Inside Suz Hinton's magical, hardware-filled corner of the nerdiverse - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Sep. 8, 2016 10:41 am

Inside Suz Hinton’s magical, hardware-filled corner of the nerdiverse

A look at some of the Brooklyn developer's side projects, including her new live coding show on Twitch.

Suz Hinton aka noopkat.

(Courtesy photo)

Suz Hinton’s internet alias, noopkat, comes from the computer programming term “no-op,” which she defined as “an empty placeholder function that doesn’t really do anything.”

But don’t let it fool you.

Hinton, a lead front-end developer at Kickstarter who describes herself as “a tech enthusiast from the nerdiverse,” does stuff. A lot of stuff. She’s spoken at conferences around the world this year like JSConf Budapest and Codemania Auckland, writes for publications like JavaScript blog Pony Foo where she recently explained what a sound looks like and is now livestreaming a show through Twitch called Open Source Fun where she live codes her open source projects.

You can watch her four past streams here.

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Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Hinton picked up basic coding when she was nine years old through her first computer, the Commodore 64. It was when she wanted to create art with that computer when she realized she needed to fiddle with the internal programming to do so. In elementary school, she’d go to the library on the weekends to study up on HTML and learn about programming. She’s been hooked ever since.

“I’ve always been someone who’s excited about limitations of a platform,” Hinton said. “The most interesting problems to me are when you have to creatively work around the restrictions that you have.”

Before Brooklyn, Hinton lived in Las Vegas for four years working for a tech company owned by Amazon but eventually decided it wasn’t the city she would be happiest in. After nearly two years in the borough, she says Brooklyn feels like home. (As she put it in her TinyLetter: “My heart is very split these days between Brooklyn and Melbourne.”)

The local art scene is something she’s grown to love, citing the amount of creative people she’s met. For Hinton, art works its way into her technical work in ways that can “make people feel good.” One of her more fun projects was a pair of musical sensor-enabled shoes dubbed “Meow Shoes” that she built at the Vegas Hack Fashion Tech hackathon in 2013.

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Watch her demo the shoes at the hackathon below.

Hinton is quick to mention that she doesn’t know everything about programming. She hopes that by speaking at events, she can inspire others who are fearful about getting into the field. She said she loves being up on stage to “demystify technical things.”

Her mission to make coding less intimidating can also be seen through her most expansive, ongoing side project called AVRgirl. It’s an opensource project that aims to make it easier for JavaScript developers to work with hardware and microcontrollers by providing an interface they’re familiar with. AVRgirl spawned from the difficulty she had working with hardware as a JavaScript developer. But when she met a role model of hers — CJ Silverio, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based director of engineering at npm — Silverio told her she should make a solution.

“Almost like a dare,” Hinton said.

The avrgirl project is one she works on during her live coding streams on Twitch. She said the streaming experience has been a positive one, motivating her to get work done in a short amount of time while also interacting with the viewers.

To follow along with Hinton’s work, sign up for her TinyLetter.

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Albert Hong

Albert Hong is a contributing reporter for Generocity and has been contributing to Technical.ly since May 2015. He was formerly the Lifestyle editor for Temple's student-run newspaper, The Temple News, where he wrote a column about local geek culture. If he's not brushing up on his Korean via his favorite Korean shows, he's playing "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker."

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