Mycroft's Two Newest Team Members - Ruthvic and Chris

Originally published at: Mycroft's Two Newest Team Members - Ruthvic and Chris - Mycroft

Continuing our “Day in the Life” team member interview series, we’re introducing our two newest team members – Ruthvic Punyamurtula and Christopher Rogers.

Ruthvic is our newest Machine Learning Engineer and Christopher is a Community member turned IoT skill expert.

A day in the life of new Mycroft Developer Ruthvic Punyamurtula

Ruthvic, where do you hail from?

I am from Hyderabad, India – the place known for Biryani, information technology, and historical prominence. If you ever visit Hyderabad, I can be your virtual local guide!

Give us a little background on you.

I started my career as any other engineer in IT and worked as an application developer for two and a half years in Hyderabad. The Java programming became a routine and I wasn’t excited about it or learning from it. I was actually interested in mathematics & statistics and started learning ‘R’ programming. This guided me the path to the world of Data Science – machine learning in particular.

All my student life I scored high in math and always wondered what difference calculus and applied mathematics might make on my life, if any?

It did … Please read on! 😛

So yes, I wanted to study machine learning and then decided to pursue my Masters in CS. Now I am in Kansas City with the team, and doing my thesis in Deep Learning & Natural Language Processing at UMKC. I will be defending my thesis in May 2019.

What are your daily tasks?

Working on Mycroft’s machine learning world, Improving mimic2 and working on some of the features of TTS. Validating and evaluating the deep learning models, experimenting with new architectures for the existing models. Fixing some of the Mycroft-core bugs and reviewing few PRs.

Walk us through a day in the life.

I start my work around 9AM unless I miss the first bus. I finish some of the pending tasks, test the code changes on Mark I, and attend our dev scrum at 10AM. For the first half of the day, I work on some of the mycroft-core issues. The second half is my Machine Learning time. I discuss with Matthew about Precise/Mimic 2, experiment some, bug Steve with a lot of questions, and wind up the day’s work.

What are your favorite things to do in a day?

My favourite work so far is working on Mimic2 and testing the changes (actually playing) on Mark I.

And what about your least favorite/most challenging?

The toughest task initially was to setup Mimic2 and precise on my Windows machine. That was the only time I wished I had a Macbook. There is no least favorite, as I am learning something new every day.

You’re relatively new to the team, what got you excited about Mycroft?

I am excited about the world of opportunities at Mycroft. Many people graduate with a Data Science major but very few get a chance to actually work on it and enjoy its essence. As a Data Science aspirant, I enjoy working here on latest technologies and Deep Learning frameworks. I am inspired by the way Mycroft is making its prominence in the world of AI.

How have your first few months been?

It’s a great team to work with. Particularly, Steve and Matthew have been helping me a lot in catching up with the tasks. Nate and Sam are the early birds in KC office who always have a ‘good morning’ smile and the day would be boring without Eric’s fun.

What excites you about the future of Mycroft?

There’s a great amount of development being done here. Mycroft is increasing its presence and I am sure that it will reach greater heights in the Voice Assistant’s market. Also, thanks to the huge Community of supporters for their contributions to Mycroft.

Care to give us a cliche ‘fun fact’ about you?

Friends called me social-media inactive guy for not posting, but these days I am active on my Youtube channel with tutorials. I also updated my LinkedIn profile picture (after 5 years) after joining Mycroft 😛

Anything else you want to say?

I would like to thank the Mycroft Team for their support and the Community for sharing their time and knowledge. As I mentioned earlier – “There’s something new to learn every day at Mycroft” and I am looking forward to adding more contributions to it.

A day in the life of new Mycroft Developer Christopher Rogers

Christopher, where do you hail from?

Currently living in New York City.

Give us a little background on you.

I studied computer science at the University of Arizona. Immediately following college, I began working at IBM as a software engineer. After a brief stint there, I accepted an offer at Palantir and moved to NYC. I’ve been with them full-time since, and started working as a contractor with Mycroft at the start of this year.

