Interview with Brett Terpstra

Host of Systematic, Brett Terpstra

Host of Systematic, Brett Terpstra

This week we got to chat it up with the host of Systematic, Brett Terpstra. Brett talked a little about how he got started doing Systematic, his culinary, animal-friendly, and musical interests, his epic summer movie list, and his plan for world domination. He may have to move out of the arctic northernly land of Minnesota, first.

Hey Brett! How’s it going?

Brett Terpstra: It's awesome.

Great! For those not already in the know, who are you?

BT: I'm Brett Terpstra. I self-identify as a "mad scientist," and no one has ever disagreed with me; at least not publicly. I code for web, Mac and iPhone, I blog, I write and occasionally sleep.

Where are you from?

Land of snow

That looks terrible.

BT: I was born in Michigan and have lived in Minnesota for most of my life. After college and a bit of travel I ended up back here in a small Minnesota city. I like the small part, but not so much the Minnesota part. Winters temperatures are mostly sub-zero, with really hot, humid summers. I want to move West. I don't care about lakes.

Tell us a little about your podcast, Systematic.

BT: On Systematic I interview people who happen to be really good at what they do, trying to find out what makes them tick. We talk about workflows and systems, but more often than not the conversation follows a more organic path.

Every week I ask my guests to talk about three things they find the coolest that week. Apps, music, movies, games... it runs the gamut and the picks are often quite revealing.

What inspired you to start a podcast?

BT: Founder of 5by5, Dan Benjamin-- He suggested that I start a podcast. I had never thought about it before, but I'd been on other people's podcasts and thought I could pull it off. Plus, it sounded like fun. Next thing you know, I'm doing Systematic.

What are your interests outside of work and podcasting?

BT: I code, I hike and lately I cook. I've really been enjoying the "Cooking for Geeks" approach and even have a "Cooks Illustrated" subscription.

Emma and Chance

I have a few animals that keep me busy. One Pit Bull, one German Shepherd, three cats (one short hair, one long hair and a Siamese), an African Grey parrot (100% my wife's) and a 75-gallon fish tank.

Yeti and Jezebel… and Bacon

My wife and I also run a Pit Bull rescue to keep things interesting.

I play guitar, but not exceptionally well. I enjoy home recording and occasionally playing acoustic shows. I used to play in bands, but the lifestyle got to be a bit hard to maintain…

Punk Rock in the 90's

What projects are you working on?

BT: I'm gearing up to release the next big version of Marked soon. A new version of nvALT is in beta stages as well. In addition to those, I have my usual slew of coding experiments going and a couple of new apps on the horizon.

I'm also starting work on a children's book along with my wife and a talented illustrator which should be a lot of fun.

Eventually I plan to take over the world.


What are you most looking forward to this summer?

BT: Temperatures above zero.


What are you reading this summer?

BT: I don't read much that would be interesting to most people. This summer I'm diving into JavaScript in new ways, studying CoffeeScript and Node.js. I'm struggling through a bunch of fiction, but I can't ever seem to get really immersed in a storyline anymore.

What movies are you most looking forward to this summer?

BT: I do better with movies than books these days, so I have a longer list:

Where can we find you on the internet?

BT: I'm @ttscoff on Twitter,, GitHub and I blog at and you can occasionally find me at TUAW and Macworld. There's my podcast, too, of course.

Thanks Brett! You're a jack of all trades! World domination may very well be in the cards for you. NEW EPISODES OF Systematic are posted weekly. Check out the full list of episodes on the 5by5 Website OR SUBSCRIBE AND DOWNLOAD EPISODES VIA ITUNES.

Posted on June 6, 2013 and filed under Interviews, 5by5 Hosts.