Compose Travelogue - Birmingham, Compose Workspace

Still in Birmingham, Alabama, the Travelogue moved on to meet up with Kyle Foster down at the Compose workspace outside of town. Kyle is an designer/developer who's currently working on our new design system for all the online materials created and presented by Compose; it's a big project which will help unify the visual language of Compose. As well as that though he's also working with the design team on other tasks, gets pulled in to help out with problems on other software and provides practical help to the marketing team.

He's also a remote Composer who has several places from which he connects from. "I tend to spend my morning in a coffee shop, then either work from my home office or go to the public library in the afternoon" says Kyle. He explained that he also uses the Birmingham workspace so he can bump into other Birmingham Compose people.

The combination of options suits Kyle - "It presents a good balance for me. If I want to be near my kids for the day, I work remotely. If I’m stuck in a situation that’s distracting (read: my kids are all up in my business), I can go to a coffee shop to bust out some work. If I’m totally uninspired, I can change my scenery to get my creative juices flowing and if I want to defeat some co-workers at Ninja Ball, I go into the workspace."

Ninja Ball is a Compose tradition involving a pool table, balls, towels, no cues and a complex set of rules that I suspect have more in common with the British game of Mornington Crescent. It does, though, like any good sport, bring people together in a competitive yet friendly way. It so happens that the workspace has all the required elements for Ninja Ball.

When not in the one-on-one confines of the workspace, Kyle's preferred means of communication is Slack. He says this is because "I don’t really suffer from FOMO, so Slack allows me to easily ignore things that aren’t pertinent to my job". There's a discipline to be learned with all the real time chat systems to avoid sitting in on every room and conversation, especially in an open culture like Compose's. Slack is one of the easier ones to manage as you can tune notifications out and even subtley vanish when needs be. Or you can make yourself more visible. For example, Kyle will "also crack wise and troll people in the General channel, which is a lot of fun."
Visual chats are best done in appear.in according to Kyle; it lets you quickly start up a Web RTC chat room where ever you are. Kyle's also a big fan of ScreenHero.

Back in 2008, newlywed Kyle, and wife, followed his parents when they decided to uproot from Virginia and move to Birmingham. He calls it "one of the best decisions we've ever made". Why Birmingham? "Birmingham is the perfect place for people who like the amenities of a larger city without all the hassle. It’s a laid back, friendly atmosphere with plenty to see and do, and most importantly, eat. The food is ridiculous. Oh, and the local brew. And the coffee".

Pushed to tell where to find these things, Kyle went on "There are plenty of breweries to visit... Avondale, Trim Tab, Good People... venues for music... aIron City, Saturn, Alabama Theatre... great coffee shops ... Octane, Seeds, Alabama Biscuit Company ... and watching a Baron’s game at Regions Field is fun." The Travelogue got through Octane, Alabama Bisuit Company and watching a Baron's game during our stay so I didn't do badly.

Despite his self declared skewed definition of cool ("As a parent..."), Kyle picked out the McWane Science Center as "a really cool place to take kids to learn about science in a really fun way". They also "have a legit IMAX dome, which made the Force Awakens even better".

I didn't get a chance to check out the IMAX dome though as it was time to leave Birmingham and it was into an Uber and off to the airport. The next stop would be outside the US, over in Montreal...