Norm is one of the best developers and teachers I've had the pleasure to work with.
As lead on building Artfinder's website, Norm was responsible for the tools, structure and code in-browser for a complex and challenging site. Neither he nor I were prepared to compromise on the principles of progressive enhancement, but this didn't prevent him from implementing some beautiful and subtle designs, with sophisticated interactivity that worked even if asset delivery (CSS, JS &c) degraded. This was achieved using a conceptual framework for the browser page lifecycle that clearly guides when different enhancements should be applied, and which emphasises the importance of styling for degraded situations. Norm's diligence early on pushed me to accept no less as time went by, both from myself and from others.
As the company grew, Norm played a vital role in hiring and developing the team. He wrote the CSS questions we used at interview, and taught HTML and CSS, and how to use them well, to whoever needed. He was also always happy to jump in and help people work through how to implement a particular design or feature. His rousing call of "to the whiteboard" is one of my enduring memories of Artfinder.
I would work with Norm again without hesitation.
I've worked with Norm five different projects now through /dev/fort. He is passionate, talented and has exceptional communication skills. In less than a day he was able to take me from having no knowledge of CSS to being able to contribute to the front-end development.
Norm's deep knowledge of web and internet technologies were invaluable in our work migrating critical pieces of the Second Life infrastructure from proprietary software to a more scalable web services stack. Norm was able to see beyond common web software patterns and see how those technologies could be usefully deployed in the very different domain of real-time virtual worlds. Norm is one of the most honest, open, friendly and professional people I have had the pleasure of working with with and I would recommend him to anyone who has hard problems that need solving.
There's not much I can say about Norm that won't seem hyperbolic, that won't sound like a throwaway, EBay-style comment in the vein of "a++++!!! would buy again!!!!". The simple fact is this: Norm is an inspiring leader who is incredibly good at building websites. He helped build a world-class web development team, he held it together when it started to splinter apart under external pressures, and he generally served as a shining beacon of sanity and hope in an otherwise dismal time. That description is a bit abstract; let's talk details: 1) Norm knows how to build websites. He was responsible for the development of a wide variety of Yahoo! media properties, and successfully launched dozens of sites during his tenure as a web developer. He's a passionate standards advocate, and has enough practical experience actually building sites to keep his head out of the clouds and focused on real problems and solutions. 2) In his role as front end architect, Norm generated a set of standards and practices that guide the development of websites across Y! Europe. He effectively cared for the standards' improvement and effectiveness by involving the team in a regular and pervasive series of peer reviews. 3) Norm insatiably pursued (practical) perfection in his work; he was a sharp critic of inefficiencies, and was never one to simply accept a bad decision. He did everything he could to effect change, ranging from pragmatic hacks that solved real problems to well-reasoned white-papers aimed at larger, cultural issues. Norm was absolutely at the center of every important debate I know of at the company, and he was usually the one making the most sense. 4) Norm is generous with his time and knowledge. He is continually available to answer questions, and always ready to lend a hand to a teammate up against a wall. He documents excessively and clearly, and quite simply makes the team better by example. He's a leader in every sense of the word. I'd work with him again in a heartbeat, and it's very much Yahoo!'s loss that they've let him go.
As anyone who has worked in large, internationally based teams will know, consistency of message/quality points and communication are the best ways to get quality work out of all involved. These are both things Norm brings to any project he is involved in. He has the rare ability to extract every bit of quality possible from projects he oversees, and to get the best out of even the most unwilling participants. His passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to quality make him an invaluable knowledge resource on any front end project, although in a crunch you'd want him on your coding team too.
I cannot recommend Norm highly enough as a senior developer or architect, and wish him all the best in his future. Ideally this future includes working with him again.
I hired and worked with Norm for approximately 2 years at Yahoo! during which he played a critical role within the web development team not only delivering projects such as Yahoo! News and Movies sites but also in terms of building best practices and evangelising the craft. Norm is passionate about all things 'web dev' and was a great speaker at company events where he sold the benefits in even to the most hardened executive. Norm was also a great team player, often acting as spokesperson for the group and ensuring more junior members were mentored. Norm's technical skills were very much up to date and 'of the moment' he would ensure he kept abreast of things through his personal network of like minded techies. He was a diligent worker and communicated clearly upwards if he could see blockers or areas for refinement of the solution. All in all I enjoyed working with Norm immensely and enjoying his positive attitude and sense of humour in even the darkest of moments. Also I miss his collection of cool toys/gadgets that were omnipresent on his desk.
Norm is an innovative and skilled technologist. I highly respect his work towards increasing the profile of technical innovation at Yahoo and also his committment to accessibility. Norm was the first developer to demonstrate to me what Yahoo's websites are like for a visually impaired screen-reader user. My work at Royal National Institute of Blind People have made me respect his committment even more. I would recommend Norm to any employer and would welcome to opportunity to work with him again.