Gravitywho? #12 Julian
In this series, I interview the award-winning team of creative geeks, thinkers and grafters, one by one.
Hi Julian, lovely to meet you. Where are you from and how long have you been at Gravitywell?
I grew up in South London and moved to Bristol in January to join Gravitywell. Apart from not being able to hang out with the team (thanks COVID) and Rocket League being discontinued for Mac (thanks Psyonix), it’s been a pretty glorious 10 months so far!
South London in the house! Indeed, 2020 hasn't been kind to us. What’s the best thing about working here (so far)?
Probably the sheer number of learning opportunities. As well as being actively encouraged to explore new technologies and invest time into R&D, the fact that we only tend to take on interesting, innovative and challenging projects means that every day is a school day!
Absolutely, internal R&D is a big part of Gravitywell culture. Who would be your dream client and what would you like to work on for them?
I can’t really think of a specific client but I’d love to work on an AI wearable tech project. There’s something about the tangible nature of hardware that makes development especially rewarding and being able to combine that with my passion for machine learning would be amazing!
How did you get into software development?
The first actual app I worked on beyond experiments and hobby projects was for my friend’s Dad’s friend from down the pub (genuinely). He sold tights on eBay and Amazon and wanted a way to consolidate his orders into one place and print out branded invoices automatically. It was a really fun project which kickstarted my passion for process improvement and automation through technology and ultimately led me to where I am today!
It's a tight call, but I think that's the best one we've had so far. What’s your advice for someone wanting to get into development?
Get yourself a project! Whilst tutorials can teach you core concepts and help you take the very first steps, in my opinion there’s no substitute for project-based learning. By starting with an overall objective, you’re forced to break down a high-level idea into manageable tasks, whilst the purpose and context of everything you learn is immediately obvious. Every step you take towards the end goal is also really rewarding!
Very wise. What’s the worst thing about being a developer?
There’s always a better way of doing something, whether it be a more elegant or efficient solution, a more modern framework or a more intuitive design. Though this continuous cycle of learning and improvement is actually one of the things I most enjoy about development, it can also be difficult at times—especially when looking back at old code you’ve written or working within a tight budget where the “best” way of doing things simply isn’t an option.
It's refreshing to hear a dev that doesn't say 'everything breaks'. What’s your favourite piece of tech and why?
I think AR and VR are amazing in general. However, I did an immersive Star Wars VR experience a few years ago, which was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. Compared to the standard VR experience of standing still, using a controller and looking around with a headset on, this was something else entirely. Not only could you actually move around inside a purpose-built arena with your friends but you could interact with the environment too—pressing buttons, pulling levers and even picking up and using an actual blaster—which made it feel insanely realistic!
So aside from a galaxy far, far away, your Hackathon dream destination would be..?
I spent some time in the coastal town of Ericeira, Portugal recently and absolutely loved it. With a beautiful old town full of winding cobblestone streets, amazing seafood and fantastic hiking and cycling routes, it’s also a World Surfing Reserve sporting one of Europe’s most wave-rich coastlines. What’s not to love?
Parece incrível! Finally, what’s the best-kept secret in Bristol?
The Sunday Roast at Chris and Jo’s Kitchen. Try it—it might just change your life!