December 17, 2011
10 min read
I thought I would start this blog off by introducing myself. Many have talked to me but probably don’t know how I became the man I am today. It was a rough road but here it is, I won’t spend years talking about it, I promise.
Born in Iowa City, Iowa USA on February 2, 1984 (on a farm), I moved down to Saint Louis, Missouri USA in 1988 where I have called home ever since. I was a shy, quiet yet adventurous child. I never had lots of friends but kept a small group close. I was into sport, soccer being my favorite and devoted lots of my time practicing which didn’t leave me much time to spend inside playing video games.
Like I said, I was an adventurous child I would go places where I shouldn’t go. I lived in the suburbs of Saint Louis so it’s not like I could get into much trouble. There used to be lots of trails and creeks where I used to ride my bike doing tricks… trying to at least. I stopped playing soccer and decided to tear appart my parent’s $4,000 Compaq. My mother came home with everything spread around the room. Little later I got everything put back together and told her I wasn’t too sure I’d get that back together; this is what started my whole nerdness. I started learning by dissecting so when I got a truck when I turned 16, installing a head unit was a fun experiment. Using the Compaq, I started playing online games and joined an online group. This is where I fell into web design as they needed someone to help and I took on that challenge. Of course it was using Frontpage and Geocities but had to use existing Perl scripts but ditched that for PHP. For the next couple years I would spend 100% of my time within PHP. When I turned 16, I also started working at QuikTrip (convenient store chain around the USA) and thought that was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. It took priority over everything, school included. Growing up the way I did, my work ethic was top notch. Working 15 hours wouldn’t be a problem to me.
In the middle of the teen years, I tried escaping a problem I had. My father and I were close; hunting, fishing, sports were things that we did together a lot. The problem I felt is that we would never express our feelings toward each other. He would just push me to be better and if I didn’t live up to what he expected me to be, I felt he was disappointed in me. My family has a history of depression and I look back and I wish I would have seen this and prevented myself going down that road. I tried to work more and keep myself active but I would have terrible mood swings. The smallest thing would set me off. Alcohol would also play a large roll in all of this. This would go on for the better part of a decade.
After high school, I tried going to Maryville University here in Saint Louis going for a degree in eCommerce. I didn’t mind going to school but QuikTrip always trumped it so I bailed out after half a semester. I would then focus on my career at QuikTrip keeping my hobby of web developing on the side. My father also works at QuikTrip and has been very successful and for the first time I felt like he was proud of my accomplishments at following him in his footsteps. I started moving up and taking on projects but keeping him in the dark about my drinking and depression. Going to work drunk was fine as long as I had cologne to mask the smell and energy drinks to keep me awake as I wouldn’t sleep. I stayed away from pills or marijuana and have never tried that; I take pride in this actually.
I haven’t talked much about females in my life as they weren’t really my priority. Yes, I dated and lost my virginity at age 16 but I just didn’t really care about them. After high school they played more of a role. I always seemed to get good looking girls but they would use me because working at QuikTrip I made great money. I built a house, had a truck, car (1994 Ford Mustang 5.0), and a motorcycle (Kawasaki Ninja 600R) all before I could legally drink. Started building my house when I was 19. I would do anything for the girl in my life but looking back, it seems they took advantage of me. Maybe not their fault as I let them. This would not help my depression and confidence. This eventually would teach me about myself and help me later on.
When I was 22, one night waking up in my own vomit, I decided to stop drinking. After that decision, I would only drink socially. I still got drunk once in a while but wouldn’t even be close to drinking like I used to. I went from drinking almost every waking minute to only having a couple here and there. This self control really made myself start taking a long look at what kind of man I was growing up to be. I started taking more action to improve myself and I would have to hit rock bottom and rebuild myself. I quit QuikTrip, foreclosed on my house, moved back in with my parents. Was out of work for 2 months before I started working at Sam’s Club. I was seasonal but after 2 weeks turned full-time. When I start a new job, I work very hard to make myself a crucial asset to my employer. Started making my way up but saw some questionable things being done by management (TVs went missing, favoritism, etc) so I stepped down and kind of was just living day by day. I turned to my hobby of web developing and started contracting. This was just a side job and never really took off.
