Who are you?
Hello! I'm Luke and I have a passion for making things; software, hardware and occasionally videos too. From being about 6 years old, I was almost always working on a mechanical or electronics project – from door openers to intercoms. My first dive into the incredible world of software was when I wrote my first website
at the age of 9. I could build things with nothing but a keyboard that the entire world
could see – a revolutionary concept that changed me forever. I was so excited that I used way too many exclamation marks and bonkers colours. Go big or go home
has apparently been deep inside me for some time!
A classic (and pretty unusual) project was to make dams in the bath. Out of cardboard and clingfilm. I have no idea what started this one off!
At around 13, I began to discover C#/ PHP and started creating things for friends, family and teachers. I then began to pick up woodworking and metal skills which made those projects become increasingly complex; that ultimately lead me to joining the Engineering Education Scheme
as well as becoming an Arkwright Scholar
One of my later DT projects - a climbing frame - took up an awkward amount of space!
Right up until I was 17 or so, I was completely set on becoming an architect
. My apparent interest in making big things – and a passion for design in general – was strongly pushing me towards buildings. It was completely by chance that I discovered computer science and everything simply clicked together.
It was around that same time that I then started my largest ever personal project; a construction themed game called Galatropis. (After all, one does not simply want to be an architect for some 7 years then immediately lose interest!)
. Taking on such a large project has resulted in me focusing a lot on efficiency, and essentially thinking entirely differently – MMORPG's are typically made by teams of 50+ people; the only way it's possible for one person to make such a project is to massively increase the working efficiency. I needed to automate and use open source as much as I could. The end result of that is a very broad range of valuable tools!
So you've started quite a few large projects?
Yes, 4! The first, a social network, reached just short of 100,000 users whilst I was still in 6th form. It was also one of the first networks to feature live messaging too. Next was Galatropis, an MMORPG – a web based multiplayer game in which players can build entire cities one wall at a time in an enormous multi-planet Universe. The software that makes it work has been largely complete for some time, however, it's not visually pretty! That has made it A Tough Sell™
In order to fund designers to boost the eye candy, I began selling parts of the software. The UI framework – PowerUI – quickly caught on. It lets the developer write HTML to create the 2D interfaces for their projects; 2 years on and PowerUI has gained a vast range of features on its own and is now getting close to being defined as a new web browser. (A side effect of that is that, from reading/ implementing/ slightly contributing to W3C specifications, I've ended up getting to know the web very literally inside out!)
In the meantime, I began working on an app which required a large volume of small inter-currency transactions; we went to New Zealand to test it out and hopefully get some investment. The fees were working out to upwards of 40% which was completely unsustainable given that a margin of just 5% was required. A system for pooling transactions together was created and ultimately that lead to OpenTransfr; a completely free and open transaction system. The Bank of England caught on to the concept until Brexit hit at which point both OpenTransfr and the app stalled. However industry feedback for both has been very positive so I'm rather certain that's not the curtain call for either of those projects just yet!
Why did you leave University early?
Before going to York, I was already involved in freelancing and had been for some time. I left York halfway through the course as I was essentially being taught skills I largely already had in order to obtain a piece of paper to be used to get a job I didn't need. However, I gained lifetime friends, independence and a lot of hardware and team experience so I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
How are your hardware skills? Can you design x?
Possibly yes, but to date I've not used hardware skills commercially so your mileage will vary! I can essentially design a PCB and have a prototype manufactured. If you're working on a hardware project, I'd be very interested in seeing how I can help/ contribute!
Why don't you use IDEs?
Historically I have web roots so I got used to editing things in simple text editors. Now however, my general opinion is that using an IDE promotes forgetting your own code base
. When an IDE pops up suggestions for you, there's no particular need to remember them. I'm essentially forced to remember the structure of the whole code base in detail to avoid constantly looking up files. That, in turn, promotes conciseness and good code hygiene in order to make it easy to remember. It's also had a big knock on effect for support – I'm able to help people out with very snappy, detailed answers. Doing that for some 10 years has made me rather good at it too!