llamas.
  • Transcript


Question: What do you drink while coding? (Question from Redditor kunjaan)

Justin Frankel: I like coffee and I like English Breakfast Tea.  Coffee, I generally go Americano because it has America in the name, and no, not really.  And then I have some cream in it.  No sugar.  But I do cream and sugar in my English Breakfast Tea because that’s the way it’s meant to be.

What does your workspace look like?

Justin Frankel: Generally, I like a big desk.  I have keyboard which is the originally Microsoft Natural keyboards, which was from like 1996, I think.  They changed them after that and they have the arrow keys that are an “X” I think, or are a cross, or a plus sign rather than an inverted “T”, and those ones are terrible.  But I have like three of the classic Microsoft Natural keyboards. 

Usually like one big monitor is my preference at this point. I have a MAC next to it and I use software called Synergy, which lets you move your mouse cursor from on one computer to a monitor on another computer, which is pretty helpful when you’re doing cross platforms. 

Describe your work process.

Justin Frankel: I think most of my work happens at home.  And it used to be the kind of thing where I’d work late at night. But in the last few years, I’ve definitely found myself getting more done in the mornings as I try to get up in the mornings.  Which I think is healthier for me in general.  But yeah, I think there's a lot of... there’s a lot of not working but thinking about working and sort of having problems in your mind that you’re trying to figure out the solution for before you go and type any of it.  There's a lot of typing things and then realizing what you’re doing is stupid and then revert, and throwing it all away and I think that’s something that's very useful to be able to do, is to try things and if they don’t work out to move on.

Do you listen to music while coding? 

Justin Frankel: I tend to listen to music.  I was reading something recently where they were talking about how music with lyrics will affect people if you’re like... if kids are doing homework, it interferes with reading and I would tend to agree with that, but I think code is different enough from reading that lyrics aren’t really a problem.

Do you ever procrastinate?

Justin Frankel: Yes, it’s funny you should ask that really.  Yeah, I think the right amount of procrastination is a good... a very good quality because I think sometimes you’ll go and have an idea to do something and then do it and spend a lot of time on it and then release it and then you’ll be stuck with it and then you’re later on realize that you should have don it a different way and now you’re stuck with the current version.  It’s less of an issue if you just try something out and then don’t like put it into a released product, but when you actually release things, you end up having this pressure of not taking away things that people like.  And so procrastination is good for that.  And also, I think if you really, really think things through it will save you time in the end when you go to actually implement it.

What do you have against llamas? (Question from Redditor FlySwat)

We shipped a default MP3 with one app for while that was "Winamp. It really whips the llama’s ass."  And then there was also an Easter Egg where you could make the title bar show that.  And the origin of that is, someone emailed us way back when, and I think emailed my friend, Tom Pepper, who was... ran all of our web stuff and was very much instrumental in creating all of these communities.  Someone emailed saying, Winamp,  it whips the llama’s ass, and so it just kind of stuck.  And then it turned out later that it’s actually something that Wesley Willis, who's I guess is a comedian or a musician, or it’s kind of complicated if you look him up... mostly musician, but it’s some that he would say in a song, I think. I think somebody had emailed that, quoting one of his songs and we just sort of liked it as far as what we stood for, I guess. 

Well, llamas are very cute.  But, I don’t know, just, just kind of having some sort of identity and having it be a little weird.

Recorded on June 21, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman