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My First Month at Balsamiq Studios

· Posted by Marco in Company · 3 Comments

Hi everyone, I'd like to share with all of you my impressions of the first month as Balsamiq employee. It was an exciting, productive, revolutionary, life-changing month. In one word: wonderful!

The workstations

There are now three places where I work: the office, my home, and my father's office.

The "office" is a room in Peldi and Mariah's apartment. This little room contains all the equipments of Balsamiq: two IKEA desks for Peldi and myself, four big whiteboards, a printer-fax-copier, two bookshelves full of books, and a stereo system that plays mostly portuguese translations of David Bowie songs.

My desks hosts a PowerBook G4 12" and a good wide LCD DELL 20" as external display. Both are my own, if you care, and both will be replaced soon by new hardware. Yet, I'm very satisfied with the amount of work that the little PowerBook can still do after five years of life. It's true love between the PB and I! 🙂

Peldi's desk hosts a 17'' MacBook Pro with a 23'' Cinema Display. Even with the huge viewing area, he sometimes complains that the space is not enough! He is right: if you have to write code, once you get a second display you won't ever go back: tons of pixels FTW!

One more item you can find on Peldi's desk is Balsamiq's cash register: it is an old Mac mini G4 that plays a loud ca-ching! sound every time someone buys a license of Mockups. Though a bit distracting, it's a great motivator during boring or complex tasks and it reminds us that we work for some real people out there! 🙂

Occasionally I work at home. It happens in the morning, when I'm alone, or after dinner, when my wife Maddalena is tired and goes to sleep just after our baby daughter Caterina. Working at home is fantastic. You have all your stuff, your family (sleeping!), your music... it's very comfortable - but unfortunately there is no second display...yet.

When Peldi is away, like in these days before Easter, I work at a desk in my father's office. He is happy to see me quite often (I am too, papi!) and I have a place where to work in peace. Second monitor? An old 20" Sony CRT.

This may sound as a minor thing, but it is truly a big quality of life improvement. Now I bike every day, free from the traffic! As a consequence I'm re-discovering how beautiful Bologna is, I recommend a visit if you ever come in Italy.

The Job

My job title is "Tuttofare", or do-it-all in italian. In this first month I did mostly development, but even as pure developer, I still have to be a real tuttofare. Bug fixing and coding a few new features in Mockups, writing build scripts and installing a Subversion repository, learning CSS, JavaScript and Grails, programming Flex components for web pages, and all in just one month! The good news is that it is exactly what I want to do, so bring it on! 🙂

Another characteristic of this job is that we are fully exposed on the Internet. What we do - if we do it well - is under constant attention by a lot of people...customers, blog readers, Twitter followers, enthusiasts of our company, competitors...

At my former job (a big company) there was no reason for the customers to see the faces of the Research and Development team's members. The results of my job made happy some people that I never met, so I felt like a spectator of what was happening on the outside, and it was absolutely normal. My professional World was around my desk.

Now things are totally different. My role requires openness and transparency. The product we sell includes our faces: people trust in Balsamiq if they trust in us. It's a big challenge, both professional and on a human level.

I have to admit that being pushed in front of thousands people excited about the outstanding work done by Peldi is not the most ordinary situation that a quite experienced C/C++ software developer can manage :), so I was a bit scared on my first day. But the welcome was so warm that I forgot suddenly the insecurities and enjoyed the new adventure.


What are my impressions of Peldi? You already know "how we met", so I'll keep it short. 🙂

You know Peldi from what he writes on this blog. Now let me tell who he really is. He is... exactly like Mockups! Creative, fast, effective, direct to the point: the product mirrors its creator perfectly.

I'm very happy to be part of Balsamiq, I couldn't fit better anywhere!


Marco for the Balsamiq Team

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Comments (3)

  1. I use a Mac Pro (running Vista 64 in Bootcamp … blasphemer, I know). I have two monitors attached – a 30″ Dell 3007WFP that I position as the center monitor, and a second 21″ monitor off to the right hand side. I usually keep Outlook up on the second monitor. I’ve thought about adding a third monitor, but then I have to add a second video card to the Mac Pro, and just haven’t bothered with that. As is, it’s a nice setup and makes me think a 24″ just isn’t big enough.

    Kevin Dietz
  2. I like your description “Creative, fast, effective, direct to the point: the product mirrors its creator perfectly.”.

  3. Glad for you Marco, I really enjoy reading this blog again and again so please keep posting.. You and Peldi. As for the PowerBook enjoy it.. Intel ones are damn fast but I still believe that the hardware quality of the G4 products was always better. Still using (all day turned on) my 17″ G4. I’ve already update many of my MacBook Pro’s internals while G4 is proudly working. Slow but makes me proud. Apple Cinema is awesome too but 30″ is better 😉 I can not replace it with any other brand. Anyway.. I really hope to meet you guys since Im a neighbor (Athens). Take care and keep making and posting about beautiful things. You have my sympathy for what happen to your country. Take care.