What are your daily tasks?

I’m currently working on the common IoT framework. Over the past few weeks, I’ve laid the groundwork, and am currently beginning the process of updating some skills to leverage the framework.

Walk us through a day in the life.

I generally start by checking emails and chat to catch up on anything I’ve missed. That usually only takes a few minutes, and then I dive into development work.

What are your favorite things to do in a day?

I get a lot of satisfaction from providing insight to other people, so when there’s opportunity to give an in-depth answer in chat, or a comment on a PR or similar, I enjoy that a lot.

And what about your least favorite/most challenging?

I tend to enjoy work that benefits myself, e.g. working on skills I actually use. There’s always a nice “Aha, it works!” moment, and then my daily life is made better by something I’ve created – very satisfying.

The inverse of that gives my least favorite work – working on things that I won’t use. For example, with the CommonIoT work now, I’m converting skills that use the standard intent system to leverage the new framework. It’s hard to get excited about skills that are for systems I don’t personally use.

You’re relatively new to the team, but not the Community. What got you excited about Mycroft when you first found out about it?

I’ve been very interested in voice assistants since the rumors of the original Moto X phone. When rumors started flowing about that device, we already had Siri and Google Now, but to my knowledge, that was the first “always listening” device. I knew there was huge potential for devices like that to take off. Sometime after the phone launched I was able to purchase one (it was actually my first smartphone), and the always listening tech was fantastic. But it had two major drawbacks: there was no way to make custom commands, and being in a phone meant it moved around – it wasn’t a permanent fixture of my home.

So I waited patiently expecting Google to eventually create a standalone device. A few years later Amazon came out of nowhere and beat them to it with the Echo. Being a standalone device, it solved one of those problems, but creating custom commands was still not something you could do, at least without a lot of headache (developer accounts, API keys, complicated pricing structures, etc).

When I heard about Mycroft, it was finally a device that was going to solve both problems. A standalone always listening voice assistant, with a focus on allowing developers to make custom skills. It was perfect.

How have your first few months been?

It’s been interesting transitioning from doing work on Mycroft as a hobby to doing work as a contractor. As a hobbyist, I could work on what I wanted when I wanted. There was no pressure to complete anything, or do anything in any particular way. It was nice to work on something for as long as it interested me, and then step away if I got bored or tired.

As a contractor, a lot of that luxury is lost. I have tasks that I’m expected to complete in a reasonable amount of time, regardless of how interesting I find them, or whether I want to work on them on any given day.

At the same time though, it’s an excellent opportunity to help ensure the success of a product I’ve been excited about since its beginning. It’s kind of a “battles vs wars” or “trees vs forest” type scenario. As a hobbyist, there was a lot of potential for short term fun. As a contractor, things can be a little more tedious in the short term, but I’m in a much better position to make sure that in the long term the war is won, the forest is seen, and the product survives and thrives.

What excites you about the future of Mycroft?

I think the most exciting thing about Mycroft’s future is the same thing that’s been exciting since day 1: It’s open. It may take a while to gain enough momentum to topple the Echos, Google Homes, and HomePods, but I think an open solution will win over time.

Give us a cliche fun fact about you?

I wouldn’t be here (a developer for Mycroft) if not for StumbleUpon. For those unfamiliar, it was a site that, at the click of a button, would take you to a random page online based on your interests. In high school, I stumbled upon Ubuntu, which led to an interest in open source, which led me to study computer science so I could contribute back to the community. I only ever expected it to be a hobby, but it turned into a career.

Anything else you want to say?

Since I’m just a contractor, I’m a little less active in the chat and forum relative to some other members of the team, but don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s something I can assist with. My response might be delayed by a few hours, but I’m happy to assist where I can.

We’re elated to have Ruthvic and Christopher on board. In just a couple of months, they’ve both had an impact on our technology and team.