Down the hacker hole - exported from Medium10 Jan 2014
Get to know the friendly hacker who brews his beer and grows his beard
Paul Adenot, software engineer at Mozilla, is one of those men with whom you find yourself talking about changing the world and the web.
“Not alone. But I like thinking that all together (all the people who contribute to the Mozilla projects, and the people who use them and have the same philosophy), yes”, he said.
We met him in his apartment in Paris, and entering his tiny space allows a keen observer to come to a quite accurate portrait of the man: on the bar, empty beer bottles stain the wood next to a gadget which appears to be an electronic music generator one has to assemble with magnets; his computer screen rests on a tower of audio bays, over dispersed tobacco, coffee cups, stickers, screwdrivers, and a Pacman mug-ashtray. Behind the four guitars, books on logo designing, jazz improvisation, cooking, philosophical essays about the complex thinking, and five editions of Monocle, rest on shelves. Obviously a man of many trades.
At first, he was studying in a computer science degree which allowed him, after he ranked as the top student, to join the prestigious INSA de Lyon’s computer science department in 2010. He shined again and made his way to California in 2012, in the offices of Mozilla, for an internship. He says that reading the Mozilla Manifesto convinced him of working for them.
Today, the path to his dream job looks flawless and logical, though not a bit less difficult to walk. He realized one night on his balcony over Mountain View, six months after the came to California, all that he went successfully through, and took confidence about the pursuit of his career. One can assume that the internship went perfectly, as he was offered a full time position in Europe later in 2012. He chose Paris because, he said, he did not like the British manners, “loved cheese”, had “tons of friends in Paris”, and also because the new Paris bureau was just getting started.
“Hacker: somebody who can solve problems.”
Paul defines himself as a “hacker.” Many will see the wrong cliché of a person stealing your credit card information, but for Paul Adenot, a hacker “is somebody who can solve problems.” Period.
Hence, his hobbies can be surprising for people unfamiliar with this kind of person. Creating, adapting, and tweaking are used for routine tasks, and now that the money comes in, he makes a point of buying the best products. And so, in front of the olive oils in the supermarket, he asked us “which one tastes the best?” and repeated that question about flour.
This love of quality and durability can be seen by some as consequences of a hipster attitude, but we believe that it can't be reduced to this. Loving good beer, he decided to brew his own. Admiring nice blades, he will make his own knife this Spring in his countryside home. Enjoying good music, he composes his own. Appreciating coffee more than anything, he is obsessed to the point of weighting the correct dose so his Toronto imported coffee tastes as it should. “Honestly, I prefer making the things, rather than buying them, or using them. You get a better understanding of how they work, this way.”
If you are lucky enough to have some understanding of the hackers-developers-nerds world, spending time with this Sorkin-esque character is a rich moment. You'll be “trolled” countless times by his faster-than-light sense of humour made of short, positive and definitive statements.
If Paul Adenot is hard to understand fully, proximity to his interests and feelings made us glad to meet a friendly and visionary hacker.