Developers! Developers! Developers! Steve Ballmer’s favourite sweat-laden catchcry is a reminder that all those great apps we spend so much time using on our phones and PCs are made by someone, somewhere. Developers Cubed looks to get a behind the scenes look at some of Australia’s up and coming development scene. This week, we speak to Yoo-Jin Lee, the man behind independent studio Mokten.
Who are you and where do you work?
Yoo-Jin Lee. A Korean-Canadian who now calls Australia home. I founded a mobile software company called Mokten Pty Ltd where we make our own iOS Apps and help other companies do the same.
Why do we know you? What have you created?
The company I founded, Mokten, created two iPhone Apps, MasterApp and aHomeIcon. Both Apps have been in Apple’s Utilities New & Noteworthy section.
What platforms do you develop for?
iOS primarily, Android minimal.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on some new updates for aHomeIcon – an iOS iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad App that lets you create Home screen icons that will launch phone calls, SMS’s, emails, iPod songs and more. Also, I just started working on making an internal iPhone App with Ericsson for VHA.
How did you get into development?
I first worked in Geology in the Low Arctic and Mongolia. I soon realised licking rocks all day was not for me. I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do so I came back to Canada and installed office furniture. I actually loved that job. It was like working in Lego Land. I thought being a Certified Accountant would be interesting so I took 3 intensive courses. Wow, I had some great sleeps during that period. Since I have geek blood and I actually liked the one programming class I had to take when I did my Geology degree, I went back to university to do a Computer Science degree.
After a year of Computer Science, I lucked into a summer intern job with the Department of Justice Canada and created a training information system using Java. I actually wasn’t going to go to the interview because they wanted someone with more experience but at the last minute I changed my mind. At that point I’ve never made a website, didn’t know what SQL was, never worked with a database, and only knew the basics of Java. My sweater and boots must have impressed them in the interview because they hired me. Over the summer, I read about nine tech books, lots of internet articles and my brother with a Masters in Computer Science (geek blood) gave me a lot of tips. At the end of the summer, I had a working version and they asked me to stay on longer. My supervisor was pretty happy because his boss was very happy with it and he got an internal award for that project.
What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?
Apple has blazed a trail and set a standard for all other App Stores – present and future. I’m glad though there are alternatives because too much power in one store or OS could lead to the dark side. I think the is a great time to be a Developer because we have so many more opportunities now. At this time, I’m only targeting Apple’s App Store and looking closely at Google’s.
What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?
That’s a difficult question since there are so many. I love all of Apple’s Apps. My favourite would probably be Notes because it’s so deceivingly simple but incredibly useful.
What phone do you use? Why?
iPhone 4. It’s beautiful outside and inside. I used to work on 3 Mobile’s Planet 3 Portal, so I’ve seen a lot of mobiles. Funnily enough I probably had the worst mobile while I worked there. It could only be used to make calls and SMSs. But when I saw the iPhone I had to have one because of it’s design and the great Apps it had. Eventually I loved it so much I quit my job at the Department of Planning to make Apps for it.
What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?
In no order:
Make something people want
Believe in yourself
Persevere and have hope
Work like a dog
Know when to listen