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About

This Is For Everyone is a website about the human side of technology written by Nick Cernis.

It combines personal essays with notes on programming, computer science, accessibility, hardware, creative code, games, the web as a social platform, and technology as a force for greater good.

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About Nick Cernis

Nick Cernis [Chernis] is a software developer and writer from the UK living in Innsbruck, Austria. A photograph of Nick Cernis.

Nick previously authored a top-20 iOS app and a popular book on personal productivity. He now consults for great teams such as StudioPress as a programmer and support technician making digital products better, and the customers who use them happier.

Personal statement

I'm a self-taught programmer with experience in graphic and print design and a degree in Computer Animation (BSc). I've written Objective-C and Ruby, but now work professionally with PHP, JavaScript, and CSS.

I've worked remotely and earned a living online since 2006. I believe in the web as a way to empower people to learn and create, to build communities and careers, to discover and support themselves, and to foster a happier future.

My work has included:

  • Customer-facing roles in a busy support team;
  • Developer-facing roles as a software tester and technical writer;
  • Software development;
  • Graphic design and marketing.

Being in positions that connect me with site visitors and app users directly has positively affected the way I write software, instilled a sense of patience and care, and reminded me that great engineering and design is for nothing if no-one uses a product or feels enriched by it. The best teams I've worked with try to maintain a strong connection to the people using their products.

I want to help people love technology and use it to become the best version of themselves. I believe in lifelong learning, and try to maintain a sense of positivity, optimism, and fun in my work and writing.

Previous side-projects include:

  • Put Things Off, an iOS app and “laid-back to-do list” produced before to-do lists were something developers made for sport. The app is no longer active, but it taught me how to ship a product and maintain it, and was my first time dealing with mobile app data syncing to a server-side element (Objective-C, Python, Google App Engine).
  • Todoodlist, a popular self-published ebook on personal productivity using paper-based systems. Successfully promoting this taught me that marketing is a core skill, and something that developers and writers could embrace more openly. It also helped me discover that I'm happier writing on technical topics than self-help.
  • rpsls.net, a live online game of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock. Reached the top of Hacker News (~35,000 unique hits in half a day) and still sees fair traffic and interest. Illustrated and coded with JavaScript in a weekend to try Firebase.
  • I have contributed to a growing range of open source software, including the Genesis framework for WordPress, and a PHP Markdown library now maintained by The League of Extraordinary Packages.

Current side-projects in various stages of unfinishedness include:

  • Stupid Web Games — a site for live multiplayer browser games and for learning to program.

In 2018 I moved from the UK to Austria. Outside of work, I love skiing, chess, and an eclectic range of hobbies from martial arts to modern board games.

I'm not actively job hunting, but if you have something of interest please get in touch.

Why “This Is For Everyone”?

The year is 2012. I am watching the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games on TV. I endure it because it is the law, and because I am curious to learn what Official People think being British is about. I myself have as much clue as any British person, and know only that it involves fish, chips and shouting at lamp posts on Friday nights.

So far it seems that being British is about chimneys.

2012 Olympics opening ceremony showing models of large industrial chimneys in a sports stadium, surrounded by actors
Credit: Matt Lancashire via WikiMedia, CC BY 2.0

Dancers perform athletic acts I have been legally prevented from attempting to reproduce. There is a hodgepodge of sound and the whizzbang of pyrotechnics. The narrator explains things that require no explanation. These are chimneys, he says. They represent industry. I think about baking a cake.

But wait…

The camera cuts to a house on stage. We float forward as a crowd surrounds the building.

The house that Tim Berners Lee is revealed inside
Source: BBC

Who is in the house? I suspect a sportsball player whose face I'll recognise from a whisky advertisement but whose name I will not know. I contemplate baking two cakes. But there is something about this house. Its lights are flickering. Someone who abuses the electrical grid for fun lives here. A person who makes and breaks things.

The structure lifts into the sky revealing a man lit by a screen. I recognise him instantly before the caption appears. It is Tim Berners-Lee. He types at a NeXT computer, the machine the web was prototyped on, a machine I have only seen behind glass.

Tim Berners-Lee on stage typing on a NeXT computer
via Universal Machine.

I find I am standing.

The creator of the web is centre stage. He is the only person I have known by name; the only one in this mad production who means anything at all to me.

Tim types on the keyboard and presses a final key. It is the best kind of theatre: the kind that speaks to you like no-one else is there. It holds me by the shoulders. Pay attention!, it says. This message is for you. Lights ripple through the stadium seats to form a sentence in pixellated capitals:

THIS IS FOR EVERYONE

A promise. A call to arms. A beacon for a hopeful future.

A bright light. A pledge of inclusivity. A sign of what the web and the internet were made to be, smuggled into a sports centre.

The words, 'This is for everyone' displayed in bright lights in stadium seating
via Inavate on the net

A tweet from Tim’s account repeats the message, replete with tags that betray how he, too, cares more about the webstuff than the sportsthings.

And then something special happens. The music stops, the lights go out, and Tim Berners-Lee stands, lit by a spotlight. There is wild applause. People are clapping a nerd in a sports stadium. Tim returns the applause, and for a while it feels like the world is okay again. That someone is being recognised at scale for an accomplishment conceived not in a sweaty amphitheatre, but quietly and in the solitude of a cupboard strewn with papers and with promise. And for an idea that was not packaged, paraded, and sold, but remixed from other ideas and given away: a web inspired by the open model of the network that powers it; by creators like Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn who built on their peers’ work, and who saw that cash came second to giving a great idea a chance if it might change the world.

Tim Berners-Lee applauds the crowd at the opening of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

I find I do not long for baked goods any more.

I watch the rest of the Games. People run and jump and swim and swing and sweat and smile and scream and cry and some win medals, and I feel happy for them in spite of the pomp of it all. Yet all the time those words eat at me.

THIS IS FOR EVERYONE

What a beautiful message.

What a hopeful note of optimism.

What a noble torch to carry and to care for.

It will be hard, but together, we can make it real.

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