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Big Nerd of the Month: Stafford Brooke


Victoria Skinner

StaffordThe holidays are here at last. Which Nerd are we most thankful for this November? Congratulations, Stafford Brooke, you’re our November Nerd of the Month!

With more than eight years of coding expertise under his belt, Stafford is one sharp cookie, and he’s been awing us all month long with his work on two internal projects. In addition to his coding efforts, Stafford enjoys eating delicious food (who doesn’t?), biking and downing large quantities of caffeinated wonder (ah…coffee). You can imagine he does each of these seemingly normal tasks with an elegance far greater than your average nerd—for he is, after all, our Big Nerd of the Month.

We sat down with Stafford to ponder his brilliance.

Big Nerd Ranch: Congratulations on being voted Big Nerd of the Month! What new swag can we expect to see on our trophy?

Stafford: I turned the diamond on the trophy into a ruby, because Ruby is awesome.

BNR: The trophy is looking good! Very crafty. Speaking of, we hear you’re quite the craftsman. What projects are you working on now? Do you have a favorite project you can tell us about?

Stafford: I am currently working on Project Hovercraft (a rebuild of our course registration system) and Nerd Association (a new place for our bootcamp alumni to discuss our courses and related topics).

These internal projects have been very rewarding, but I think my absolute favorite project has been with our client Think Through Math (TTM). It’s a site I worked on with Brandon Beacher and the incredible TTM team. Together, we built software that is used in middle schools across the nation to help children who are struggling in math class. Scale-wise, TTM is probably one of the biggest and most complex Rails applications we have built. We pushed Rails and Ruby to their limits and worked with the Heroku team to figure out how to push their platform past its limits.

BNR: Wow, that sounds like some really rewarding projects! You’re also leading our Global Day of Coderetreat, which we know you must be excited about. How did you get involved with that program?

Stafford: I got involved by attending a code retreat put on by Jonathan Wallace. I really enjoyed the event and asked how I could help at the next one. He said, “You can run it.” So I did.

BNR: What do you hope people take away from the event? What do you hope to take away?

Stafford: I hope people leave the event having stepped out of their comfort zones to try doing things in new and better ways. While the event focuses on good software design, it is many developers’ first experience with pairing and test-driven design. Seeing those “aha!” moments of realizing why those two things are such powerful tools is very exciting to me. That is why I enjoy putting on these events.

BNR: We know it will be a success; you really have a great teaching spirit. What’s your best advice to new coders trying to break into the industry?

Stafford: Don’t wait to feel leveled up to go after what you want. It can be scary and you will probably fail. But you will learn more from that failure than you will from a million easy wins. Make your ability to handle failures your biggest strength.

BNR: Solid advice. You always seem to be on top of the best new nerdy technologies, so we have to ask…are there any nerdy gadgets you’re currently swooning over?

trophy The BNOTM trophy.

Stafford: I’ve been developing with Ruby for about three years now and it still makes me excited every day. While there are certainly new hot things happening elsewhere and some people always look toward the next big thing, Ruby is designed for developer happiness, and I enjoy being a happy developer. Although it isn’t without its drama, the Ruby community is really what makes Ruby the language I still swoon over after all this time.

BNR: We can’t leave without asking our favorite question: what’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever done?

Stafford: I make spreadsheets and do a lot of theorycrafting for games like Starcraft 2. I’ve even been known to work from the bathtub from time to time.

BNR: Now that’s dedication. We hope you at least stop the work for a good meal. Word on the street is we have another foodie. Matt Raufman, our last Big Nerd of the Month, shared some of his signature dishes. What’s typically cooking in your kitchen on Saturday night? Do you have any restaurant suggestions for your fellow nerds?

Stafford: I like making pizza and baked goods at home, but Atlanta has some great restaurants. My personal favorites for dinner are The Optimist, Wisteria, and my good old neighborhood standby, The Shed at Glenwood. For lunch I love Homegrown, Folk Art, and of course anywhere that serves tacos or burritos. I usually sleep through breakfast.

BNR: Well, now we’re hungry. We hope you get to celebrate your reigning title with some delicious food! Congratulations again, Stafford. We couldn’t have honored a more deserving nerd.

Think you’ve got what it takes to become a Nerd? Check out our open positions and apply to join the team.


Victoria Skinner

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