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The Twelve Developers of Christmas: Tara Gibbs, Lady Dancing
by Isabelle Groc

Isabelle Groc, December 14, 2012

This month, we celebrate twelve Stackato ActiveState developers who share thoughts about the product, little known facts about them, and what they want for Christmas.

Tara Gibbs, Team Lead, Infrastructure, joined ActiveState in May 2007. She is responsible for the Stackato web console, user interface and experience . Born in Summerland, in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Tara lived in Ottawa for eight years where she earned a degree in Cognitive Science from Carleton University. A talented ukulele player, Tara is currently learning belly dancing, which makes her our official lady dancing on the Ninth Day of Christmas.

How did you become a developer?

My first computer was one that my mom brought home from school during the summer, the Apple IIe, in the late 80s. I would type in code in the computer from books I borrowed from the library. I wrote these lines of code, and the computer created a video game that you could play. I didn’t understand what I was doing, but it was so cool, programming the game yourself. I was in elementary school then, and that’s what got me interested in computers.

What was the first computer you owned?

A Mac Plus, in the early 90s. When I was in grade 12, I wrote a hypercard program that won the bronze medal at the Canada Wide Science Fair in 1994. I got to travel to Guelph, Ontario to receive the award. I have been playing the piano since I was five. As you play more and more complex music, you get fewer natural moments in the score to turn the pages without breaking the rhythm, so I thought if the computer could just turn the pages for me, that would be great! The program I wrote did exactly that. It connected the computer to your digital piano keyboard, so as you played music, the computer knew what notes you were playing and gently scrolled the music for you.

Your favourite programming language(s)?

Currently, it’s JavaScript because I use it all the time for web user interface programming. In the past I used to program a lot in Perl, it was my language of choice.

What gets you excited about Stackato?

It is such a new market! It feels like gold rush times. It is so new, anything can happen, it is really exciting to be part of something so young!

What do people don’t know about you?

I was a model for a Buffalo Jeans fashion show in 1995, on campus at Carleton University during frosh week. I was pulled on stage to be a model, and I wore a mini black denim skirt and a zip-up bomber jacket with a fur collar. It was fun and terrifying!

What do you do when you are not developing?

I am a member of the Vancouver Ukulele Circle. I have learned to play the ukulele about a year and a half ago. I wanted a little instrument that I could play for fun, I picked up a cheap 20 dollar-ukulele and started teaching myself, then I got lessons for Christmas last year, and now I have four ukuleles. I am also taking a belly dancing class, and I weight lift.

What do you listen to while you're working?

I listen to a lot of different things, I love Leonard Cohen and Ella Fitzgerald. I also listen to Girl Talk’s album, All Day, when I really need to do a code sprint and focus for a short period of time.

Best concert you've been to this year?

The Leonard Cohen concert in Vancouver this November was phenomenal. You forget his age, his voice was haunting. Going to that concert was almost like a spiritual experience.

What you want for Christmas?

I also have a birthday coming up close to Christmas, and in a fantasy world where people buy me expensive gifts, I would like this carbon fiber ukulele. It can get wet and it won’t be damaged, so you can play it in an inner tube floating in a lake.

Illustration Credit: Calamity Cupcake

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Isabelle joined ActiveState as a Technical Editor after several years as a freelance journalist, editor, and photographer, and has contributed to a variety of media outlets including PC Magazine, Canadian Geographic, Discover, Canadian Wildlife, Georgia Straight, and Scientific American.