David Roddick

I’m the Technical Lead and Senior Developer at The Intermedia Group in Sydney, Australia.

I’m responsible for maintaining a network of B2B news and event websites, including overseeing the design and development of front-end UIs, maintenance of back-end infrastructure and overall platform architecture.

I lead a small team of developers in a fairly fast paced environment where we are constantly working to improve the company’s digital assets.

Back story

When I was around 11 or 12 years old, my friend and I were obsessed with the video game Mortal Kombat. Like a lot of kids, I spent a lot of time playing video games. Unlike most however, I wanted to learn how to make my own games.

Being the late 90’s, there was no YouTube or kids coding programs, so I used books from the library and the dial up Internet in my Dad’s office to search for tutorials and wasted way too much printer paper printing off what I found.

I had my own 486 PC running MS DOS. Not the most up to date computer at the time, but it was my own, and for a kid it was awesome to have my own computer.

I discovered Linux around the early 2000s. For a teenage hobbyist at the time, the brand new Windows XP was too expensive and I was looking for an alternative. I found Red Hat 7.3 on the back of a magazine and never looked back.

Back then, JavaScript wasn’t as wide spread or popular as it is today, but I had access to a language called QBasic which I could use to make my own games. I wasn’t very good at it, and most of the time I had no idea what I was doing, but if I typed out the lines of nonsense from my print outs, I could sometimes make things happen.

MS DOS QBASIC

I built my first real Website in 2008, just after my first child was born. At the time, I was working as a mobile crane operator to support my new family and although I’d always had a passion for programming and computers, I’d never managed to do it for a living.

My first paid development job was for a new business my friend was starting. It was an adult entertainment business and he needed a simple website to start advertising. Up until then I’d been a Linux geek, hacking on Python to create small games as a hobby, but when my friend asked me to build him a website I quickly learned HTML and CSS, searched online for free website templates and found something that looked similar to what he wanted and customized it for him.

I’m not ashamed to say, it was absolute rubbish. He did pay me (and we are still friends), but it was not a good looking website at all.

Needless to say, I kept on working.

After my first few attempts at web development, I discovered PHP and was able to reuse things like the header and footer, and start building dynamic websites. 

My first dynamic website with PHP

Being a self taught programmer, I often struggled making the jump from toy projects in books to writing real code. PHP was a language that made sense to me, it wasn’t up tight and academic and it wasn’t overly complex to get things done.

I learned JavaScript next and eventually I found WordPress. WordPress let me build websites faster and easier, and more professionally that I had been capable of at that point.

As I got better and more confident, I started to find more clients for my now growing side business as a freelance web developer. I started taking on more complicated jobs and progressed in my skills, going from using free themes and plugins found in the WordPress directory, to building my own.

In 2012 I was hired as a Junior System Administrator for a company that built course enrollment software. My novice Unix skills were pushed to the max as I was now thrown into managing production FreeBSD servers from Sydney to Hong Kong. I picked up some Java, SVN, Jenkins and Maven having to assist in deploying their app and Drupal to manage their company CMS.

In my spare time, I experiment with code in multiple programming languages such as Java, Go and Clojure. I build WordPress plugins and themes for fun and I’m constantly trying to learn new things and expand my abilities.

Both WordPress and Linux have played an important part in my career up until now. They’ve allowed me to go from a high school dropout with a computer obsession to a Senior Developer in charge of dozens of websites and servers.