The Artisan Files: Adam Wathan

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This week let’s meet Adam Wathan. Adam is a developer, weight lifter, and a cool dude. He was also a speaker at Laracon EU this year.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure! I’m 27 and live in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.

I’ve been programming in some capacity since I was about 9. I think my first exposure to it was through QBasic. I got into building little websites pretty quickly (in the days of Angelfire, Geocities, font tags and frames), and by the time I was in the 10th grade I had a part time job maintaining a catalog website for a local machinery sales company.

After high school I started a CS degree, but ended up leaving after first year because I couldn’t really get myself excited about it. I think I was just burnt out from going straight into university after high school and should’ve taken a year to work before jumping back into it. I didn’t program for a few years at all after that.

I moved out to Alberta to work on an oil sands project for a couple of years, then eventually moved back to Ontario to start a recording studio. I started to get really obsessed with tweaking the software I was using in the studio (Reaper, written by the guy behind Winamp and Gnutella), and a friend online got me set up to start writing my own plugins and extensions in C++. It really rekindled my love for software development, and I went back to school for software engineering shortly after.

I’ve been working as a developer for Vehikl for about a year and a half now and having a blast.

You are currently a full time developer. Whats your typical day like?

I get up around 7:45 and leave for my commute by about 8:15. It’s about a 40 minute commute which is perfect for a podcast, so I’m always listening to something. Some of my favorites are,, thoughtbot’s Giant Robots, and the recently relaunched Ruby on Rails Podcast.

We’ve always got a few different projects on the go at a time, so first thing in the morning we figure out what’s on deck for the day and plan who’s going to be working on what. Most of the time I’m working on the same project for the whole day, but sometimes I’ll spend a morning on one and the afternoon on another.

The bulk of my day is spent writing PHP with Laravel, but since we do a lot of full product development I do spend a lot of time on the front end as well. Lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of work with AngularJS and Phonegap.

I finish work around 5 and usually spend my evenings with my girlfriend, training in the garage or working on my own side projects.

Can you tell us about your local environment? What apps you use everyday?

I work on a 2012 15” MacBook Pro. It’s a 2.3ghz quad core i7, upgraded to 16gb of RAM and a 256gb SSD. It’s a powerhouse of a machine but I’m a little jealous of the portability everyone else in the office has with their Airs and Retina MBPs. I work pretty much exclusively on my laptop and never bother hooking it up to an external display or any other peripherals unless I’m pairing on a problem with a co-worker.

I’m a huge Sublime fan and a little obsessed with efficiency and keyboard shortcuts. I tried to switch Vim but I’m faster in Sublime than anyone I’ve ever worked with who uses Vim, so I gave up.

I actually do most of my development work using the built-in PHP web server and a local install of MySQL (GASP!) but use Vagrant for any projects that need a more customized environment. The built-in PHP server is just so much faster than Vagrant so I don’t mind sacrificing the “purity” of my OSX install.

Other apps I use everyday are iTerm 2, Sequel Pro, Airmail, GitHub for Mac, 1Password and Marked.

Tell us a little about your weight lifting. I watched your video and it’s impressive.

Haha, thanks! I’ve been competing in powerlifting for about 3 years now. I got started with fitness in general when I was about 22 and wanted to lose some weight. Eventually I figured out that the only thing that could keep me motivated to train was the satisfaction of lifting heavier and heavier weights, and I got into powerlifting. You can get stronger a lot faster than you can see results in the mirror, and being able to make quantitative comparisons between the weight you lifted last week and the weight you lifted this week is really motivating.

I competed in my first powerlifting meet in June 2011, where I squatted 386, benched 303 and deadlifted 402 at a bodyweight of 198 pounds.

My most recent meet was in June 2013, where I squatted 535, benched 381, and deadlifted 601 at a bodyweight of 238.

It’s a super fun and addictive sport. I’m recovering from a back injury that’s keeping me from squatting and deadlifting at the moment, but I’ve got a bench only competition coming up on August 23rd, so with any luck I’ll finally bench 400 pounds before flying over to Amsterdam for Laracon EU!

Do you follow a strict diet or anything? Or just lift as much as you can?

I’m terrible at the diet part. I need to get better at it, but for the most part I eat like complete crap. I’m usually at my strongest on a diet of pizza and ice cream, haha…

Finally, do you have any other hobbies outside web development and weight lifting?

Definitely! I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 7 and spent all of my teens and early twenties playing in metal bands around the province. I don’t play as much as I used to, but still pick it up whenever I can and have been getting back into it again more recently.

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Eric is the creator of Laravel News and has been covering Laravel since 2012.

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