What is your favorite habit to keep up to date with the latest technology trends?
I use LinkedIn to see what people are excited by and what's going on, both locally and further afield. I am reading a lot about soil regeneration work, having just completed a contract with a company that brings damaged soil to organic-certification quality. This fits in strongly with my environmental philosophy: I believe in finding local, practical solutions to local environmental problems.
What are your priorities as a tech enthusiast?
I prioritise infrastructure projects: for the last 14 years I have focused on developing and supporting server-side technology for communication systems, i.e. VoIP and Chat. Tech trends come and go but solid infrastructure lasts for years, even decades. I value the long-term stability and solidity of this kind of work.
At the other end of the spectrum, I love working with startups on their technology needs, especially if there is a strong scientific or mathematical aspect to the project. The soil regeneration company is a good example. When I work with startups like that, I know that I am laying down solid infrastructure for them that will keep them going for many years.
What role do you play in the technology industry in Waikato/NZ?
In addition to my independent IT consultancy work, I work closely with Company-X as a contractor on projects that involve managing, migrating, or supporting legacy code, plus Android development for serious commercial projects.
What do you like to do in your spare time outside of your involvement with the technology industry?
Apart from spending time with my family, I am training to be a Deacon in the Greek Orthodox Church, which takes up most of my non-tech time. This involves assisting the parish priest in every way possible - preparing for services, doing admin, tech support, visiting and helping members who are sick or struggling with an aspect of their faith.
I have degrees in astrophysics and theology, and the theological part of my training involves researching the interface between science and questions of faith. My faith connects up with my interest in soil regeneration: a vital part of being a Christian is to care about good stewardship of Creation.
What in your opinion are the greatest opportunities and challenges the technology sector faces in the Waikato/NZ?
I'll tackle the challenge first: maths education in New Zealand is full of holes! Students often arrive at University with huge gaps in foundational maths. While we have an excellent Computer Science department here in Hamilton, local Kiwi students are at a disadvantage compared to students who come from overseas to study here, if they are struggling with the mathematical aspects of computing. I don't think there has to be an across-the-board improvement in maths teaching - but there should be top quality maths teaching available for those kids who show a strong innate talent or interest, especially if they are from families that can't afford tutoring.
You've guessed it -- soil regeneration! And, of course, I would love to see Waikato involved in NASA's ambitious plans for a moon base as this was a childhood fantasy. The moon base work is deliberately commercial, focusing on all the earth-bound spin-offs from research and development. I would love to see Waikato tech firms getting in on this, and this is something I'd love to get involved with myself.