Behind The Scenes of Smashing Magazine: Interview With Our Writers

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In the Web design scene, the sense of community is extremely strong. We always talk about “giving back” and about how much we learn from those who do. A few names are popular and dropped here and there. But it’s all still just a bit too impersonal, isn’t it? Here at Smashing Magazine, we’ve decided to give you a more intimate look at our writers.

Among the people who regularly write for us, 15 agreed to answer our questions. We also challenged them to take a picture of themselves on the spot, with no time for make-up. This interview is not meant to give you any particular professional insight, even though we cover that ground a bit. Rather, it’s meant to introduce you to these people on a personal level. The illustrations for this article were created by Andrea Austoni, an illustrator from Poland who we are regularly working with.

A Word About The Community

We still have very little information about the Web design community itself. How many professionals are there around the world? Where do they live? These questions are still difficult to answer precisely. A List Apart publishes an annual survey, whose 2008 edition received responses from more than 30,000 people (2009 edition wasn’t published yet). We can perhaps imagine the Web design community as an entity, which is what A List Apart does to a large extent. But what if we focused on personality? What’s the first thing they do in the morning? What do they love and hate about Web design? What is their biggest strength and worst flaw?

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If we could combine our writers into a single person, what kind of person would it be?

  • A male in his early 30s,
  • Physically, he would have brown eyes, brown hair. He would be about 5’7″ tall (175 cm), 155lbs (70 kg),
  • He would maybe wear glasses and will surely be right-handed (there is only one left-handed person out of the 14 writers that replied).

Who said working from home implies eating all the time? Our typical writer would be quite reasonable with junk food, eating only a kg a week.

Question: What is your mission and personal philosophy while on Earth?

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Paul Boag: Wow, that is a hard question to answer without sounding pretentious! My primary focus is to help and inspire others. There seems little point in spending my life simply accumulating stuff for myself. I get much more joy out of encouraging others to be better. I will never change the world, but I might inspire someone who does. That is my hope.
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Julia May: When I think about my mission on Earth, I tend to agree with George Carlin’s suggestion of why we are all here. As for my personal philosophy, I guess it changes during life, but at the moment I have a constant feeling that something good is in the air, and I try to keep my eyes open so that I don’t miss it when it comes.
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Speider Schneider: Aside from an odd leaning towards nihilistic schadenfreude, I have learned to let the bad things slide off my back. I just enjoy what I’ve done with my career and I believe between working for MAD Magazine and creating numerous Pokémon products, I have ruined at least a generation of kids. I guess my philosophy is to create as much havoc as possible. I like to live on the edge because the rent is cheap and there are few neighbors. What will be my philosophy when I leave the Earth? Depends on the planet to which I am heading.
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Robert Bowen: My current mission is to see true equality for all beings who share this planet and find the harmonious balance that can bring about a peace. My personal philosophy is that all beings on this Earth deserve to be respected and looked after.
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Janko Javanovic: My mission here is to reach true warp speed and see aliens in distant galaxies. Until then, I’ll design user interfaces and learn the importance of user experience every day.
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Louis Lazaris: I believe in the Bible and what it says about man’s destiny, and I like to reveal that most religions today do not tell the truth about the Bible’s message.

Christian Heilmann:
Do good things, make myself redundant in doing them, and inspire and train others to take over to get the same great experiences.

Thomas Giannattasio:
When I look back on my life, I hope to see that I’ve improved people’s lives: making them simpler, more fulfilling and more enjoyable.

Paul Andrew:
Difficult question. Without being philosophical, I would simply say personal contentment.

Cameron Chapman:
I’m just along for the ride, trying to do as much of the things I love as possible, and avoiding the rest.

Jean-Baptiste Jung:
I’m a Christian, so most of my philosophy comes from that. I’m also an animal-rights supporter.

Inayaili de León:
Be nice. Put myself in other people’s shoes before criticizing them.

Jacob Gube:
My personal philosophy in life is to enjoy doing what you love doing.

Kat Neville:
I want to love what I do every day. I don’t want any day to go by where I think, “Wow, what an absolute waste of time.”

Aquil Akhter:
I want to do something innovative and creative, work on design and blogging. This is my current mission.

Nationalities, Languages And Localization

Most of our regular writers live in Europe:

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Many live in the US:

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But there is also Aquil, who is from Pakistan:

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Because we are an English-speaking magazine doesn’t mean that the people who write for us are all American or British. In fact, most of them come from another country and therefore speak a different native language. If we combine them all together, we’d able to speak:

  • English, French, German, Grenglish (yes, this new language is a mix of English and broken Greek), Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Uzbek.

Question: What does writing mean to you? Please give us some insight into your working process.

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Paul Boag: For me, writing is a means to an end. I don’t like writing: I like sharing ideas. Writing is just one way I can do that. I also podcast, run workshops and speak at conferences. To be honest, writing is the method I find least exciting. Part of the problem is that I am not a natural writer. I am terrible at spelling, and my grammar sucks. As for my writing process, I am not sure I have one.