Love of my life :)
Early 2008 my mother went to visit one of her long time friends. They used to work next door to each other for many many years at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs but in 2007 my mother’s friend got a divorce and moved to Florida to pursue a different job within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and her daughter moved down a couple months later. As my mother was down there, her daughter (Danielle Collins) started texting me and we hit it off right away. 2 months later on May 3rd, over the phone and hundreds of miles away, I asked Danielle if she would be my girlfriend. About every other month, one of us would fly to the other to actually see each other, when we were away from each other, Skype had to do. Long distance isn’t easy but I do believe it allowed us to really connect and become each other’s best friend. Fast forward to August 2011, after over 3 years of dating we finally decided to make the hard decision of having her quit her job and move in with me. This was a huge and scary step in our relationship but enough was enough with long distance. We have been living together for a few months now and things couldn’t be going better. Sure we have our little arguments ehre and there but the transition from being a thousand miles away from each other to seeing each other each day hasn’t been as hard as I was afraid. I would do anything for her and hope to get engaged this next year as soon as I find a ring that I am proud to give her.
Ext JS/Sencha Years
Around 2004/2005 I started pushing myself to learn more about web developing. I was using Prototype, Scriptaculous and whatever else I could get my hands on. My thirst for knowledge was driving me in a million directions. It wasn’t till late in 2007 till I heard of this Ext JS and dropped everything and started trying to wrap my head around this. Early 2008 I jumped on the forums asking for help… I was very green. Next couple years my thirst for knowledge really pushed me to learn a lot about Ext JS and people like Jay Garcia, Nige “Animal” White, Shea “VinylFox” Fredricks, Condor really helped me out. It wasn’t till 2010 until I started getting some traction after helping with the book Ext JS in Action authored by Jay Garcia and some projects. People started coming to me for work so things were looking up. October 2010 I had a full-time opportunity as a web developer so I quit Sam’s Club to pursue web developing as a career. The guy I was working for didn’t like my coding style so he made me code like him. After 3 months of working for him and not liking it, I had another opportunity and took it. I like the guy I was working for, I can work from home, and the pay was great compared to what I was making. In a matter of about 4 months, my pay quadrupled! I thought I would work there for a long time but then I got an email from Ed Spencer at Sencha. At first, I was reluctant because I felt quite loyal to my current boss but I decided to give it a shot so I was flown out to Redwood City, CA USA for my interview. I then talked to Jeff Hartley who seemed very happy to speak with me and decided to offer me a job. I went back home and struggled to make a decision. After talking to family and friends, I decided that it was in my best interest to accept Sencha’s offer and handed in a one month notice to my current boss so that I could finish up things and he could find my replacement.
Joining Sencha in March of 2011 as part of the Professional Services team, I quickly became a bit of a star (self proclaimed). Not being cocky but I could now show my talents off on a larger scale and for many peers who actually understand what is coded. My first assignment in Sencha was working at a certain client (cannot be named) working with Doug Hendricks and Jack Ratcliff who also work at Sencha on the Professional Services team. Doug was traveling a lot but Jack worked locally with me so I became close to working with him… enjoyed bouncing ideas off him and just talking with him on a daily basis. Jack moved on to another project so it was just Doug and I so I was by myself onsite. As of October 21st, I moved on to be the Senior Forum Manager (I got to pick my own title :) ).
That brings us up to today! You probably have started seeing me spam the forums! My mission is to help people learn, not just give answers. I want to guide people to the answer so I’m sorry if you expect example code but that’s not really going to help you grow as a Sencha developer.
Sorry if it was a long post but I appreciate you reading it and getting to know me. I hope to talk to you via Twitter or on the Forums but my true wish is to be able to attend meetups and conferences to meet you in person.
Written by Mitchell Simoens who is a long time nerd developing software and building computers and gadgets. Anything expressed on this website are Mitchell Simoens's alone and do not represent his employer.