Curriculum Vitae Main Entrance Slippery Slopes

FAQ image

Eh, memories. Here's a page of HTML from way back in 1998!

Where did you say you worked again?
What do I do? I work for a company called S1 Corporation. It used to be a subsidiary of an internet startup called Security First Network Bank, which is, oddly, a bank. We build software that you can use with a browser and through a secure interface pay bills, transfer money, apply for a Credit Card , check your balances, etc. Sort of like Quicken online, only with real money. Around 3800 banks use our software today. Anyway, S1 built the software, and now we're sans bank and will sell it to another 2000+ banks over the next few years, which should make the original investors extremely rich (but that probably won't include me).
I design the screens: what you see, the process you follow when you fill in forms, the choices you have, the navigation among functions, what things are called, etc. It's a complicated act of faith, balancing cognitive psychology, sociology, gut instinct, design principals, intricate HTML coding, lots of testing with users, and short deadlines. I defend the user, and try to make things easy to understand. As I said, it's complicated, but there is something compelling about difficult problems...
I work in an cubicle but I have a wall of windows, I have flexible hours, and can dial-in and work from home if I want. It is a satisfying job and I work with a bunch of very interesting and funny people. I spend most of my time working on interfaces for things that have barely been started on the internet, like performing financial operations via internet phones and Palm computers, and integrating better analysis and tracking of user behaviors via transaction databases. Over time, my job has changed to the point where it is more about strategy now; where are we going, what will the customer base change into, what technologies will be available, and how will we get all of the different pieces to fit into a coherent whole?
Why are you a 'near' native Atlantan?
The flying tour... I was born outside DC (While Dad was Navy programmer for the Pentagon and NSA), then he went the reserves route and became a rocket scientist in Huntsville until 1966 when he joined Hewlett-Packard and we moved to California for a short stay in Palo Alto, and then moved to Atlanta in 1967 when I was in the second grade, staying here until I graduated HS (learned to drive here, the most important native skill). I have an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Auburn, and some graduate classes in business @ GSU. I've been living in Atlanta (Norcross / Sandy Springs / Virginia-Highlands / Buckhead / Decatur / Morningside / Buckhead again / Roswell / now Morningside again) since graduation in 1983.
What are you reading?
Usually I'm reading about five books simultaneously, and they rotate stochastically; typical examples would include "Bombardiers" by Po Bronson; books on Java Programming and JSP; a Richard Brautigan work such as "Trout Fishing in America"; "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig; and "The Paperboy" by Pete Dexter. I'll read just about anything that isn't too fuzzy, including soup cans, CD liners, catalogs, and movie credits. I also regularly read Wired magazine, Fast Company, Health, Psychology Today, the Utne Reader, Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery, geek UI design stuff), etc., etc., etc.
What do all those acronyms in your sig mean?
IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America, like the AIA for product designers) ADC (Allied Design Council, an Atlanta based multidisciplinary design group) ASD (Association for Software Design, well..., briefly) ACM (Association for Computing Machinery, geek UI design stuff) SPE (Society of Plastics Engineers. Yup, I used to be authoritative about polymer chemistry) FSSNOC (Four Stroke Singles National Owners Club. Thumpers rule!) AMA (American Motorcylist Association)
What is important to you?
I used to have a really schmalpy 'sensitive guy' answer to this in here. But everyone who knew me gave me a hard time when they found it. So it's gone. There, I feel better already.
What's your favorite color?
I don't really have one. I love color, and combinations of color, and use it in designs all the time. I wear blue more than any other color, probably because of my skin/hair coloring, and partly because blue is a popular men's clothing color, so there's a lot of it in stores.
Which HTML Editor do you use?
