My Career

How it all began

My father is a programmer. He taught me a couple things when I was younger, what a variable was, and… well, that’s all I can remember. He lost his job at Novell and we had a rough time for awhile. I knew I wasn’t going to be a programmer. I was going to do something that kept me employed.

After an almost associates degree in business from Snow College (apparently some mixup in one class requirement) I went to the University of Utah to become a geneticist. In late 2003 I started working on my own online store using osCommerce to help me pay the rest of my schooling. I was working with my twin, Tyler, on it and we had very grandiose ideas for the store, requiring a lot of tweaking. I enjoyed fiddling with the code so much that after money ran out and my first child was due to be born, I took Tyler’s advice and applied for a job at MedaiRain for PHP work, even though I had only fiddled with it for 3 months. That was in 2004. I got the job for a whopping $11/hr (more than I could make in unskilled construction work, AND working in an air conditioned office). I was pretty happy for a student.

Since then

That was the beginning. From then on I was hooked. I excelled at what I did. I loved programming. I programmed when I went home in the evening for fun. I dreamed about what I could make at night. I learned that osCommerce was a great example of what not to do. With the help of the web and books I taught myself object-oriented programming, design patterns, database architecture, and a ton of web-related technologies. After a half-backed CMS in JSP (that’s right, not Java, JSP. Ha!) for Relative Genetics they requested MediaRain to send me to come work on-site with them for 6 months helping to write their system in Java.

After Relative Genetics, I saw a need for a good PHP framework for me to use. PHP 5 had just come out and there wasn’t much out there. I hadn’t heard of Ruby on Rails, but I ended up making my own PHP framework that was quite similar and very robust. I learned a lot about application architecture and web frameworks. But I didn’t want to spend the effort so support, document, and otherwise promote my framework, so I’ve let it slide into obscurity.

Talking with a Derek Andriesian, a co-worker who had great ideas and some spare time, we decided to build a product that allowed you to place sticky notes on the web to help you remember why you bookmarked a page. MyStickies was born. We won a Firefox extension contest and had a lot of users sign up, but never made any money and ran out of steam. MyStickies is still live and being used, a bit, but is not supported or being furthered.

I did a lot of Flash and ActionScript work at MediaRain too, and after awhile I finally left MediaRain to consult for Certiport. I was always a bit entrepreneurial and wanted to make my own products, so I figured I’d use consulting work to pay the bills. Ended up, Certiport was too high-stress and I found I had no time to write my own stuff, so I started looking at the alternatives.

Even though MediaRain is a consulting company, they had undergone some major changes internally and after talking with them, I had hopes to be able to build products for them that I could have some ownership in. Plus they are a really great group, and I missed them. So I went back to employment. That lasted until an offer of ownership was presented to employees. It was time for me to decide if MediaRain is where I wanted to be. After having gone back and working with them for awhile, I knew I’d never be able to make products for them. They were too successful with consulting work, which doesn’t really allow you to refine and create the same way product work does. And so I left, again.

I have partnered with Jake Hilton, a Flash Media Server guru and ActionScript extraordinaire. We’ve done work for a handful of companies, but for me the main ones have been Legato Media, HireVue, and ZenPrint. We in fact rewrote HireVue’s whole platform, which will be launching soon.

All in all it has been one wild ride. I have effectively doubled my hourly wage every year or two since becoming a programmer. This is because I have doubled my value, not swindled good people. ;) Though I doubt that trend will continue to happen (darn). I am passionate about programming, writing good code, and finishing projects that make people happy to use them.

If you are interested in consulting work please let me know at jacwright at gmail dot com.
I much prefer Flash and Flex work, but if there is PHP involved too that’s ok. Or if I’m bored I might want to do some PHP. ;)

Skillz

I am a senior level architect. I feel comfortable writing my own frameworks, applications, and libraries in PHP, Javscript, and Flash. Flash is my favorite environment to work in. I love cloud computing and the offerings from Amazon and Google. I’ve spoken a couple of times at 360 Flex (awesome conference by the way) and Adobe MAX on advanced topics. And I’m the assistant to the user group manager in our local Adobe sponsored Flash user group.

  • HTML, CSS, Standards complient of course, and SEO
  • Advanced Javascripting, have written my own framework before, Prototype/Scriptaculous, jQuery, please don’t ask me to work with Dojo, it’s painful.
  • Advanced PHP and MySQL work
  • Advanced Flex, AIR, and ActionScript
  • Some linux administration, python, cloud computing, and most your general developer skills (regex etc.)

Some Stuff I’ve Done

Major visible projects I’ve written at least 50% of. From oldest to newest.

  • uClean – Built the ecommerce store using my PHP framework.
  • MyStickies – Wrote the PHP and much of the javascript (probably rewrote all the javascript, sorry Derek;) and architected the database, as well as wrote a CMS for it.
  • ZenStudio – Architected and lead development on ZenStudio. Unfortunately my time was torn with other projects while at MediaRain and the other two developers on it were interns. But it turned out quite well regardless.
  • HireVue – Rearchitected their entire system with Jake Hilton. Wrote the MySQL database, PHP, and Javascript for the system. Launching soon.

10 Responses to “My Career”

  1. [D-m-K] Says:

    Hi! Jacob, your blog is very nice!!…. thank you for your topics about PHP and HTML5.

    Hakuna Matata

  2. DNoe Says:

    Bummer dude, that ZenStudio site is busted… Got this error:

    Batch command unsuccessful. Fault: [RPC Fault faultString=”Channel disconnected” faultCode=”Client.Error.DeliveryInDoubt” faultDetail=”Channel disconnected before an acknowledgement was received”]

  3. DNoe Says:

    Also, when I just submitted that page it took me to a blank page. (http://jacwright.com/wp-comments-post.php) Just had to use the “Back” button to get me back here. :(

  4. computer mouses Says:

    I got that which you intend, saved to fav, very decent web site .

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  6. Neeli Says:

    wow
    n here i am , studied about programming for 4 years , got a good starting job and i am having rough time in working there coz they making me work in php and json and i have’nt studied both much.

    I know if you love your work then it all matters, seriously loved your story:)got pumped up.

  7. John Chung Says:

    Hi Jacob, your PHP rest webservice is excellent, and I’ve used it in a couple of fairly involved projects. Thanks.

    I wanted to let you know, I’ve added Oracle extensions on your webservice, so that I am now able to use it to interface with Oracle to retrieve/modify data within the database.

    I was going to add a link to my site, and if you like and I can post that information here as well.

    Best regards,

    John Chung

  8. Liz Wild Says:

    Hello, looking to get MyStickies working again.

  9. Jacob Wright Says:

    Right now I’m working on another project (in addition to my day-job). But if there is interest I’ll spend time fixing bugs on mystickies.

  10. Liz Wild Says:

    thank you. It’s just not working at all :( however I invested time making the stickies.

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