#001 - Stephen Shaw

With Leia, Alice and Stripe

Profile image of Stephen Shaw

Stephen is ½ of the fantastic coding duo, The Keyframers who livestream while they build awesome animations. He's also a Front End Developer at CodePen.

Andy: Let’s do the important intro first. What pets have you brought along with you today?

Stephen: Thanks for having us!

We have our three cats here, all adopted. #adoptdontshop

Leia, 7, is our oldest. We adopted her from a lady that had a box of kittens dropped in her yard. She's a snuggly lap-cat and a "spot stealer"; as soon as you get up from your seat, she will immediately take your spot to absorb the warmth. Leia's obsessed with water and extremely vocal about it.

Alice is 3 or 4 years old, but she's tiny and has with the softest fur in the world. We got her from a no-kill shelter in Houston, Friends For Life. She was pregnant when someone dropped her off, gave birth to a small litter that were all quickly adopted out. They took extremely good care of Alice at Friends For Life and made her so comfortable with vet staff that our vet has to stop Alice's purring to listen to her heart!

Our newest cat and only boy was named Stripe by our daughter, but decided his full name is Wesley Stripes. He showed up in our yard and decided to camp out. Stripe was super friendly, playing with us and following us around outside. We tried to find his family because he was definitely not a feral cat, but suspect he was dumped after he grew out of his kitty phase. We guess he's about 2 or 3 years old now.

A ginger cat sits on a wooden chair near a window, looking mischievous
Stripe looks like he’s been caught in the act of doing something mischievous

Andy: You’re bringing back memories of a childhood cat that I rescued called Podge. We took her in from an abusive family, so she was real sketchy. We thought she was really young because she had tiny little legs, but it turns out she was a good few years older than we thought.

Anyway, back to your awesome cats.

How are your cats with kids? I know some (like mine) are terrified, but some are super chill with them.

Stephen: They tend to run off and hide from kids they don't know, but all of our cats have been great with our daughter. They're all very patient with her, even when she was a baby and would grab tuffets of fur. Nowadays, she loves waving around the cat toys for them to grab, but gets upset when the cats won't let go!

3 cats sat in their cat boxes with a tiny bit on sun covering a bit of two of the cats
Alice, Leia and Stripe in their cat beds.

Andy: Oh man, cuteness alert! It’s really wholesome when cats and kids get along. I can only hope that mine will eventually...

So, cats are pretty handy work companions. Are your cats the type that’ll sit on your keyboard or do they give scathing code reviews?

Stephen: I think the older the kids are, the better the cats can take to them, so give it time! The way toddlers tend to pull on tails doesn't exactly endear them to the cats.

Our cats are extremely interested in wherever our attention is most focused. If that happens to be a laptop, then the keyboard is the perfect place for them to lay in that moment. Usually right when I'm in the middle of typing something important. I shift them off to my actual lap or on the couch beside me, but the large MacBook Pro trackpads often mean that my cats paws are controlling the mouse, which sounds like a cat's dream.

There have been a few moments on our @keyframers collaborative coding live stream where my cats attempt to take over or decide the microphone is the perfect spot to rub.

Stephen sits with a cat on his laptop. The cat looks like they could be typing
Leia is helping Stephen with some design. Stephen looks like he’s concentrating extra hard. Maybe that’s because Leia is a ruthless creative director.

Andy: I’m glad you brought that clip up because I laughed hard when I saw that. I think all cat owners could empathise with you in that situation. Readers: I strongly recommend that you watch that clip.

I suppose this segues nicely into a few questions about yourself. Why don’t you tell us what you like do on the web and what makes you tick?

Stephen: Mostly I like making things move around on the web. As for ticking, requestAnimationFrame is my go-to for ensuring ticks line up with the browser's refresh frames.

Does that answer your question?

Andy: Oh puns are 100% appreciated and encouraged here. In fact, I’d almost say that they are mandatory.

That also provides another segue (which is technically another pun) to you’re awesome project, The Keyframers. How did that come about?

Stephen: My best friend started doing random live streams on Twitch last year. Streams like him reading a book. Not aloud; to himself. Surprisingly enough, they established a decent audience.

Around that same time, I'd been tossing around ideas for making development less of a solitary act. I thrive on feedback, so the idea of interacting with others through a live stream while working through development challenges was very appealing, as was using CodePen's Collab Mode to work with someone.

From there, I reached out to David Khourshid. We'd interacted some on the Animation at Work Slack group and were fans of each other's CodePen work, so I floated the idea to David and we began brainstorming what that could look like.

The name @keyframers surfaced, after a lot of debate, and a plan was established. We had never even voice chatted until 10 minutes before the first stream, and we still haven't met in-person!

The more we streamed and talked, we began growing the vision for what @keyframers will be. Big plans are in store, moving beyond only collaborative coding live streams. More on that in the coming weeks!

Andy: <extremely-old-man-voice>Folks are streaming anything these days!</extremely-old-man-voice>

I do like how folks like you and David put yourselves out there and code live in front of a bunch of people. It’s great for beginners to see both awesome stuff being made from scratch, but also you screwing up and fixing things together. It helps remove that perception of immediate perfection, which is a good thing.

I’m a real fanboy of the @keyframers, so I’m excited to see what’s coming up—even though I probably won’t watch it live because 1AM is pretty darn late.

Any-who, let’s tail this back (pun intended) back to the cats for our final question of this interview.

If you were to pick one: which of your cats is your favourite?

Note: I won’t show this interview to any of them.

Stephen and a white cat take a nap together
This is darn adorable. Cat naps are the best naps.

Stephen: Oh, no! You can't ask that. They're all lovely in their own special ways.

Alice will always rub against your leg when she walks by, and is so soft and lovely to pet. Stripe's a big softie who headbutts you, quite hard I must say, to show his love. Leia will keep you company all the time, even in the shower 😳. I was serious about her obsession with water.

Andy: Ok, ok, I won’t make you choose. They all sound like amazing cats.

Stephen, thanks so much for talking about your pets and yourself. How can people find you on the World Wide Web and support your work?

Stephen: Thank you for having me! It's been pawsitively delightful chatting with you.

You can get more coding content and random thoughts from myself on Twitter as @shshaw.

If you'd like to see more from Stripe, Alice & Leia, you can follow my wife's fabulous Instagram account, @catsinsunshapes, where she posts beautiful black & white, high contrast photos of our fluffy friends.

If you like code, animation, puns and the occasional interruption by cat, catch @keyframers live every Monday at twitch.tv/keyframers. Follow @keyframers on Twitter for news and find the latest videos at YouTube.com/Keyframers.

And remember...

Old man saying 'Have your pet spayed or neutered' in a game show setting