Dan, our app-man, talks climbing and coding

Posted in upmysport on November 24, 2014

We thought we’d introduce the world to a member of the upmysport team- Dan Hough, who’s been tinkering away on the upmysport app for the past year or so.  We chat tech, climbing, and what the future could have in store for coding..

dan hough

 MC: So Dan, how did you get into coding/app design?

DH: I started when I was about 12, when a very liberal teacher decided to go off the curriculum and teach us html for a day. One thing led to another to another to another, and when I did computer science at Sheffield Uni I learned some of the more advanced parts of programming-  it became a career from there.

We know from your Strava updates that you go on the odd run, but how seriously do you take jogging? Do you do any other sports?

Uhhh, I take joggoling, jogging, well, actually, I like to call it running, thank you very much. I try to go pretty fast, I think I take it seriously enough to try to get to 20 minutes for 5 km, and I’m not quite there yet, but I tend to go 3 times a week on a 5-10k run.

I’m one the few people you meet who takes their stretching quite seriously, and general strength work to do with running. So maybe quite seriously? In terms of other sports, I love climbing, bouldering in particular- the kind where you haven’t got ropes.

I do that three times a week at The Arch climbing wall in Bermondsey and I recently went to France to do a bit of bouldering, which was awesome.


Is it me, or do loads of people in the tech scene seem to be into climbing?

It’s not you. That’s very true. If you go to the bouldering walls and speak to a random person, there’s a 50-50 change that they’re in a tech company. And I think its because a lot of geeks like to approach bouldering from a problem-solving perspective. Climbing is all about problem solving and so is bouldering, so there’s a tonne of cross over.

And, nerdy folk like me often aren’t great at team sports, but they love socializing, so, it’s a good way to do a sport, meet people and discuss a challenge!

 You volunteer at Code Club, how’s that been?

Really rewarding, I know that that’s an obvious thing to say but it really has. It’s taught me a lot about how children learn, and interact with each other. I haven’t spent much time with kids since I was one and, its amazing how quickly they grasp the basics of it. It can be quite stressful- they’re a handful, but I really enjoy it.

Do you think coding will be become part of mainstream education and be taught alongside Geography and Politics etc.?

I think it’ll be part of main steam education but won’t be taught quite as ubiquitously as Geography and Politics. It’ll probably be somewhere between, like, German and Maths. Well, no, I guess German is quite popular.

Ok, a lot of people think that it’s gonna be as ubiquitous as maths, but I can’t see it getting that popular. I think it’s going to be one of these things that gets taught a bit in primary school, and if kids enjoy it, they’ll continue it at secondary school, but if they don’t, they won’t.

I think you can kinda tell when you’re about ten whether you’re interested in programming or not. And I can’t see it being a sudden switch, but its definitely on the up, and needs to be.

The Arch in Bermondsey

The Arch in Bermondsey

 Do you think you can gain something from learning the basics of coding, even if you don’t want to be a developer?

I think so. I teach programming at a company called General Assembly, and the thing that I always tell my students is that even if they’re not in it to have a career in programming learning about it can help change the way they think about basically everything.

If you start approaching the world from a programmers perspective, you can see everything in a much more logical manner. And you can see the way that systems work in a much more intricate way. I don’t just mean computer systems- any kind of system at all- so like, the kind of systems that operate public transportation or those that help a company function. Knowing a bit of programming can really help you understand how complex systems interact.

How do people get into it if they’re curious?

A good first step is to check out websites like Code Academy and Treehouse and if you want to get serious about it then maybe check out a course at somewhere like General Assembly.

Lastly, if you could moonlight as a pro in one sport, what would it be?

*Long pause*  A pro in any sport? Skydiving.  Does that count as a sport?

I don’t know, can you do that, competitively?

I don’t know. Do you mean like professional competitive kinda person?


 Ah, well its gotta be snowboarding- that’s such a cool sport to be professional at.

* Nicola interjects *

NB: You can be a professional skydiver- one of the champions lives in our village. Do you mean professional as in you earn a living from it?

Well, I meant, competitively. 

NB: Yeah that’s definitely a thing too.


DH: In that case I stick with my original answer!

Check out Dan’s blog and Twitter to keep up with all the exciting stuff he’s up to. And if you fancy having a go at climbing, we’ve got some great climbing instructors who can show you the ropes!