How Zach Freeman Works

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zach freeman

Location: 990 W Fullerton
Current Gig: Director of the LAS Technology Center
One word that best describes how you work: efficient
Current mobile device: iPhone 5 (getting an iPhone 6 this week)
Current computer: Dell Optiplex 7010 (like everyone else at DePaul)

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Visual Studio, TFS, SQL Server, Buster (for public transit), Nike Running, Google Drive

What’s your workspace setup like. Dual monitors with an adjustable standing/sitting desk.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack? Do you automate something that used to be a time sink? Do you relegate email to an hour a day? I check email constantly all day long. The entire purpose of my office is to automate things that used to be time sinks – Independent Study applications, Grant applications, Late Withdrawal requests, Course proposals… anything that is done using a paper process is fair game for us to automate.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Oddly enough, a piece of paper and a pen.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why? My Nike Fuelband. Because I’m obsessive and it’s been tracking my activity for three years so I don’t want to stop the streak… but I will have to at some point since Nike discontinued the product last year.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret? Understanding the difference between subjectivity and objectivity. I think being embedded in both the arts and technology help me see into both. Too much technology and everything seems objective (it works or it doesn’t). Too much arts and everything seems subjective (but, like, that’s just your opinion, man). I also write theater reviews for Newcity and any kind of critique requires mixing both.

What do you listen to while you work? If I’m coding I listen to stuff that doesn’t require me to think: Marina and the Diamonds, Katy Perry, Robyn, Lily Allen. Otherwise nothing.

What do you do to stay inspired? Who are some of your favorite artists? I go running. If you run far enough it’s like meditating because your mind gets cleared. Comedians are my favorite artists: Ricky Gervais, David Cross, Louis CK.

What sort of work are you up to now? The Tech Center is working on an online form for a new grant for undergraduate LAS students, converting the Faculty Workload Worksheet to an online form, automating the process for readmitting graduate students who have been inactive for a short timeframe, putting the undergraduate enrollment override process online and getting the LAS website updated in various ways to better promote our programs, faculty and students.

What are you currently reading? Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible, by Jerry Coyne.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? Maybe both?  The MBTI said that I am an introvert but I think I was right on the line. I have a theater degree and a computer science degree so I guess I’m both.

What’s your sleep routine like? Not very consistent. Whenever I finish all the things I need to do for the day I go to sleep. But I usually wake up around 6.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.  Why? John Shanahan. Because he’s always busy and always getting stuff done and still maintaining a positive attitude. He seems like he’s got some good secrets on how to work.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? I don’t think anyone ever told me this but: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” is pretty solid advice. And someone told me that code doesn’t lie. That’s excellent advice to programmers because when you’re debugging a program it’s a lot easier to blame the computer or the code than to admit that if it doesn’t work it has to be something you did wrong.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? For all people who don’t work in “IT” I’d like to add: think of a technologist like an artist. Just because someone can make a great sculpture doesn’t mean they know anything about oil painting or mixed media. Being able to write code doesn’t mean that I can help you update your Android OS or transfer all your email from one account to another… I mean, yeah, I probably can, but still.


The How I Work series featured on the re/search blog is shamelessly stolen from Life Hacker’s How I Work series.  The SSRC’s version asks DePaul’s heroes, experts, and individuals of note to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more.  Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask?  Email Jessi Bishop-Royse at jbishopr[at]depaul.edu. 

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Author: Jessica Bishop-Royse

Jessica Bishop-Royse is the SSRC’s Senior Research Methodologist. Her areas of interest include: health disparities, demography, crime, methods, and statistics. She often finds herself navigating the fields of sociology, demography, epidemiology, medicine, public health, and policy. She was broadly trained in data collection, Stata, quantitative research methodology, as well as statistics. She has experience with multi-level analyses, survival analyses, and multivariate regression. Outside of the work context, Jessi is interested in writing, reading, travel, photography, and sport.

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