Love 2.0: Heather Champ and Derek Powazek

If we're to believe pop culture, a Beauty and a Geek can fall in love in six episodes, teach each other to dress, code, and balance their checkbooks, and combine to make the perfect pair. It may not be that easy in the real world, but there are plenty of beautifully geeky couples that continue to inspire us with their innovative ideas and contributions to the technology and resources we use everyday. As part of our Geeks We Love series, I caught up with a few couples that, through the beauty of the internet and technology have influenced both our lives and each other in a wonderful way.




Heather Champ is the Community Manager at flickr and co-founder of JPG Magazine. Her husband, Derek Powazek is the founder and CCO of 8020 Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of JPG Magazine. A life-long camera junkie, Heather never leaves home without a camera, hoping to capture the small moments that catch her eye. Derek was an early blogger - even though he never liked calling it that. He also used to run fray.com, the original digital storytelling magazine, which Heather calls a “wonderful gift to the web in a time when self-publishing wasn't as ubiquitous as it is today.” What geeky things do these two love about each other and life?

Geeksugar: Tell me a little about yourselves!
Derek: I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1995 with a degree in Photojournalism. When every paper I talked to said they just weren't hiring photographers anymore, I fell into the web. I never really realized it would become my life, but here I am. Of course, now I'm running a photo magazine, so I guess I've come full circle. I invented the magazine I wanted to work for 10 years ago.
Heather: I built a home page in August of '94 while working at Princeton and immediately fell in love with life online. I developed websites professionally for 10 years and then joined Flickr as Community Manager in 2005.

Geeksugar: What do you think is the geekiest thing about yourself?
Derek: The other day I was on the subway going to work, listening to a NPR podcast on my iPod and checking my email and surfing the web on my Hiptop, and I thought, when did it become the future?
Heather: I've geotagged over 3,000 of my photos on Flickr. I became absolutely obsessed with adding the geo location information a few weeks before we launched the photos on Flickr. Given that I shoot mostly film, I find myself making mental notes of where I am when I'm out and about.

Geeksugar: How about the geekiest thing about your significant other?
Derek: Heather's pretty oldschool. She loves her Polaroid SX-70 and shoots mostly film. But come between her and her Treo and there'll be trouble. She's also the only person I know who can actually watch the low budget Saturday movies on the Sci Fi channel.
Heather: He gave me a dual tuner DirecTV TiVo a couple of year's ago for Valentine's Day. Given that our viewing preferences fall into two buckets ("hand drawn", ie cartoons: him, accents and/or costume drama: me), a dual tuner device is a must.

Geeksugar: How and when did you two meet?
Derek: We met at SXSW in 2000, which I guess is pretty geeky, too. That was the same year Kottke and Meg met, and a few other couples, too. Love was in the air.

Geeksugar: What are your top three favorite gadgets:
Derek: Number one has to be the gadget I use most, which is my 15" Powerbook. I still have the pre-Intel version, which I'm sticking to until CS3 comes out. But it's just a marvelous machine. Two is Danger Hiptop, aka T-Mobile Sidekick I've had every version of this device, and each gets better. I love the flip-out display, qwerty keyboard, and mobile email, web, and chat. I wish the hardware design was better, but I guess the iPhone will be here soon enough. Three is the Apple iPod (video, 30gig). I know, so pedestrian. But it's a nearly perfect device. I love that I can use the click wheel through it's case. And the videos and games are a nice addition for boring Muni rides. I do wish the batter lasted longer, though.
Heather: My Treo 680 (red), Sony DSC-T5 (the wet suit accessory is most excellent for the beach and rafting) and our dual tuner DirecTV TiVo (a Valentine's Day present a few years ago).

What about the top three luxury gadgets you really want?
Derek: The Leica M8. It's the digital version of the M6 I mentioned earlier, and it's expensive as hell, but I'd love to give it a whirl. If they could finally make a digital Leica as sweet as the film Rangefinders, it'd be a dream come true. Does a car count as a luxury gadget? If so, bring on my Mini Cooper. Silver and black with moon roof, please. A stylish car that you can actually park in San Francisco. Bliss. Also a big ass HDTV. When I picked up a plasma display last year, the actual HD models were just too pricey.
Heather: Leica M8, Slingbox, Sony GPS tracker (oh, and a more current version of my point and shoot to go with it), that set of 128 tea mugs designed by Onkar Singh Kular - "Each of the 128 tea mugs is a Pantone shade of brown, which allows people to pick out the mug that matches the way they take their tea. Depending on which one they pick, the host with the most can judge how much milk to put in." And a My5 Power Plate (very weird jiggly, anti-fat thing).

