Sixty Seconds V with: Phil Coltrane

Phil Coltrane

Phil Coltrane

Phil Coltrane is our latest champ and Flash! Friday’s first-ever FIVE-time winner. Read his bio and find links to his previous interviews at his winner’s page hereWhat shall I ask you??? I said. We’ve covered the typical stuff. Let’s not be typical, then, said Phil, lighting the Sixty Seconds Interview Match, grabbing the mic, and grinning in an unsettling kind of way.


Some said it was inevitable I’d find myself here. “Five wins merits more than just five questions.” When Rebekah asked me to take off my writer hat and describe my typical workday, I was hesitant. What’s to tell?

Software development is shamefully male-dominated, and nothing interesting happens in the Services Department. I spend my day drinking caffeine, staring at a screen, ignoring a fitful stream of curses filtering through my earbuds.

The myth of the cowboy coder is romantic fiction. We work as a team. Me, the software developer. Bruce, our debugger and tester. Andreas has been a software architect here for more than a decade. And Akheem, our new hotshot UX designer.

This morning, as always, the boss crams us into the conference room. “Busy day,” he warns. “First, our nightly build of the OutThink software crashed. The compiler reported 106 errors.”

“I’ll fix it,” I volunteer. “Probably a missing semicolon.” Sometimes Bruce tries to fix the code himself. He’s no coder.

“Good. Then Bruce…” Bossman skims a printed email. “Once OutThink is ready, we have our first test case. A North Korean general has gone rogue, seizing a nuclear missile base near the Chinese border. The CEO wants Services to champion a counter-assault. Immediately.”

“Once OutThink scrambles their military network,” Bruce plans, “I’ll lead a commando raid against him. But my .50 BMG machine gun is in the shop.”

“Take mine,” I offer. “I won’t need it until next month’s financial audit.”

“Awesome, Phil,” says the boss. “Way to be a team player. But don’t flick matches at the conference table.”

Oops. I put away my box of strike anywhere matches. “Sorry. Nervous habit.”

“Moving on… Corporate Security thinks one of our interns is a spy from our competitors. Akheem?”

Akheem frowns. “Why single me out?”

“Relax, Akheem,” whispers Andreas, leaning into Akheem’s ear. “Your résumé lists two years of Javascript, CSS, and counter-espionage.”

“Oh, yes yes. I will do what I can to find the traitor.”

“Good. On an unrelated topic, the San Diego office thinks someone is plotting to steal the Green Dragon of Envy.”

Andreas scoffs. “That statue is carved from a thirty ton block of jade.”

“Nevertheless, our VP of Antiquities wants Services to investigate.”

“Ok,” he shrugs. “I’ll start on it tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow is a holiday,” the boss reminds him. “Do it today.”

An intern brings our coffee. As the youth sets the cups on the table, I glimpse a flash of sunlight reflecting from a weapon in the intern’s belt. A shaky hand reaches for it… then WHOOSH! The intern clutches his neck, pulling away the tranquilizer dart before collapsing.

Akheem leaps up, tranq gun still aimed at the unconscious kid. “Sir, I have found our spy.”

“Great job, Akheem! Ok, Bruce has a plane to catch. Everyone else, back to work.”

Thus begins another boring workday.

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