A 300 word blurb about yourself
A programmer from Los Angeles CA with 10+ years experience. Currently the CTO of Renly.co, a startup made to help tackle unused rental space in this country. May or may not sleep in an office.
How long have you been a programmer/coder?
Since my last year of High School, in 2003 when I got my first computer and decided to take on Python. I built a few scripts from a few random sites that were around back then. Nothing like we have today. And decided to continue that path in college. So 2017 - 2003 = 14 years looks like.
What got you into programming
I played video games every single day for decades. At some point in that timeline, you start to realize that it's pretty cool that someone can build this. So while initially my intent was game development as a career path, I found that it wasn't as widespread and easy to learn back in the day.
What is your favorite programming language and why?
Where do you work?
Currently as the full time CTO of Renly.co. A startup that I helped to co-found with friends and a business partner 2 years ago.
Favorite book. Programming or non programming? and why
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Such a powerful book on how one can live their life. So much needless worry and compulsions run through most peoples minds daily due to the societal constrains that they find themselves in. And instead of breaking free, they find themselves getting deeper and deeper into them as a habitual pattern. So anything that helps one to live a more free life is always a plus in my book.
If money wasn't an issue, what would you be doing?
Coding something massive and complex that would take years to build and to figure out. There are many ideas a brewing, they just need some financial space to breathe a little more. I feel that most people have massive ideas that they get and that they would like to see come to fruition, but unfortunately our society isn't yet set up to handle that kind of thing.
Where is your favorite place to code?
At home on my mess of a desk. No crowds, no noise. Just background music playing, a fresh brewed cup of coffee, and a colorful IDE. I've tried coding in many different places. And usually there is always a distraction that prevents new ideas from forming. And I'm not one to code in the forest like many Instagram photos show. The forest is to enjoy in its entirety. Not to stare at a screen.
Although I have coded on a plane ride before and it wasn't bad either. Something about the quietness of a giant piece of metal falling through the sky and rising, and falling repeatedly.
If you weren't coding, what would you be doing?
Drinking coffee with friends at a quaint coffee shop discussing the secrets of the universe and non-locality, wave/particle electron movements and such. It's a great way to unwind and to expand the mind. To step away from the logical and to dive a bit deeper into the illogical.
Or playing video games. Stepping into a solid RPG for hours on end is a joy that one should experience every now and then in this busy life.
Biggest challenge so far in any coding project?
Trying to generalize the shit out of my code so that I don't have to repeat myself ever. It is the toughest thing and even after a decade it seems so elusive. My goal is to be able to build a complex software system using my framework and library and have it take an hour or less by using already pre-made components. It's close. Many features that you would normally see on a website are already there with just a single line.
Things like StripePayment(Payment). And bam, we have a Stripe Charge. Or ForgotPassword(email) and it handles the entire forgot password flow. There's a certain balance to that whole thing. There's a point where you can't generalize anymore even if you tried. And you end up making the thing more complex. The trick is to find the sweet spot in the middle, and to leave it alone.
Do you prefer to code solo or with a team? And why?
Both have their pluses and their time. If it's a new and innovative project, then solo is my route. So that I can exercise the creative muscle more. Usually when you get in the zone you can type for hours on end and not realize it. But if it's for work and get something done well and on time, teamwork makes the dream work always.
Any words for anyone just learning to code?
Don't do it because it's trending online or in the news outlets. Our entire current technological framework is based on the work of people that did it with no recognition for the love of it. Do it because it resonates with you. Do it not because it's easy, but because it's hard.
Walter Guevara is a Computer Scientist, software engineer, startup founder and currently mentors for a coding bootcamp. He has been creating software for the past 15 years.