Urm. I actually started doing this when HTML tools were not very good, so I had to learn it the hard way. I use a text editor most of the time, usually NoteTab Light (freeware from I like Homesite for making changes to entire directories of files, but I use an older version. I do imagemaps, CSS, javascript, etc. by hand. Yup, by hand. Actually, this isn't that hard since most of the time you are cutting and pasting after the first couple of pages. My rationalization is that hand editing and flipping over into Netscape and IE to check files has made me very aware of problems (and symptoms of problems) with HTML. Anyway, that's what I use.
What are you afraid of?
Since fears are irrational, so's the following (I know intellectually these are not real in-my-face problems, yet part of my brain still yammers on from time to time): I'm afraid of not knowing the answer. I'm afraid people won't like me. I'm afraid of Global Warming and having to wear SPF 300 sunscreen every day. I'm afraid of being boring. I'm afraid of becoming a homeless person. I'm afraid of getting run over by a bus. I'm afraid of a reef tank leak flooding my basement.
Karma or destiny, which rules?
I believe that you determine your path through life; and the choices you've made decide the value of your place here. Basically an existentialist philosophy; this works with Karma. Destiny seems pretty depressing, since, no matter what you do, things are pre-ordained...
Of course, I could just be writing this because I was 'meant' to write this...
Nature or Nurture?
Are our behaviors the product of our genes, or of our environment? I squirm in my chair and say both. Nature is potential, nurture is reality. 10,000 psychologists breathe a sigh of relief.
Holons or finite subparticle divisions?
Trick question from physics theory (but it actually relates to all fields of human awareness). My answer: Holons all the way up, all the way down to infinity. Finite subparticle divisions would mean that eventually we would keep cracking matter down until we found the ultimate elemental constituent of everthing -- I don't think its there. To go beyond this explanation I'd have to resort to gobbledygook physics and metaphysics, which would cause people to leave the site.
Red or white wine?
Red, definitely. I like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon, Zinfandels, Burgundy. For the past 12 years, when I'd go visit my parents in SF, we'd always take one day to go up to the Napa or Sonoma valleys and hop wineries. Big fun, but for some reason the wine you buy in the morning is always better than that stuff you loved later in the day...
Paper or plastic?
Plastic. Since I usually walk to the store, they are easier to carry home.
Describe one of your dreams?
hmmm... People rarely ask this, though I've spent a lot of time thinking and researching dreams, but this is my FAQ, so here's an answer. Three schools of thought on dreams 1) Jungian symbolism - dreams are manifestations of subconscious desires and anxieties - extension to the integration/prediction/venting segments of dreaming during the evening. 2) Random imaging - our brain has evolved to create order and meaning from chaos - Pribram's holographic theory of the universe - dreams are our brain attempting to create meaning from random synapse firings/images during sleep - not very romantic. 3) Dreams as power - Casteneda et al, dreams are a path to truth and personal power through their manipulation and interpretation.
I cannot make up my mind. I do dream in color. I do have volition in my dreams. I sometimes have "Running Dreams"- anxiety dreams where I am escaping some threat. I sometimes have flying dreams. I sometimes walk in my sleep. I've been told I sometimes talk in my sleep, but I don't snore. One previous roommate (ca. 1985) tells a story of coming home from work and having a five minute conversation with me when I had gone to bed two hours before (after pulling an all-nighter design session) I have no memory of this. Most of the time I sleep deeply, through all kinds of noise, but sometimes (like after a party) I cannot sleep at all.
A dream: I'm climbing a fire tower on top of a mountain, I can see the texture of the rough-sawn beams and iron bolts. I notice a place where the bolts have come loose and the stairs are swaying, the wind is blowing lightly. I study the problem area and climb the outside of the tower to pull the beams into position with a rope but cannot make the bolts fit into the old holes. The wind starts to pick up and storm clouds roll in. I climb to the top of the tower to look for tools but end up making a note to tape to the stairs... I start looking at some drawings on a table in the observation room on top of the tower, they are plans for an airplane with an asymmetrical design... I wake up. (OK, what does it mean? I tried to remember a sexually suggestive dream, but one would not come to mind, gotta work on this.)
  Copyright © 1997 - 1999
Phillip Randolph Carter, IDSA
215 Brandywine Road
Charlotte, NC 28209