About Me

Hi there! Thank you for visiting my little corner of the web. My name is Schalk Neethling, and I live in Pretoria, South Africa.

I was born on the 11th of December, 1976 in Pretoria, South Africa. I never really felt at home in a school environment and dropped out at the age of 16 to pursue a career in music. I studied classical guitar and music theory with private teachers while also being the lead guitarist and songwriter in the band Maleficent.

After trying a few times to get a record deal the band unfortunately disbanded and I focused on my classical guitar career. I reached the high point of my career in the late nineties when I did a small tour in South Africa playing a number of art festival venues. I visited the UK and the Netherlands, recorded a CD (you can download a free copy here) and did a stint of teaching at Pretoria Boys High.

I also started a family really early, when I met and married my true love on the 4th of July, 1998. After some time I realized that music was sadly not going to allow me to properly take care of myself and my family, especially financially. I needed to pivot and find something new to turn into a career.

Without getting into the weeds too much I eventually found the world of software development and over time found my home in the world of frontend development specifically. I was part of the blue beanie movement, played around with the CSS Zen Garden, built a lot of website intros with Flash, and designed many, many logos. I worked for some companies that made me realize that the corporate world was not for me.

This led me to join Mozilla in late 2011, a dream come true. While I still work with Mozilla, and these days specifically as the staff community manager on MDN Web Docs, I am also building my own consulting company called Mechanical Ink.

I have a core belief in the opportunities the internet can offer to empower people and communities. When you combine the reach of the web with skills in engineering, design, and compassion for others, we can impact not only our own lives, but those of others as well. One of my life goals is to build a community of curious people, who share knowledge and experience in order to inspire each other to create their own opportunities using their own creativity, the web and related technologies.

To this end I have created a community on Discord called The Mycelium Network where everyone of all levels is welcome to learn and share with each other. I write on this blog about the things I learn as I build my own career and business.

I do the vast majority of my work in the open and only stray from this when requested to do so by a client. I contribute to open source projects as often as I can, joining local hack days through the ZATech community. When I encounter a problem, be it documentation or code, with an open source project I use, I always do my very best to take a moment to report or fix the issue as a means of giving back.

I have a number of open source side projects that I maintain such as Project Calavera, and a number of other projects on GitHub. I always welcome contributions from others.

I love to teach people new to the web development world how to build web experiences that are accessible to all. I am currently working on a deep dive into HTML called 150 days of HTML, which you can read for free online. I am also in the process of putting together an introduction to web development short course that will introduce newcomers to HTML, CSS and JavaScript. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, sign up for the mailing list.

I am constantly experimenting with new ideas, so keep a close eye on my GitHub profile or follow me on Twitter.