I live in Sydney, Australia, and I help technology teams to share crucial knowledge about their software architecture. I previously spent 12 years at fintech startup Tyro Payments as a software engineer, engineering lead, and product lead. I also have a long history as a software engineer, a professional Java developer, a passionate Scala hobbyist, a big fan of *nix command line tools, a somewhat capable iOS programmer, a microservices apprentice, and a mediocre website designer.
I Love Building Software that Improves the World
Let’s start from the beginning: my first computer. It was a Dick Smith System 80. It was awesome being able to play video games at home (after putting the tape on to load and going outside to play for 1/2 an hour. That’s right, kids – TAPES!) While my two older brothers were content just playing the tape games, I started typing in code from the manual. I had no idea what I was doing at first, but soon I was writing my own programs to do amazing things like randomly turn pixels on and off on the screen. I’m pretty sure one of my brothers would have said “What the hell are you doing?” at this point. They’ve always been encouraging like that. But I was hooked; I was a hacker from the first moment I got a chance.
Fast-forward about eight years: my Year 11 English teacher told my Mum that my desire to be a journalist was silly because my English marks weren’t good enough. She was wrong, but I started talking about going into computers and Mum and Dad didn’t do anything to stop me, which is probably the best way of encouraging a teenager. Thank goodness for my English teacher being so wrong and my parents’ silent guidance, because writing software for a living is fantastic and if I’d been a journalist I would have had to study in Bathurst before joining a dying industry. Bullet dodged.
For my industrial training at university I was lucky enough to land a job with a crack team of software engineers at Forge Research. These guys were on the cutting edge of distributed systems development at Telstra and we did a lot of fun work there: remotely controlling telco devices, collecting and visualising data from sensors in shipping containers distributed across the world, building enterprise-grade authorisation systems and creating the innovative Map Intelligence, which is basically a mashup that joins BI tools to mapping tools with a couple of clicks. I vividly remember the first time I hit a button in a web browser at my desk and then walked into the server room to see the lights flashing on a multiplexer that told me my computer was configuring it. I thought: “Wow, some code I wrote is interacting with the real world.” That was an exciting revelation for me, the idea of computers interacting with the physical world rather than just trying to mirror it.
I spent a long time at Tyro Payments, where our mission was to revolutionise banking in Australia using 21st Century technology and agile and lean techniques. And when I say using agile and lean techniques, I don’t just mean the software development team; the whole company from the top down was focused on “embracing change” and “eliminating waste”.
It was pretty awesome to work in an organisation where minimum viable products and creating short feedback loops were accepted as the best way of achieving almost every business goal. We practiced Extreme Programming, a software development practice that’s at the “disciplined” end of the agile spectrum, but which unfortunately garners lots of jokes about writing code while jumping out of a plane.
I Like Doing Other Stuff, Too
I have a bunch of other interests. I have a wife and kids that keep me smiling and focused on what really matters, I own a house in the suburbs and love swimming at the beach, I love listening to music, I play the drums pretty well and the piano fairly poorly, I like taking photos, I’m partial to mountain biking, I don’t mind jogging (but really only do it because my doctor told me to to start looking after myself), and I absolutely love eating pancakes for breakfast.
Something I don’t like is when I tell people I write software and they say, “oh, you’re a computer person”. No, this is a computer person. I am a human who works mostly with computers. When you meet a plumber do you say “oh, you’re a toilet person”?
System 80 image courtesy of Terry Stewart. Used with permission.
Some of my other stuff around the Web
Header Image Credits
Thread of Life by Graham Lea
Jet Engine by James Loesch
Interview Room by Donnie Nunley
City Hall Walkway #1 by Glenn Scott
Allianz Arena: Heimspiel by Deep Ghosh