Not your average programmer…

I’ve been asked several times what led me to take up coding, having come from a pure science and aviation background. This post is about my journey and the inspiration behind an app I am very passionate about.

How I got here – the short version

I’ve dreamed of being a pilot since I was 4 years old, but I didn’t begin my life as a pilot until 2006 when I took my very first flight lesson flying around Barbados. I took my next big step when I enrolled in the Aeronautical Science program at Embry-Riddle one year later. During my time there, I completed my Private Pilot License and Instrument Rating. After completing my degree, I went on to sit the JAA (now EASA) ATPL theory exams. I began, but have not finished my commercial training because it is out of reach financially at the moment. These days, I spend a large chunk of my time working as a freelance iOS developer and learning how to become better at coding it all the while.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world, and later the iPad, it sparked something inside of me I didn’t really know existed – a passion for technology. I always regarded myself as much of a geek but this really sealed the deal. I wanted to get into the world of mobile app development because I could see the impact it could have on people’s lives.

I started teaching myself how to code only last year, but from very early on I knew exactly what I would want to do.

Why I made ATPL Dictionary

I created ATPL Dictionary because I wanted to do something to help other pilots with their training, whether initial or recurrent, and to make studying for exams easier than it was for previous generations.

During my time studying, I found it cumbersome to lug around heavy books and wade through several pages of textbooks or personal notes in order to find the definition of a particular term.

I believed it would be much more convenient to have a reference for all the terms a pilot would need to know on mobile devices, which have essentially become appendages to the human body in recent years.

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So what makes this app unique?

I started out by thinking about what I look for in a any good reference tool – concise, legible and accurate information. In creating the app, I didn’t want to simply regurgitate information directly from a book or web site. That would have been easy, but does not provide any assurance of the quality of the information. I decided to create my own database of definitions, so I consult various sources, summarize the information, and type out every definition in the dictionary. I believe this is the best method because if someone thinks it is all rubbish, then I’d know that I created that rubbish but did my best at it, and If users appreciate my efforts, then I’d know that I made the right decision. Luckily, so far, it has been the latter case!

Definition

Final thoughts…

I have thoroughly enjoyed stepping out of comfort zone to do something I have become really passionate about. I love working on the ATPL Dictionary app and I enjoy reading every email I get with a correction for one of my mistakes, a suggestion for a new feature, or someone simply sending their thanks because the app helped them in some way.

I have come to learn we can change the world and touch many lives in our own special way.

If you’d like to try ATPL Dictionary, it is available free on the App Store.

Get Moves, Feel the Groove!

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Wearable technology is all the rage these days, from the UP band, to the Fitbit, to the Nike+ FuelBand. Furthermore, there’s the Pebble watch, Apple is rumored to release the “iWatch,” Samsung IS releasing a smartwatch (so they say), and Google is rumored to be working on a watch as well. But all these gadgets will no doubt set you back a good few bucks. Enter “Moves.”

Moves is a free iPhone app that allows you to track your walks, your runs, your bike rides and any mode of transportation you may take. The algorithms aren’t perfect – sometimes it will mistake your car or bus ride for cycling – but the app very easily allows you to make corrections to any errors. You can then view a summary of your daily activity in a timeline.

Moves 3With Foursquare integration, you can also make note of all the locations you stopped at throughout the day, and if you’ve been to that location before, the app automatically recognizes and labels your the location in your timeline.

Considering your phone is appended to your body for most of the day, if not the entire day, this app easily transforms it into an activity tracking device at zero cost.

Check out Moves on the App Store!

Lift for iOS

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Have you been trying (and failing) to get into that new routine you’d like to start so badly? Did you manage to get it done a couple times, but it became oh so burdensome that you couldn’t be bothered to keep it up? Lift may help you to solve your problems.

Lift is a social habit-tracking app (at the time of writing only available on iOS and via the web;  coming soon to Android) that allows you to subscribe to various habits you’re interested in, then track your progress over time. Users “check-in” to those habits they have accomplished daily and are able to give “props” to other participants and comment on their achievements. Another useful feature is the the ability to set reminders for each habit so you never forget what you need to get done.

The Lift team has been great so far at responding to user feedback by adding new and highly requested features. They also interact continuously with power-users to provide additional guides and feature videos that benefit the entire community.

Check out Lift on the App Store or visit the web site.