LearnTeacher Spotlight: Jason Seifer


Faye Bridge
writes on April 8, 2013

The Teacher Spotlight is back! For those of you who haven’t read a Spotlight, each month we interview one of the Treehouse Teachers so you can get to know them a little better offscreen, and have a sneak peek into what makes them tick.

This month the spotlight is on Ruby and Rails mastermind, co-host of the Treehouse Show and The Ruby Show, and of course who can forget the infamous smile of… Treehouse teacher Jason Seifer!

The Interview:

When did you first start gaining an interest in web development? Did anyone inspire you?

I first got into web development in high school. I had a bunch of data that I wanted to work with and I didn’t know how else to sort through it, filter, search, etc. I wound up using early versions of PHP (php3!) and MySQL and wrote a search engine that was a parody of Altavista, which was the most popular search engine at the time.

What language did you first start with? Which is your preferred language now?

I first started programming using Basic when I was very young (about 6 years old). I made silly little stick figure animations that cleared the screen and did other fun and unimportant things. My dad was an accountant and he wrote his own bookkeeping software so he taught me a little bit about how to program.
My first computer was a TRS-80 which I worked with for several years until my parents got a Compaq Presario which was a whopping 66 Mhz. I remember being pretty psyched when we got an overdrive processor which brought us to something like 88 Mhz. I was the one who got to install it and my parents were a bit nervous that I would have to take apart the whole computer. I acted surprised after I took the entire computer apart and pretended not to know what the old processor was. I’ve always been a bit of a prankster.

After basic, I dabbled in Perl, PHP, Pascal, and a few others. These days I prefer to use Ruby or JavaScript, but there are so many languages out there these days. Erlang has an extremely interesting approach to programming if you can get over the syntax. I’ll probably look in to Objective C and iOS programming next.

What are some new web technologies (bleeding edge) that you’re excited about?

I think the live streaming in Rails 4.0 is going to be pretty awesome once people really start to figure out the best ways to use it. Real time Ruby on Rails is going to be a pretty cool way of programming. Right now the best option for real time is Web Sockets but I think there will be quite a bit that we can do with Rails live streaming and the JavaScript EventSource.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m excited that we are seeing a time that we are closer to being able to stop supporting legacy browsers that don’t support the latest technologies. We’re still a ways off but I think that, as a whole, that will drive the web forward more than anything else.

When you have a big project ahead of you, how do you stay in the zone when coding?

I don’t! I was introduced to the Pomodoro Technique by Corey Haines and that completely changed the way I work. The basic premise is that you work for 25 minutes then you have a 5 minute break. Repeat as necessary until you’ve worked all day. You’d be very surprised what you accomplish by the end of the day. It’s also a bit liberating to know that you can get your social media and email addiction out of the way in 5 minute increments throughout the day.

What’s your favorite thing about hosting the Treehouse Show? Has the fame gone to your head at all?

My favorite thing about hosting the Treehouse Show is being able to interact with Nick Pettit’s fauxhawk on a weekly basis. It is perfectly coiffed and taller in person than you may guess from viewing it on the web.

I wouldn’t say that the fame has gone to my head at all. I’m still just like everyone else– I wake up, get dressed, and have my pilot fly me from my private island to the helipad on the top of Treehouse HQ in order to avoid the web paparazzi.

Tell us something about yourself you don’t think anyone would ever assume!

When the beta of Netscape Navigator 2.0 came out, I sent them a bug report documenting that pop-up windows could open other pop-up windows. They ignored it. I nearly saved the world from pop-ups.

Wrap Up

We hope you enjoyed this month’s Spotlight interview with Jason, and remember to tune in on Tuesdays to catch Jason and Nick in a new episode of the Treehouse Show.

We’ll see you next month for another interview and another opportunity to get to know a Treehouse teacher offscreen. 🙂


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5 Responses to “Teacher Spotlight: Jason Seifer”

  1. Jason, you are my hero.

  2. hahahahahahahahaha this guy is very funny. fauxhawk!!!!

  3. That smile… It gets me everything time.

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