Get to know the people of Cloud City. In this regular (and sometimes irregular) series, we sit down with our designers, engineers and other team members to talk about development, consulting and life in general.
Today, we’re chatting with Dylan Baker, a new addition to the Cloud City development team. Read on to hear about that time he got to work with the NBA and why he’s kinda obsessed with the Mountain Goats.
Senior Software Development Consultant
Currently reading: The Red and the Black” by Stendhal
Currently bingeing: “Righteous Gemstones”
Tell us about your software development journey. Is this what you always planned to do when you grew up?
I’ve been programming since I was a kid. I started making websites and games when I was 10 or so. I put it down for a while, but several years ago, I “accidentally” started programming again.
I realized the company I was working for at the time could save tons of manual hours simply by automating how they moved data from one Excel sheet to another. That experience helped set me up to work as a web developer at a marketing agency. One of the coolest projects I worked on was developing fantasy sports products for the NBA.
The NBA? Whoa, that’s pretty cool.
Yeah, one of the highlights of my career was seeing an ad for one of the apps I helped build advertised during a basketball game. It came on while I was eating out with friends. I was like, hey, that’s me!
I also worked on a giant website redesign for one of Dale Carnegie’s management training programs. It required migrating all of their courses to a new system. There was also a big e-commerce component. The project took a full year.
These are some pretty diverse projects. What’s your approach to consulting and working with new clients?
I enjoy looking at a client’s challenges from a high level, trying to find connections and new opportunities. I’m also not afraid to explore the weird dark corners of giant codebases. When all else fails, I just start with the challenges in front of me, working through the bugs and features I’m assigned until the problem is solved.
What inspires you professionally?
Programming can be a uniquely frustrating experience. That turns a lot of people off. But I enjoy the challenge and the payoff of working through a problem.
I also love learning new things. I feel stagnant if I’m not working on something that’s really satisfying. I’m always on GitHub or eavesdropping on Slack chatter to see what other folks are working on.
Where can we find you on the weekends?
My fiancé, Liz, and I live in Torrington, a small town in northwest Connecticut. The great thing about New England is that everything is so close. We can be in New York or Boston in a few hours. We can also escape to a state park or the mountains. Liz and I like to take our German shepherd, Petra, camping.
Do you have any other cool hobbies?
I’m a musician. I play mostly guitar. I also have a drum kit and piano.
In high school, a few friends and I formed a punk band called We Can’t Bury Shelley. (It’s a quote from Evil Dead.) We played around Minneapolis for a few years. But things fizzled out when I moved to Connecticut. Now, I do a lot of solo recordings in my basement studio.
If you could meet any musician, living or dead, who would it be?
John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats. He has this amazing ability to bring together different genres and synthesize them into a cohesive whole. He can somehow take influences from death metal, pro wrestling and Greek literature and turn all of that into a three-minute acoustic love song. I would just love to sit and listen to him talk about his songwriting process.