What is your current professional role and how did you get here?
I am a mobile software developer at Weather Decision Technologies by day and an independent iOS developer by night.
I got to know the mobile team at WDT when I was in college at the University of Oklahoma. While I was in college, I developed a weather radar app geared toward meteorologists and weather enthusiasts. It directly competed with WDT’s flagship app RadarScope. I got to know the team behind RadarScope and they hired me when I graduated.
In addition to that, I work on a couple of solo projects on nights and weekends. My biggest app that I have on my work right now is Workshelf, an iPad (and soon iPhone) clipboard manager that is powered by drag and drop.
What was the first app you worked on and what did it do?
The first app I made was a weather radar app called Storm Spotter. Storm Spotter displayed single-site NEXRAD radar data and National Weather Service severe weather warnings on top of a Google Maps display (I launched right after iOS 3 when Apple’s mapping frameworks were still powered by Google).
Storm Spotter purposely did not show general purpose weather data. It was designed specifically for looking at severe weather and was geared towed storm chasing.
Back then when storm chasing, people would have to bring Windows laptops connected to cell networks via air cars and running radar software that cost around $80. I made Storm Spotter so I could get the basics on what I needed to track a storm on my iPhone (and later, my iPad).
What went well? What could have gone better?
A lot more went wrong than well.
I was learning how to do iOS development as I was writing the app, so I did not really know what I was doing. I did not know how to properly manage memory (or even that I was supposed to), so the app would crash after a few minutes of usage.
I did not do a good job of planning for the future when I wrote my code. I was adding all of my new features in an ad hoc fashion, so there was no underlying code structure.
Luckily, even with all of the rough edges, the app was selling well. Since I was making decent money, I was able to keep working on it. After working on a few updates after launch, I started to recognize some of the mistakes I was making. Fighting through that spaghetti code that I originally really thought me about the importance of designing how your app’s code will be structured from the very beginning.
At App Camp, we emphasize that it’s important to have interests outside of tech and to take breaks from looking at screens. What are some of your interests outside of tech? What do you do when you need to take a break from work?
The main thing that I do in my time away from tech is just spend time with my family. My wife and I have a two year old son with another coming in January, so they take up all of my free time and I would not have it any other way.
Our evenings are spent playing with LEGOs on the floor or riding bikes and playing with bubbles in the front yard.
Why do you support the goals of App Camp?
I think that starting a career in technology becomes more intimidating to people as they get older; people assume that it is just not something that they have the ability to do.
By reaching young girls, we can show a group of people that careers in technology are approachable than they think and that it is something that can do if they want.
I really like the idea of exposing kids to something that they would not get to see otherwise. Kids that never would have known they liked this field will get exposed to it and pick it as a career because of the experience they had in App Camp.
What do you recommend to those who want to support more diversity in tech?
I think the biggest thing we can do to support diversity in tech is to listen to people who are different than us. People with different backgrounds will bring different ideas and it is important that he both hear those ideas and work together to implement them.
How can technology be a force for good?
To me, the best example of technology being a force for good is that it enables communities of people to that are not bound by geography. There are tons of people that I know and respect that I only know because because of the internet.
Technology allows your part of your social circle to be defined by what you are interested in instead of where you live.
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