Oct 21

Meet the Staff: Michael Williams

Fri, 10/21/2011 - 09:00 — julie

Preferring a smaller desk, having a mug that holds a full pint of tea, keeping his web development skills sharp, and grappling with the correct term to use for those on Team Envato. This week we meet Michael James Williams, editor of Activetuts+ and Android.AppStorm.

What is your position in Envato, and what has it been like to work with us so far?

I’m the Editor for both Activetuts+ and Android.AppStorm, two of Envato’s blogs. Activetuts+ is all about helping readers become better developers of browser apps and games, and Android.AppStorm is basically a showcase for awesome Android apps.

Working for Envato is fantastic! It’s great to be trusted with so much freedom to work however suits me; Collis likes to say that he doesn’t mind if we work just one hour a week with our underwear on our heads, and I take full advantage of his attitude. The people that I work with are great, too – not just the editors and other Envato staff, but my two teams of writers, as well.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

In the last few months we’ve shifted the focus of Activetuts+ away from general Flash development (as it was before) to general browser app and game development (including Flash, Silverlight, Unity, and HTML5). Although we’ve formally made the shift, this is still an ongoing project of mine, as I monitor reactions, see what readers want to learn, and attract new writers.

I also just finished working a big secret Tuts+-related project, but I can’t reveal the details yet!

Michael with Webdesigntuts+ editor Ian Yates who introduced him to Envato

Describe your workspace.

I see a lot of workspace photos consisting of:

  1. A big desk.
  2. A MacBook Pro.

I actually rather like having a smaller desk; everything is to hand, and I have to restrict desk space to the important things. At the moment, these are:

  • Big mug of tea (this holds a full pint – roughly half a litre; I used to use a more elegant, tall, thin mug, but it was far too easy to knock over!)
  • Books (and Kindle) that I’m currently referring to
  • A4 lined pad, for drafting articles
  • Narrow lined pad, for the day’s to-do list (I’ve tried all sorts of apps and systems, and nothing has yet beaten this)
  • Moleskine and mini-Moleskines (the big one is for more permanent plans and drafts, and the little ones are for slipping into my pocket when I’m out)
  • Phone (Android, naturally: an HTC Desire)
  • Laptop, of course
  • 24″ monitor (this can swivel to portrait mode, which is really useful for coding and for editing long articles).

What does your average day look like?

First thing: a quick check of all my email accounts, social accounts, blog comments, and Yammer, just in case something important has come up that I need to deal with. Usually I plough through my work emails after this, and then give myself permission not to answer any more throughout the day (unless they’re urgent); otherwise, they just take up all my time.

If I’m writing a tutorial, I’ll usually devote the whole day to it; it usually takes me about eight hours, start to finish. Otherwise, I’ll usually spend the day editing other writers’ posts, seeking new posts, planning ideas for either site, or helping writers with their latest articles.

It’s important for me to keep my web development skills sharp, since that’s what Activetuts+ is all about, so I make sure to spend some time reading relevant sites and books and actually writing code. Recently I’ve been developing tools to make editing faster and easier, which leads to a great virtuous circle!

Michael in Chicago with Team 502.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I’m a bit of a foodie – like a lot of Envato-ers [To Adrian: what is the word? I recall we've used Envatards in the past, but I'm not sure this is appropriate ;] it seems – so cooking is a favourite hobby of mine. I also do rock ‘n’ roll every week; I think it’s important to have an activity that doesn’t involve staring at a screen!

Michael in Chicago with Team 502.




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