I guess I constantly keep a list of possible writing topics, with a few bullets outlining what each post would cover. I then tend to flesh these out into a better structure before writing an initial draft. Finally, I read through, correcting mistakes, adding illustrations and trying to tighten it up. Then it’s just a matter of deciding the best place to publish it. I think I spread myself a bit thin at times, with content all over the place.

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Christian Heilmann: Writing to me means structuring ideas and finding the interesting story and easy explanation in complex matters. My process is to write down everything I want to put in, and then go through it three times, removing all the unnecessary parts.

If you can’t take anything out, then you’ve done a great job. I also tend to write down the outline first — headings, mostly — and then fill in the gaps. This allows me to jump from section to section should I get stuck or bored with one. I’ve outlined the process in the Developer Evangelism Handbook.

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Thomas Giannattasio: For me, writing is about spreading ideas and information. It’s also a great way to connect yourself to a community, which is the main reason I love writing for Smashing. My working process is pretty random because my time is limited. I start by outlining my content and doing a little research. Then, I typically try to set aside a Saturday or Sunday to write the bulk of the article. In the evenings, after my 9:00 to 5:00 gig, I try to polish the writing and create my images.
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Paul Andrew: Writing is a universally accessible method of sharing knowledge and learning more. From an early age, my father taught me that when writing you should visualize every word, sentence and paragraph, physically. He recommended building a house as you write. I have used this ever since.

Initially, I search for every resource on a subject, using every possible channel open to me (that is the foundation). I then collate everything and filter the bad out of the good and the pointless out of the useful. I then read as much as possible, categorize resources and start taking notes (these are the bricks). Now I have an idea of the layout, rhythm and direction of the article. I put everything together (the roof). Once that is done, I revisit and edit, and I edit again and again, until I am happy with the result (which is a watertight and livable home). Time to move in: publish.

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Speider Schneider: It’s therapy. I get angry because of something that happened and I sit down and bang on my keyboard like a deaf Beethoven pounding out a symphony and eventually fall into a comatose state. When I awake, I look at what I’ve written, shrug my shoulders and send it off to the Smashing staff to test the patience of the editor and drive the proofreaders into fits of insanity. Then it’s time to drink.

If anything, through my articles on Smashing Magazine, I feel I’m not only mentoring less experienced creatives, but striking a blow against not only bad business people, but against the mistakes we creatives make along the road that reflect on the entire industry. Is it easy? No. Is it satisfying? Well, to quote Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing but love having written.”

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Robert Bowen: Writing to me is a powerful outlet that not only allows me to exercise my demons but affords me an opportunity to connect with and help others. Writing is a part of who I am. Whenever I begin working on a writing project, whether personal or work-related, I always begin with a question and an outline. The question is a variant of “Where is this going” or “What is it saying?” Once I know the answer, I begin to outline — brainstorming on various approaches to take and elements to include until I have a pretty solid foundation to work from. Then I charge forward…
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Cameron Chapman: Writing is something I’ve always done, for as long as I can remember. Putting thoughts and concepts on paper in a way that others can understand is as close to telepathy as humans have gotten (as far as I know, anyway). My working process usually starts out with 10 to 15 minutes of research, followed by 30 or so minutes of brainstorming and outlining. Then I go back to research and fill in the outline as much as I can, sometimes expanding it as I go.

Short articles might take me only a morning or afternoon to complete, while longer ones might require a day or two of work. Of course, sometimes I break this up over the course of a few days, working on multiple projects simultaneously.

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Janko Javanovic: Writing is a powerful tool for expressing your thoughts and knowledge and for questioning yourself and others. I note all my ideas in a sketchbook. It helps me remember everything and explore ideas further. When I find some free time, I pick one and elaborate on it.
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Jean-Baptiste Jung: Writing is sharing. I’ve learned my job that way, by reading books and blog posts, so being able to give back to the community is a great thing. When writing long articles, such as the ones I write for SM, I generally start by creating an article map that shows the different steps to talk about in the post. Then I develop each step until I have a complete article.
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Inayaili de León: For me, writing means organizing my thoughts on a particular idea. After finishing an article, I feel I can put that aside and start thinking about something else. Before starting, I tend to do some research to see what’s been written. The time this phase takes depends on the type of article. Then I’ll write down a few of the main points I want to cover, particular quotes to refer to. Finally, I start writing the article itself.
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Jacob Gube: Writing is sharing knowledge in an organized way. I start writing by doing some research and outlining the things I want to say. Then I start writing. I edit several times, focusing on what I can cut out, how well the story flows, and whether the reader will gain something from reading it.
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Kat Neville: I don’t consider myself a writer, so writing for me is just about explaining something using the clearest possible language. But I think as a Web designer, you really should learn a lot about writing, because every second with a user counts. When I write for SM, I always try to think about what I would find useful. It’s so easy to let your ego get in the way and start writing your own opinions. Even though my articles tend to be long, I hope they are always useful, with a lot of interaction and examples.
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Julia May: Writing is a puzzle: for hours I can sit and shuffle words to find the right combination. Writing is a science: profound research and bold experiments lead to progress. Writing is an art: there is always someone who likes one thing and another who doesn’t. Finally, writing is a creative process: no inspiration means no success.As for my working process, in short, it’s always dozens of open browser tabs, thousands of “Backspace” and “Delete” hits and millions of doubts. If all this results in at least one satisfied reader, then it was worth doing.
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Louis Lazaris: Writing is an art based on standards and principles, just like Web design. I believe each article should be its own unique entity, one that never makes the reader say, “Oh, I’ve read this before.” This would make each article a truly creative and inspiring experience for both author and reader.