Geeksugar: Your first computer was a…
Derek: Commodore 64. I was bootlegging video games on 5" floppies in grade school. Yeah, I was THAT cool.
Heather: Mac Iici with a whopping 8 MB of ram, baby!

Geeksugar: What are your favorite websites?
Derek: Heather's site, of course! Daring Fireball is a must-read and Ze Frank has
put a smile on my face nearly every day since he started the show. And, of course, the flickr addiction must be fed daily.
Heather: Flickr.com (natch), jpgmag.com, cuteoverload.com, mightygoods.com, dooce.com to name a few.

Geeksugar: What is your Valentine's Day plan?
Derek: I'm not saying! Surprise is the spice of life.
Heather: I don't know. We alternate and last year I made the plans: we went to EOS, a lovely restaurant in Cole Valley where we had our wedding reception. Derek's on deck this year. No pressure. Nope. None at all.

Geeksugar: Who makes the final decision when it comes to gadgets for the home?
Derek: We both do! We had dinner with a couple of friends not long ago, and she said something about not being able to buy a camera because he wouldn't let her. Heather and I just looked blankly at them. If I ever came between Heather and a camera, well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty.
Heather: We both follow our bliss when it comes to gadgets. Derek definitely plots out the big ticket items while I gift him gaming devices for Hanukkah.

Geeksugar: Who solves tech problems at home?
Derek: Judging solely by who cusses the most when the airport network goes out, it'd have to be me.
Heather: Derek. Period. I once almost had a nervous breakdown when presented with a TiVo green screen of death while he was away at a conference.

Geeksugar: Are you going to buy an iPhone?
Derek: Are you kidding? I may buy two: one to use and one to keep pristine in its box to save for future generations to admire. "This was the moment, children, when computers went mobile," we'll say. And they'll respond in some sort of future kid lingo that we cannot begin to imagine now.
Heather: Will my super secret de-coder ring be taken away if I say no? I'm a big fan of a qwerty keyboard and a die hard Treo fan.

Geeksugar: How do you feel about people calling you a “geek”?
Derek: Amen! To me, "geek" just means "someone who's just a little too into something." I was a guitar geek before becoming a camera geek before becoming a web geek before graduating to being a coffee geek. I can't wait to see what I geek out on next. It's better than being a nerd, anyway.
Heather: That they're misguided.

Geeksugar: What has been your partner’s greatest contribution to the tech/blog?
Derek: As a prominent woman in tech, Heather's been a real inspiration to a lot of girls out there. She's also inspired a lot of people to pick up their cameras again. I know she inspires me to want to be a better photographer.
Heather: If you've seen the Blogger "B", then you've seen Derek's work, but I think that Fray (fray.com) was a wonderful gift to the web in a time when self-publishing wasn't as ubiquitous as it is today.

Geeksugar: How many hours do you spend online a day?
Derek: Pretty much all of them.
Heather: Too many.

Geeksugar: How many hours does your partner spend online a day?
Derek: Same. We try to get out of the house and away from the computers on the weekends. But, otherwise, the net is just part of the fabric of our lives. It's never far away.
Heather: Too many.

Geeksugar: What is one geeky habit you’re trying to quit?
Derek: I think I've already done it: After 10 years, I just recently killed my blog. It was one of my new years resolutions: There's enough pressure already, don't put more on yourself. It was stressing me out whenever the top post got more than a couple days old. I decided to just take it down until I have the time to enjoy it again.
Heather: I think I'm a great multi-tasker, though Derek would disagree. Less SMSing while out and about together would be greeted with enthusiasm.

Are you the “Beauty or the “Geek” in the relationship?
Derek: Oh, please tell me I'm the geek.
Heather: While Derek's wardrobe is far more beautiful than mine, I would crown him alpha geek at Casa Chawazek.

Want to know more about Heather? Check out HChamp.com. For more about Derek, check out Powazek.com.

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