Seren yr Wythnos #7
Or, technically, if you're being fussy, apparently - Ivan Baines.
But since we say it 'Ifan' and it sounds like 'Ifan' and he doesn't seem particularly Russian, I'm afraid I can't break myself out of the habit of spelling it properly...
Ifan is the man behind the @kinetic mask - and if that doesn't clear things up for you, he is our full-time developer, charged with the monstrous challenge of building an online interface for the Spennyware->Jennyware that would be flexible enough to let us build a course for every single language - the one and only SSiBorg.
Ifan had a reasonably normal life until about 3 years ago.
He'd worked for one big internet company, and was working as a sysadmin for a smaller company run by a friend of his - oh, and he'd started learning Welsh (which was his fatal error).
He came on Bootcamp, and did excellently, and he was a friendly and supportive member of the community - and then he responded generously to our request for volunteer coders.
And then, when it became clear to us that we were going to need a full-time coder, and we thought we could by the skin of our teeth afford it, I reached out to Ifan.
I didn't think it would be a very appealing offer.
'Er, you know that nice, secure, well paid job you've got? Would you like to give it all up and come and play with a tiny little start-up who will pay you in peanuts? To do coding instead of sysadmin, and try and build something that's never existed before, for which we have no models at all?'
I was really only hoping there wouldn't be any swear words in his response.
Instead, with brilliant disregard for his own safety and security, Ifan jumped in with us - and we are now within a matter of months of beta testing the version of the SSiBorg which I think will probably get us to our first 100 languages.
It's been a remarkable journey - Ifan has regularly been dragged off the project for 'every single other even faintly technical thing that can possibly happen' - and he's regularly been in a bunch of startling timezones ranging from America to the Far East and Europe (when he's in the Far East, our working hours almost overlap...).
Ifan was very clear at the start - he thought the SSiBorg was a slightly mad idea and quite unlikely to work. Probably his greatest achievement so far has been to build enough of it, and solve enough of the problems, to convince himself that it might just work after all.
I've always been convinced, of course. But time and again, Ifan's cautious pragmatism has helped force us to fine-tune key issues - and, along the way, he's thrown his own 'why don't we...' moments into it all, as well...
It's taken Ifan and myself a lot of gradual adaptation to get used to working with each other - particularly in a company which wants all its employees to have a genuinely brilliant life, which means testing out new things, some of which won't work. Ifan has ridden the waves with courage and tenacity - and one of my happiest SSiMoments was a few months back when he told me that he would be working for us for as long as we had a place for him.
We'll always have a place for him, so as long as we don't actually explode, he'll be an SSiLifer.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ifan Baines. Oh, okay, Ivan Baines, just this once.
Without him, we might quite possibly have run out of steam.
With him, we've finally got to the point where the next couple of years should see a huge amount of new SSiLanguages - and the next few months are going to see a blossoming of L3 Welsh, too...
If you've, oh, ever used our website, now would be a good time to give him a vote of thanks...
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