Let’s continue with our informal introductions of our team members. This time, it’s Mike Erickson. Eventually we’ll introduce the rest of the team, too. Patience, grasshopper. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Check out the other Meet The Team articles, here and here.
Mr. Mike Erickson came aboard in 2007. A job listing on Joel On Software’s blog peaked his interest in the company. He quickly got to work on Blow Up, version 2. He was the “gooey” guy on the project. Building the Graphical User Interface–GUI–is a tough job. Human-computer interaction, handled by the GUI, translates what’s going on behind the scenes in the code, into easy to use, aesthetically pleasing buttons and tiddlywinks. “I single-handedly blew the schedule. By months.” Mike laughingly admits.
Mike’s remembrance of his first few projects is a humorous one. He mentioned how the office was much more chaotic back then, but how the team members’ weirdness made for a lot of laughs. Mike lists out the original Alien Skin team as follows: One super-smart college educated West Virginia redneck, an IT guy with a fondness for hallucinogens and samurai swords–at the same time, several North Carolina madmen, and many other programmers with huge, throbbing veiny brains that make him feel inadequate. I need to interject that he admits all of this crazy-talk with a completely straight face.
Every project comes peppered with surprises. In Mike’s latest project, for example, he’s managed to break a tremendous amount of the product’s basic functionality. Interestingly enough, the most challenging aspect of any project is the same thing. It’s like pulling apart an engine. Moving parts depend on other moving parts to operate, but when it’s all put back together right, it hums.
Panic is a good term for mixing show-stopper bugs with the release day for a new product. This is the ultimate nightmare for programming folk like Mike. Usually people have bad dreams about nudity in public situations, but programmers are a different breed. You can see how focused they are all of the time.
Mike and the rest of the programming team look forward to getting feedback from customers. All of us circulate just about anything said about our products, around the office. What makes Mike’s day? Hearing customers talk about how they love our software. It makes all of his hard work worth the effort.
Mike is quite the hobbyist outside of Alien Skin. He enjoys metal fabrication, welding, he speaks Japanese, is a self-published author, and he has a green-thumb, too. You should see the boss handrail he made me!
In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Erickson. Hopefully it’ll paint a clearer picture of Alien Skin in your mind. “No, Alien Skin has nothing to do with porn or gaming laptops. We may be a strange bunch, but we make software that are truly better than all the others.”