Meet a Joomler: Russell Winter
Beach bum meets geek! Russell Winter, who lives on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, has been involved with the Joomla! community since the early days. He worked for forum.joomla.org and helped organise the very first Joomla Day Australia.
Nowadays he mostly helps out in the (unofficial) Joomla! No Spam Facebook Group, where he answers all kinds of questions with patience, friendliness, a lot of knowledge and a healthy dose of humour. He is very passionate about Joomla and the community: “I am always happy to assist where requested or useful.”
Great to meet you Russell! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
“Well, I guess most folks would describe me as a bit of an old timer (putting it politely) when compared to the majority of the Joomla community and would say I have had a bit of a ‘spotted’ past; originally from the North of the UK (Preston) and then moving to the US (Colorado and then to Arizona) in my early teens to take up an engineering apprenticeship with IBM. I spent most of my younger years travelling the world with IBM (which really stands for ‘I've Been Moved’) for various scientific and engineering research assignments including having the good fortune to have worked on several projects for the Space Shuttle with NASA and Defence over the years.
I took some time out for personal travel around Asia Pacific and got into Show Jumping for a while, finally settling in Australia. I currently live in a rural coastal town named Mooloolaba in Queensland and have three sons and a foster daughter and son. I surf as often as I can (trust me, me in a wetsuit is not a pretty picture), so am essentially a beach-bum at heart but as with every geeky type, ensure that my wifi still reaches the waterfront allowing me to work with the sand between my toes still.
As you can imagine with our varied life-style and family mix, our family motto (and subsequently business mantra) has always been ‘if it's funny, you're not in trouble’, as you can imagine practical jokes (and intentional ‘unexpected’ software features) tend to be a way of life and amusement for us.”
How did you get involved with Joomla! and the J! Community?
“As with my personal life, my Joomla career is a little ‘spotted’, having started with Drupal in 2002 and Mambo back in 2003/4, migrating to Joomla from day dot, following the then very charismatic development team and amazingly passionate community, prompting me to join the Security Team and Forum volunteers team. I've been involved with Joomla in one way or another since its inception.
The early days were ‘entertaining’, to say the least and prompted me to develop the Joomla Tools Suite - Security and Test Tools application, the predecessor to the Forum Post Assistant (FPA) which is still in use today, 9 years after its initial release and recently updated and modernised.
What continually astounds me about the Joomla community as a whole is the number of people willing to help and offer their time and experience as a matter of course, whether it is in the forum or within the social media channels, you see the same names cropping up all the time, presenting Joomla in the best light and positively influencing the Joomlasphere. How good is that? Where else would you see that? Except in an Open Source project.”
What do you do for a day job?
“Whilst semi-retired from my Engineering R&D role, I now own and operate the hotmango web development agency, a boutique web development business specialising in Joomla and Drupal engagements. Whilst much of our work is custom development for internal web based solutions, we are also quite well known within Australia for bespoke Joomla websites and support.
After many years working in the Joomla Forum, the hotmango team now tries to support the community where possible on social media groups and assist where possible on Joomla new initiatives.”
Do you use Joomla in other ways?
“Joomla is so very versatile, to some degree that is also a problem, but overwhelmingly it's an advantage. Apart from public eCommerce and business websites, we also deliver a number of internal/behind-firewall Joomla solutions, anything from a simple intranet/hub site to complex scientific data analysis and display dashboards.
As part of our commitment to our local community hotmango regularly donates Joomla sites and hosting to local fund-raising or charitable organisations, hopefully promoting Joomla to our local community as well Joomla benefiting a worthy cause.”
In what way are you currently involved in the Joomla community?
“At this time, personally, I am only really associated with the FB Group, whilst I do still maintain a Forum Profile and occasionally post within the FPA Support forum, it's not common. I was a member of the Security Forum and Moderators before things got more organised and professional, so I doubt there is any official profile for me these days, just my Forum Profile (@RussW).
To be honest, I prefer to keep my interaction with the official project on an "informal" basis these days, but... having said that, I am still very passionate about J! and the Community and am always happy to assist where requested or useful.”
How did Joomla change your life?
“Hm, not sure changing my life is the correct terminology. Has Joomla changed my mindset and development processes? For sure, moving away from hand-coding, duplication, php debugging and mysql clauses - heck yes, my wrists and RSI love Joomla!
Seriously, Joomla allowed me to provide a more professional and predictable service to my customers, end-users and university interns which has allowed the business to not only grow but also to maintain a happy customer base for over 15 years now (we still have our very first Joomla client on our books!).”
What did you learn and / or gain personally from being a J! Volunteer?
“Becoming part of a cohesive community has personally taught me a lot about the process of people management and more importantly about respect and tolerance. It's easy to have an opinion and forcefully express it, but it takes a broader mind to listen to, and accept, an opposing view and be willing to talk things through.
Spending time in the forum and now days on social media, especially during the not so good times, takes quite some biting of tongues and re-reading of answers to ensure you are offering not only a balanced response but also a positive experience for the original poster and presenting Joomla in the best light possible.”
Do you have a cherished Joomla-related memory?
“So many way cool times to recall, but January 2007 - Melbourne Australia.
Way back when dinosaurs still roamed the internet and developer user groups were on usenet, my first real-life and fun experience of the Joomla world was helping to organise and presenting the first Australian Joomla Day in Melbourne.
Brad (the first moderator and software manager for the global forum) and I had an absolute ball, we met some amazing folks, we did old-school Skype presentations with Andrew Eddie in Queensland and there were 21 people packed into a back room of a coffee shop made for 10 with doughnuts sponsored by Rochen. Still the best Joomla event I've ever attended and am still in-touch with several of the original attendees.”
Joomla is celebrating its 15th birthday this year. What do you wish for Joomla in the next fifteen years?
“These things are cyclic, 15 years has seen a few cycles come and go, as for the next 15 years...
I'd think I'd wish for Joomla to go from strength to strength whilst maintaining its original close knit and friendly community, whilst providing opportunities for new and upcoming Open Source Developers and Designers to participate and try new or alternative directions as well as driving the project forward.”