Q: Tell us a bit about your background.
A: I was born and raised in northern California and have three brothers and a sister. I joined the Air Force towards the end of senior year of high school and left for boot camp about a month after graduating. I was in Security Forces — what the Air Force calls their military police — and was deployed to Iraq twice, where my job was to travel to police stations in Baghdad and train the Iraqi Police forces. After four years in the Air Force, which ended in 2008, I got married (going on 11 years now), had children (three girls!), and earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. I spent about a year making mobile games for the iPhone with my wife before I started working professionally in the field. I’ve been working at Fingerprint for almost six years now.
Q: What is your role at Fingerprint?
A: I’m a software engineer that works on Fingerprint’s mobile platforms. I work with the other engineers at Fingerprint to help maintain the framework we use to build our mobile platforms and collaborate with the design team to implement new features or changes to existing ones. I also work daily with the quality assurance team to any issues and bugs they find.
Q: What drew you to the mobile kids app(s) industry?
A: Being a father of three young children, I think it’s a great opportunity to play a small part in the development of the technology they use, with devices that are so prevalent today that wasn’t available when I was a kid. Fingerprint’s platforms of carefully curated library of educational videos, games, and apps give me peace of mind knowing my kids are safe and are learning things while having fun. It’s great feeling to be part of that.
Q: What strategies do you use when starting to build a new feature or tool?
A: The first thing I do is review any designs and requirements for the feature and work closely with the design team or whoever is requesting the feature and get my initial questions and feedback out of the way and continue collaborating with the design team as questions arise during implementation. Depending on the feature, I like to get the user interface (UI) portion mostly completed first with fake (or “mock”) data as that generally informs what kind of data will be needed to support the UI.
Q: How do you approach complex problem solving?
A: Every complex problem is usually just a combination of several smaller problems, so I try to break it down as much as possible into as many smaller problems as possible and then start tackling those smaller problems until the pieces fit together, so to speak. Before doing any of that, I make sure to have a clear understanding of the intent first
Q: How do you keep up with the latest trends in technology?
A: For years, I primarily use three sources: Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com), the Technology section of Google News, and RSS feed subscriptions to a handful of technology blogs. Between these three sources, I’m able to stay up to date with all the latest trends in the tech industry, whether it’s programming related, devices, mobile or internet technology.
Q: What is your dream project to build and/or be a part of?
A: It may sound a little cliché, but I’m part of it! As a software developer I love building things and knowing that people are using the things I help build. With that said—for me—it’s hard to top the feeling of going into a store, seeing a device on display that is showcasing one of Fingerprint’s platforms and being able to point and tell my kids, “Daddy helped make that”.
Q: What is your must have app that you can’t live without?
A: For personal use, it would be Reeder for Mac and iOS, which I use every day to keep up with my favorite websites. Professionally, my must have app would be Slack because it does what it sets out to do well and it’s what I use to communicate at work.
Q: What do you like to do in SF and/or in the bay area?
A: My favorite things to do in San Francisco is to spend time with my family on the peers and visit the various attractions like the San Francisco Zoo.
Q: What is your favorite Inspirational Quote?
A: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
Q: What is some advice you would give to someone entering your field?
A: Build something! There are so many different technologies to pursue when it comes to software development, with new technologies seemingly coming out every day. It can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to get stuck in a state of constant learning without ever applying any of that knowledge. The best advice I can give is to think of something you want to build and set out to build it. Any gaps in knowledge will quickly reveal themselves as you go, and you’ll have a much better idea of what exactly you need to learn.
Q: Who was/is/were your mentors?
A: My mentor was Carlos Icaza, former CEO of Ansca, Inc. (later renamed to “Corona Labs”). He took a chance at hiring me into the software industry before I had a formal education, which provided me with a great opportunity and taught me a lot of valuable things that really helped me at the beginning of my professional journey. In 2014, I was working for him and when it became clear his company wasn’t going to make it, he introduced me to Fingerprint. I interviewed for a position and I’ve been here ever since. Sadly, he passed away in 2016 but the positive impact he has had on my life continues to this day.
Q: What was your favorite toy or game growing up?
A: I don’t think I had a specific one, but I do remember being pretty fond of Ninja Turtles and Batman action figures. I grew up in the golden age of Super Nintendo consoles so my favorite game on that system was—hands down—The Legend of Zelda. In a world that existed before YouTube, it took me years to beat that game.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?
A: I enjoy biking, going on road trips, and simple things such as hanging out in the backyard at the fire pit with friends and family. I also tend to do a lot of programming outside of work because it’s something I genuinely enjoy doing, and it helps keep my skills fresh instead of getting zoned into only the technologies I’m exposed to at work. To decompress, I play video games with my wife (I’m a big fan of World of Warcraft).
Q: Do you have any special talents?
A: As far as “talents” go, I play the guitar. And although I certainly wouldn’t exactly describe my abilities as “special”, I enjoy it nonetheless.
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: I have three dogs: two Shiba Inus, and a Pomeranian/Queensland Heeler mix. I also have a cockatiel, who is known to get a little loud in the morning and has made a few unintended cameos during our daily standup calls over the years.