Justin Dike [cartoonsmart]
How did you begin programming and at what age?
About 15 years ago, around age 20. I went to an art school so in the late 90's their was a only a little bit of emphasis on things like HMTL and basic C. It wasn't until I started using Flash that I learned some Actionscript 2 and that lead to what's arguably a "real" programming language with Actionscript 3.
What languages do you code, and in what platforms?
Mostly just Actionscript 3, Objective C and Cocos2d. I'm on a Mac.
Please list web addresses where we can see some of your work
Check out http://www.cartoonsmart.com
What motivates you to undertake a new project?
I'll be real. Money. But my favorite type of project now is creating Game Development Starter Kits, which are part template and part video tutorial. So while I'm not doing charity work by selling the Starter Kits, they are very affordable and the potential return on investment for the buyer is limitless. Really. The foundation of a great game or app is already in the code. What's required is some great art, maybe a little custom coding and suddenly a buyer has a terrific app to submit to the App Store and make money.
What part of project development is most gratifying to you?
The easy answer is probably completion, but when I really think about it, you see the end coming from far away. And its not always satisfying to say "I'm done, this is good enough for version 1".
There's always a hitch or hang-up in a project, something that makes you hit the books or the internet for a few hours and find a solution. When you do, those moments are truly satisfying. I've stood up and high-fived myself a few times on problems that really got me stuck.
From the outside, it seems a rational job, but is creativity necessary for programming?
It's not necessary, but it sure helps. Its a different kind of creativity though than what a great designer or artist draws on. I do most of my own art too, and I think part of being creative is just eventually stumbling onto something that strikes a chord with you. You start with an idea in your head and quickly detour to something that you either crumple up (hit undo a hundred times) or you explore further. The end is more uncertain. With programming you typically know exactly what needs to be done. You can be creative getting from point A to Point B, but you HAVE to get to Point B.
What conditions do you need to concentrate when programming?
After working for long periods of time, have you ever felt as though you were in a bubble?
Of course. 1 o'clock can turn to 5 o'clock in the blink of an eye. The only real evidence is a bunch of code and sweat stains. I perspire constantly while coding.
When you check out code you wrote time ago, what's the main difference with respect to code that you write nowadays?
I'm a lot better now with writing re-useable code. Mostly though I'm just confused for a little while and wishing I had a time machine to tell my past-self to write better notes.
Do you still buy programming books, or do you learn everything from online sources?
I still buy books, definitely. Does the binding show any evidence that the book has been opened is the real question. I have a lot of mint condition books.
Do you think programming should be taught at the basic education level?
I think its one of the ONLY things that should be taught to school kids. Reading, writing, math, art and code. By high school, kids should all have an intermediate level of programming skills.
What would be your solution against piracy?
I think people have to accept piracy as a marketing tool. The free-to-pay model is a good model. Give something away for free, convert those people to buyers later. Piracy can accomplish that same goal. Your true fans and followers will do right by you.
What are your favourite games and on what platform do you play them?
I'm stuck in what appealed to me at age 8. Pac-man. River Raid. I have a short attention span for anything else. I make games, I don't play them. Don't smoke your own supply right.
How often do you clean dirt-buildup on your keyboard?
Never. I'm shocked anyone would. I'm hoping my great grandchildren can clone me from those skin flakes.
As machines for development, what opinion do Macs deserve?
Top of the food chain!
In social settings, do people become interested when you tell them you are a software developer?
I can tell people I own a company that sells software tutorials. That usually gets a followup question. I can tell people I'm an artist. Lots more questions. If I tell someone I'm a programmer, you can hear crickets chirping. Unless its another programmer of course =)
Are you one of the first to update to new software when it comes out, or do you normally wait until more stable versions appear?
I wait a loooong time usually. Especially a new Mac OS.
What is your main reason for not meeting project deadlines?
Quality. If I need to spend an extra day or week upping the quality, I will.
In your opinion, which company helps software developers the most?
Apple. But I'm a bit bias. Been an Apple junkie for a loooong time.
At this point in your career, what would be the project of your dreams?
I would like to create an app for kids that teaches them some basic programming concepts, without them even knowing it really. Something that my young kids could play one day as an early early introduction to programming
Which websites or forums for programmers do you frequently visit?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a programmer?
Do it. Its fun.
Atlanta - USA