Prairie Portrait: Adam Lassek of Lyconic
Name: Adam Lassek
Bio: I'm predominately self-taught. College was moving too slow for me, so I stopped going and taught myself programming. I quit a boring cubicle job three years ago to help build a company with my best friend, where I am today.
Title: Lead Developer at Lyconic
Residence: Omaha, Neb.
Intro music: "Scaling Mount Improbable" by Kasper Rosa
Silicon Prairie News: As a developer, you've been largely self-taught. What are a couple of resources you found most valuable to the learning process when you made the decision to eschew classroom instruction and teach yourself?
Adam Lassek: My friend Aron was instrumental in getting me interested in web development. When I was first starting out he would give me programming puzzles to solve. I spent an enormous amount of time on StackOverflow — I can't recommend that highly enough. Screencasts are also an effective way to learn — my favorites are Peepcode and Tekpub. I wish learncodethehardway.org was around when I was getting started.
SPN: Can you describe the moment that you decided to leave your old gig and go full-time with your own company? What led up to it? What was your thought process like?
AL: The origins of Lyconic are a bit of a long story, but suffice it to say Signal 88 Security had based their operations on Aron's software and was preparing to franchise nationally, which required him to grow the company beyond a one-man operation. I was kind of on the periphery of the whole thing from the beginning, so when Aron needed another developer he offered to bring me on. My biggest motivation was self-determination; I was relatively anonymous where I was, and I wanted to make my mark on a company. It was a risk, and a large pay-cut, but I believed in the long-term vision. Over the following few years I have helped move the company towards a much more modern toolset, technology stack and development workflow.
SPN: What new and exciting projects can we expect in the near future from the team at Lyconic?
AL: We are working on a complete rewrite of our core applications, Inteliguide and Patrolguide, on Ruby on Rails, as the business needs have outgrown our current platform. I can't wait to get this into people's hands, as it is a major improvement in every way. We should be ready to start rolling out version 2.0 sometime this summer, and some time after that we plan on offering it to many more companies.
SPN: As someone who's fairly passionate about the political process, what three tools do you find most useful for staying engaged and informed?
AL: First and foremost, Twitter. I follow a lot of politically active people, with a broad spectrum of opinions. This is how I get almost all my news, in fact. A distant second place would be various news sites e.g. Hacker News, ArsTechnica. Third, I listen to a lot of science and political podcasts such as The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe and the Slate Political Gabfest. Once you get used to that level of discussion, the radio just doesn't cut it anymore.
SPN: I can't help but notice your birthday's coming right up (May 28). First, happy birthday. Second, indulge in a little trip down birthday memory lane for me. What one birthday present would you say has had the biggest bearing on the career you've chosen?
AL: Yep, the big 3-0 :-/ This wasn't exactly a birthday present, but when I was little my parents bought their first computer, a 25Mhz Packard Bell. From that moment onward I had a healthy interest in computers. My first exposure to programming was noodling around in QBASIC on that machine.
Credits: Photo by Abbie Leigh.
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