David is not a gadget geek. But he does like the opportunities that new technologies offer. He says that everything in life is an equipment sport. And there’s always a connection to technology, even if solutions aren’t always electronic.
David has worked at LearningWell in Helsingborg for several years. He took an MSc in computer engineering at Luleå University before returning to his hometown.
“I applied for jobs all over the world but ended up back in Helsingborg. It was the only place where I didn’t apply for a position. But this was where the job I wanted was. I’d describe LearningWell as a hierarchy-free consultancy where you get the chance to work on all sorts of projects. While I’ve been here, I’ve worked on everything from military applications and blood analysis, to computer game development and hydrology.”
Hydrology involves working with the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrology Institute (SMHI) in Norrköping. He recalls the project particularly well because he had the opportunity of taking the latest technology and combining it with older hydrological water models: new and old at the same time.
“That’s why I code: to learn new things. Writing code in and of itself isn’t especially exciting. It’s just a tool to do something else. In this case, I got to combine mathematical and hydrological models with computer-generated graphics, GIS technology and mapping technologies. The whole idea was to make abstract and obscure information as easy and clear as possible for anyone to click through in a map.”
He remembers how researchers at SMHI at first seemed reluctant about his being there and taking up their time. “Then they realised that they could learn things and benefit from my research results. From that point on, they would peer over my shoulder because they were interested to see how their new models could be visualised.”
Even telemarking depends on technique
David describes programing as a hobby that became a career. But even though he programs open source projects in his spare time, he’s interested in lots of other things, such as telemarking in Japan or the Alps, and trekking China, Nepal and Island.
“At the end of the day, everything is an equipment sport and depends on technique. You could be perfectly comfortable if you went trekking for a week in snowstorms and heavy rain. But you need technical gear, even if it isn’t always electronic.”
“At work, I can basically sit and stare at a wall for hours to come up with a solution to a problem. When I’m trekking or skiing, it’s the exact opposite. I don’t need to think about anything apart from putting on my boots in the morning and getting to my next destination. The combination of work and my spare time interests lets me relax and recharge my batteries.”
A dyslexic programmer
“I remember how frustrating it was when I had to learn grammar and vocabulary at school. I thought I was hopeless at languages. Then I realised you could have great verbal skills despite having trouble with getting all the letters right when writing.”
David says that dyslexia doesn’t pose any serious problems for him at work. There aren’t many code instructions that he has to spell correctly, around 30 perhaps. With modern programing tools, it’s often sufficient to write the first letter and he is presented with suggestions for the right word.
“My dyslexia is noticeable in that I tend to use name variants made up of one letter or short abbreviations. This can make it hard for others to understand my coding. Having said that, I’d make a lot of spelling mistakes if I tried to write in full, and people wouldn’t be able to understand what I’d written anyway. I spend more time on functions that are for external use because they need to be easy to understand. But otherwise, it’s just one-word variants.”