Meet Toby Deshane

Toby Deshane (@fortyseven) & Emal Sakwall (@zigadore)
march 10th, 2017

Toby Deshane

Welcome to the latest blog post in our interview series. We’d like to introduce you to our programmer, Toby Deshane.

Name, Company, Title, City

I’m Toby Deshane and I work for Infinity Interactive as a Programmer. I live in Middletown, CT.

When did you first work with Infinity?

April 2016

What are six words you think of when you think of Infinity?

Ingenuity, Flexibility, Technology, Creativity, Family, and Tacos (don’t ask)

Are you from Connecticut, or did you move there?

I was born in Connecticut. For over 30 years I lived on the Connecticut shoreline, in Clinton, in a house that dates back to 1743! According to records, it used to be a tavern. I finally had to move a couple years ago; the then-current owner decided he’d had enough of the ghosts or something, and **boo**ted everyone out. Get it? Boo…ted…? Ghosts? Okay, moving on…

What moved you to become a programmer?

In retrospect this sounds completely made up, but I’ve actually been programming since I was super young. Not hacking in diapers, but not too much later.

I was completely fascinated by computers, and I’d bash keys on the Commodore 64 at the Caldor department store, hoping this magical beige breadbox would make the store lights turn on and off, like in the movies. (Ever see the movie ‘Electric Dreams’? Great early 80s computer “rom-com”, but it made me think computers were practically supernatural.)

Spoiler alert: the store lights did not, in fact turn off and on. In fact, all the thing did was scream SYNTAX ERROR at me. Frustrated, but emboldened, I raided the book section of the store, and started reading everything. I would slay this bloody “syntax error”, whatever it was!

Anyway, time went on. I learned more. I spent more time at the other stores that had computers on display, most notably Radio Shack. By then I’d started writing small BASIC programs, and had a better understanding of computers—they weren’t magical, but they were still awesome.

So what moved me? Just a love of technology, I guess. Being able to create something meaningful that might help folks. Like fart soundboards for your cell phone.

Why does the word “family” come to mind when you think of Infinity?

But not “tacos”? Maybe it’s due to the fact that we’re all on Slack together all day, being a virtual company, as opposed to physically being in the same building, separated by walls. It allows for an interesting mix of work and ordinary everyday conversation. Sometimes about current events. Sometimes about stuff going on at home. It’s easier than usual to get to know your coworkers, and that only adds to the sense of unity—being a team, and wanting everyone to succeed. For me, at least. I can’t speak for anyone else, of course.

It’s probably because I’m an old BBS/IRC-rat from the 90s and I’m just more comfortable with that mode of communication. :)

How do you act when you are stressed out?

You know that Chelyabinsk meteor that fell over Russia back in 2013? The shock wave shattered windows for miles around? That was my fault. I did that. Sorry. I forgot a closing quote in a JSON file. Easy fix, but boy was I perturbed! Nowadays, I just squeeze a stress ball or something. I’ve come a long way.

What was your favorite food when you were a child and what is it now?

Back in the day I used to be big into fried clam strips and clam chowder. I was nuts about them. I’d literally swim in big plastic tubs of tartar sauce. Then I hit puberty, and among the other cruel realities of life associated with that, I learned that fried clam strips and clam chowder contain clams.

I know, right? As you can imagine, I was properly horrified. All my life, up to that point, I was lied to. I was eating seafood! I should, at this point, probably note that I’m not a fan of seafood. Nothing personal against those who partake, of course—enjoy, by all means! It’s just that seafood just feels incredibly off to me, as a consumable. Hard shells. Eye stalks. Fins. That sort of thing.

I think you have to get acclimated to those concepts at a really young age. I’d generally only enjoyed the limited scope of fried clams and clam chowder, and because the word “clam” was sandwiched in there among “fried”, “strips”, and “chowder”, I never really stopped to think about it. And it tasted lovely.

So, naturally, upon discovering this fact, I immediately gave them both up. No joke. The coldest turkey you’ve ever witnessed. Only a love for corn chowder survived the ordeal, despite its association. I had a similar narrative occur over McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. Though the jury is still out whether that’s technically “seafood” or not.

Nowadays, I generally enjoy fast-food burritos and tacos, where the meat is anonymous, and we’ll probably never really know its genesis.

If you ruled the world, what would you change on day one?

Realistically, I’d probably just sign an immediate executive order to rescue those brave souls who were Lost in Space since the 60s. Even if they’ve long since passed away, by now, they deserve a decent burial.

If you could know the answer to any question, besides “what is the meaning of life?”, what would it be?

I’d want to know what ISN’T the meaning of life. That isn’t intended to be a cheeky trick to root out the actual meaning by removing the candidates. I just want to know if I’m wasting my time returning my shopping cart to the parking lot corral, or rewinding my VHS tapes before dropping them in the slot.

What is one thing you think people might not know about Infinity, but should?

There’s weekly developer fights in the office basement. I’m not supposed to talk about it, but they’re pretty brutal. I saw this one dude bean another guy silly with an old IBM Model M keyboard. The key caps went flying across the cement floor, but that thing is solid. Another time, a developer defeated his opponent by getting behind him and duct taping a Galaxy Note 7 to his back, just out of reach. BOOM.

Dirty pool, but it was well within the rules. That’s “/dev Club” for you.

Tags: culture people interview