Chris Zempel

Working at Efeqdev

After going through a couple Rails apps with the help of Chris Oliver and making my way through the Agile Web Development with Rails (I now largely use it as a reference book), I tried to start implementing a password-protected users feature on the To-Do List app. My progress (or lack thereof) demoralized me, and on top of a head cold I was just beating my head against a wall with seemingly every step. It is my nature to be impatient with myself, and I expect to be able to sit down with a client and be able to build an app which would provide value to them now. I suppose I need to reevaluate if this is a realistic or healthy expectation to impose on myself. Anyway!~~

Viewing my Rails progress as one giant problem wasn’t helpful, so I decided to chunk it apart.

In short, I conclusively moved through the acquire/understand phase for the various elements and applied all of them at least once in a completely original, unguided feature. More specifically, I got two chapters into a book on DB design, solved Project Euler ( :P ) problem 1 with Ruby, went through the supermarket pricing Ruby Kata, surveyed a huge deal of HTML, developed some pages which used Javascript to interact with various elements in ground-up html pages I also built, and contributed my first code to production for an internal Rails app we have.

During the majority of these exercises, Chris Oliver would come and look at what I’d done and show me different and/or better approaches; he helped me move past small barriers and generally kept me on the right track. Bredon also got me set up with bootstrap, which kind of tipped the scales on my decision to break down my learning into smaller steps: I needed to understand what the code was producing to understand why it is useful!

On the business end, I’ve moved from just answering the question “What’s going on!?” to knowing that if I was given a client, I’d basically know how to move the process through them, although flying solo it would be pretty rough.

From Cooking to Coding #

Having worked in the food business, I’m not used to having nights or weekends free. Now that I’m getting paid to code instead of having to fit it in on my own, the two biggest time commitments of my life have suddenly and completely restructured. Typically, the main free time activity I’d pursue was video games with friends, and that’s due to our schedules and transportation. We could hop on, talk, have fun, and log off all inside extremely short and flexible timeframes. I never had to worry about balance because I didn’t have enough time in a day as it was; the goal was just to fit in some games with friends whenever I could.

Now my friends and I have completely different schedules, and video games aren’t fun. My natural drive to become a better coder comes out, so I’ll read books, hack something out or browse articles about it at home, but I’ve already spent most of the day plugging my head into that domain, and I know that will lead to burnout. The balance in my life is gone.

At a company brunch, I was asked, “So Chris, what else do you like to do?” I had to think about it, and had no real answer. The closest I could come was, “video games - I think.” Since the start of 2013, my time has been split between working, coding, or playing video games. At a given point, I’d only be able to fit 2 of these in at a time. I completely lacked free time, and these activities comprised my hobbies, and sort of my identity. After finally transitioning out of my old job, my nights are spent playing games and impatiently waiting to wake up the next day so I can get back to Efeqdev.

And that’s just the change: the biggest difference in my personal life is that from the time when I get done at Efeqdev and go to sleep, I have free time. Time where I can actually do whatever I want. And I don’t know what to do with it. Dang, this blog has gotten pretty soul-searching. So to sum up, the new focus of my personal life is pursuing the answer to the question, “What excites me?”

Working at Efeqdev #

The most fun way I can think of to go at this is to describe everybody my impression of everybody in one paragraph. You heard it here first, this is the real juice behind their pictures on this website! So in that order, here it goes

Bredon Jones

The first thing I noticed about Bredon was that he sounds exactly like my high school tennis coach. This would generally be largely irrelevant, but the way both of them communicate sort of lifts the weight off whatever they’re speaking about. While Bredon thinks this means he sounds goofy, it actually allows him to broach and discuss really serious topics in a comfortable, matter-of-fact way which makes him amazing at discussing stuff with clients. He also says exactly how he feels all the time, which is usually hilarious. He’ll randomly play guitar throughout the day.

Reid Burnett

Reid loves coffee and randomly brews it. I stuff the coffee I drink full of sugar and cream, so it’s basically “Candy” coffee because I think black coffee tastes bad, but he made me some good stuff and told me how to taste it. To his credit, it didn’t suck. I’d even go so far as to say it was kind of good and I’d drink it again, but no promises. Anyway, Reid reminds me of the members of a club I ran in college, the Collegiate Gaming Association (CGA). This group was my favorite out of everything I did, and it’s because the club was entirely optional and the members always kept me amused. Efeqdev has the same opt-in culture, and Reid has this same quality: the stuff he does just cracks me up and I don’t know why.

Karl Eggers

Karl distinctly reminds of a friend of mine who once, during a party, came downstairs, shirtless, to prance around and serenade everybody with his saxophone. This is because Karl teaches psychedelic square dancing and unabashedly follows his own sense of humor to wherever it takes him. Throughout the day he’ll randomly start cracking up or make a joke, and usually everyone can’t help but smile. Like the aforementioned friend, he delights in making terrible jokes then explaining them, which somehow turns them funny. He also randomly plays some banjo/guitar throughout the day.

Chris Oliver

Chris O. has been present since my very first interview with LaunchCode. I didn’t quite expect it, but I’m slowly finding he’s a kindred spirit with the way we approach things - albeit way more technically skilled and strategically experienced. He has a .gif for every situation, and when I hear his laugh I know a funny link is coming up in the company chat, or a witty joke. He loves the fruit snacks from the Nebula vending machines and is always willing to drop whatever he’s doing to come help me.


This place truly is an opt-in and has a flat culture. I’ve had somebody telling me what to do for so long that I’m still grappling with the fact that, if/when I’m really hired on, I’ll be standing among equals. I hate waking up, but I love coming in to the office. The work environment is relaxing, open, but most of all, there’s an apt distinction McKelvey went into in one of his speeches. Workers are people who don’t own what they create, or even direct what it is. Artists are people who own what they create, and get to choose what that is. Efeqdev is a place for the artists. The amount of awesome ideas, energy and just raw stuff that comes up or gets produced in a given day is kind of crazy. Still, all of it is grounded in business results both short- and long-term. To me, place has the feel of the low thrum of a powerful engine that’s going to run reliably for a long time.

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