What I do

When people ask me what I do, I generally respond with “I’m a software guy”.  That’s the short version, but what I really want to say is…

I write software that makes peoples’ lives better.  I’m passionate about well written software that empowers people. One of my particular interests is in creating “mashups” – bringing together different technologies to fix a problem.

One example is my “Where’s Mike?” page.  I wanted to be able to record my runs, but I also wanted my wife (and rescue personnel!) to be able to find me if I was late coming home from a long trail run.  This page takes advantage of a web enabled iPhone app which records where I am, and then I designed a webpage that uses Google Maps to display the live track.

Writing the code is only part of the joy for me.  I get real joy out of giving away my ideas and seeing where they lead.  I posted up the code for my Where’s Mike page on the developers forum of the iPhone app, and many people have used my code for their own site, and many have made improvements and extensions that I never would have thought of!

The company I work for (IntraPace) makes an implantable gastric stimulator for the treatment of obesity.  We have a website for patients to interact with each other, track their eating and exercise, record goals, listen to podcasts, etc.  Right now, all of our patients are in Europe, and I was concerned about how we could get patients in Germany, Spain, and the UK to interact together.  One of the common problems of obesity is isolation – so wouldn’t it be cool if a person in Hamburg could see that someone in Italy was experiencing the same challenges (like finding it’s difficult to go walking when the weather is lousy), and another patient from London joins in and suggests that on rainy days they go to the mall and power walk!  Wow, that would be cool.

Since it was hard for me to read the German posts of our first members, I hacked up a little tool to grab their forum posts, send them off to Google’s online translation tool, and then re-insert the translated text.  That initial seed of an idea has now blossomed into a full blown feature called “LiveTranslate” for our website.  Here’s a video of LiveTranslate in action: