Back to Apping (Was Napping), Part I


Portrait of a Coding Dinosaur

I’m a coding dinosaur. I grew up with writing databases in BASIC on the ZX Spectrum 48K. I’m so old, computing was an optional afternoon hobby at my secondary school. There were no laptops there, just a dozen big beige boxes in one room hidden away from all the others. Cutting edge tech was a VGA monitor and a greyscale scanner you had to roll over a picture at just the right snail speed for it to work. My mates & I were wowed by Windows 3.0 and spent our days wrangling with autoexec.bat and config.sys in order to free enough DOS memory to play Origin games. (No, new kids, not the same Origin you know).

So I stumbled into software engineering after university, doing my best to muck up their statistics by not landing my first job till a year after my 1st-class-honours Maths degree. I went to work in an international bank making graph software for Value Added Risk (which is as much as you would probably ever want to know about that).

Then, at the turn of the new millennium, I tried to ride the wave of the Dot Com revolution. I journeyed to America, helped make a website for buying/selling sports cards. It was called thePit and, amazingly enough, I see that it’s still going. But I learnt then that you can’t ride a wave that’s actually a bubble that had already burst.

After that I learnt C++ in order to code my first computer game. It was a vector-based space shooter called Surrounded! and it was awesome, but I can’t market and can’t afford marketing and consequently nobody ever really played it. Except me and a marvellous chap called Saturn.

What was the next “Big Thing”? Well, it was the iPhone so that seemed like a good opportunity for me to find a bigger audience with its built-in App Store. I enjoyed extremely modest success there. Looking back I joined a bit too late, the same as with the Dot Com thing. Matters were further muddied by my move to Germany and having to juggle my new family life, an impossible new language, six years of lost sleep and an idiopathic chronic illness. I can cobble together more silly excuses but the truth of it probably was that my apps simply weren’t good enough to pass serious muster. When the whole tax situation became too thorny (as my dev account fed my UK bank account for my UK company, but I was in Germany), I decided it was simpler to take my apps off the store.

(And I’m breaking up this story because you surely have better things to do than read articles which are too long. Another bite-sized piece of my story coming soon!)

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