The name is Ben Truyman (pronounced like Truman). My middle name is “Lee” which, I guess, makes my initials BLT. Sandwiches aside, I’m also a programmer living in the city of Chicago. Professionally, I’m usually doing web-related things for a handful of large brands. In my free time, I’m usually neck deep in a Node.js playground tinkering with NoSQL databases and “unproven” and “silly” technologies. I try to bring the results of my tinkering into my professional work by assessing risks and benefits — but always trying to push the boundaries of what we think is possible as I hope my history will show.


    TL;DR — I the Internet.

    1992 – 1995
    My grandfather acquired a decommissioned Commodore 64 from the school he had taught at — it becomes my first computer. With only a manual teaching how to write Commodore BASIC, I spent hours in the basement writing code that would play siren noises and move cars around on the screen while using the joystick. I sure do miss goto statements.
    1995 – 1997
    Once again, my grandfather helps further develop my programming abilities by being one of the first in the family to have Internet access. Just as I’d spend hours on my Commodore 64, I spent even more in this nascent World Wide Web. I began learning HTML through the help of an early WYSIWYG called HotDog. I drag and dropped things onto a page, hopped over to the code view, tweaked some code, and began to understand the hows and whys of building a basic web page. The first page I built was a green text on yellow background page and a single <blink> element with the text that read “Will the Packers win the Super Bowl?”. And they did. Those were the days. That, and VRML.
    1997 – 2001
    I’m finally fortunate enough to get a “real” computer of my own, and my trusty companion the Commodore 64 made its way into a box in the closet. I begin venturing into new territory such as “DHTML” and CSS. I used my newly learned programming knowledge to make a simple HTML-based game for our 5th grade D.A.R.E class in which the user would have to make a series of correct decisions, or face an undesired outcome.
    2002 – 2005
    Once HTML, CSS, and JavaScript became a boring, I needed to find a way to stop using <iframe>s for all of my persistent navigation and repeated regions. PHP came into the picture with its ability to “include” other PHP files. But as I quickly learned, PHP was much more than that. I started tinkering with things like PHP-Nuke, and quickly found my self having to become familiar with even more goodies like MySQL. Eventually, I’d need to obtain a legitimate domain name and be able to host all of these fun things. I register theblt.com in 2002 and find a cheap $4/month shared host with cPanel installed and start throwing up some of my side projects (like my highschool rugby team’s website ). However, that wasn’t enough. Things like ActionScript became increasingly intriguing and I began my exploration into Flash development.
    2005 – 2008
    After graduating high school, it was time to start evaluating my options for a college education. I ended up settling on the Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago, beginning the next chapter of my life in this great city. Outside of the typical classwork, I continued my exploration of ActionScript, PHP, and MySQL. I took my learnings and created a text-based RPG built using PHP, MySQL, and XML for our “Introduction to Web Scripting” class. For another project, I created an app that allowed users to create pixels on a board, drawing pictures. However, the catch was that each pixel had a message encoded in it that would reveal itself in a modal window when the user clicked it. It was really interesting to see other students in the class collaboratively drawing pictures on the board, and leaving funny messages and various inside jokes about other professors on the pixels themselves. And when I wanted to have a little fun, I made silly animations with roommates and classmates in Flash. For my capstone project, I built a task manager web app utilizing ideas taught by David Allen’s GTD framework. Late into my college career, I was offerred an internship at Critical Mass which I immediately and excitedly took.
    2008 – Today
    While I started making minor updates to QVC.com’s billing page and developing retention emails for grocery chains you probably shop at, I began to learn the ropes of agency life while slowly progressing to more interesting projects. I worked my way up from a Web Developer position up to a senior level spot by assisting in developing client relationships and directing the technical direction of the projects I was fortunate enough to be involved with. Eventually, I moved into a Technology Lead position where I provided the opportunity to further my soft skills and architect various complex solutions for some Fortune 500 brands. But in my spare time, I was toying with silly Node.js projects trying to better understand various architectual design patterns and refining my code to be as simple yet solution-oriented as possible. While the early days of Node.js were rough and unpredictable, it became a platform that taught me more about JavaScript than any other tutorial on the Internet ever would — and I encouraged anyone interested in refining their JavaScript abilities to partake in this quickly evolving medium. And, to this day, I continue to tinker in Node.js and try to bring as many inspirational pieces into my everyday work whenever appropriate. It’s far more than a platform built for highly concurrent asynchronous applications, it’s a beautiful learning tool most developers could tinker with.


    Giving back. I’ve been the beneficiary of tens of thousands of hours of work yielded by thousands of developers across the world in the form of open-source software — it’s time to give back. I’ve landed a couple commits to a few repos, but it pales in comparison to those I most look up to. Aside from digital charity, I also plan to give back IRL by volunteering at one of Inspiration Corp’s kitchens regularly.