As for my working process, I like to start formulating my articles with a very general theme, then a four-to-six point outline. Then I slowly put the “meat on the bones” through research and development of the theme in a very specific and focused manner. This helps prevent my articles from rambling too much and going off topic near the end, which happens to many writers online.

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Aquil Akhter: In my opinion, writing an article means providing something interesting and unique to our readers. Because I mostly do design- and photography-related articles, I always keep in my mind that a picture is worth a thousand words.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

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Ignore the buzzer and keep sleeping!

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Checking e-mails, Twitter and Facebook

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Drinking coffee.

Question: Where did you start, and what principles and skills helped you get to where you are now?

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Paul Boag: I started as a graphic designer who was very fortunate to get a placement as a student with IBM. This happened around the time that the Web was created, so I got to work on it from day one. My skills as a print designer were extremely valuable, and those early days of the Web taught me loads about coding. It made me the all-rounder I am today.

Bizarrely, I think the most valuable skills didn’t come from design school or IBM but actually from my local church. It was there that I learned how to do public speaking, communicate and empathize. These are all skills I use every day in my job.

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Christian Heilmann: I always had various “jobs” during school: organizer of summer camps for the council, brick layer, packer in a chainsaw factory, ice-cream maker, waiter, DJ, plumber, pizza delivery guy… My first real full-time job after high school was working for the Red Cross for 15 months, instead of doing 12 months of mandatory army service. There I learned a lot about what can go wrong with the human body, and I also learned how to work with people with learning and physical disabilities, which taught me a lot about life.

I then went on to work at a local radio station, where I learned how to crunch a lot of information into a few lines for the news, where each sentence needed to be an entity on its own — because nobody consciously listens to the radio. This taught me a lot about writing for the Web, too. I also learned how to use my voice and to ask the right questions to get real answers, which helped me with my public-speaking skills. I then started Web development very early and was lucky to jump from job to job, taking on as much as I could, to get where I am now.

Generally, I can say that the main skills needed for all this are an ability to adapt to situations, not being scared to physically move and to get excited (rather than scared) about new things. I also learned that forcing myself to understand something properly before applying it was much more useful than waiting for official training. Asking the right questions and taking advice — even when it is annoying — was another big factor.

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Thomas Giannattasio: I like to think that my career in art and design began back in the second grade. Every Saturday morning, I could be found lying in front of the TV with a sketchbook and pencils, recreating scenes from my favorite cartoons. My first commercial endeavor evolved from these sketches, when I learned that classmates were willing to sacrifice their lunch money to buy some drawings of Ninja Turtles.

As I got older, my passion for art and design grew stronger, but in a different direction. I became fascinated with the interconnectedness and reach of the Internet. When I was 12, I begged my parents to let me get my own website. After weeks of nagging, they finally caved and bought me an “HTML for Dummies” book, which I studied every day after school as I worked on my Geocities site.

My early days were really exciting, and that excitement eventually grew into a passion that lives to this day. I think it’s that passion that drives me to learn and do more. The skills, knowledge and experience I’ve developed have just been byproducts of that passion.

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Robert Bowen: I started writing poetry when I was a teenager, and as my love for the arts grew, my pen carried me towards the stage and screen. After writing plays and short stories, I began to expand my pen and write projects larger in scope (scripts and novels). Along the way, Angie began getting into Web design, and I found my interests piqued as well.

Soon, we both found our focus shifting towards the blogosphere, and that’s when we found the communities that were thriving there. As we began to learn so much from the community, we decided that we had found our proverbial home and that we really wanted to give back. I began to shift my writing style to fit the Web more, and I may still have some work to do in that arena. I know that no matter the medium, my poetic nature tends to add a flourish or two to the text.

Our mission quickly became to return the favors from the community by striving to enrich it and be as helpful as we can be. Through it all, my writing skills have helped me get to where I am now and leave my mark on it.

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Speider Schneider: I started at the bottom. I worked hard, had some good breaks and some bad but I built on each success and with a strong network, built on trust and respect, I was able to keep increasing my projects, clients and fees. Naturally, my network was earned through hard work volunteering with artists organizations and such. I met the right people and made sure, at all times, my work spoke for itself. I also tried, whenever allowed, to break all the design rules I could. It created pieces that intrigued people because it worked but was obviously a mess of broken rules.

A teacher once told my class that we needed to be kind to those we met on the way up the ladder, because we would meet them on the way down. Aside from an angry stumble here and there, I was careful to be very kind to people, except the guy with cat liter in his portfolio. Being kind has created a network of the top people in design. That and always buying the coffee.

