Noah Stokes projects with meaning

This article first appeared in issue 235 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

.net: You started out at Apple, where you must be one of the few self-confessed fanboys not to have enjoyed working for the firm. What were you doing there, and why did it turn out not to be a dream job?
I worked on the PowerBook team hunting down issues with new software or hardware. It wasn’t glamorous, but like you said, I was a fanboy, so I jumped at the opportunity. The most exciting product to get released while I was there was the iPod Mini, so it wasn’t exactly all awesome all the time, but more importantly Apple wasn’t what I would call ‘family-friendly’. The winter holidays were usually booked for work as MacWorld was always upcoming in January. I found myself not spending as much time as I wanted with my family, so when my contract expired, I didn’t pursue an extension.

.net: After that you moved to Palm, which again you didn’t enjoy, to put it mildly. Is it overstating things to say that you wouldn’t have become a developer if you hadn’t wanted to get out of Palm so much?
I love this question because I’ve never thought of it that way before. But yes, it’s safe to say that I probably would not have gotten into web at all if it weren’t for Palm. I hated that job so much! Innovation was dead there. I was doing similar work, but instead of on PowerBooks, it was on Treos. I had zero satisfaction in my work. I felt useless and it carried over into my personal life. I spent so much time browsing sites like Stylegala, and CSS Zen Garden when I should have been working. I was apathetic, and that’s a bad place to be, professionally speaking. The web was bubbling with excitement as CSS-based layouts and standards were being pushed. I wanted to be a part of something where I could be passionate, and web seemed to be just the thing.

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