500px is the place where photographers grow – grow their skills, their audience, and their wallet. I joined the team as a senior web developer, meaning I was expected to accomplish big things technically as well as contributing to the wider organisation.
During my time with the company I played a large role in implementing Quests (time-limited photography competitions organised around a topic), Directory (a place for people to find professional photographers to hire), the launch of new paid membership tiers, and the migration of users with legacy memberships. These products were often user-facing (built in a combination of Ruby, Rails, CoffeeScript, and Marionette), but also included the backend API used by both the website and our mobile clients.
I also built Postowl, a workflow tool that notifies developers via Slack when they receive code reviews & automatically keeps Asana up-to-date. I troubleshot performance issues & site downtime, helped find & fix bugs, helped the product & design teams plan new work and scope it appropriately, and handled incoming security reports (validating them, assessing their severity, and ensuring they're fixed).
As well as my technical contributions, I spent periods running the web team day-to-day (things like sprint planning, retrospectives, and so on) and led a weekly meeting designed to help developers grow their skills & gain exposure to new technologies, techniques, and philosophies. I also mentor othered developers – either formally for some interns, or informally through pair programming & code reviews.
Local Welcome is a volunteer organisation aimed at building relationships between refugees & the local community. Local chapters would organise monthly meetups, with the aim of connecting people together & forming friendships outside the group.
I built a webapp to help organise these meetings – allowing new users to sign up, listing events, sending out invites to chapter members, and tracking event attendance. It's a responsive design so works well on desktops, tablets, and phones. It's translatable, so some pages are available in Arabic. It's built in Ruby on Rails, and was hosted on Heroku.
I spent most of 2015 working with FetLife, an adult social network designed for the fetish community. I joined a team of two other engineers & a front-end developer; I helped to grow the team during my time there, more than doubling the team by the time I left. We inherited an undocumented codebase & infrastructure with a lot of single points of failure; something we wrangled into much better shape by improving our Chef recipes, upgrading to Rails 4, removing complexity, and improving the test coverage.
One of my main achievements was architecting & developing a replacement newsfeed service that could keep up with the scalability demands placed on it & being flexible enough to power other features. As it was a small team, my work was extremely varied: some examples include administering production systems, building new user-facing features, improving internal tools and infrastructure, and improving site security.
I also tried to improve communication with the community, advocated for smaller iterative cycles in product development, and generally make it a more developer-friendly and productive place to work.
Skype in the Classroom hosts many tools to help teachers use Skype to increase the horizons of their classes. Together with Code.org, Skype wanted to develop a platform to allow teachers to easily arrange for computer science guest speakers to talk to their class.
Electric Handshakes is a web app to help people make contacts at hiring events. The job seeker signs up before the event, sets up their profile with some links & documents, and chooses a cover letter. Then, at the event, they can hand someone their phone and take their email address. Electric Handshakes then emails the potential employer with their cover letter & documents - plus the job seeker can see who's opened which links.
Electric Handshakes was built in Ruby on Rails, though there was also a lot of futzing with Bash script to make deploying via Mina work properly.
The shipping forecast is broadcast 4 times daily on Radio 4, and is a cult attraction for thousands of Britons. It features 31 sea areas, which are always read out in the same order. But how many can you name?
Built in CoffeeScript with jQuery, HMSFACYN features aliases for soundalike place names, SVG manipulation, responsive design, and social sharing links.
Built in 24 hours for Music Hack Day 2013, The Massively Multiplayer Piano challenges you to play chords with strangers. It's written in Node.js and CoffeeScript, uses Sockets.io for websocket communication, and is deployed to Heroku. The code is available on Github.
Silicon Milkroundabout organises a twice-yearly jobs fair for startups in London. Because they go dormant between events, they didn't have a full-time developer. I came on board to make some improvements in the run-up to their November 2013 event.
Projects included improving the details held about candidates & startups, revamping the backend tools for vetting & managing candidates, and designing & building startup profiles on the startups page. I also helped the company get a better grip on its future plans and its product/market fit.
Nopudding is a map-centric guide of veggie and vegan-friendly places to eat. Most online veggie restaurant guides are just tabular listings. These listings don't help you find places near you, and they're no good at helping a starving veggie find something – anything – close by. I attempted to solve both of these problems.
DrEd is an online medical practice that specialises in treatments that can be embarrassing or inconvenient. I acted as their lead developer while they expanded their permanent development team. During my time with the company patient & order numbers doubled. I introduced code reviews, proper use of git, monitoring, unit testing, and continuous integration. We also refactored several core parts of the system to be object-oriented and testable, built several new features, and launched an online doctor service for a major high street partner.
A foul-mouthed magic 8 ball to help you get unstuck, in the same pantheon as What the fuck is my social media strategy and How fucked is my database. It's a simple PHP app that also includes an RSS feed, seven different designs, and a bunch of good advice about getting things done. It's like having your own internet drill sergeant.
I worked as a web developer at Last.fm for over four years, helping to take the service from 20 million users to 40 million. I focused mainly on the backend (participating in projects such as the giant 2008 redesign, XBox client preparation, and the new Discover app) but also occasionally worked on the frontend.
I built the bulk of this project for Music Hack Day, then refined & extended it over a couple of weeks. There are three broad parts: a spider that creates a database of Pitchfork reviews, backend code to generate the page & graphs, and some auto-generated code that serves as an AJAX endpoint for the interactive elements.
Tired of the Gumtree circuit, I built this and sent it out into the world to help me find somewhere to live. It was also a chance to play with HTML5, font embedding, and some frontend interface creation.
It did help me find a flat.
If you stand for election in the UK, you've got to put down a deposit of £500. If you don't get at least 5% of the vote, then you lose the deposit. How much did each party lose? How does that compare with the historical trend? I made a small website that answers that question.
If you're going to invest in a political party, I recommend avoiding UKIP.
Another weekend experiment, this time in Amazon storefronts and AJAX. It's also a single-page website that feels like a multi-page website, which is an OK trick but probably a bad idea.
You can learn more about my skills & experience from my CV.