Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in technology.
I’m Troy Hunt, I’m based in Australia and I’m a full-time Pluralsight author. Well mostly full-time, I also travel the world speaking at technology events and running workshops predominantly around web security so I’m independent but with a heavy Pluralsight focus.
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I started out building software for the web in the very early days of the Internet in the mid-1990s and went through various roles in software development and architecture over the last 20 years before finding myself where I am now.
What is your development environment? Tell us about your hardware, development tools and most-used or favorite languages and frameworks.
Which one?! I primarily work in Visual Studio, SQL Server and other typical Microsoft stack bits, but often find myself in other web technologies and occasionally creative packages such as Photoshop and Illustrator.
My primary hardware is a pretty well-spec’d desktop running four 24" screens then I also have a high-end Lenovo W540 I use when I want to lay on the couch or I’m travelling and speaking. I also have a backup machine for travel (once you’ve been burned once ...) which is a first gen Surface Pro so enough to get me out of a bind but nothing too fancy. All my other non-PC devices are Apple bits: iPhone 6 Plus, current gen iPad and now the Watch as well.
What new tools, languages or frameworks are you playing with (or just interested in exploring more)?
I really need to get up to speed with Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015 which I’m now running but haven’t invested much time in yet. Of course there’s also all the new ASP.NET vNext bits coming too, I just need to make time to get to grips with everything and maximize their value.
I love playing with new tech, the challenge is deciding what I’m going to neglect in order to do so!
How did you get started programming? Tell us about your first computer and programming language.
My first PC would have been some form of IBM clone in the late ‘80s. I seem to recall writing a little bit of BASIC and I certainly hacked away at various things in the following years, but it really wasn’t until 1995 that I started actually writing software. I got right into HTML in the early days and then a bunch of back-end stuff in C, which, looking back on it now was an absolute nightmare! I guess you could call HTML "my first love" though.
How has the developer community - online and offline - influenced your coding? What do you like or dislike about the dev community?
It’s had an enormous influence in the second half of my career. In the ‘90s in particular I was predominantly learning via books (like most people at the time) and it really wasn’t until well into the noughties (that’s the 2000s for those of you outside Australia or the UK) that I got involved in online communities.
I’ve found communities along the lines of Stack Overflow enormously beneficial not only as a source of learning from others, but as a means of learning by teaching others. This can be enormously empowering but you also run into the inevitability of sometimes dealing with the worst in people who seem to use the anonymity of the Internet as an excuse to exercise their psychoses! But it’s 99.x% positive and I find Twitter to be the most valuable means of interaction for me.
How did you get started with Pluralsight?
I asked for an intro to Pluralsight via a friend several years ago now. I was writing a lot about security on my blog and doing a little training but had heard some pretty amazing things about how successful some authors were becoming via online learning. I saw Pluralsight as a way of building independence, broadening my influence and let’s face it, potentially doing very well financially too.
How many courses have you authored and what topics do you focus on?
I’ve just finished my sixteenth course. They are predominantly focused around security on the web but I’ve also created content on Microsoft Azure as well. In fact, I’d like to diversify my content a bit more but it’s hard to ignore the success of security content - there’s an insatiable appetite for it at the moment.
Do you have future plans for authoring?
As a full-time author, yes! I’m presently involved in creating the Ethical Hacking series for Pluralsight, which has myself and another author building out twenty courses that we’re now nearly halfway through. The remaining courses will keep me busy for the remainder of 2015, particularly if they’re interspersed with courses on other subjects as I’m doing now. I have some grander visions beyond that too, but I’ll keep that under wraps just for the moment ...
How has Pluralsight changed your career/life?
Pluralsight has had a significant impact on my life. It became my predominant source of income, outstripping what I was being paid working in a senior corporate role for a multinational. In fact, it was going so well I was getting very serious about leaving that job (and admittedly there were "push factors" as well) until ... the job was made redundant earlier this year. That was probably the best thing that has ever happened in my corporate career!
By the time I left that role, Pluralsight was paying me about double what I’d earned before so rather than needing to go out and get a "traditional" job, it was a very easy transition into becoming a full-time author. Because of the nature of writing courses, it’s also given me some amazing options in life: I travel a lot more and edit courses in transit. The family is moving interstate to where we want to live as opposed to where we need to live because of work. But more than that, the people at Pluralsight are just fantastic and it’s always a pleasure working with them.
My experiences have been so positive that my wife is now writing courses for them as well on soft skills so it’s very much a "Pluralsight household" here now.
What advice do you have for an up-and-coming programmer looking to becoming more involved in training?
The ability to explain technology in a way that’s consumable by the audience you’re talking to is an amazingly powerful skill. The vast majority of the competencies you need to be a successful trainer are not technical, they’re social. More than anything, you need to learn to communicate and that’s something that takes a lot more time and practices than learning to code. But it’s worth it – the results can be amazing!
Founded in 2004, Pluralsight is the global leader in online learning for professional software developers, IT specialists and creative technologists. As the world’s largest curated professional development platform, the company offers instant access to more than 4,000 courses authored by top experts. With customers in more than 150 countries, Pluralsight serves as a career catalyst, delivering hands-on, practical training for the most in-demand and understaffed jobs of today. For more information, visit Pluralsight.com.