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Paul Andrew: I started the hard way, by leaving school at 16, thinking I could do anything. How wrong I was. The only way you can achieve personal satisfaction and success is by working hard, working honestly, learning from your mistakes, learning from others and never giving up.
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Cameron Chapman: I got into Web and graphic design through my husband, who went to college for graphic and multimedia design. The only formal design training I have is in interior design, which has been a big help in certain aspects (spatial relationships and color being two of the biggest). I pretty much just learn to do things as I need to. The only drawback to that is that I tend to forget them as soon as I don’t need them anymore.
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Janko Javanovic: I started as a freelance programmer in the early 1990s. During the crisis in Serbia, I, along with my cousin, somehow managed to earn a decent living. Huge ambition and persistence helped me get to where I am now.
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Jean-Baptiste Jung: I started alone, in my room. :) I’m 90% self-taught. I’m constantly learning, and that’s a very exciting thing in the Internet world.
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Inayaili de León: I started learning about Web design by myself. I was working, so I had to do it after work, in the evenings, and I may have sacrificed a few nights out, but I think the hard work and perseverance paid off.
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Jacob Gube: I started as a graphic designer and ended up being a Web developer.
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Kat Neville: I used to do print work, but it really wasn’t nerdy enough for me. One day I designed a website for the print company I was working for. They asked me, “Can you build that?” and I said “Yes,” even though I’d done only a bit of HTML. Although I made a few mistakes when I started, I really enjoyed the combination of design, interaction, usability and coding. I guess I always try to do what I feel I’ll love doing and challenge myself every day. It’s been working out well for me.
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Julia May: In terms of my career, I don’t think I’ve gotten far from the start yet. But, in general, I’m curious by nature, and I learn pretty fast. I think these qualities are the main forces behind my progress.
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Louis Lazaris: For years, I rarely paid attention to Web design news, trends and developments, which held me back. Reading articles and books by top designers and developers has helped me learn the most important skills I have today.
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Aquil Akhter: I started by designing websites, and I always believe in dedication and constant attention to my work.

What is your strongest quality…

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… and your worst flaw?

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Question: What distracts you from working these days and how do you handle these distractions?

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Paul Boag: My biggest distractions are my family and the youth group I run. However, I wouldn’t describe these as distractions from work. Instead, I would call work a distraction from them. I work to live, not live to work. I have been married for 11 years to a gorgeous woman named Catherine. We have a seven-year-old son named James. Without a doubt, they are my priority in life.

The youth group I run is for teenagers who live in Blandford. Because Blandford is so small and rural, it is possibly the most boring place on the planet to be a teenager. I try to rectify this shortcoming. :) Although I love it dearly, it does take up a lot of time. Most Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings are taken up with it. Combined with church and work, I don’t have a lot of free time.

When I do find some free time, I tend to burn it watching TV. I lack energy for anything else. Like all good geeks, I am obsessed with sci-fi. Favorites include Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and, more recently, V.

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Christian Heilmann: I don’t realize I’m working when I do my “work.” I actually relax. What stops me from doing my work can be politics, meetings, technical failures and volcanoes. I sleep five hours a day, and I don’t own a TV, which gives me a lot of time to achieve what I want and also to plan for time to see a play or have fun with my friends. Not being tethered down by normal working hours helps, too (I live in Europe but report to the US).
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Thomas Giannattasio: My biggest and most pleasant distraction has to be my wife. She really supports all the work I do, but she also keeps me balanced by taking me away from it. I tend to get really wrapped up in a project and neglect other responsibilities around the house, but she’s always there to step in and pick up my slack. My second distraction is a bit more guilty. I’m nearing 30, but I’ve definitely not grown out of video games yet. Currently, Modern Warfare 2 has a tight grip on me, ha ha.
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Paul Andrew: Kids are my main distraction. I have a four-year-old little boy, and my wife (who is in a full-time nursing course) also has two older kids. I am essentially a stay-at-home dad, which I do love, but it does make it very difficult to get any continuous or scheduled work done.This is my typical Monday to Friday working day:

  • 5:00 am: Wake up and start work.
  • 7.30 am: Stop work and get the two older kids ready and off to school.
  • 12:00 pm: Off to school nursery. Return home and work.
  • 3:00 pm: Stop work and pick up all the kids from school.
  • 8:00 pm: Kids off to bed and I start working again.
  • 11:00 pm: Off to bed.

It is a very stop-start schedule, which can be very frustrating. I do have the occasional day when I can work on a normal schedule (9:00 to 5:00), but they are few and far between.

On top of all that, when it is the school holidays, things become even harder. A few weeks back, during the school Easter holidays, I fell so far behind my writing commitments that I am only now just recovering.

Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After this summer, my son starts school full time, and my wife will have finished her nursing course and will be working only two or three days a week, which will finally allow me to work freely and with no time constraints. I am counting down now!

Family aside, my big love in life is football, and with the World Cup happening, I fear this may affect work. That gives me a couple of ideas for an article: “Designer’s Guide to the 2010 World Cup” and “How to Deal With World Cup Distractions as a Designer.”

