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Love 2.0: Peter Rojas and Jill Fehrenbacher

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.


If there was an award for cutest hipster bloggers with actual street cred, Peter Rojas and Jill Fehrenbacher would take the cake. He is the cofounder and editor-in-chief of Engadget, a heavily trafficked tech blog about gadgets and consumer electronics, and the cofounder of Joystiq, which covers the world of video games. She is the founder of Inhabitat, a sensible and chic blog that looks at the future of design, tracking innovations in technology and practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design toward a smarter future. Though they describe themselves as "art school geeks" rather than your "average geeks," the newly-engaged couple stands out in the Love 2.0 generation for using technology to spread their passion for life and their work. What do they love about their jobs and each other? read more

Geeksugar: How do you describe your profession?
Peter: I blog about gadgets, more or less.
Jill: I'm a designer, architecture student, publisher, blogger and all around green design evangelist.

Geeksugar: Bloggers often have the fortune/misfortune of having incredibly unorthodox schedules, what’s a typical day like for you?
Peter: I work from home, so a typical day for me involves getting up and going straight to my computer to deal with email and get a handle on what I have to do that day. I work a lot, but it's broken up by errands and meetings, with maybe an event in the evening. Then back to work before bed.
Jill: The beauty of being a blogger is that each day is different! That said, each day does involve a lot of time in front of the computer for sure.
Peter: It's funny that neither of us has a real job where we have to go an office every day. We both used to when we were younger, it's weird to have more freedom as you get older, I always thought it would be the other way around.

Geeksugar: And are you totally connected to technology all day or more focused on the concept/bigger picture of what you want on your sites?
Peter: We spend a lot of time at home on our computers, but my schedule varies a lot, so I'm often out and staying on top of things via my Treo.
Jill: We’re right next to each other but working. I work from home usually about half day, and usually spend the other half of the day online at my studio up at Columbia. And when I'm not in front of a computer, I am online with my Treo.

Geeksugar: And Peter - what's your "hours online" guess?
Peter: I suppose I'm always online in one way or another from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed. If I'm out I'm connected with my Treo and checking emails or monitoring things with that. Not that I can’t unplug if I need to, but I don’t see my work as this completely separate part of my life I need to escape from.

Geeksugar: To go a little bigger - what do you each think is your greatest contribution to your field? Don’t be modest.
Pete: Well, I've been blogging for a long time and I think I've had an effect on both blogging and technology journalism. How important or major that impact might be is for others to judge.
Jill: My goal is to bring the worlds of design and sustainability together, and I think I’ve been successful in this regard. I think people are finally starting to realize that sustainability is a design issue. You can see it in that most of the “green” organizations are focusing more on design and aesthetic presentation now, and most design and architecture magazines are focusing more on sustainability as well. Essentially, I'm an evangelist for thoughtful, sustainable design...
Peter: I just want Engadget to be a site that people want to read. That they feel like is a must-read.

Geeksugar: How did you two meet?
Peter: We met in San Francisco in late 1998 in the dot com boom, though neither of us worked in tech at the time. I was broke and had a job doing media planning at an ad agency. I was really bad at it - my boss thought I was incompetent. It turned out the job was lots of numbers and I was a poor fit for it.
Jill: I worked in a number of dot coms - doing things like HTML support, graphic design, and then I got a job as a web designer at a marketing agency.
Peter: I had a friend at the ad agency who was friends with someone I'd gone to high school with. We all went for drinks one day after work and my friend's friend had invited her friend Jill to come out with us.

Geeksugar: And clearly now you have found a perfect match…
Peter: You could say that!

Geeksugar: Would you describe yourselves as "geeks"?
Peter: Yes and no. In a lot of ways we're not typical geeks at all.
Jill: Yeah, I don't think we fall into the traditional definition.
Peter: I don't think "geek" is a pejorative term at all. Obviously I love gadgets and tech - I'm the kind of guy who likes to geek out by installing Ubuntu on old PCs - but we're also really into design and art and fashion and music. It’s just that we think tech is as important and as cool as all that other stuff, too.
Jill: I like being really nerdy about building materials!

Geeksugar: Why do you think the tech world is so important/interesting right now?
Peter: It seems like technology is driving a lot of cultural, social, and now even political change. It's hard to separate tech out from everything else. Some people are scared by that, but I think it's awesome how technology enables our lives – I know how cliché it sounds, but I know tons of people who are doing what they love now and that's because of the internet or because of some other technology. I thought I’d spend my life locked up in a cubicle somewhere doing a job I hated.

Geeksugar: And instead?
Peter: I more or less get to do what I want, in a sense. I have complete editorial freedom with Engadget, and because of the nature of the job I can work from wherever I want as long as I have broadband. Right now it's a good time to be creative - you can just follow your interests and build businesses around them.

Geeksugar: So for the fluffy part - tell me what you love about one another...
Peter: Jill is really driven and ambitious and smart. It'd be hard to for me date someone who wasn't always working on amazing projects.
Jill: Peter is witty and very funny - he is fabulous at making me crack up - even when I am in a foul mood. He is the only person in the world able to make me laugh when I am upset.

Geeksugar: So what are your Valentine's Day plans?
Jill: Peter? Do we have any?
Peter: Not yet... depends on how busy Jill is with school!
Jill: I'm sure Peter will come up with something fabulous, right Pete?
Peter: Perhaps I just want to lull you into thinking I have nothing planned. I did blow it out for your birthday, remember?
Jill: He did indeed - he's good like that. He rented one of those double decker tourist buses and gave all of my friends a tour of Manhattan - with vegan cupcakes. How’s that for geeky & sweet?

Geeksugar: This one is probably harder for Peter given the nature of his daily duties, but what are a few gadgets you both want right now?
Peter: I want a Vista Media Center with CableCARD support so I can throw out this awful Time Warner Cable DVR. Plus I'd like Palm to improve the Treo.
Jill: My stuff is all more blue sky. I want a sunlight transport device so I can brighten up my dim Manhattan apartment and an electric car!

Geeksugar: What about favorite websites other than your own, or each other's?
Peter: Fimoculous, PSFK, waxy, lifeiscarbon, BuzzFeed, TheSimpleMission, and Mashable.
Jill: I can never get enough of cute overload and Overheard in New York. Of course I read a lot of design websites everyday: archinect, bldgblog, core77, treehugger, mocoloco, etc..

Geeksugar: Who makes the final decisions about big ticket gadgets at home?
Jill: Peter because mostly - I just don't care except when it comes to lighting or home décor.
Peter: I did just buy a 37-inch TV and I think Jill found out when she saw it in the apartment.
Jill: Pete and I endlessly debate HDTV, because I don't really see the point of the technology.
Peter: Even HD isn't enough for me. I want Ultra HD
Jill: I care about the REAL WORLD, Peter, not TV.
Peter: Cool, you can just go for a walk while I watch Lost in HD.
Jill: Well, if we're talking about Lost, then I'll stay in and watch it with you - HD or no.

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