Late last year, we started a new series introducing you to the faces behind the software here at BackupAssist. Last time, it was Rick our Technical Writer. This time, we have a much stranger creature to introduce…
Meet Jim, one of our Lead Software Developers. Jim is one of the men and women who write the code that protects your data. If you’ve ever successfully recovered a crashed system using BackupAssist, this is one of the guys you want to thank. Without further ado, meet Jim!
We asked Jim 10 questions about software development and life in general. Here’s what he had to say:
Can you describe your role in 10 words or fewer?
Probably not … “Turning new ideas into working software”.
But that doesn’t really tell anyone what I actually do – my friends all think I “use PCs”.
How did you get into software development?
When I was ten my Dad bought me a Sinclair Spectrum, which at the time was the newest tech imaginable; I taught myself BASIC programming and wrote software to help with my school work. At high school I got one of the first IBM PCs and used that to learn C programming. It was a natural step from there to university and a Computer Science degree. I often tell people I feel very lucky to be paid to do my hobby.
What’s the most challenging bit of code you’ve ever had to write?
I used to manage the development of an in-house flight simulator for a well-known aviation company. When I took it on it was mothballed in a basement; I ported the existing code from a Silicon Graphics workstation to a set of distrubuted Windows PCs, wrote new flight-modelling code, integrated new graphics and bespoke outside-world scenario software, coded the hardware interface to the plane’s cockpit and added a Top-Gun theme tune if you flew inverted next to a MIG. That was a lot of work in not much time!
From a developer’s perspective, what’s the one thing that every backup software should have?
I’d have to say recoverability; if your backup’s intact but you can’t actually use it to recover files or a whole machine, it’s not much use. From my work on BackupAssist, there’s a lot of focus on recovery and I know it works!
Over your career, what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned about software development?
Keep it simple. Complex designs are bound to fail, either during initial development or later on during maintenance. If nobody can understand your code, regardless of whether it works, it’s unmaintainable and worthless.
Also, documentation never matches the code. I’m looking at you, Microsoft…
Who’s your all time tech hero?
(Interviewer): Who?… wait… the character from Weird Science?
Yep. I’m a child of the 80’s.
If you could ask that person one thing, what would it be?
Do you have Lisa’s phone number?
(Interviewer): You do realize that nobody is going to get these references?
I’m OK with that.
If you could tell Bill Gates one thing, what would you say?
Good job. On most everything (except the MSDN documentation).
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek. No, wait – Star Wars. No, err – the latest Star Trek movies directed by J.J. Abrams. He’s directing the new Star Wars movie, too – so probably that. Khaaaaaan!