Podcast Awesome Episode 5 Recap with Alex Poiry
In episode 5 of Podcast Awesome, we shine the spotlight on Head of Security, Alex Poiry. After Alex gives a rundown of his work duties, things get a little zany. He explains how he found his way to tech after getting degrees in history and German, and shares his love of early 2000s memes. He also talks about his interest in historic European martial arts and how it ties into virtual reality. Oh, and did we mention that he gave himself tennis elbow using a longsword?
Here’s a few choice quotes from our conversation:
In the Font Awesome Slack channel you have given yourself the name Alex “Yellow Dart Poiry”. Where does that come from?
Yeah. So for some of the probably younger people who might be listening to this back in the day, back in the day, it’s still out there. You can still watch it, but there’s a thing called homestarrunner.com. It’s still out there. And it’s a guy who made just little short web videos, but they were all animation. I can’t remember what technology he used. One of his little episodes is called the Well Thought Out English Paper.
And it’s basically a kid writes him a message and says, hey, I have to write an English paper. Can you write it for me? And so he writes out this well thought out English paper, and as he’s doing it, he’s explaining this is how you get good points with the teacher. And so he says, it couldn’t hurt to jazz up your name a little bit. How about Kyle “the Yellow Dart” Smith?
I’ll get you. And so anytime I go someplace and they just let me to free-form type my name into a field, like I tend to do something a little silly.
At Font Awesome we do our best to protect our customer’s privacy and not collect more data than is necessary. I really appreciate that.
Yeah. I think in a modern context, people are always trying to extract the maximum amount of value that they can out of just people. But they don’t necessarily want to give anything back. They’re just like, well, if I know this about you, is there someone who is willing to give me money for that information? And that’s kind of why things like GDPR exist, is because basically the governments of Europe kind of got sick of this stuff. I mean, because from their perspective, it was a violation of human rights effectively. And that’s actually one of the fantastic things that I’ve experienced, like working at Font Awesome is that the underlying ethos of the company is like, hey, man, just be cool.
Don’t do that jerky stuff. All we need to do is send you an email if something goes wrong or if something goes right. If you want to give us your first and last name, that’s cool. We don’t need to know what year you were born. We don’t need to know your gender, we don’t need to know your religious preferences, we don’t need to know what browsers you use or where you shop.
What tech are you interested in learning about these days? Are there certain things you’re kind of keeping an eye on on the news?
Or I am always fascinated by ways that you can help people learn something, learn something new, or learn something better.
And that’s a technology in itself.
Yeah. The technical definition of technology is the application of scientific thought in order to accomplish a goal. I think that’s not a perfect definition, but it’s in that neighborhood. I recently found a thing I missed the Kickstarter, but it ended up being on sale, so I ordered it. There’s a thing called Spintronics. And this to me is fascinating because at the basis of all computer systems, of course, are electronics.
And there are aspects of electronics that, while I don’t necessarily need them for my job, I think they’re important, and I always kind of struggle with them and stuff like that. So it’s like trying to wrap your brain around some aspect of how a circuit works. Like, okay, now do I need to be concerned about the volts here, or I need to be concerned about the amps here? Right. What about this resistance aspect of it? And will this burn out my Led if I try to connect up a circuit this way?
And if you search online, you’ll find a lot of people, they’re trying to use water as an example of how to think about electricity, right? Like water pressure through a pipe and so on and so forth. But I think even that’s kind of a little bit unhelpful, because if you don’t really have an intuitive sense of the way water moves through pipes and the way pressure works within pipes and stuff like that, it’s not a metaphor. That’s super helpful.
Spintronics has built a fully analogous circuit system that works entirely on physical properties of stored energy. So it’s got a battery in it. The battery is just this little spring loaded thing, right? So it’s like, listen, if you’re going to get electrical power, it’s effectively analogous to you storing the power of your arm into this little spring. And then the circuit is chains of a known length, and that can help you with the understanding of coulombs and stuff like that.
And then they’ve got an ammeter, which helps you with the understanding of amps. But what it does is it looks like a little tiny, steampunk Victorian phonograph player. So it causes it to spin, and so you hear a higher pitch, so it’s visual it’s hands on. You can build the circuits, and they add all of this sort of sensory stuff to it so that you can really get a feel for it. And that is using old technology to help you sort of understand modern, newer technology and stuff like that. And that’s something that I’ve always struggled with.
I’m constantly forgetting things. I’ve been trying to teach my daughter a little bit of this stuff, and so now I’ve got this great toy that’s fun to use. It’s much more intuitive, and it has kind of a steampunk aesthetic, which is cool.
Do you have any favorite Font Awesome Icons?
Yeah. Going back to my love of, like, kind of older Internet memes, I’m a big fan of the honey badger.
What’s the background on that meme? That’s kind of going over my head a little bit.
Oh, really? Yeah. I can’t think of the guy who did it. Basically, he would take nature videos, and he would do this kind of like a regular nature video where normally he would have had this very serious English guy with a lot of gravitas talking about a thing, but he does this really campy wacky. He’s not even really giving you super great information.