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Robert Bowen: I think that my biggest distractions come from my side projects. I tend to work on several writing projects and non-design-related podcasts apart from actual “work.” These are all personal projects that I care deeply about, and so pulling myself away from them is sometimes hard, especially if I am inspired on a particular project.

I finished my first fiction novel at the end of last year and released it as a free e-book, which was a major distraction throughout the year; and it has turned into a trilogy, so more digressions are looming on that front. My screenplays and teleplays also keep me from fully focusing on work, but I guess they always have the potential to be sold and turned into legitimate “work,” so they could retroactively be taken out of the “distraction” category.

Two of the podcasts I produce are socio-political commentary on the world at large and are a bit angry and ranty, while the third ’cast (which is actually a spin-off of my main show) is more of a science-based show that serves as an outreach program to make science and the scientific method more accessible and approachable. I do that show with an amazing evolutionary biologist who teaches at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

The way I handle these distractions is to give in to them… Probably not the best way to do it, but I have always believed that the inspiration and muses will take me where they want, and if I try to fight it, my words and work tend to suffer.

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Speider Schneider: Shiny objects distract me. Pop ups on the web distract me. Facebook distracts me. Life distracts me. It’s my ability to focus while I rant and rave in writing that keeps me working. Once I start typing, I find I won’t look up or blink for several hours and 2,500-4,000 words later. If I have writer’s block, lemon juice sprayed in my eyes is the current punishment and motivator to get back to work. Poverty is another good motivator. Being paid, having money for food usually reminds me to write faster.

As with my design work, eating and deadlines are always a good motivator. I’ve never missed a deadline in my life, but I look forward to my first one. Everyone should have a missed deadline at some point in their lives. I would like to miss the deadline for my funeral.

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Cameron Chapman: My biggest distractions at the moment are Tumblr and We Heart It. I spend way too much time on both. I also love getting out of the house as much as possible, because I work from home. I sometimes have to force myself to go out for a ride or whatever after having worked for an hour or two.
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Janko Javanovic: I’d say that different sides of my knowledge, while diverse, are somehow related to each other, so it is not always hard to manage all obligations. But I am always focused on those aspects that are highly related to each other and relevant to current projects. So, carefully choosing and adapting different knowledge to current situations helps me stay focused and efficient. Oh, and yes, my working day lasts a minimum of 12 hours. :)

Over the past decade, I have completely moved from development to design. I am now focused on learning about user experience design and implementing knowledge that I gain from ongoing projects. Learning new skills makes me really happy. But I am not always efficient. A big workload sometimes results in my being unable to manage all obligations, from project-related activities to writing and speaking. Because projects are always the priority, other activities suffer.

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Jean-Baptiste Jung: Well, my current distraction is your questions. ;) But that’s just me being funny. Distractions are often a problem to those who, like me, are used to working alone at home. You have to be very motivated and focused to handle them correctly.
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Inayaili de León: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, RSS feeds, TV, a blank wall. I handle them by setting specific tasks for each day, and I don’t go to bed until everything’s done… most of the days.
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Jacob Gube: Twitter is very distracting. I handle this distraction by not using it until I have done all my important work.
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Kat Neville: I’m very easily distracted: the computer, Twitter, email and my RSS feeds are always tempting me. In the outside world, I always want to do arts and crafts and work on my garden! Then, there are the activities: I’m a sucker for an adventure!I do sometimes freak out, but usually a good night’s sleep is all I need, and then I’m back at it. I tend to take on too much, but I’m making it my goal now to take on less, so that I can actually do a good job on my projects and don’t let people down (including myself). Sometimes, though, even though you want to spend a lot more time on a project, you really have to deliver, and so you hope it’s good enough for now. On the Web, you can always improve later, and I have a million things I’d like to work on and improve.

Right now, most of my own apps have taken the back-burner, and that makes me really sad. But because I’m still building my client base, I need to focus on their work right now. I hope to get a proper balance back by the end of the summer.

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Julia May: Usually when I’m working, the biggest distractions are email, Twitter and my own thoughts. So, when I really need to concentrate, I log out of my Gmail and Twitter accounts (although I still don’t know how to log out of my own thoughts), and that usually helps. Fortunately, I’m not such a workaholic that those examples you mentioned are distractions.
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Louis Lazaris: Too obsessed with online Scrabble and doing word anagrams online. Wife always wants me to help with dinner. I don’t handle these distractions well. :(
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Aquil Akhter: I don’t have any distractions from my work as such. When I’m working, I don’t get involved in other matters.

Challenge: Would you dare taking a picture of yourself on the spot and send it to us?

Question: If you had to choose your boldest subject for an article ever, what would it be and why?

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Paul Boag: “Stop Being a Web Designer and Go Save the World.” As Web designers, we love to think that we’re changing the world. Certainly, the Web is an enormously important technology and is having a profound impact on Western culture. However, sometimes we have to get over ourselves and realize that we aren’t that special. We talk about Web celebs, but that is a complete joke. The people I admire and respect are those out there working in third-world countries for little pay and no fame. I just wish I had the guts to give up the Web and go follow them. :)
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Speider Schneider: Ha! The Smashing Editor-In-Chief, Vitaly Friedman and I were just going over that the other day, trying to discuss an article that could be very touchy but is groundbreaking! I won’t talk about it until it’s finalized but if you are a fan of my articles, you know it will be interesting.

