Meet Wil, a Windows-oriented Super User who put this GIF in his Ask Different profile. He’s also the kind of person who refuses to buy apps for his iPad, because it would mean indirectly paying money to Apple. Yeah, Wil’s as die-hard a Windows fan as they come. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a tattoo like this:
So Wil tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do I start? My name is William Hilsum and my day to day job is running an IT consultation and service company in the UK. The majority of my time, (when not on Super User) is spent typically helping small and medium sized companies out with their IT needs. This ranges from anything from general advice down to a complete outsourced help desk service.
What is it with you and your general dislike of Apple? Had a bite from the wrong apple? I do not really “hate” Apple as many people think (I have a few products myself), I just really strongly dislike (ok… maybe “hate”) the “cult of Apple”, typically people who regard Apple pretty much as a religion and faultless beyond any form of reason. The Apple v PC adverts was where I lost all respect for them and I pretty much consider the company as arrogant and up their own behinds.
If anyone wants to buy a Mac or any Apple product for the right reasons, I really do not mind or could not care less. What I truly hate is when people do not understand the difference and buy one for the complete wrong reasons such as “more powerful / faster”, “more reliable” or “it’s what all the other (insert industry) people use”.
In my experience a lot of people I see with Macs treat them far differently to Windows based computers and do not give a true account/comparison. It isn’t as though Apple computers run on fairy dust and magical components that never fail… I have a shelf full of failed apple components and make a lot of money from supporting and repairing them. I could so easily say more and go on… But that is probably enough for now and I don’t want to bore the readers too much!
While you missed the first two weeks of Super User’s launch, you’ve managed to log nearly 30 days more than me! That must make you an uber-fanatic! What has kept you here all that time and makes you keep answering questions?
Simple – The community, and the good feeling of helping other people! Whilst there has been many question and answer websites, I feel that no site has done it perfectly (Stack Exchange included) and in some cases very wrong. I however feel that Stack Exchange is by far the best option out there and I like the direction they are going in.
In the past, I have been a member of many forums and groups, but despite Jeff and the team’s original plan of not building a community, I felt like through comments, I seemed to talk to the same people quite regally, and it built up little friendships.
I may not have met anyone that I have helped in person, however now the sites have chat, I really feel like I have strong friendships with a number of people and it makes me feel like I have a strong connection to the site.
What is it that gives you such a good feeling when you help others? Presumably, you wouldn’t want your whole family to start ringing you when they have some computer problems!
The good feeling just comes from helping people that may be struggling without someone to turn to. As for family… Well, they do and it can be annoying at times, luckily though I can turn Super User off when I am busy! [Editorial: don’t we all wish we could turn our family off at times...]
Do you think Super User is welcoming towards people who don’t have their own Super User at hand? I always have this feeling a lot of our questions act as a scarecrow towards newbies… What do you think?
I don’t really see how any of the questions can scare people – It just shows people that they are in good hands, the only thing I would say is possibly bringing back some of the more fun questions such as “best prank” as I think that these make the place seem friendlier.
I believe that there are quite a few new users who come and ask a question making no effort at all to even form proper sentences (I myself may not be the best, but I do try!). However, I would say that Super User is very friendly to new users who make a effort.
Super User has a huge diversity in topics and they keep changing all the time as well! How do you stay on top of things and make sure you learn about all the new stuff?
Unfortunately I do not think it is possible to master everything (as much as I would like to think it is). As most people who know me can say, my real speciality is the Microsoft technology stack, specifically Windows.
I keep myself on top of things by reading a lot of websites and blogs, in addition, I am always trying out the Betas and making sure I know products inside and out. However, probably the best thing I do is to attend in person events and network or socialize with others in similar positions to myself.
This is a tricky one! Personally I would prefer to say I am a generalist when it comes to Microsoft technologies but if I had to pick one, I would say with my speciality is Windows (1st/2nd/3rd line) desktop/server support.
Are there specific Windows questions that you specifically look for and answer?
