Today we sit down and ask some questions to Trevor McCauley (Senocular) about his personal life and Flash.
Q. Hello Trevor, thanks for taking time to answer few questions. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
No problem. Let’s see. I currently work for Adobe as a Quality Engineer on the Flash Player team in San Francisco, California. I’m a Libra, enjoy candle-lit dinners and long walks on the beach ;). In my free time I do what I can to help the online community understand Adobe products (mainly Flash Player). Unfortunately free time is not something I’ve been burdened with an overabundance of.
Q. Where did the idea for the name “Senocular” came from?
senocular (which, technically, is always lowercase) was derived from ‘nocular’ which was the first dot-com domain name I ever purchased. That name was the result of weeks of brainstorming based on the following requirements:
* Something unusual and ‘cool’
* Non-compound words; something without hyphens and which can be easily to somewhat easily spelled through just hearing it
* No greater than 8 characters, i.e. it could fit on a license plate
* Of or relating to something visual, as it would be a vehicle for my own visual expression
nocular came from the root of ‘binocular(s)’ which itself refers to stereoscopic vision. When I checked for it, the nocular domain was available so I took it. Afterwards I started registering the term with the common portals/chat clients. All was going well until I hit a snag with Yahoo!. Someone had already registered the username nocular there, so I was stuck! I had to think of something else, even though, sadly, I had already purchased the domain at this point.
At this point I decided to work off of the word nocular, either through some sort of a prefix or suffix. I did a search and through some obscure dictionary found the term senocular which meant “having 6 eyes – the se prefix meaning 6. This I thought was appropriate given that there are 6 sides to a cube and, after all, I went to college to study the art of 3d modeling (which ultimately never really happened).
I took the se and made up the pseudonym Santiago Esperanza whose email would be firstname.lastname@example.org – maintaining full use of the nocular domain. If you’ve ever emailed me before in the past, you may have seen this name.
As time passed, I’ve given up on nocular (and poor, old Santiago) and stuck with senocular to help reduce confusion. Unfortunately, it does not meet my pre-defined requirements. I’ll just have to live with that.
Q. What got you started in design and coding?
There are a number of influences. I guess if you went far enough you could say it all started with my first set of Legos. Playing with Legos ultimately led me into studying drafting (technical drawing) in high school. Drafting wasn’t bad, but nothing compared to the joy I found in the portion of the class that explored 3D Studio. I found it hard to put down and decided pursue 3D as a career in college. Of course in college I wasn’t able to take my first 3D class until my 5th year. That was a little too late to make it a career. In the mean time, I used a more generalized digital art focus as a fall back where I worked heavily with Director creating interactive “works of art.” My proficiency with Director landed my first job just out of college creating interactive CDs.
But what about Flash, you ask? It’s true, though similar, Director is not Flash. In fact my college at the time offered no Flash classes. Flash I actually learned on my own as a result of being hospitalized after an operation during my time in college. At that time, Newgrounds.com was pretty big – at least in my eyes. Since I had nothing else to do (being stuck in bed for a summer), I thought I would download the Macromedia Flash 4 trial and take it for a spin. The results you can see at http://www.senocular.com/oldschool/. For me, it was 3D studio in 2D, and it was great. It wasn’t until Flash 5, however, that I got more into coding.
Q. Which developer tool do you use the most ?
Without question, Adobe Flash Professional. I rarely work on complicated applications or RIAs making the simplicity and accessibility of Flash ideal for my purposes. Flex I’ll only sometimes use for ActionScript-only projects. And really, this is kind of sad given the sometimes primitive nature of the Flash authoring coding environment.
