Q&A : Timothy Wood - Software Engineer

Staff profile: Timothy Wood - Software Engineer

Location: Bristol, UK
Education: MEng from University of Bristol

How and when did you join SN Systems?

I graduated from University of Bristol in 2009 and started working at an internet security company in Bath. I had always been interested in compiler technology since studying it at university though, so when I stumbled across SN Systems I applied for a job and now here I am. I joined in January of 2012, I remember it clearly as I foolishly decided it would be a good idea to move house at the same time - along with the festivities of Christmas/New Year - it was a very hectic period!

What do you do at SN Systems?

I work in the debugger team. It has been an interesting learning experience because, whilst I knew the fundamentals of how compilers work, I had no knowledge on the operation of debuggers at the time I joined.

In terms of my day-to-day work, there isn't really a "typical" day that I can describe. Over the past few months I've worked on new features, high priority bugs, refactored old code, written unit tests, and more. It's very varied and that keeps it interesting.


What has been the biggest challenge during your time at SN Systems?

One of the most challenging things is the breadth of knowledge required to work on the debugger. It ranges from how the consoles interact with the host computer, to the file formats that debugging information is stored in, to the specifics of how to evaluate C++ expressions. This seemed quite daunting at first, but after lots of reading and inquiring I'd say I have a good understanding of how the system functions a whole now.

What do you like most about working at SN Systems?

I like the focus on building quality into our products. That is to say, correctness and usefulness are never sacrificed in the interest of implementing a feature more quickly.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to get into programming?

To a budding programmer I would recommend improving skills that help you learn by yourself. In the software world, I've often found that being able to dive into a new domain of knowledge is vital to making a successful programmer.

Being able to write code is one thing, but often, and especially when working for a client, you will have to write software that assists them with something that you have no knowledge of. Being able to pick up this new domain quickly, be it investment banking or creating computer games, is a real asset.

What do you particularly like about living in your location?

I know Bristol fairly well as I went to university here. The reason I stayed in the first place is because of the diversity of the city. It is large enough to cater to lots of different interests, but not so large that it feels claustrophobic when venturing into the city-centre!

I also enjoy the night life here - it's possible to find live music of almost any genre to listen to on any night of the week.