Christopher Rueber is Minneapolis-based programmer, table top gamer and folk musician.
“I am not a re-packager, re-brander, nor ‘static web site’ designer. I build and maintain applications that have been built from the ground up.”
When and how did you originally become interested in technology?
It is generational in my family. My grandfather was an amateur radio operator, and built his own radio systems before you could buy pre-packaged systems. That was passed down the line to my father, and eventually to me. When I was in my single-digit years, I was messing around with circuit boards and really early personal computers. TRS-80’s, Commodore 64’s, those were all toys I played with when I was a kid.
At what age did you write your first computer program? What did it do?
I was 9 years old when I first conceived of my own computer program that I wanted to write. It was a star field that mimicked the warp effect of the Star Trek series. It was written on an 80-386, in turbo pascal. An interesting side note is that it is one of the more math intensive programs I’ve ever written, and it was my first!
What do you do now? What languages are you proficient in?
How have you increased your skillset over the years, formally or otherwise?
My skills have progressed at a very natural rate, as I have been coding since I was very young. By the time it rolled around for me to head to college, I was not really interested in rehashing everything I had learned on my own. Instead, I cultivate my skills organically by reading early release books, twitter, and blogs. Finding out where the brightest and most innovative minds in the industry are going.
Which do you prefer in programming, the struggle or the achievement?
The achievement. More specifically, the product. What gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I can make someones life easier with the products that I build. The struggle is secondary to the end goal. Which is indicative of my interests in building strong user interfaces and experiences.
What people, groups, projects, or resources were most influential in your development as programmer?
Possibly the most influential project was working with a code base called MUX (Multi-User eXperience). It was for a text based game where people log on and create a shared game world. My skills were increased the most during my teens, when I was working on that project. Unfortunately, it is all but defunct now, with the advent of so many graphical MMO-style games.
What do you enjoy about it? Is there anything you dislike?
Anything is possible. There are no other industries or career paths that you can make as big of a splash, with so little required. Just time and a computer. Sometimes my impatience gets me though, and I get frustrated with how slow development can be, when I can clearly envision an end product.
If you were to be doing anything else, what might that be?
I can’t imagine any other career path that I would enjoy as much as I enjoy creating new software. Occasionally I imagine that I could be a good interface for programming groups, as I enjoy interacting with programmers more than some, but I consider that just to be another avenue for creating new and interesting product, less than a change.
Where do you spend most of your time online?
I frequent most of the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), along with all sorts of reference sites for whatever I happen to be working on. Trello for work and play. Stack Overflow (and other SE sites). I spend a decent amount of time just reading code on GitHub, trying to draw inspiration from other projects.
What concerns you most about where technology is headed?
Not technology itself, but rather that politics of technology. Just one example is how patents continue to stifle innovation and the reinvention of ideas. Microsoft made more than two billion dollars in 2013 on patents that Android devices purportedly infringed on. For any programmer that is developing code ‘in their garage’, that’s a pretty scary unknown looming on the horizon, and it is only increasing in size.
What excites you most about where technology is headed?
The journey into the unknown! The hardware curve has started to settle, and there is an increase in specialized computing devices for specific tasks and integrations. Google Glass, Self Driving Cars, etc. Each of these takes a long time to not only conceive of, but to execute on in a safe and non-hazardous manner. Where will innovation take us next? Anything is possible!