I’m Jack Scott, IT Consultant, And This Is How I Work

Lifehacker regularly features a segment where they interview famous people and ask them how they work (such as this). Since I’ll never be famous enough to be asked by Lifehacker directly (though you never know, they might get are desperate for content one day). So here are my answers. Hope you enjoy.

Location: Hobart, AU
Current gig: Software Engineer at Workzerk
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini. I hate it so much and would love to get rid of my mobile phone and never get another one.
Current computer: Cool people don’t have brand names on their computer. They also have more than one computer.
One word that best describes how you work: Hungrily.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I can’t live without Outlook. I use it to manage my entire life, business and personal. I know Google Apps cover a lot of the same use scenarios, but Outlook is so much friendlier and more efficient – it really has been a killer app for the last fifteen years and will continue to be for as long as people want to actually get work done on computers instead of watching YouTube videos of kittens. Because the world really needs more work and less youtubeing kittens. As much as we all love them.

I happily pay for my own Active Directory installation and Exchange server. For one person. It just benefits me that much. Plus it sounds cool.

What’s your workplace like?

My completed home desk, with racks, as I'm putting everything back on it.

My completed home desk, with racks, as I’m putting everything back on it.

I have two. The first one, “at work”, is grey and white and very clean. I have two monitors and an Aeron chair. I recently bought two pot plants.

The second one, my home office, is a lot more fun. I have a desk I built myself (with a lot of help from my great Dad) which has 6RU of 19″ rack space built in (every desk should have this). The rack forms a monitor stand for three mismatched monitors (one for chat and social media and Outlook, one for Firefox, and one for everything else (which includes everything from Visual Studio to OpenTTD).

What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?

Only watch television that’s been recommended to you by more than five people. If you do watch something, download it to your computer, use VLC to play it, and have the speed set to 1.2x. The speech is still understandable and doesn’t sound at all chipmunky (if it does occasionally I set the speed to 1.1x) and I save minutes an episode.

What’s your favourite to-do list manager?

For general to-do lists, Asana. It’s awesome. It manages to-do lists with gusto.

For software development I’d pick JIRA or Redmine because of their integration with source control systems.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

My collection of vegetable peelers. I joked to my Mum once that I didn’t have a good vegetable peeler and ever since I’ve been receiving them as gifts. This might sound like a curse, but it’s really not. It’s awesome. You know how everybody always recommends you peel and cut away from you to avoid injury, but nobody ever does it? You just need sharper instruments, then you can. All but one of my peelers can cut through pumpkins. Most people’s knives can’t do that. If I’m just cutting up vegetables for dinner, I don’t use a knife sometimes, just for a challenge. I just use a peeler.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else? What’s your secret?

I’ve been thinking of answering these questions for a long time. Up until recently my answer would have been shelling boiled eggs. I didn’t know my secret, I was just better at it than anybody else I know. Recently though it dawned on me that there is one every day thing I am very good at that most people aren’t: I know how to know anything.

You see, most people never learned how to use Google. For a skill that is possibly the most important business skill of the early 21st century, we have spent very little time teaching it to people. Even when I was in school nobody taught me (since, I guess, the teachers didn’t know how). So I taught myself. + to combine words, – to leave them out. “quotation marks” will search for something literally. And so on! But nobody knows this. So I have an edge.

A lot of people assume I know everything there is to know about a computer. That’s not true. I actually know very little. I can just find out the answer to a computer related problem quicker than anybody else.

What do you listen to while you work?

1970′s rock music, Triple J hottest 100s from 2003-2010, and classical music for the organ.

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading this blog post, looking for the spelling and grammatical errors which will undoubtedly sneak in. Normally though, if I’m reading, it’s Wikipedia. I love reading Wikipedia because it can take you anywhere. Though for some reason, leave me long enough and I will always end up reading about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

Introvert.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I go to bed around 10 to 10:30 and talk to my partner (she’s awesome!) for an hour before sleep. I wake up (I hate that bit) around 8.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.

Chris Neugebauer.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Not advice as such, but it can be taken that way: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” It’s a quote from either Mark Twain or Grant Allen, depending who you believe.

Is there anything else you want to add for readers?

apt-get has been deprecated by aptitude. Please use the latter in tutorials and IRC jokes from now on.

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