The Artisan Files: Matthew Machuga


June 27th, 2014


I had the honor of interviewing Matthew Machuga in this weeks Artisan Files. Machuga is a very early adopter of Laravel and a permanent fixture in IRC. Read on to get to know him.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? How’d you get into web dev?

Sure. I’m 27yrs old, father of a beautiful 15mo old girl named Vaeda, and husband to an amazing woman named Hali. I’m from Erie, Pennsylvania, have a Computer Science degree, and have been coding for about a decade now.

The web just really seemed to interest me so I started toying around with PHP, CodeIgniter, Ruby, Rails, Django, and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on. It’s been a blast so far so I’m pretty sure I went the right direction :)

How did you first find Laravel?

The first time I saw Laravel was when Taylor announced the first version on Forrst however long ago. It reminded me a lot of Sinatra for Ruby at the time so it was neat to see something in PHP taking on the same concepts. At the time I didn’t have a use case for it, but kept my eye on it as it went through various stages of its development. It was fun to watch it evolve over time.

Once 3.2 came out it had enough features for my coworker and I to convince our manager at the time to let us port a newly started FuelPHP project over to Laravel. I had been hanging out in the IRC room for a few months prior to that since most of our previous CodeIgniter community migrated there and it was great to reconnect with friends. After that I really started to fully engage in the community and development/maintenance of Laravel and it’s just kind of gone from there.

I know from past conversations you used to big into BMX. Do you still ride?

Yup! I still try to get out as much as I can, but it definitely takes a backburner to my daughter, wife, and other responsibilities. It’s still something I love to do, time is just short these days like I’m sure you know! I still need the physical activity so I try to get to the gym before everyone wakes up in the morning so that definitely helps hold me over till the next evening or weekend time I have free. Even got out for a few hours last night!

Can you tell us about your local environment? What operating system, what are your favorite apps?

Hah well I’ve gone through a few changes lately trying out some new things so I’ll give you a bit of both.

OS X is my standard OS. I sometimes dabble in Arch and Ubuntu, but OS X is home. I stay in the command line pretty heavily. I use iTerm2 as my terminal emulator, zsh for my shell, and then have a custom theme applied to oh-my-zsh with some additional plugins attached. I’m usually within tmux from the command line as well so that I can split windows/panes/sessions up into logical groups while allowing them to be persistent if I happen to close iTerm. This also allows me to pick up my session from another device in the house if need be via SSH, or allows a friend or coworker to pair with me directly by sharing a tmux session.

I also tend to use Vim, or lately Neovim, from the command line. Modal editing in generally really vibes with me, and Vim’s design of composing commands is really a fluid and performant way of letting me move about. I have a fair number of plugins that I use on a daily basis including CtrlP (or unite.vim), syntastic, and many others that are available in my dotfiles on github at if anyone is curious.

Now recently I’ve actually been learning Emacs, but keeping all of my Vim abilities by using Evil mode, which is by far the best Vi mode I’ve ever used outside of Vim itself. It’s almost perfect. This gives me some added benefits like async processes (which Neovim now supports but is still young), a lisp based programming environment, and a ton of modes and plugins that help with some of my productivity. An example is Magit, which is a fantastic git interface which keeps the power of the command line in a more UI-friendly way. I’ve been using the GUI version of Emacs for even more of a change so that I can enjoy a few extra things while still being able to launch the command line version if I’d like. It’s been pretty fun thus far! I get the bonuses while still retaining nearly all of the awesomeness of Vim.

For other day-to-day software, I typically use Chrome but I’ve been enjoying using Firefox’s nightly build for the past several months as well. Spotify is my music player/service of choice, and I tend to use Textual as my IRC client, though sometimes I’ll use Weechat from the command line.

machuga desktop

What is you typical day like? You are in IRC like 24/7 :)

Haha I’m definitely in IRC a lot, but ever since I had my daughter it’s been reduced heavily. I’m still online from about 8am-5pm EST and then some times after about 10:30pm at night for a bit, but my IRC bouncer makes it seem like I’m always there. I work from home so talking to people in IRC is my “watercooler” time. Plus our community is fantastic so I like to keep in touch.

A typical day for me is usually wake up at 6:30am and either venture to the gym or get started on some personal projects. Then I’ll usually play with my daughter and make some breakfast before diving into work around 9. I’ll usually begin pairing with a coworker around 10, take a lunch break, then pick back up till 5. Afterwards I hang out with the family until we put Vaeda to bed, then my wife and I will watch some shows or a movie and I’ll work on some projects or articles at night. Things can definitely vary but that pretty much sums up my day-to-day routine.

Do you have any hobbies outside of development and BMX?

I’d say most of my fun time goes toward hanging out with the family and taking Vaeda out for little hikes in the woods near our house. It’s just such an amazing experience seeing her explore and learn constantly. Outside of that I organize a local Ruby meetup, like to read, and I’m hoping to try my hand at some gardening this year. I really want to try growing my own food for whatever reason, just seems interesting.

Finally if you could be on one sitcom or reality TV show which one would you want to be on?

Oh man…either How I Met You Mother or The Big Bang Theory. Let’s roll with HIMYM. Being around Barney would be legen…wait for it….dary!

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Eric L. Barnes

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