Today I’m joined by Mahdi Yusuf, one of the founders of Pycoder’s Weekly.
By day he’s the CTO of Gyroscope, the OS for the human body. By night, he’s a sports and movie fan with a controversial opinion on who is the best Batman… Let’s get into it.
Ricky: Let’s start with an easy one. How’d you get into programming, and when did you start using Python?
Mahdi: I was actually quite a late bloomer. I didn’t even know what a pointer was until I was in university studying computer engineering, but I was always into computers and always playing around with machines. (Mostly Windows. Gasp!)
I started using Python in the last couple years of university, and I really enjoyed how simple and “batteries included” it was. Almost everything I wanted to do had a library for it, and in the last 10 years it’s only gotten better.
What drew me to it was that you could do anything you wanted. You weren’t niched into a specific role like you would be with some other programming languages.
Ricky: People may know you as one of the founders of Pycoder’s Weekly. For those reading who may not be aware of Pycoder’s Weekly, can you briefly explain what you offer to your readers, and how it came to fruition?
Mahdi: It was actually just a by-product of having no way to get Python news in a nice, curated manner that was consistent.
Mike (co-founder) and I were just chatting and thought it would be something cool to do, so we just got it started. I bought the domain and created our first landing page, and we were off to the races.
Next thing you know, before we even sent out the first issue, we had 2,000 subscribers.
Ricky: You gave a talk at PyCon Canada 2013, titled “How to Make Friends and Influence Developers.” It’s a great talk where you emphasize how developers can grow their community and products by focusing on the value they can offer and not just the problems they can solve. Do you still feel this is an area that developers can work on in 2018? What challenges do you think developers will be facing in 2019?
Mahdi: Absolutely. Moving forward, I think most problems have been trivialized, from racking your own servers in the early 2000s to points in click in the 2010s. Things are only getting easier, but the problems people have will always be there, so focusing on user goals instead of problems is always the best way to think.
Ricky: For your day job, you work as the CTO for Gyroscope. I first heard about the app in your interview with the legendary Scott Hanselman on the Hanselminutes Podcast. It’s an amazing app that has quite clear benefits for its users. Could you tell us a bit about the app and the plans you have for it going forward?
Mahdi: Gyroscope is essentially the operating system for your body. It helps people keep track of their bodies much like they would their computers. Tracking important health metrics like their heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar in addition to simpler things like where they are spending all their time and how productive they are during work hours.
We are working on a few things that are going to bridge the gap between your health and all the data you are generating and be a part of your everyday life. Stay tuned! You can follow us @gyroscope_app if this is something that interests you, or you can reach out to me @myusuf3.
Ricky: What other projects do you have going on that you’d like to share? What takes up your time outside of Gyroscope and Pycoder’s?
Mahdi: I have been playing with building an AI-powered home monitoring system that can identify members of my family with trained pictures of them gathered around the house. It could fire notifications of who is around the house and potentially detect when people it doesn’t know enter the camera’s field of view and ignore my family members as they pass throughout the house.
It’s been on the shelf for a couple of weeks. I’ve been busy with work, but it’s getting me writing more Python lately.
Ricky: And now for my last question: there’s more to us than coding, so what other hobbies and interests do you have? Any you’d like to share and/or plug?
Mahdi: I love playing sports and am a huge movie guy.
I have been playing basketball since I was young, and it’s the sport I enjoy playing the most, but as I am getting older, I am spending more time icing my knees than I would like.
As for movies, the summer is just wrapping up, and there was tons of great stuff this summer, but I am just going to put it out there… I am Team Marvel. Ben Affleck is the real Batman.
Thank you Mahdi for the interview. You can follow Mahdi on Twitter here. If you haven’t already, you can sign up to the Pycoder’s Weekly newsletter here.
If there is someone you would like me to interview in the future, reach out to me in the comments below, or send me a message on Twitter.