There are so many bold articles to write! Our industry is filled with lying, micromanaging, anal-compulsive, passive-aggressive, loud-mouthed, opinionated morons who will stab you in the back if they think it will help change the background color of a design, and those are my close friends!

I pretty much get to just go bold from article to article. The Smashing staff encourages stretching the boundaries and reaching deeper for content and information that will be helpful to the readers. I plan on being a part of SM for as long as they can stand me!

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Christian Heilmann: “Seven Reasons Why Web Development Stays Stagnant — And How This Secures the Jobs of Far Too Many People for It to Change.”
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Thomas Giannattasio: “Why Web Standards Suck and Flash Is the Platform of the Future.” Not that I believe that, but it would definitely cause controversy. I could probably find a few reasons to support the argument, though.
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Paul Andrew: “Why My Love Affair With WordPress Is Coming to an End.” And “Readability First, Accessibility and Usability Second.” (Okay, I chose two titles.)
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Robert Bowen: Well, I assume you’re talking about articles related to the design field, in which case I think that those articles addressing the spec-work issue and its impact on the way designers are undervalued are important and often, I would hope, unintentionally divisive. This is an issue that affects the entire community, yet so many see only the personal effects rendered from it, and that is what they care about. But it does get its fair share of coverage.

On the contrary, I think a subject not broached enough is the sexism that pervades the design community. I think this is often overlooked because it is such an accepted social ill that it spills into every aspect of our lives, and challenging it in this one area means challenging it in all of its reaches. Also, because this is such an ingrained problem in our society, so many participate in this demeaning practice without realizing it. In design, women tend to be relegated to a patronizing position of near irrelevance, until someone needs something “girly” done, and then their input and skills are recognized in a biased way.

Photo
Inayaili de León: Hm, maybe an article about how we should be a little less serious about what we do and more flexible in accepting the ideas of others? I’m not sure how bold that is, though.
Photo
Jacob Gube: Right now, advocating for continued support of IE6 will get you a good lambasting. But IE6 is still relevant. According to Wikipedia, as of February 2010, IE6 still accounts for about 20% of browser usage. That’s around 5 to 6% more than all versions of Safari, Chrome and Opera combined! From the standpoint of a business ROI or the Pareto Principle, it makes sense to forget about Safari, Chrome and Opera and focus on IE6. But people want to hear the opposite.
Photo
Kat Neville: “Throw Everything Away: Why You Should Start Everything All Over Again.” I guess it would be about how we get attached to the work we’ve designed and the “stuff” we buy (especially as techy people).
Photo
Julia May: It would probably be “Steve Jobs and His Connection to Occultism.” I’ve suspected Steve Jobs of being connected with the Masonic Lodge or something like that. Do you have a better explanation for the mass hysteria about the iPad?
Photo
Aquil Akhter: It would certainly be “Photography of Poor People,” to shock the sophisticated world with how many people are living below the poverty line.

What about you?

It is also hard for us to know where our readers come from, which is why we had the idea of creating this Google public map. The idea is to localize where web professionals are from and what their profession is.

Smashing Magazine's Community

Now, why not add yourself on the map (you need to be able to sign up with a google account) and include a few words about you such as your job title for example? To add a placemark, you need to click on “Edit” in the left column of the page and then use the Placeholder icon that will appear in the left upper area of the map. Please do not change the title and description of the map. And let’s see what this map looks like in a few days.

(al)

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Jessica Bordeau is a soon-graduated student whose primary interests are Photography and Media.

  1. 1

    double thumbs up for this article

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  2. 2

    The Very First One to Comment as well lol!!!

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  3. 3

    Abhishek Pathak

    July 16, 2010 2:18 am

    Wow.. would like to work wid you people..! :-)

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  4. 4

    The illustration in this article was intelligent and very cool.

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  5. 5

    wonderful.. and inspiring… gr8

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  6. 6

    Panagiotis Kosmidis

    July 16, 2010 2:53 am

    Nice, btw its not Grenglish it is Greeklish :D

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  7. 7

    I can see Christian Heilmann was on the Piccadilly Line
    cheers guys.

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  8. 8

    LOL @ Grenglish – I call it Greeklish, too, but Grenglish sounds pretty funny. Could you possibly ask your writers what they think of DubLi?

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  9. 9

    I consider it an honour to be mentioned here. I’m totally happy with Smashing both as a reader and a writer. These guys always maintain high standard and they are not afraid to take up new challenges. What’s more important, the Smashing Magazine board is listening to the community.

    It was very interesting to learn more about Smashing writers and I love the format of the article and the map idea, too. Cheers friends!

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    • 10

      When are you going to write “Steve Jobs and His Connection to Occultism”? :) I’ll be waiting!

