Behind the scenes with Andrew: Lead Software Developer at Stirdie
As Stirdie is on its way to being developed, we took the time to sit down with Andrew Napier, software developer, to get a better understanding of the joys, triumphs and disappointments of working with blockchain technology and how this new technology is being woven into the fabric of Stirdie Verified Messaging.
1. Could you please tell us a little about yourself, your background and how you became a software developer?
Sure. I have been programming for a long time now. I started as a teenager and probably belonged to the first generation of kids who had the chance to start programming at home. I was always a very logical-focused person, so programming always made sense to me. When I hit university I studied a Bachelor of Information Technology, majoring in Analytical Computing at the University of Southern Queensland. I continued programming because I was good at it and wanted to keep going, as you usually would if you were good at something.
Somewhere along the line I learnt that programming was something you never finished learning and that you always kept learning new things. Software development is ever-changing and after working as a software developer for over 25 years now, I am still excited by the fact that I continue to have the opportunity to grow in my ability and learn new things.
2. What’s a day in the life of Andrew here at GoLogic?
At the moment, I’m very focused on the Stirdie project. We have a basic prototype complete, so now we are in the process of making an actual product based on the lessons learnt from the prototype, that we can then go to market with. Most of my day is spent developing code. Any time that isn’t spent developing code is spent researching answers to problems that I come across. These problems are mainly due to the fact that there isn’t much information publicly available relating to the type of blockchain technology that I’m working with to develop Stirdie.
I’ve recently started liaising a lot with Steve, our Chief Information Officer (CIO) with understanding the infrastructure behind blockchain networks.
3. What exactly is Stirdie Verified Messaging, and how is it going to help change messaging as we know it?
Stirdie utilises a blockchain network. Blockchain networks can be thought of as a distributed ledger, which is extremely difficult to tamper with and therefore considered immutable data.
Verified messaging uses this blockchain so that both senders and receivers of messages can have faith in the authenticity of the message. Unlike normal SMS text messages, any activity (such as opening the message or replying to the message) is recorded in different locations across the blockchain network, making it far more difficult for anyone to tamper with the message throughout the delivery process. It remains your source of truth.
Basically, what we’re trying to do with Stirdie Verified Messaging is stamp out any fraudulent text messages being sent from malicious individuals to vulnerable Australians. These days it’s hard to know if the message is real or fake, so Stirdie aims to resolve this.
4. Is blockchain technology exciting to work with?
Yes! If you enjoy learning, it’s very exciting, however it’s also quite daunting. The closer you get to cutting-edge technology the more frustrating things can get. Because the technology isn’t mature, there are gaps in knowledge and documentation.
I find it exciting that I get to experiment and try and work out my own resolutions for issues that I come across, but at the same time there is a feeling in the back of my mind that any questions I may have could have already been answered by someone if they had the chance to get around to it.
5. Are there current solutions available that incorporate blockchain technology? What do you think makes Stirdie different?
There has been some use of blockchain technology in messaging before. However, a lot of blockchain-based solutions are based on the Ethereum blockchain network. Ethereum is a bitcoin-style model where you have anonymous actors contributing to the blockchain network.
The blockchain technology we’re using with Stirdie is an identity-based network. So the biggest difference is that any current messaging platforms available on the market today allow for anonymous contributions, whereas that’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do with verified messaging.
6. What do you enjoy the most about working on Stirdie Verified Messaging?
The amount I’m learning. Everything is new and exciting. I’ve come from a job that I’ve had for 20 years, which saw me involved in the evolution of a product that I first started with in 1999. It was good, I definitely learnt a lot, however, there wasn’t that much diversity. There was a lot of development, but nowhere near as much learning.
And so it’s a great feeling to not be the expert here at Stirdie. I’m learning new things every day and know that anyone who comes onboard to work on Stirdie in the future will also be learning alongside me.
In the first three months of working on Stirdie, I’ve probably completed the equivalent learning to three years at my old position. I feel very empowered and motivated to work on Stirdie as a new and innovative product. At this stage of development, having been the lead software developer from the ‘idea’ phase to where it is now, Stirdie is my baby. Although the idea was never mine (we can thank our Founder and Managing Director, Clint Betts for this), I feel as though it’s my responsibility to deliver Stirdie as a product. I am looking forward to presenting Stirdie in all its glory in the near future.
7. What would you say is the most difficult part about working with blockchain technology?
Blockchain technology is still being developed. Although some parts are reasonably well documented, coding examples are in short supply, making it difficult to gain further information and understanding on the technology without experimenting with it myself. For specific problems, there is no one to ask, so you just have to keep going until you figure out the answers, which I think is the most difficult part about working with cutting-edge technology like blockchain.
8. What do you enjoy the most about working as a software developer here at GoLogic?
For me, it’s that I can come to work every day and I can learn things from other people, but also contribute things they need that they can learn. I’m not smarter than them, I just know different things from them, and so I love the fact I have people around me that I can learn from. It’s the opportunity to learn and the opportunity to share what I’ve learnt that I enjoy the most about working here at GoLogic.
I think the reason why it’s so pronounced in my case is because of my previous position, working for the same company for over 20 years. I wasn’t the only developer there, there was a group of us. But we knew each other inside out, so we couldn’t teach each other new things. We had stopped growing. With Stirdie, it’s completely the opposite. I grow and learn daily and that’s what keeps me pumped for the next day. It’s thrilling to be excited about coming to work and being a part of such an innovative product that I’m sure is bound to change the way people message around the world forever.