About Me

Hi there.

I'm Ben Clinkinbeard, a self taught programmer with a design degree who has been working as a web developer since the early 2000s. I have worked everywhere from a small design agency to Fidelity Investments to Google X, finding success and growing in most every position. I have been working remotely since 2008. I spent nearly a decade as a consultant, opening my own business after several years at a medium sized company serving clients all over the world.

I have joined teams, I have led teams, and I have worked solo.

I am currently on a one year temp contract at Google X. It is my second stint with the company, the first one running for just shy of the two year limit during 2018 and 2019. I rejoined the same team in August of 2020.

At this stage of my career I want to do deeply technical, challenging work on projects that matter.

I believe user and stakeholder concerns should guide engineering strategies. The more you understand these constituencies and the relevant subject matter, the better equipped you are to make good, informed decisions.

I have been a team member, I have been a team leader, and I have worked solo on many occasions. I am able to navigate ambiguity and chart a path forward. I enjoy contributing wherever I am needed, especially if it means learning something new or gaining experience with something I consider a weakness. From creating wireframes to conducting user interviews to coordinating release plans, I am usually happy to wear multiple hats if it helps the project/team/organization succeed.

I have not been very active in open source since my first contract at X, but before that period I spent roughly a decade both leading and contributing to open source projects. In fact, I got curious while writing this page and looked up my first OSS commit. It was a Subversion commit on Google Code on August 18, 2007! I pushed to GitHub for the first time on October 18, 2009, and was regularly involved in projects there until early 2018.

I have 87 published lessons on egghead.io, mostly comprised of two D3 courses and an Express course. When we ran the numbers a few years ago, over 25,000 developers had spent over 18,000 hours watching my lessons. I also created an email course (now just a PDF) and an ebook on D3 in 2017. Over 3,000 people joined my mailing list and took the course, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. While the material is oriented towards developers new to data visualization and therefore rather basic, the process of writing and publishing info products was a great experience, not to mention hugely positive for my consulting business.

One of my favorite recent projects was an internal geospatial visualization framework. We were using deck.gl on top of Google Maps (both before and after there was an official integration), but I also designed a versatile protobuf format, Apache Arrow integration, and a full stack demo app. It provided on-demand loading, encoding, and visualization of data from user defined sources, including a multi-speed playable time scrubber. It was like a very, very nascent version of kepler.gl for Google Maps, with some internal systems integrations.

I have also done some fun things with Web Workers to parallelize heavy tasks and unblock the UI, IndexedDB to reduce network usage and latency, custom shader programming for both graphics and data filtering, and lots of rapid development and prototyping for non-typical web applications. The most exotic was a Django project running on a custom, still-in-development embedded controller. It hosted an Angular app, and relayed gRPC messages from the hardware to the app as Web Socket messages. This allowed operators in the field to monitor the machine via web UI instead of trying to decipher logging messages flying by in a terminal.

I am interested in pushing the limits of what can be done in a web browser. Specifically, at present, my primary area of focus is high performance graphics and data operations, and the stack of technologies required to achieve them.

Further Reading

The domain and name of this site are intentional and accurate. Most of the pages are either in-progress or glorified notes to myself while attempting to "work with the garage door up". The items below represent most of the currently published longer form pieces, though none of them should be considered finished either. 😂

Have a question? You can reach me at ben.clinkinbeard@gmail.com!