how tech inspires me

how tech inspires me

I’m going to start off by saying I’m not inspired. After a weekend I planned of relaxing by the sea, I ended up fighting with my son over his addiction to Roblox. I swore off tech, and the Internet, pretty much resoundingly. One key tantrum, by me, was when I tried to rent scooters from 4, count them 4, crappy e-scooter apps. I gave up, cried a little, and we saw a Superman Comicon show. In real life, that is.

Tonight, having sworn off tech again (in my leisure time), I came across iPhoneDevCamp, now renamed DeveloperCamp. I remembering our times there, my programming partner and me. Not sure how, but actually found myself looking at the source code of one of our projects: SocialPong. Commit statements read: “Oops forgot some libraries” and “looking good!” Were these words I actually wrote? Me, stodgy engineering manager who coaches multitudes of engineers to keep to the dry syntax, literally writing a linter to keep things super Victorian-boring?

SocialPong was about getting N+ number of people in a game. That means, in tech speak, a variable amount of folks, scaling up wildly like looking up at a skyscraper, neck-breakingly huge. OK, not that big but roughly, 300 or so people to participate in a networked game that we broadcasted at the front dias via an iPad. We got folks in this huge room of people to go to a website with their phone, and choose a team- blue or red- to participate in a very large Pong game.

We wrote an iPad app that would take the “votes” and move the paddle. The votes were the mass of phones acting as controllers, and people would tap up, to, like a wave, move the paddle up. It was frustrating and fascinating and silly.

I love parlor games and had realized with a mess of last minute code, how to roughly play this game. We pushed the limits of the site traffic where I was hosting the API server. We got a mix of crazy libraries working on the iPad. We pushed WIFI limits. Really only the worthwhile things bring tech to its knees, right? Remembering that flurry I saw the upside of his addiction to Roblox, the creativity, the figuring stuff out, the tinkering, the pushing yourself a bit to make it just so. Of course, that’s the making not the playing. But getting to making, for me at least, was with playing.

Could I take off two days a weekend to go somewhere with absolutely no idea what we’d do. I would learn so much- that was always the benefit. You just figure stuff out and ask for help. Crazy ideas, a wee bit of pressure, and bad pizza.