Welcome to the online homepage of Jonathan Lipps! Harking back to an era before social media rendered personal pages superfluous, this website is meant to inform you, dear reader, of everything (indeed, probably much more than) you need to know about me.
I'd say this site is designed around the embarrassing theme that I can't be interested in just one thing. Of course, I like to think that variety of pursuits leads to a more satisfying and integrated life. So I've selected some of the most prominent of these interests to showcase in their own sections.
Why this site?
We live in an era of the Internet where most of our ability to share things about ourselves, our projects, our interests, our opinions, etc..., is controlled by massive corporations and hidden behind their walls. Social media of various kinds is immensely useful and engaging, but as a user of these services I've often gotten the feeling that I'm more like a farm animal being raised for slaughter than anything else.
As a software developer, I'm in the admittedly privileged position of being able to put things on the Internet on my own, without going through these social media middlegiants. I do so as an exercise in freedom, and as a nod to an earlier stage of the narrative of the web, where people made Geocities sites to honour their weird hobbies and put random facts about themselves into the ether, with the promise of serendipitous connection! I remember this phase fondly for myself, not least because it stimulated my own love of producing software technology and kickstarted my self-taught career as a web developer. I hope that we can return to such a state in some measure in the future, perhaps a bit wiser after our journey through the dark forest of corporate control.
It's a bit hard to say where I'm from. Before I was 6 years old I'd lived in Arizona, California, and Papua New Guinea. I spent my growing-up years in a little town outside of Dallas called Cedar Hill, TX. When we moved there it was a small town of about 10,000, but since I moved away it has become a booming suburbopolis, replete with all the big box stores your heart desires and very little of the small town charm I remember.
Anyway, I finished up high school in Orlando, FL, and went off to college in sunny California at Stanford University in Palo Alto (BA/MA in Philosophy). After finishing these degrees in 2004, I stuck around Palo Alto, lived with friends in a kind of intentional community, and cut my career teeth as a freelance software developer for tech startups. At one point I took a sabbatical and spent the better part of a year in Kenya at a children's home in Nyeri, helping to start various programs for the kids there.
In 2009 I got the chance to live out a lifelong dream and started another graduate degree at Oxford University in the UK. This time my studies were in "General Linguistics and Comparative Philology", which is pretty badass according to me. I was all set to start a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Chicago in 2011, but at the last minute decided to start a software company in San Francisco instead. I lived in San Francisco for 5 years and it was an amazing season of working for exciting tech startups, including some of my own projects. During that time I wrote the popular Appium automation software which has since become a long-lived and much-loved (or much-bemoaned, depending on who you're talking to) open source project. I've had the good fortune to develop a very satisfying software development career based around Appium!
In 2016, my then-partner and I moved to beautiful Vancouver, BC, and had a son in 2017. I still live in Vancouver with our son, enjoying all the amazing things that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. My days are spent being a dad, working in tech and trying/failing to stay on top of all the projects this site details.
You might think that the myriad categories already featured on this website are more than enough things for me to be interested in. You'd be right! But I am sneaky. Here are yet more hobbies I maintain at some low to medium cadence:
- Running: I've trained for three marathons and really enjoy the feeling I get after running about 12 kms.
- Cycling: because who doesn't love sitting in one position for hours and getting an increasingly sore rear end.
- Rock climbing: along with hiking and mountaineering, this is my favorite outdoor activity. It can be a bit intense, which is why I usually let my friends lead all the hard pitches.
- Ultimate Frisbee: The best team sport ever. I played a bit on the club teams at my college and grad school.
- Yoga: the hot variety, please.
- Pickleball: dink donk!
- Dungeons & Dragons: Creative collaborative storytelling! It's so fun. I have another website I made to talk about my D&D adventures, called Notes from the Underdark
- Magic: the Gathering: Continuing with the theme of being a huge nerd, this is probably my favourite game to play with friends. I often go lose at local tournaments!
- Writing: don't tell anyone, but I always have an idea for a novel that I'm never actually writing. Maybe someday I'll finish it/them. (Meanwhile you can read my non-fiction writing at my blog.)
- Homebrewing: nothing so nice as a homemade double IPA! I'm also into making my own cider, mead, spirits, etc...
- Motorcycling: I've ridden a few bikes over the years, and keep a Suzuki GS500 in California whenever I go visit family, not least so I can ride around the beautiful wine country with my dad.
Jonathan has been making things out of code as long as he can remember. Jonathan is the architect and project lead for Appium. He works for HeadSpin, the global app UX testing platform, as Director of Automation Technologies, ensuring a smooth automation experience across a variety of platforms. Previously, Jonathan was the Founding Principal of Cloud Grey, and the Director of Open Source at Sauce Labs. He has worked as a programmer in tech startups for 20 years, but is also passionate about many other topics. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively. He lives in Vancouver and enjoys writing music, penning essays on the philosophy of technology, and getting outside for a run or ride even if it’s raining.
This site was coded up by hand with lots of love! All the photos you see throughout were taken by me. I used basic HTML, CSS, and JS, in conjunction with the Enhance framework. I deployed the site to AWS Lambda using Architect, which is the only sane way to interact with AWS. The code for the site, in the spirit of a more open web, is all up on GitHub as an open source project at jlipps/jlipps.com. Hopefully it gives people some ideas for hosting their own personal pages!