Home / A day in the life of… Developer Jim Torarp

A day in the life of… Developer Jim Torarp

David Lockie: So tell me your story. How did you get into tech? How did you end up working at Angry Creative?

Well, I worked at the electronics shop and also the cinema before. Together with that, I also did studies in Linköping University and I went for the bachelor in innovative coding. Before I finished my degree, when I just had the final project to complete, I applied for some programming jobs. Funny thing is that when I applied for Angry, back then there were only 15 people,  so I was the 16th employee. 

The interview was not planned very well! But I told them what I could do, what I’ve done and what programming languages I studied. At the end, they said with a wrinkle in their eyebrows: “You know this is the senior position you have applied for. I think you should go with a junior developer submission instead.” So I’d accidentally applied for a senior role and got to have an interview! Even though I hadn’t worked with any programming before. They asked me to send in a code sample. And then about two days later, they called me up and said that I had got the job! I got the job because I got lucky, they had a junior position as well. So that was quite funny.

DL: So it sounds like back then Angry Creative was quite chaotic.

Yeah, I would say that they did their best, but everyone was stressed more or less because the company was growing fast. But hey, we were only 16 people!

DL: And so you applied for a junior developer role, but that’s not what you do now.

Because of my personality and the person that I am, I learned very, very quickly. The same year, several other people were employed. And I I raced past them in knowledge pretty fast. I became a good asset to Angry and that’s why nowadays I’ll also do a lot of other stuff like teaching and being a mentor to people. Amy recently told me that you should be the guy that other developers use when they want to check estimates. I also got to do audits and became a specialist there. Angry used my standard responses in JIRA tickets to do a canned response because I’m good at communicating with people, and so on. So I became a junior, and then they didn’t want to name me an intermediate developer, but I guess I’m an intermediate now. Because I’m involved in so much and know stuff, even though I’m not senior I’m also included in the Solution Architect channel for example, and I get to have some inputs regarding Architect stuff.
I don’t have that senior position yet, but I don’t know. I’m, it sounds like somewhere between.

DL: It sounds like because you were so early into the business and it was quite chaotic then that you’ve kept that slightly broader remit to your role, rather than a developer that joined later and had a much better defined role. It sounds like you made your own role a little bit. DL: It sounds like because you were so early into the business and it was quite chaotic then that you’ve kept that slightly broader remit to your role, rather than a developer that joined later and had a much better defined role. It sounds like you made your own role a little bit. 


DL: That’s cool. So then tell me about your typical day. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep! When do you work? What else do you do outside of work? How do you chill out?

Well, one thing I’ve been struggling with and which many people have been struggling with is to have a project so you can work more or less full time on it, but that’s not the reality. So I usually have a lot of tickets and I usually help a lot of people!

DL: Wait! Before we get to work, do you just roll out of bed and go straight to your computer to start working?

Yeah pretty much spot on, I work from home now and have my family here as well.

DL: I can hear them!

Yes! I’m currently on the balcony, but they’re leaving soon. My alarm goes off early – I’m one of the early workers at Angry I usually start at 7am Swedish time. Usually everyone is sleeping at that time because I have a little one and one who is three years old. She often comes up to bed, so we’re three in the bed and one in the infant cot and I just silently get out, close the door, and I have a smart home here. So I have sensors everywhere. Usually some lights light up and I close the door, go to the sofa. I don’t have coffee or anything because I’m afraid to wake up the family. So I just sit on the sofa, put on a blanket, lower the lights again and start working. So one or two hours later I will have coffee. And that’s just because I don’t want to wake the family.

DL: I read somewhere that it’s also good not to have coffee immediately when you wake up because you should give your body the chance to start waking up naturally before you have caffeine which then disrupts your natural rhythms.

People always talk about this. We need to have the coffee so I can have a bit more energy but I don’t think about coffee because of that and I don’t know if I feel any difference about it. So it hasn’t been important.

DL: Coffee is an interesting one because it’s a physical addiction. And when you have coffee your body goes through a cycle. When you feel like you really need a coffee and you have that coffee, actually physiologically it’s just taking you back to the level that you’re at before you had a coffee in the first place. People get stuck in this coffee trap where the reason that they feel like they need coffee is because the coffee is created that need in the first place. It can be a positive feedback loop. I definitely went through that for years. And now I have decaf coffee or cups of tea which I find a little bit more leveling. Okay. So okay, so you’re working in the cold and in the dark. Have you automated it so that when you log into JIRA your lights dim down?

I have an Alexa in every room but I usually control everything by voice or from my phone. I’ve created a flow so that if I walk past the IR sensor again, it will light up even more because it’s wakeup time. But I have not done the JIRA connection yet. It would be cool.

DL: Very cool. So you have got up and then it’s family wakeup time so I expect you need to get breakfast and help with the kids and all that kind of stuff. And then you sit back down to your computer and get on with the rest of your morning of work. What does your work usually involve?

My work usually involves doing both front end and back end stuff. Maybe more front end stuff currently. I also help people in projects and help the CSM team out.

DL: Okay, so you have quite a varied morning depending on what needs doing and who needs help.

Yeah, and usually I plan what I need to start working on the day before. Otherwise I get stressed when I’m going to sleep. So I know I have tickets to work on.

DL: I think that’s a really good habit to have. There’s a saying which is something like “The better you get at planning the future, the easier and more productive and happier you’re going to be because it’s when we haven’t planned things out that we get stressed and make bad decisions.” So yeah, I can definitely definitely agree with that. I always try to make sure my calendar is reviewed and aligned for the next day.

