about

Alec McEachran

Interactive Developer

You Tube

I am an interactive software engineer at YouTube, working in a team of interactive engineers building YouTube for TV, deployed across multiple hardware devices to millions of users.

My professional wheel-house is fast, stable, elegant, test-driven code. I advocate test-driven development, pair-programming, inversion of control, dependency injection and SRP. I believe that tests are the only documentation for code that isn't lying or out-of-date, and that complaining about JavaScript is just blaming your tools.

I used to be a professional Mathematics teacher in the UK. I am interested in the potential of technology to transform the experience of teaching and learning. Educational games and rich interactive simulations can reshape students’ experiences of learning difficult concepts. Games and simulations offer a sandbox in which students can experiment free from the fear of failure. My educational alter-ego can be found at ptolemy.co.uk.

I talk shop on twitter from time to time. When I can, I like to engage with the open-source community on github, too.

Background

ZX Spectrum

I am based in San Francisco, Calfornia. I moved to San Francisco in January 2010 from Scotland, though I am originally from Lichfield, England. I'm the youngest of three brothers, and started coding when Neil and Ewan left home and I got my hands on the family ZX Spectrum 48k. It was a magical thing: it plugged into a TV, had rubber keys and launched into a command line with integrated basic. I/O was through a serial connection to a cassette-tape player! Data was stored as audio. I loved it, and spent hours typing programs printed in Crash Magazine that drew fractals or built basic games.

In 2001, unable to get a job in the tech industry after the dot-com bubble burst I instead trained to become a teacher, and taught Mathematics and Philosophy for a few years in a high school in England. I moved into coding professionally in 2006, after building Furbles in my spare time while teaching, and being approached by Sherston Software to build similar software. I have since worked for a bunch of different companies, and built games, websites and mobile applications in the intervening years, most notably Realm of the Mad God and Monster Galaxy.