Nick Johnstone's Blog

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Hills of All Sorts

You should watch this video:


Earlier this year, I set myself a goal. By the end of 2014, I would be living in Wellington making cool things for a living. I think I’ve done it.

I started working at Powershop last week. Powershop is (as the name says) a shop for power.

I was quite fortunate in my job hunting, and ended up with four different offers from Wellington software companies to choose from.

I chose Powershop because they have a fantastic company culture, put out quality products, and treat their employees well. They also met my fixed requirement of having a ping pong table. Everyone I’ve gotten to know there, so far, has been really cool. There is a healthy diversity of backgrounds and ideas at Powershop, which I really value.

As a new developer, you join the Dev Train, a special team where you just learn and improve. New devs spend up to three months working on games and other interesting projects to hone their skills before being consigned into production code.

I’ve been tasked with making a digital version of the board game, Ticket To Ride. I’ve taken the opportunity to try some new things (like BDD with Cucumber), and I’m learning a lot. It’s such a great way to start a job.

I’ve been immensely enjoying my first few days of working at Powershop. I’m also really stoked that they hired another Dev Academy graduate, my good friend Tim. It’s cool that I get to continue working and learning with him.

Depression and Mental Illness

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about depression and mental illness. I wrote a post recently about being down, and how life gets better. Someone who happened to read it sent me an email, with a talk from Ruby Midwest by a developer with ADD and bipolar syndrome.

It hit home a bit. I’ve never been tested for any mental illness, but now I think I will go talk to someone about it. I’ve often had trouble reigning in my emotions and motivation, and the more I think about it the more I wonder.

It’s scary to talk about mental illness since society seems to still refuse to really open that door. I think that Depression and Co. live closer to home than people might realize. Just last week, the internet/world was ablaze with the news of Robin William’s death, which appears to have been a suicide. To me, this is tragic and slightly heartbreaking. What scares me the most is that anyone I know could be feeling suicidal, which I probably have no idea.

I think that we need to talk more about mental illness, both in society and within the circle of friends and family. I admire my coworker Chelsea, and her blog. I was stunned and inspired to see her honesty about her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of this. If this section makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s fine, it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable too.


I was really delighted last Saturday, after someone posted a library I had made (butterdb) on Hacker News and it got up to number 3 and stayed there for a while. butterdb is a library for Python that lets you work with data in Google Spreadsheets as objects. It’s like an ORM.

For those who aren’t familiar with Hacker News, I’ll explain why this made me giggle like a child. Hacker News is the forum section of ycombinator, a well renowned startup incubator. If your tech business gets to the top, you have either done very well or very badly.

I’m excited because it appears that people actually use butterdb now. I’ve got a whole load of features to implement, and I plan on rewriting the entire library at some point this month. Mostly, I just wanted to brag a bit :).