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      • 11

        Shhh, I’ve already written the article but “You-Know-Who” have burned all the copies ;)

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  10. 13

    Great article and idea of the map!!! Add myself :D

    Keep up the good work SM & co. ;)

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  11. 14

    Probably the first article of this kind. hats off smasing

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  12. 15

    We can perhaps imagine the Web design community an an entity…
    A typo?

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  13. 16

    haha.. great and refreshing article! :)

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  14. 17

    I loved this article, really I did. But I have a problem with the cartoon guy. Why does he have scabs on his face?

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    • 18

      No scabs, just a tattoo and birthmarks that were supposed to be included in the description of the “composite” writer and that’s why I drew them.
      They do look a bit weird without a note in the text :-/

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  15. 19

    You guys are amazing. I wish you organize an “open doors” day in Freiburg so some of us can visit your HQ. :)

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  16. 20

    Is always great to know a little more about who’s behind the scenes, great article.

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  17. 21

    I’d love to see this article, except applying to web designers!

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  18. 22

    where’s the 5 star rating when you need them..

    thanks SM , this post is so interesting and inspiring.

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  19. 23

    Hi guys!! I am a web developer from Argentina who started working on print design. It was great to read stories similar to mine. Thanks for sharing part of your life with us, your readers.

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  20. 24

    That was great! It’s great to peek into the lives of the people who make something you really like.

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  21. 25

    Haha I think we’re going to crash GPM. So much fun!

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  22. 26

    great article, really different read!!

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  23. 27

    So I do hope we’re going to be seeing most of those “boldest subject ever” articles soon, yes?

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  24. 28

    what do those scratches in the skin mean?

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  25. 29

    That is a James White poster in the background there isn’t it? It’s all in the detail…

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  26. 32

    Great Article and beautiful Illustrations :)

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  27. 33

    I wish i can make a cartoon of myself…………Great guys n piece of work.

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  28. 34

    Amazing article, I would love to write for Smashing Magazine. Any idea how?

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  29. 35

    I kinda want to read that article about sexism in the design community.

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    • 36

      Women can read?
      (I’m sorry, but it was just sitting there, awaiting a Marx Brothers snide remark.)
      ;)

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  30. 37

    Great article! I added a placeholder in Orlando, FL, USA, but it doesn’t show up on the public page…

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  31. 38

    Something new and different article.
    It was amazing.

    Thank a lot :)

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  32. 39

    Interesting! twothumbs, i likethis!

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  33. 40

    Hey

    something really different. here in Dubai we start our week on Saturday as Friday is offday for us. So i started my week reading such interesting thing.. Wow this week would be nice.

    Thanks

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    • 41

      Hi…howz Dubai for web Designers?? ….i’m currently wrkg at Bahrain……

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  34. 42

    Wonderful idea.

    Now I am just a reader but will surely contribute one day.

    I added myself on Smashing Magazine Map.

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  35. 43

    hello,
    this article sums it all, it encouraged me to to be a writer. i hope i would write one day in SM.

    cheers,

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  36. 44

    nice very nice………..:)

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  37. 45

    Michael Pekarek

    July 17, 2010 3:25 am

    one of the best and freshest (or as a well known Old Spice ad says “freshershist”) articles I read in a very long time. lot’s of insight for me. thumbs up!!!

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  38. 46

    Spanish? =O

    Genial, sin duda smashingmagazine es el mejor blog de diseño web que he encontrado, ha sido muy grato para mi conocer un poco mas de los escritores, felicidades !

    Puebla, Mexico.

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  39. 47

    although out of web designing topic but I personally love to know what others do…. I want to look into there window… hehehehe. Great article anyway. I always enjoy and remember to visit smashing everyday.

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  40. 48

    I love Smashing Magazine is always insoirational.

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  41. 49

    I’m reallly glad to see someone on Smashing Magazine who is from Pakistan. ie. Aquil. :)

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  42. 50

    Incredible article! Thank you for taking the time to put this together, it contains a lot of great information about a diverse developer population! Kudo’s to those involved with Smashing, I love Smashing, almost as much as I love developing ;).

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  43. 51

    I couldn’t imagine how you are international… congrats..

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  44. 52

    This is very great article. Two thumbs up to all writers :)

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  45. 53

    Typical view through the eyes of a largely single white culture, got news for you guys, there are other ethnic groups in the world, is as almost you people never think there is. Could you imagine an all indian, black, malysian, japanese, kurd, turkish, pursian, chinese, vietnamese, arab, palestine, etc..etc… SHAME ON SMASHING MAGAZINE, a HUGE SHAME>>>>

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  46. 54

    Hi, @sincejan!

    I can’t speak for the editors, writers or anyone else at Smashing or the magazine itself. I will speak as a person and inhabitant of this planet. I understand your point and imagine you are asking why there wasn’t input from the cultures and countries you mention. Yes, other cultures and countries are very different and hearing other views would lead to a greater understanding, which I imagine is your overall point; there are different problems and practices in other cultures. Personally, I would love an article from a Chinese creative on what happens in the People’s Republic of China. I’ll just have to wait until a Chinese man/woman writes it and sends it into Smashing as per the writer’s guidelines.

