It's not everyday you see a user contribute to a website, especially for free. It's especially true if they go out of their way to ensure your time on the website is significantly improved with the many features that their work offers. Without a doubt, bluegate deserved this spotlight because of his amazing app called the EscapistPlus which allows someone to have a unique tab, multiple options to make their posts stand out, and so much more. On top of that, he's also included threads explaining what this app does such as what features it has and how to customize your Escapist. But, what exactly do we know about our fellow tech wizard? Well, that's why we're here to find out how he is outside The Escapist! Also be sure to join his usergroup the EscapistPlus User Group if you have questions for him, want updates on the app, or have suggestions on what the app should offer next!
What brought you to The Escapist in the first place?
The same thing which brought many users to The Escapist; Zero Punctuation. I remember stumbling upon Yahtzee's Darkness and Fable videos on YouTube and then just following his videos over to The Escapist, although I remained a lurker for several years. As I got more free time on my hands I finally decided to create an account in 2010, but I was never really that active in the community ( It took me several years to find out that Groups were a thing, for example ).
What made you so passionate about helping out the community with your app?
That's a good question and I'm not sure if I have a decent answer for it. I have been fooling around with creating and modifying websites for quite a long time, I created some private projects, used it to hold questionnaires in college ( before Google Forms was a thing ) and such, but I never really found much of a practical use for it. So when the Wild West was created and the Popular Forum Posts widget disappeared from the front page, I thought it a nice opportunity to apply some of my tinkering abilities to a real world case where people could actually benefit from it. This might sound a bit more selfish than I thought it would, but that's the gist of it.
I started thinking of the creating the app after the Popular Forum Posts widget was removed and people were missing it, I first created a 'user script' that reinstated the widget, but as installing and managing user scripts can be a pain in the butt, I started thinking of creating a more user friendly way to do it which lead me to creating a browser add-on. From there on it all snowballed a bit with extra features, some thought up by me, others requested by users and currently what keeps me going is the joy of learning new things and having to think creatively to implement the things I want to do and seeing the app being beneficial to people.
Do you plan on using these tech skills for a future career or apply them anywhere else?
Being one of my bigger hobbies, I wouldn't mind if I'd end up using my particular set of tech skills in a future career or job, but because my formal education and degree don't match up with a tech job, the chances of actually landing a job where I can use my tech skills seem slim.
As for applying these tech skills anywhere else, I spend a lot of my free time tinkering with web related stuff and I'm applying a lot of these skills in private projects but that's really the extend of it.
What video game character inspired you to be the person you are today?
I don't really think that I can point at any one character and say that that character inspired me to be the person that I am today, it would be a combination of a lot of characters from all sorts of media; games, movies, TV shows, etc. For example, the themes of friendship and thinking independently of your upbringing in the first two Suikoden games seem to have given me some food for thought over the years, but it's hard to point at particular characters or games even. Aside from that, gaming as a whole has had a pretty big affect on me in that it pushed me to learn English ( for some reason I had a strong affinity for RPGs which never tended to be translated in my native language ), it has been a tool for connecting with friends both close by and internationally, it partially influenced my choice of education.
Now that I think of it, I used to use the name of a hacker character of an RPG as my screen name for all sorts of things.
I never had aspired to becoming a hacker, but I guess that it fits some of the more tech related things I keep myself busy with.
Can you tell us anything about what other hobbies you have or what you're into?
Aside from programming, I enjoy playing video games. I used to play a lot of RPGs ( mostly JRPGs ) back in the day, but recently I'm more likely to play a few quick rounds of Rocket League than I am to pop in the Witcher 3 or any other big RPG. Other than that I also enjoy bicycle riding, especially when its hot outside, I enjoy making long treks across the country side, going up and down hills, waving at a cow or two, just exploring and seeing new areas, pushing myself to reach ever farther places ( all the while blissfully forgetting I also have to traverse the same distance back ). And in case you are wondering, no, I'm not the kind of person to ride in the middle of the road, there are a lot of bicycle lanes where I live and I make good use of them and when they aren't available, I nicely stick to my place at the side of the road; last thing I want to do is become road kill.
I also intensively studied the Japanese language and Japanese business culture in college so that's another thing I am into. I used to have a strong interest in Anime that accompanied this but in recent years my interest in it has waned and now I will only watch an Anime if it's good and if it's already fully completed as I don't have the patience to wait for new episodes every week anymore.
And then there's the general things like hanging out with friends and such, but writing down too much feels a bit weird.
What are some of the most difficult challenges you've came across in life?
Not trying to get too personal; Finding a place in life, more specifically, trying to find a job I'd be comfortable with. I wasn't a very focused student when I was looking for colleges, I couldn't quite decide on what I wanted to do with my life, I had been looking for a programming related education but all colleges I visited at the time only had mild secondary courses that remotely dealt with programming, not at all what I was looking for. So, steering full clear of any computer related programs, I decided to enroll in a college that focused on international business communication and oriental languages, hoping that I'd find somewhat of a focus along the way.
The faculty I belonged to had a mantra of its students being 'centipedes', educating them in a broad spectrum of proficiencies. Sadly, in most cases that lead to us students being a jack of all trades but a master of none and this lead to me coming out of college with a set of skills that I personally didn't quite feel comfortable with and with no real vision on where to go. Even speaking with alumni, a lot of them seemed to be pursuing a totally different education, working in totally unrelated fields or not working at all.
Dealing with this situation was one of the more difficult challenges in my life thus far.
I envy people that have the determination and drive to say "I want to be X!" and fully go for it, I really do.
Anything advise you would like to give to the readers / viewers? Something you feel everyone should know?
After the previous question, I could write a bit about how one should stay in school and be serious about it, but I suppose that most people reading this have far passed the age where that'd be relevant and I'd sound like a cheap knock off version of Tippy2k2 who basically said the same thing.
So all I'm really left with is; don't eat the yellow snow.
And with that I would like to thank the people who read through all of this, I personally don't like to talk about myself very
much so hats off to anyone who read it.
If you would like to nominate someone for an upcoming Community Spotlight, hit me up (Caramel Frappe) via PM or in the thread. When nominating, please tell me why this user deserves to be in the next Community Spotlight, and provide links if possible. Also check out The Escapist Community Spotlight Group if you want to keep in touch with future Community Spotlights.