I would say I do just look for a few things in particular, however, that being said, I seem to answer and prefer more on explorer/shell and general Windows “internal” type questions.
Are there any specific users you often ‘compete’ with to get the fastest or best answer in?
In the early days, I would say I competed with John T and Molly for answers, but those days are long gone!
Back then, I had a few runs in with the top user – John T as we always seemed to be very active and post similar answers at the same time. This went one step further once when we both had a similar answer and edited them to add a picture. We both chose the same picture and uploaded to Tinypic – Tinypic must have some sort of CRC/duplication check as we both had the same link and accused each other of copying each other! After this, I think we both saw the funny side and we get on.
Those who frequent “Fake Programmers” know you’re sharpening your C# skills. Is this something you’re actively trying to learn?
Very much so – I started programming in Visual Basic 5 when I started secondary school, however, as much as I liked it, I never took it very far. A few years later, I got really involved in ASP 3 and used that for many projects. I saw ASP.Net arrive, but, I had invested so much time in ASP, I continued on with it (In my opinion, this is one of my worst decisions).
I have so many ideas for websites and applications that could be the next big thing, but recently when I started to program a few ideas in ASP 3, it clearly showed its age. For example, trying to build an XML based API for one of my existing applications just took forever. I then fired up Visual Studio and I copied a few examples that I read from the internet (And many answers from Stack Overflow!) and basically, the work that took me about 6 hours, I was able to do in 30 minutes. Along with drag and drop components for other items that would normally take a lot of code – I was sold!
As a control freak of the output (one thing I love with classic ASP), I feel that MVC is a natural fit for me and mastering that (in C#) is my ultimate goal.
You’re not really active on other SE-sites. Your SF rep probably comes from migrated questions and since you’re still improving your C# skills, I guess we don’t have to expect you to beat Jon Skeet on those questions. Any specific reason you’re not using any other sites or does that one site you’re dying to see not yet exist?
Well, I first heard about Stack Overflow and answered a few questions there… but as from my last question, you can tell I wasn’t exactly the best programmer. I then found out about Server Fault and spent quite a bit of time there (which I did enjoy), however, once I found out about Super User and the wookie [Editorial: ewok.adventure] code, I got in the beta and found a natural fit for my skills!
I do occasionally visit and answer on other SE sites (I love lurking in scifi.stackexchange.com), but Super User is my home and there just is not enough hours in the day to be a regular on every site.
With some newer stellar users, like Matt Jenkins, coming to Super User, do you have suggestion for them while participating on the site?
The only thing I would say is please slow down a bit and leave some questions for the rest of us!
Apart from that, I think it is far too easy to “burn out” (as you put it), I myself have had a few times when I have come close to it when work has been low and I spend a lot of time on the site – eventually, you just need a break.
Personally, I now try to limit myself time wise to the site, but everyone is different and if you don’t mind, and have the free time (or an understanding boss), your answers are always welcome!
What’s your favorite question or answer that shows what Super User is all about?
It is hard to pick just one… I would have to say my favorite questions have to be: http://superuser.com/questions/231273/what-are-the-windows-a-and-b-drives-used-for
When I forget for the moment that this makes me feel very old, it is funny to anyone over the age of 20, and yet has a very informative answer.
http://superuser.com/questions/52671/how-do-i-create-unicode-smilies-like And this one is just cool!
Is there a user that you’re dying to read the next interview with?
Not sure who can ask the questions, but I would say you (@IvoFlipse)! You are very active in the community and I think that everyone knows the least about you! [Editorial: We can work something out ]
Being a Super User and a Spy must be difficult… How do you do it?
If I tell you, I would have to kill you!
Well thanks Wil, for both the interview and all the great work you’ve done on Super User, let’s hope you don’t burn out, so we get to enjoy your company for quite some time! I’ll do my best to interview myself for next time, so if anyone has any questions for me or for Wil: drop us a comment!
Filed under Interviews