Welcome Karen and James, new MoodleNet backend developers!

The MoodleNet team is delighted to welcome Karen Kleinbauerů and James Laver who will both be working on backend development. Karen’s based in the Czech Republic, and James lives in The Netherlands. They’ll both be working 2.5 days on MoodleNet!

We would love to hear a bit about your work history?

Karen: I have previously contributed to Pleroma, an ActivityPub server that MoodleNet is loosely based on. In fact it was my presence on the Fediverse that has got me interested in programming and my love for the project that has made me contribute to it. Doing so has given me knowledge in ActivityPub, Elixir/Phoenix and the general struggles of hosting an AP server, both from a technical perspective and a community management perspective (Both are equally important!).

I’m also studying Japanese at a Prague university. I consider myself relatively proficient at the language and I’ve done volunteer translation work in the past.

James: I’ve consulted with a variety of companies, big and small to build (sometimes) cool and (often) interesting things. I’ve done a lot of things – everything from a CMS for a small artisan burger chain to a distributed backend control plane for an investment bank. As much as working on interesting projects, I like to work with interesting people, so I have a lot of stories from the code mines 😉

What do you love about what you do?

Karen: First of all, I simply enjoy programming. The combination of problem solving and creating things just scratches an itch that nothing else really does. Additionally, I’m excited to contribute to the ActivityPub network because I’m a passionate member of it and want to expose more people to it. Decentralised networks harbour unique communities that wouldn’t be able to exist in big, corporation ran silos.

James: I love solving interesting problems. In “the mythical man month”, there’s some lovely phrasing about “building castles of pure thought”. A lake of problems, limited only by my imagination. Cool!

What are your interests outside of work?

Karen: I’m your (maybe not so) typical nerd who enjoys video games, coffee, manga, music and such. I collect retro video games and consoles and also enjoy speedrunning my favorite titles.

I also have a deep appreciation for nature and enjoy taking strolls through forests, valleys and mountains. Tied to that is my interest with spirituality and animist religions, particularly Shinto.

James: I’m a keen cyclist, enthusiastic cook, eager video gamer and drinker of copious quantities of coffee. I listen to music, watch box sets of old TV and lose an afternoon at a time to wikipedia after I’ve made plans to go out.

Where is your favourite place in the world, and why?

Karen: This is a bit of a cheat answer as it’s a place which i haven’t visited yet, but I would love to visit the island of Tashirojima in Japan. It’s notable for its significant feline population, which outnumbers the human population 6 to 1. And I don’t know about you, but being smothered with cats sounds pretty wonderful to me!

James: My bed. I was once told that when you’re not in bed, you’re in
your shoes, so you should buy a comfy bed and comfy shoes.