Welcome to another Developer Spotlight, a short Q & A with community staff. This is a small spectacle of a much larger picture that we focus on to recognize the many talented developers who contribute to one of the largest community driven open source projects around.
Brinly Taylor aka UberLaggyDarwin/uld, is a contributor and device maintainer part of the maintainer & bring-up team for the CyanogenMod community. He has been a core contributor to the project since 2012 with hundreds of contributions including being a big part of device bring ups. He’s currently a student in Adelaide, Australia, while spending some of his spare time reverse engineering low level firmware of Android devices.
So how did you get started with programming and tinkering with devices?
I started pretty young playing with Rockbox open source firmware for my Sandisk – got me into open source, plus then I got a Nintendo DS for homebrew projects.
That’s awesome, I remember when PS3 had Linux before Sony took the option away. I love hacking on consoles.
You are one of the essential developers on HTC and Sony devices, how do you find time to work on personal projects (reverse engineering), be a student and maintain 6 devices?
I don’t sleep much! :P.
What device is your daily driver for a device?
Currently using a HTC Desire Eye (codename ‘eyeul’) but it swaps around a lot. I have like a fair few devices (15+) .
What advice do you have for new programmers or aspiring programmers?
Just keep going, don’t give up. Start on a project that is mostly supported already and have a look at bugs that exist but it’s always good to have programming experience before jumping in.
What was the first big project you were involved in and how did it turn out?
First big project relating to CM would have to be one of the device bring-ups as they are the core work to enable not just CM but many other CM based derivative works. This includes working with kernel source and reverse engineering certain hardware drivers to get certain features working in CM. A common one is of course the camera stack which is always a problem for CM developers due to it’s proprietary nature. We must build a device tree and kernel tree that is compatible with the HAL so that hardware features on the device will be functional on CyanogenMod. Working on feature enhancements on the framework is also quite fun and interesting!
That seems like a ton of work, would you say the outcome is worth the input?
Generally it is.
So what do you do in your free time? Any pastimes you enjoy in the Outback?
I quite like cycling (I don’t modify bicycle’s though).. & camping is quite nice in the outback in just a tent (no caravan) or swags is really nice, you can get away from the city lights.
There is quite a few locations here in the Seattle area that you can escape the light pollution and enjoy the stars and horizon with mountains.
Do you participate in group cycling events?
No. I’m not that confident . I do love my recently purchased road bike (1980’s style but refurbished) as well as my other bicycles.
I have a carbon bike myself, in the city you get a completely different exercise with all of the elevation.
You recently visited here in Seattle, do you feel you had enough time to meet everyone you wanted to and see what you expected?
I really enjoyed my time in Seattle but it was too short, still getting to meet the guys that I work with on Gerrit was really nice and great to see what was happening with the Cyngn crew! Seattle is a really nice city with a great view of the ocean!.
When it’s time to feed the beast, what’s the grub of choice?
I’d probably have to say fruit or olives but both don’t really count for a meal. I like pizza though (I’m a vegetarian).
Pizza is an all time favorite, here in Seattle, you can find it everywhere.
Yeah, I had pizza there. I don’t think it is as nice as home made pizza though!
Who did you look up to when you started coding and hacking around with hardware?
Jerpelea, Kali-, Cyanogen (Steve K) and some others but I don’t have all day to write up a huge list.
After several discussions with Steve K. and Arcee, I have come to the conclusion they are neurotic when it comes to getting things working.
Is there anything you would like to say to the community before we end our chat? I have had a great time chatting with you about all of the awesome things we see around the community.
Come hang out with us on IRC at #cyanogenmod-dev on freenode and say hello! (uld on freenode).