Meet the Software Developer and Blogger From Wellington, Sam Jarman

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The world is full of artisans, and Sam Jarman is one of them. We managed to catch an interview session with him. His work mainly revolves around automation and making things better for the end user. Other than that, he also loves teaching and experimentation. He values meaningful teaching and only teaches stuff that brings value to the learner. He also loves to blog. On LiveEdu.tv, we also have a lot of automation projects. Our LiveEdu crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo aims to collect premium projects suggestions including automation topic, as it is changing the current market.

Real Name: Sam Jarman

Alter ego: Tony Stark / Iron Man

Location:   Wellington, New Zealand

Power/Abilities: Running, Acting, Improvisation, Coding, Teaching, Writing

Profession: Software Engineer

Website: www.samjarman.co.nz

1. Sam, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Could you tell us about yourself?

Hey All! Pleasure is all mine 🙂 I’m Sam, and I’m a software developer living in Wellington, New Zealand. I’ve been doing iOS since 2009 (off and on, part time, etc), but in the last year or so, I’ve transitioned into full stack development, using ruby, rails, emberjs and bits of Elixir.

2. What was the motivation behind pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at University of Canterbury?

I wanted to study locally in New Zealand, and Canterbury had a very good reputation as a CS Department. It was also my hometown – handy! As a self taught programmer before then, I really wanted to get a degree to fill in the gaps and extend myself further. I originally planned to do just three years, but did a fourth to gain an honors qualification as well. Also, hey, university is just a fun time.

3. You are a software developer and a teacher. How do you balance these two passions and which one matters to you the most?

I’ve always liked teaching and learning, and I suspect I get that from my mother (who is a high school teacher). I see the two as quite complimentary, and I think I have a good strategy to work on both. My day job as a developer teaches me, and I get to experiment and learn. I then start using my own time to reflect on the work I’ve done and try to understand it more. I then try to explain it to others  – and this is when you find out quickly whether or not you understand it properly. 

Once I do, I have something to teach, and people generally find that valuable. I don’t try to teach everything I learn, I’ll wait until I have something of value.

I like this strategy and I think it’s working really well. It’s enabled my technical growth to move faster and skill retention to stay high. So in summary here – I use teaching as a tool to help others, and help myself. It’s a nice balance.

4. Do you have any other hobbies/ interests which complement your work?

I do a lot of blogging, which you can find on my website. I also do a fair bit of running and improv acting. The running I find super helpful for work. I find it gives me a clear head for the day, or after a long day lets me figure out some problems. Often I find myself running along and a new solution to a problem will come to me. Oxygen in the blood is good for that, helps the brain work. I recommend everyone find the thing that works for them for clear thinking. For me, it’s running.

Improv acting has really helped with my confidence. I now feel no nerves at a stand up or a presentation or any time addressing a group. Once again, I’d recommend toastmasters or improv to anyone who wishes to build their public speaking confidence.

5. Can you tell us about your work at Carnival?

Sure! So I work on the Carnival.io platform. Carnival is a marketing automation platform specializing on mobile. As a team of engineers, we like to work on everything and anything, with a good variety of T-shaped developers (great at one thing and good at many other things). This provides great opportunities for technical growth and experimenting with different technologies. My specialty is iOS and developer experience, with my learning right now happening in Ruby, JavaScript, Elixir and a bunch of AWS tech. I really enjoy working with the team there, and we have a diverse set of opinions on the team, so we’re constantly challenging ourselves and others to be better – and that works pretty well. The team has a great focus on testing, code cleanliness and stability which I think as my first industry role, has put me in some great habits for life.

6. How has your role changed since the acquisition by Sailthru?

Great question! I’d love to say heaps, but not really much. I still work with the same team on the same product. However, we’ve added a few people to the team. We have a nice US based team to work with as well. Working across timezones comes with a whole set of interesting challenges, but those are fun to solve. We definitely feel like a single company now, just distributed, although it took a good amount of strategical work to get there – and that has been a fascinating non-technical challenge for me.

7. Are there any projects you’ve worked on in your career which is particularly interesting?

My version of interesting probably means humourous. My proudest personal projects have been DogeKit and Preach! Obviously, I find my work at Carnival.io pretty interesting, and I’ve also worked on some of the world’s best vehicle fleet tracking software, which I also enjoyed. I guess I haven’t really decided on what makes a project “interesting” for me – but I’ve almost always enjoyed my work. There is always the odd task that’s a bit dull, but they pass pretty quickly.

8. Software development as an industry is continuing to grow and evolve. Do you think that crowdfunding plays a role in this growth?

Totally! From a purely economics point of view, the rise of crowdfunding lets more projects exist, and some of those require software, so there are more jobs on offer for developers! At another level, there are a bunch of Indie games and apps being funded which allows developers to work on projects they love. And of course, LiveEdu.tv’s own crowdfunding allows growth of content to fuel the ecosystem as well. Crowdfunding is a great ecosystem for letting the market decide what it wants, and promoting those products and services to come into existence.

9. What is your advice to intermediates on LiveEdu.tv who are interested in improving their programming skills?

For me, an intermediate developer should really be working on growing themselves and relying on others less. Working on asking others less, doing more work upfront before asking, and generally showing initiative is key. On the flip side, being a good mentor to juniors is also a big part of advancing as an engineer. So, being able to explain yourself and communicate well is important. I’ve learnt this skill through teaching (as per above), public speaking and blogging, so I suggest all intermediate developers really up their blogging and speaking as it will improve their teamwork skills!

10. Last but not least, is there anything else you would like to mention regarding iOS development to conclude this interview?

I’ve been doing iOS development for a while now, since about 2009/iOS 4. So, I’ve seen some stuff. My best advice for iOS developers is to watch Apple carefully and read between the lines. If Apple says “hey, use Auto-Layout” then yes, adopt it, because a new screen size is coming. Or a split view on iPad. Recently they released “Safe area guides” which basically confirmed the iPhone X’s odd shape before it was announced. There are always clues, so pay attention to new API, pay down tech debt and you’ll be ready for anything Apple throws at you. I’m particularly interested in why Apple is encouraging use of frameworks in code right now, and I have my theories.

Secondly, and maybe I’m biased, but I think some of the better iOS developers can write their own backends too. With Swift on the server now, there’s really no excuse to shy away from it. Alternatively, skilling up Rails/Sinatra or Express.js (is there a website for courses on that? :P) will also be great tools to have in your toolbelt. I think we’re going to see a lot more BFFs, so it’s a pattern I’d recommend doing some reading about and embracing. You’ll be able to unblock yourself so much more, move a lot faster in your org and start to really add great value. Check it out!

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  • Vivek Dubey

    Very insightful interview. I really learned a thing or two reading it. Thanks!

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