As the very first full-time Software Engineer at Sereact, Jan has had a major influence on the development of the product from the very beginning. His passion for hardware design and bringing robots to life has shaped his journey since childhood. Find out more about him – from his first steps in programming to the craziest place he's ever written code.
Actually, it was hardware design that interested me first. As a child I built lots of tree houses and carts that we used to race down the hill behind my house. But as my constructions became more sophisticated, software became more important to make them work. In the end it became my most exciting experience to bring robots to life using whatever crappy software I came up with at the time. And this excitement has never changed.
That's a really good question and something that has taken us a while to find the right balance. Our software changes extremely fast, and it has to evolve at the same pace to keep up with the state of the art. Maintaining code quality at that rate is really hard. Writing tests and implementing the right software architecture takes time. So we develop new features in a very loose environment. It's just a matter of proving whether this new feature could be useful or not. No need to worry about pretty code or proper unit testing. If the feature seems useful, we add a cleanup phase where proper integration is done. This way we can try lots of things without wasting too much time on features that turn out to be no good.
I'm really into trying new things, and I think that's very important in engineering. I mentioned before that I used to build a lot of things when I was little... well, that hasn't changed. Two weeks ago I finished a roof tent for my car. I was looking for a soft cover version that was very compact but not too expensive, as I already knew I wouldn't be using it too often. In the end, I just built it myself. I even got into sewing for the tent, which I'd never done before. I underestimated how much work the sewing part would be. But thanks to my mum and an extra week's holiday I managed it.
I don't know what got into me. But once I tried coding in a sauna. It only took a few minutes for me to start sweating so much that I couldn't code without laminating my laptop... I wouldn't recommend it either way.
A dance mode would be really cool. Just tell the robot there is something to celebrate, and it will do a little dance in between.