Yeah, and because I’ve worked in the company for a while I know how to do stuff. I often create tickets and communicate with clients. That maybe in some other cases the CSM does so. For example yesterday I handed myself 14 hours of tickets without anyone assigning them to me. That’s cool. And I think this is because last summer, I was trying out the Project Manager role. So know about ticket processing. I also know about how to do the stuff other developers don’t know, like how you need to sync between Trello and JIRA and how you set up a new JIRA project and stuff like that. But also some more insight about what the CSM needs from the devs.

DL: That must be useful. Okay, so you’ve got through your morning of tickets, whatever they were. What does your lunchtime look like? Do you just sort of plough through? Do you have a quiet lunch or do you try to get some fresh air? How do you break up your day?

Usually I want to have lunch with my family. So they often ask me when I want to eat lunch. I’m an early lunch guy. So when I was at the office, I was often alone having lunch at 11 Swedish time because I start work early. Some people came in at nine and two hours later I was eating lunch. So they were just shaking their heads like “what are you doing man?” But then I’ve already been awake since six! I could start later but I value ending my day earlier. And we can end our day at three o’clock if we use flex. So I usually eat lunch with my family. And because I value time, I don’t have long lunch breaks. So usually I have half an hour or something like that. And then I can end my day earlier.

DL: So presumably then you go back to whatever work was leftover from the morning and you plan the next day. So how do you spend the rest of the day? You’ve woken up early, smashed through a bunch of work and now you’ve got the rest of the day – how do you like to use it?

I almost never take meetings after lunch. That’s very rare. So my personal goal is to have all the meetings before lunch because I also know I have our team stand up and I’ll get interrupted then anyway. Then I may have other meetings if I need to. So I can use the rest of the day after lunch to have some focus on coding. So I would say that after lunch it’s more productive for me.

DL: And then when you finish work, how do you use that time?

As you know, I like whisky so it’s much about whisky. Since COVID. I’ve been very interested in information about what will be released soon and I also have a contact in the Netherlands that can provide me personally with some release samples! But mainly in my free time I want to be with my kids. Because right now my wife is with both of them. So after work I want to take off some pressure from her to be able to do other stuff. It’s difficult this year at least because we had a new one.

DL: Is there anything you like watching on telly or do you like to listen to audiobooks or go out and do some exercise?

I’m bad at exercising but I love TV series. So we have a whole list in the evening, two hours after we put the big one to bed when we always watch two or three episodes of the current series that we are watching right now.

DL: I got excited because I just saw that there’s a new season of Narcos Mexico out – that’s definitely my bag!

I haven’t seen Narcos and everyone is like “you need to see this Jim.”

DL: It’s pretty violent. But yeah, I like it a lot. Okay, so I know I’m picturing you. Under a rug watching a series with a glass of nice whisky in hand. 

Not everyday but sometimes!

DL: I’m not passing judgement! Just trying to imagine you in your happy place I guess. Some of the most fun that we’ve had together is that you’re generous enough to organise whisky tastings and send out little sample bottles to people on the team and then we get together after work. And that you also experiment with taking existing whisky and putting it in other barrels. 

Yeah, exactly.

DL: So tell me a little bit about that. Like, do you need a full barrel of whisky like in a cellar somewhere? Or how does it work? I’m curious.

I had a presentation on the education channel yesterday with Tom and my presentation was about how whisky became my hobby. And I talked about how I first tried it in Bulgaria on the beach, looking for cocktails and the cocktail list and I didn’t know anything about whisky. So I scan through the list and see Jim Beam, that’s my name. So I took a Jim Beam thinking it was a cocktail, both me and my wife had a tumbler glass. We were like, let’s taste this. Thought it was awful! I spat it out on the sand. And I realised several years afterwards that it was Bourbon I was drinking! It’s been I think two years now. Me and a friend wanted to do experiments. So you have a company that makes barrels in Sweden and they provide barrels to all the Swedish distilleries. At least if you want Swedish oak or French oak. They’re good at what they do, quite famous.

We started with a very, very small budget and as an experiment because it was like 1400 crowns and I didn’t know if it’s gonna work and we didn’t want to waste too much money and buy a lot of bottles and stuff so we just bought a 3L cask.

DL: So you can buy like little three litre casks, can you?

Yeah, we did that first and now we have five litre barrels. And yesterday, I ordered five liter barrels that are medium-charred from Hungarian oak. We’re going to use them to put a finish on a 15 year old whisky. That’s the next release!

DL: So you’re a proper whisky geek!  Well done! Okay, so thank you for sharing that. It’s really nice to learn a bit more about what you do in your spare time. And clearly whisky is a big passion of yours. It’s definitely one of mine! My last question for you is what would you say is interesting, remarkable or notable about Angry Creative. If you were a client or a prospective job candidate, what’s something that you think you would want to know if you were in their shoes?

I’ve talked about this with other people as well and at Angry you can grow and evolve which is very much what I’ve done as well. If you want to, you can do and learn a lot of stuff. And you can get responsibilities if you’re showing that you’re ready.

DL: That’s cool. That’s nice.

The company’s quite generous and tries to do stuff for the team, like free lunch and having lectures and doing Halloween parties and planning for WCEU 2022. So it’s a nice place to work.

DL: I’m glad you feel it. The production team and the management team do work hard to try to create a nice environment and culture. And it’s nice to hear that that does filter through. Thank you, Jim for giving up some of your time and sharing all that. I feel like I know you’re a lot better. And it’s nice to hang out!

If you’re the kind of person who wants to work with a WooCommerce-focused company that relies on good web developers, please do find out more and get in touch!