Heim Föstudagsviðtalið Owen Williams

Owen Williams

eftir Jón Ólafsson

Þá er ég loksins kominn úr sumarfríi og samkvæmt venju þá er komið að vikulegu viðtali hér á Lappari.com í viðtalsseríu sem kallast einfaldlega Föstudagsviðtalið en þetta er viðtal númer 56 í röðinni. Hugmyndin er að taka viðtal við “venjulegt fólk”,  harða nörda sem og einstaklinga sem eru áberandi í tölvu og tækniheiminum, leyfa þeim að segja aðeins frá sér og hvað þeir eru að bralla. Tilgangurinn er fyrst og fremst sá að hafa þetta létt, skemmtilegt og vonandi áhugavert fyrir lesendur.

Ég ákvað að byrja þetta á viðtalið á ensku við mikinn snilling sem ég held mikið uppá….  njótið

We are finally getting back from our much needed summer holiday and therefore things will soon be getting into their normal routine but now it´s Friday and as usual it is time for our weekly interview. The objective is to interview people who are normally not in the spotlight of the mainstream media although we sometime try to mix regular people (whatever that means) with hard-core geeks and high profile individuals in the tech community. This has been their venue to tell our readers a little bit about themselves, where they are coming from and where they are heading.

I can easily say that I am quite excited about this week’s interview as I have been working on getting this interview for months. I manage to get an interview with Owen Williams who I have been following on Twitter for quite some time now. He is an entertaining person to follow and clearly on-top of the newest and latest in the tech industry. He surely fills all the criteria for the interview, he can be categorized as a normal man (I think), he is an editor, a journalist, developer and a geek…. and geeks are cool as we all know.

Without further ado, let me introduce Owen Williams….



Who is Owen Williams and where are you from?

Hey Jon! I’m a journalist and developer/marketing person based in Wellington, New Zealand, land of hobbits.


What do you do for a living?

I write for The Next Web in my spare time and work for a startup called Hoist during the week. It’s a great balance of technical and communication skills required for both jobs, I love it. 🙂


What have you been up to for the past few years?

Big question! For my day job I started out as a network engineer working at places like Xero but quickly discovered I wanted to have an opportunity to steer the ship and build something for myself so I joined Hoist to try and build the future of the web.

In terms of writing, I’ve been working hard to get my content out there more and it’s been a long journey. I actually started out at Neowin.net writing news in pretty much every spare moment I had while at university for a few extra dollars and it turned into something I loved.

After a few years of that (and getting to go to big events like CES!) I started focusing on freelancing and writing content on my on site then was given the opportunity to join on the weekend staff at The Next Web which I jumped for. I’d love to make writing a full time job one day, maybe, but in New Zealand the market is a little too smal..

As you can imagine, I’m pretty busy.


Could you please describe a typical day in your life?

On a weekday, I get up nice and early, try to do a little exercise and head into the office via my favorite coffee shop (Wellington is BIG on good coffee). I do a little development, manage our community, write some posts for the Hoist blog and anything else I can get on to.

On Saturdays I spend time preparing my weekly newsletter for sending out on Sunday morning so I spend a few hours gathering up relevant links from the week and making it easy to read.

On Sundays I get up at 6am to cover a shift for The Next Web which involves scouring the web for anything new and coming up with fresh opinion pieces. It’s definitely hard work, but I love it.


Favourite Quote?

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.” -David Foster Wallace


Favourite news/rumour/quote you can remember from headlines these past weeks ?

Tricky one! I’m hanging out for the Moto360, so it’s nice to see that they’re getting closer to release.


What do you think of Satya Nadella as the new Microsoft CEO?

I think he brings incredible life to a company that was quickly becoming irrelevant and arrogant. Instead of being blind to what the rest of the industry is doing, Satya seems to be embracing it and becoming more open. He’s much more well spoken. He knows what he thinks Microsoft should become.

This is a good thing. I’ve long heard of in-fighting at Microsoft between departments and the company has struggled to ship products that people love for some time now. Satya has a chance to undo that. You can see it happening already.


What are his major challenges to move the company forward?

Microsoft is up against a lot. They need to quickly become a cloud company and stop pushing cumbersome desktop versions of products. Windows needs to just work everywhere, across mobile and tablet. They need to make it easier for developers to build apps that target all those platforms. Google Docs while basic is far superior to Office because it’s so much less confusing and Microsoft still hasn’t shipped a modern UI version of the office suite.

They also have a ‘cool’ problem. The Windows brand is not an attractive one. Most people don’t associate a Windows PC with something they love using. It’s a tool, perhaps, but it’s not something they absolutely love. I think Windows Phone struggles because of this. People think “oh, who would want a phone with windows on it?” Internet Explorer has the same issue. Perhaps it’s time for a rebrand? 🙂

This stuff is all being addressed slowly, but it’s a long way from being done.


What will be the “next big thing” in mobile/desktop environment

It’s hard to predict, but my bet is that the web is shifting to an internet of apps. I’ve talked about this on The Next Web a little bit, but the next generation is growing up with their only experience of the internet being through mobile apps on a phone. It’s something that many of us over 18 struggle to imagine since we’re accustomed to seeing the internet through a web browser.


What OS (desktop) is on your main computer og what device is your daily driver?

I’m running OS X 10.10 on a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro. It’s my first Mac and it’s so perfect, after using Windows for years.


What kind of a tablet and mobile phone do you use?

I have a confession, I have the iPhone and a Nexus 5 so I tend to switch between them. I’m using Android full time at the moment as I’ve got an Android Wear smartwatch (which I love) and I’m testing out the L preview release which is awesome.


What do you like most about that phone?

The Nexus 5 is a nice all-rounder, especially for $300. It’s fast, good looking and cheap. I switched mostly because the iPhone screen is just so tiny.


What do you dislike about that phone?

Two things. The camera is just so sub-par; iPhone owners are spoilt by how good the software is and Android just can’t compete. It’s close, but it still misses a lot.

I also don’t like Android KitKat very much so I’m running the L Preview (which actually is fantastic) but it’s a little buggy right now. I suppose that’s a first world problem.


What are your top five apps/tasks that you perform on the phone?

  • Twitter (I tweet a lot)
  • Google Play Music (So much better than Spotify on Android)
  • Sonos (Can’t get enough of this equipment)
  • Circa (Great way to keep up with news)
  • SleepDroid (Good to know how your sleeps are going)


Do you remember the first mobile phone that you got?

Ha! Oh yes, it was one of these things. It had three ringtones. No SMS. Glorious.


If you could pick any phone in the world, what phone would it be?

Tricky! There are a lot of great handsets out there now. I’ve been really impressed with what the folks are doing at Oneplus One. I really like the Nexus 5. But I think the phone I still appreciate the most (that exists right now) is the iPhone 5s – it’s the perfect phone.


Could you please tell us which tech sites/blogs you monitor regularly?

I have a list of 200+ sites in my Feedly! The ones I check the most:

  • Hacker News
  • Product Hunt
  • The Next Web (of course!)
  • Recode
  • Techcrunch
  • Engadget (I’ve been really getting back into Engadget lately!)


Anything else that you would like to add?

I run a super awesome weekly tech newsletter with a roundup of the best news/startups/other happenings online. I’d love it if you checked it out; it’s called Charged.

Otherwise, come say hi on Twitter!


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