    Again, not speaking for anyone at Smashing, I know the editors to be interested in a basic requisite; an article that communicates well and leaves the reader better informed. The writers, if you go through not only the 15 asked to answer the list of questions but past articles, you will see many different cultures and countries represented. Some people have just one article in them — their specialty, so to speak, and after burning brightly for that one moment, they have nothing in the future. But, they have been published and heard.

    As the head of a board of directors for an artist’s rights organization, I was asked why the board was all white men.

    I smiled and replied, “those are the only people who volunteered for the thankless task.”

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  47. 55

    finally we got to know more about SM team, more similar posts pleaaaaaaaaaaase :)

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  48. 56

    This is a real good article to know the people behind our work..

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  49. 57

    This is such a norm that have you notice that no one else even notices the cultural composure of your team!! Yes folks, we are cultural incubators even when t comes to technology. Bull shit, you are not interested in any other culture ideas, contribution to this new world of technology. They are out there and you know that, the issue is always ‘I feel more comfortable with my own” fair enough but when you take that narrow mindset and set it as a barometer to universality it smacks racist connotations. do you really think Smashing Magazine cares a darn what some programmer in India is innovating? Hell no, it’s what the guys that “looks like me” thinks which is represented not only here but in the world. I know this just trying to buy a doll for my black friend’s 1 year old and my Chinese co worker who I am the proud god father. This one sided cultural view makes me sick and there is nothing that can be done, its entrenched in us all. It’s funny because it’s these brown and yellow skin people who make these dolls. No more enabling of this crap from me. I am sickened by this.

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    • 58

      I’d say you have an interesting article there. Why not write it up and submit it? The first step towards solving the problem is understanding it exists.

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    • 59

      I can’t speak for the other authors featured here, but I know that I went and had to give some story ideas, writing samples, and then submitted a trial article. I am tired of people who don’t want to step up and do the work and play the, “this is racist/sexist/unfair because I have 6 toes” that doesn’t make any sense.

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      • 60

        I had heard the rumor about your six toes. ;)

        You want to see nasty and weird replies? Go to one of my stories. I even have not-fan stalkers. It’s easy for people to type a quick reply on the board but if they need to go through what we authors do (not being allowed in the house, being beaten with a rubber thesaurus, nurpples almost every hour, etc.), it ends there. All you can do is offer them equal time. If they don’t act upon it, well…lessens the cry of racism/sexism/anyism.

        Keep it going, Kat. You have talent and a wonderful writer’s voice.

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    • 61

      I’m afraid you’re wrong as some of us whites are considered minor to other whites, uncultured, stupid etc. Coming from a country that’s satanized by the media, I am extremely happy to see someone from my country interviewed here. Especially since he gave me a valuable advice a couple of times, without even knowing who I was. So, there is a lot of democracy here. In fact, I am impressed by it.

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  50. 62

    Yay 4 Christchurch New Zealand for being on the map!

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  51. 66

    Murali Patteboyina

    July 18, 2010 5:18 pm

    Wow!! Thats a wonderful article. I like almost all the articles in SM. But this one is really inspirational for me in my current situation.
    Thanks a lot
    I owe you so much!!!!!

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  52. 67

    Crimson Sapphire

    July 18, 2010 6:41 pm

    Agreed violently on this: “first thing I do when I wake up in the morning? .. Ignore the buzzer and keep sleeping!” LOL

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  53. 68

    This has to be one of the most fun and pleasant articles I’ve read on SM:)

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  54. 69

    Victoria Blount

    July 19, 2010 12:35 am

    This is a great article, to find out the daily routine of the smashing magazine authors, their goals and achievements, this is an excellent in depth interview.

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  55. 70

    lovely,

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  56. 71

    nice post

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  57. 72

    Neat to read a little bit about the people behind the scenes. Thanks!

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  58. 73

    Great to see Pakistani talented guy behind the success of Smashing Magazine.

    Love and prayers to all smashing team.

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  59. 74

    Awesome article, but our flag (Serbian) is a bit different from the one on the image. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Serbia.svg

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  60. 75

    Very nice Article. Im here every day.
    By the way – on the first illustration: the
    Thumb of the guy is on the wrong side! :-)

    Greetings

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  61. 77

    Whoa!!! it’s like know the real and secret stuff of your favorite superhero….. after knowing about you guys i feel very inspired since I’m a fan of a lot of writers here in smashing magazine. I feel so happy that i tell everyone about you :D… thanks a lot for sharing this. PD… i also run a youth group at the church here in Dominican Republic.

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  62. 78

    Look at these
    κατασκευή eshop

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  63. 79

    I am so glad to see someone from Serbia, so proud of you Janko!!!

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  64. 80

    Quick question. who speaks Uzbek in your team?

    “In fact, most of them come from another country and therefore speak a different native language. If we combine them all together, we’d able to speak:

    English, French, German, Grenglish (yes, this new language is a mix of English and broken Greek), Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Uzbek.”

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  65. 81

    Grenglish…O_O I would love to hear that, curious.

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  66. 82

    Dig it!

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