Get to Know the Avalon Team: Nathan Rogers


In our new series "Get to Know the Avalon Team," we'll be providing a closer look at the individuals who are working each day to develop the Avalon Media System.

Nathan Rogers


Nathan is a Programmer/Analyst for the Avalon Media System at Indiana University. He has a degree in computer science and an MLIS, and has worked in digital libraries for the past ten years. 


Can you talk a bit about your role in the project?

I am one of three developers located at Indiana University. Along with Adam and Michael up at Northwestern, we help to make sure that new features get implemented in a stable, sustainable fashion. Sometimes this can be a challenge, especially when you run into unexpected obstacles, but it does keep you on your toes from day to day.


What is a typical work week like for you?

Usually in the mornings I spend time doing documentation and minor tasks to help clean up from yesterday's work. At some point there is a standup with both local and remote team members. This helps to understand where everybody is at and where I can be most useful. Because we are using an Agile process everything is broken down into stories and tasks. Depending on where I am at I will either keep plugging away on yesterday's problems or pull something new from the board.


Because of the nature of the project there is always something interesting to work on. It might be fixing some front end bugs in the interface, adjusting the metadata, or tuning the back end of the system to help make everything more stable. Last week, for instance, I was able to help make some changes to the player interface. Now it is much more reliable when it loads, unlike the previous version. Things like that are nice to fix because they will make the overall experience much more enjoyable for students. My goal is build a system that people actually want to use instead of grudgingly firing up a browser window because a professor said so.


What apps/software/gadgets can't you live without?

I actually enjoy going without a smartphone or computer from time to time so I tend to not get too attached to anything in particular. However, being an OS X user, there are several utilities that I could not live without because of the time they save. Quicksilver is a little tool for rapidly switching programs, opening web sites, and doing all kinds of small things. BBEdit is a great jack-of-all-trades text editor that I can rely on to help me open files quickly, even large ones. Lastly, there is the notification tool Growl. This is a messaging system that lets applications unobtrusively announce updates. Because it isn't tied to a single application it is much more predictable than having Outlook, an IRC chat, Lync, and everyone else from doing it their own way.


When you’re not working, what can you be found doing?

If I am not at work I enjoy being outside. Some people complain about the snow in Indiana but I actually wish we could get more. Since I can no longer cross country ski I fall back to my four seasons hobby, which is cycling. Chances are that is the weather is halfway decent and there is enough daylight I'll be climbing the hills around Bloomington. People who think that Indiana is flat should come for a weekend visit! I'm also a big fan of college basketball, which I believe is a legal requirement for becoming a resident of Indiana. If there is a big time game from a major conference on television, chances are good that it will be on while I am doing things around the house. A close second is professional cycling although I would much rather be on my own bike instead of watching other people climb the Alps, Pyrenees, or race around California.