Chatting about self-teaching, the aesthetics of programming languages, and how the best things “groove naturally” with Daily Steak Junior Developer Octavio Roscioli.
It’s interesting…unlike most of the team, you’re not originally from the Bay Area and/or currently residing here!
I’m not! I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and I’m currently a senior at Vanderbilt University (in Nashville, Tennessee), majoring in computer science.
And is programming one of your passions?
(Laughs) It’s something I’m pretty good at and I know what I’m doing, but honestly, my big passion is music. I mostly play rock music; sing, play guitar, when I’m not working for Daily Steak.
That’s really interesting to me; you’re a musician, you’re a programmer, yet you’re working for a startup technology company in the Bay Area all the way on the other side of the United States! How did this happen?
Honestly, the story isn’t as interesting as it may seem (laughs). I just applied for a lot of internships, and I was happy to find something that I could do from home. Around last October, Nick emailed me, talked with me on the phone, and I showed him a few of my personal coding projects. He was impressed, I guess!
So what are you doing for the company currently?
Give us a little bit more insight into what else that entails.
Basically, I focus on how people’s computer, tablets, and mobile smartphones will interact with the server, as opposed to how the server interacts with itself.
Were there any real big challenges or obstacles for you when you first started working for Daily Steak? Did the distance cause any trouble for you?
The distance? No, not really! Actually, the challenge wasn’t getting STARTED with Daily Steak, the big challenge occurred right before I even officially became a developer for the company. I had it in my mind that I would have to know everything there was to know about coding before anyone would even look at me, so I spent this past summer learning how to code and make websites using Ruby on Rails. And Ruby on Rails is notorious for having a really steep learning curve; you need a LOT of mental power to be able to handle it initially. But once you get it, it’s a really powerful tool! Honestly, the greatest challenge I had to learn, that was something I challenged myself into learning as opposed to being required by somebody else. Still not a master (laughs) of it, but with all modesty, I think I’m fairly well-off with the language.
Sure, but again, if we’re talking about writing, my big passion is in music, and I feel like I’m a really good songwriter and music writer too, not just code! (Laughs). I’m really proud of the music I write, and I play with a band in Nashville, something that I’m also really proud of.
It’s interesting, I don’t always think that at first glance, I’m that impressive on paper, but a lot of what I’ve done in the past, I have a lot of pride in, even though it isn’t always necessarily reported or publically acknowledged.
So let’s publically acknowledge and recognize it! Talk about your history with music.
(Laughs) I started playing violin at an early age, pretty much while I was still in the womb. But even though I played for about ten years, I didn’t really KNOW how to play music properly until after I quit the violin. I started closely listening to music, then I finally picked up the guitar on my own accord and started teaching myself how to play. That was around middle school, when at the time I was really into the punk rock genre.
(Laughs) I had a bit of a turnaround last year when I kind of realized that the music I had written wasn’t as good as I was capable of doing. So I actually kind of started from scratch, mainly by listening really closely to and really getting into The Beatles. After listening to them, I kind of wanted to make the music I wrote much more interesting. Since last year, I’ve written about 12 songs that I’m proud of, six of which I am REALLY proud of.
Living in Nashville; that’s a great place to be as a musician!
(Laughs) It’s funny, you think that would be the case, but it can actually be difficult to find good musicians to play with; it’s harder than it looks! And while I’m a pretty good guitar player, I’m not really much of a music producer or recorder. But I’ve written enough songs to make an album; one of my big goals is to make enough money to go to a high-quality recording studio and just record my music.
What kind of genre would it be? Still punk rock?
Rock music, not necessarily with the “punk” attached to it. (Laughs) I’m currently really into The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, anything from 1967-1972.
Not being a developer myself, I have to ask: are there any similarities or correlations that you notice between writing code and writing your own music?
(Laughs) At first glance, definitely not. You use completely different sides of your brain for each task. But being serious, when you’re really into code, you get into a certain flow, a kind of groove that is somewhat similar, I guess. Different grooves, different flows, to be certain, but in both, you can zone out the world and keep going, forgetting what you’re doing. (Laughs) I definitely think I’m better with that groove while writing and playing music!
I’ve seen that film The Social Network, I think they called that zone “wired in” or something?
I do get a similar feeling when I code sometimes, I get an “Ah-HA!” moment and it’s there within seconds, even if sometimes I’ve occasionally sat down in front of a computer for days on end, not always quite sure what I am doing.
This is how I would word it. My best songs kind of come out naturally, involuntarily, almost like a sneeze. Good coding…yeah, I’m better with the groove that comes with music (laughs), but it’s true, they can seemingly come out of nowhere.
You can’t force a sneeze and you can’t force a good song. It just doesn’t work.
Looking forward to hearing some of your songs! Thanks for the great talk!