Q. What do you think is still badly missing in Flash? What do you think about the future of Flash?
By Flash I assume you mean Flash Player? That can be a difficult question. In a perfect world, I suppose you’d want Flash Player to be able to cook you dinner every night. But there will certainly always be limitations. And many of those limitations could be removed now, but are not without their own consequences. And once you throw security in there, it becomes a whole new ball game. There are certainly a large number of things Flash could do, but simply can’t because of security. It would be interesting to see what Flash Player could do today if we as people never tried to take advantage of each other (thereby making security issues irrelevant). As for any existing holes in functionality, I can’t say that I see any, especially with the features Flash Player 10 is bringing to the table.
As for the future of Flash, I can’t help but be excited. In my position, however, I cannot safely comment on what may or may not be available in future versions.
Q. What do you suggest for people wanting to learn or improve their skills in Flash?
Two things. First, use Flash. Simple enough right? Learn by doing; it goes a long way. Read the docs, follow the examples, and start doing things on your own. Familiarity with the tools and the language(s) goes along way and there’s no better way to learn it than doing yourself. Secondly, keep tabs with the online community. Not only follow along with related blogs (http://feeds.adobe.com), but also keep up with support forums like Flashkit.com, ActionScript.org, Kirupa.com and others. I know I learned a great deal by learning from the mistakes of others – and trying to help other people out with their issues both large and small. One day you might have the same question.
Q. What is your opinion about Microsoft’s Expression Series, Silverlight & Adobe Flex, AIR ?
That’s quite the loaded question. Microsoft’s venture into this arena is respectable. It’s still early for them so they don’t quite have the same offering as the well established Adobe suites, but they have a lot of money, and a lot of talent, and it will be exciting to see what they come up with in the end. It would be nice to see if they can provide any innovation, but that’s not something I’ve really seen out of what they have today.
Flex does what it does and does it nicely. It’s certainly picking up steam with developers, which is great to see, and the open source initiative has done well for the framework. I think it’s still not without its problems but I think users and contributions from other non-Adobe developers are definitely making a positive difference.
And then you have AIR providing a runtime for developers to use web technologies to create desktop applications. While that is awesome, I’ve seen some disturbing trends that, I think, are abusing the technology by creating applications that would be more suitable if they stayed in the browser. I think developers should think twice about what it really means to install an application on a user’s hard drive and whether or not that many people are really willing to do so.
Q. How much time do you usually spend on computers/programming?
Too much. But I don’t spend nearly enough time programming for fun; it’s all work related recently.
Q. How you keep balance of your creativity, work, projects with social life or personal life?
I don’t think I do. Lately, however, I’ve been turning off my computer once I get home after work. That seems to help. I just recently got a Blackberry, too. But I’m thinking it’s too much computer to have around me at all times. I’m considering taking it back and getting a “normal” cell phone.
Q. Who or what in your life would you say influenced you most?
In fear of sounding arrogant, I would have say my helpful attitude. I’ve always enjoyed helping others. Having that attitude exposed me to so many things from which I have learned so much. Not only in terms of knowledge, but also socially. Helping others is an easy way to make friends. On the flipside, I’m horrible with names, which is just as detrimental to that course.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I was younger, I was really into video games. As I grew older, going through college, and then into the working world, I fell out of it. Lately, however, I’ve been climbing back in to the gaming scene. I currently own a Wii, an XBox 360, and a PlayStation 3. While I don’t play them a whole lot, I do squeeze a number of hours in a week, whether its playing Boom Blox with my girlfriend or losing online games of Call of Duty 4. Some of my personal projects reflect this, including the Mii™ Editor, which unfortunately I had to take down by request from Nintendo, or The Burnout Paradise City Interactive Locations Map (http://www.senocular.com/burnout/).
Q. Your favourite stuff from : Food/T.V.Show/Music/Website ?
Food: BBQ Ribs
Q. Any advice you’d give new developers ?
Have patience. It will take time, especially if you’re completely new to the field. A lot of people with a lot of experience still have trouble, so don’t let some failures here and there get you down. It’s a complicated and continuously evolving industry. Do what you can and don’t be afraid to rely on the generosity of others.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us Trevor. Keep up the fantastic work.