Good food, sunshine, and robots

Five questions with Farlei

Every time you interact with an iOS App that PaperKite has built, chances are that Farlei has played a part in bringing that product to life. And it’s not just iOS — whether it’s exploring VR or building robots, Farlei is our technology expert! He’s been a massive part of the PaperKite team since leaving his homeland Brazil in late 2014, and was the perfect candidate to kick off our inaugural ‘Five questions with’ initiative. Enjoy.

Question 1. What are the events that lead you to joining PaperKite?

It’s a long story! I was finishing university and decided “Okay now is the time to work — I’m going to find a cool software job”. But then one of my teachers came to me and said “We’ve got this new Masters degree, do you want to go?”. I wasn’t sure, I still wanted to do ‘real’ things. “We can offer you a full grant to cover the cost”. And I was like “Ahhhh free? Let’s do it!”

Issuing diplomas as Head of Programme at Unisinos University

And this pattern continued, every time I began to think about actually working in the market to do ‘real stuff’, I had a new amazing offer from the university. From student, to teacher, to head of the programme. And I really liked being a teacher (I did it for 13 years!). It’s so cool to see your pupils actually listening and learning the stuff you teach them, and I always made sure to always try and teach practical things, not just theory. The iOS SDK was launched in 2007, and around 2009 I decided to start my own company to actually start making things for the ‘real world’. My day job was still teaching, but my side job at night was now CEO of a company doing mobile development. But at some point the mobile development took over completely.

Practical projects like building remote controlled cars and ‘real-life Angry Birds’

I realised at some point that Brazil wasn’t a great place to keep doing all of this, and that led me to moving to New Zealand. I began looking for companies where I could continue to work with mobile. A recruiter linked me to PaperKite and I met with Nic (PK Founder & CEO) over Skype. And it was amazing. Nic has this approach that really convinces you and if the CEO is like this, then you know the company is like this. After a few days in Wellington it was obvious — the company was good, the city was amazing, so I was in!

Question 2. What is it about software development that gets you the most excited?

Native development is really low level — I get to work really close to the hardware. With iOS you get to interact directly with the phone’s hardware, you’re not working with script languages or through web browsers etc. And it’s really cool that they actually care about the developers. But I like to explore lots of other areas like Arduino, C and C++. Even Java! Solving technical problems, even when they aren’t visual, is really cool.

Question 3. What is your best PaperKite story?

My best story is probably the drone… but we can’t publish that one. The next thing that comes to mind is the catapult we built for Summer of Tech. Andrew talked me through the idea of creating a catapult that launched marshmallows by tapping a button on a phone. It was really cool. And I really enjoyed the process of doing everything: designing the 3D parts, designing the software, the communication, the App, and then testing it with the team (where Nic became the most competitive). We took it to the Summer of Tech Meet & Greet event and it was amazing to see so many people using it.

The marshmallow catapult that the PK team showed off at Summer of Tech 2016

I knew it was mostly a gimmick, but it was a really cool way for people to see how we work as a company. I like doing these hardware experiments — it was a really fun process and a really cool story.

Question 4. Describe your perfect weekend

I had almost the perfect weekend for my birthday recently. I rented a small house in Martinborough for three days. It had a big grass section and a really good espresso machine. For me it’s all about good food and an amazing environment on a sunny day.

Before the weekend I constructed a new ‘crawler’ robot to play with. It’s a customised remote control car that can crawl through lots of different obstacles. I 3D printed extra parts and modified it so that I could see a video feed from the car’s perspective.

So it was a really cold morning, and I sat drinking coffee at the house while driving the crawler all around the area using a remote control and a visual screen to see what the car was seeing.

So for me, the perfect weekend is a mix of all these things. Chilling out, good food, good drink, and access to my technology. And it’s about mood too. Sometimes all I want to do is stay inside and play video games. But I need to rent that house again. It was amazing!

Question 5. You are trapped on a desert island with TWO other members of PaperKite, who are they and why?

My thinking is that if I’m on a desert island it’s because something has gone wrong! So even if there is a way to escape, first we must survive. So I need people who are practical and good at problem solving. For me two people who can do that are Mei (Product Analyst) and Sean (Software Engineer). They are both different types of people, but they are both good at finding solutions — and not going too crazy. If we had to build a boat, it would be straightforward and practical. This is why I couldn’t take the design team (laughing), they would say something like “I cannot get on this boat, it is too ugly!” “Is there any way we could put some animation on the boat?”
[Note: Farlei does actually love the design team].

I think Mei is a good problem solver and keeps cool under pressure. Maybe Sean won’t be as calm, but he will still be a good person to have around. And it’s important to have strong people too. There are actually plenty of people at PaperKite who I think would be useful in this scenario!

Keep up with Farlei by following him on Instagram

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