Employee Spotlight: Mirek Wojtowicz

Meet Mirek Wojtowicz, Senior Mobile Software Engineer, based at our Oakville, Ontario office.

Mirek has been with the company for seven years. It was his first job in Canada, as he immigrated to the country from Poland exactly seven years ago.

When not programming new applications and experimenting with software, Mirek enjoys traveling with his family, as he did on a recent vacation to Cancun, Mexico.

What, exactly, do you do at Xata?

I focus primarily on developing mobile applications for the trucking industry. I’m responsible for the Xata Turnpike mobile technologies department. For many years, my department consisted of one person, just me. This year I finally got a great helper, Sajeev, and became sort of a Team Leader.

What is your favorite accomplishment at Xata so far?

I have no doubt that it will be the prototype of our main mobile application – tpMobile – running on a simple classic Java phone. To understand it, you need to put it into perspective. It was early 2007; the iPhone was yet to be born. Classic Java phones were commonly regarded as good for making calls and texting. We proved they can do so much more – they can continuously communicate over Bluetooth and the data network while performing intensive background operations for many weeks without restarting.

What part of your job interests you the most?

I’m the type of a person who cannot work constantly on the same projects. I need to learn new things and face new challenges. Mobile development gives me all that, and more. It is commonly regarded as the most dynamic part of the technical industry, because whatever we learn and do typically becomes out-dated within a year or two.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned on the job, so far?

Programming Android devices. I strongly believe the future belongs to this platform.

What kind of cell phone do you use personally?

My main phone is still a good old Windows Mobile HTC Diamond Touch. The secondary one is an Android, at the moment the Samsung Galaxy S II.  In my backpack you will also find an Android Tablet – a 10” Viewsonic. Not really a phone, but the only feature it’s missing – a voice plan – is rarely used even on phones these days anyway. Skype works equally well.

Favorite website or blog?

There are so many I visit every day…  To name a few: xda-developers, digg, GSMArena, AppleInsider, CodeProject, Lifehacker, and of course Break.com.

Favorite new technology?

Tablets. Years of using laptops and notebooks taught us one thing – they are not as portable as manufacturers want us to believe. To me they are rather “draggable.” Tablets resolve this problem and offer better processing power. Their excellent touch interface makes them a pleasure to use – providing you have some cloth on you to constantly clean the screen, that is.

In talking with Mirek, I learned of a unique hobby that literally changed his life – his fascination with a mathematical phenomenon – Cellular Automata (CA), known to many in its simplest form as “Conway’s Game of Life.” He has studied the subject for many years, and wrote sophisticated software which allowed him to experiment with different families of CA. His work soon became known to the world and resulted in cooperation with one of the most famous mathematicians of our times, Stephen Wolfram.  Stephen’s monumental book, “A New Kind of Science,” often refers to Mirek’s discoveries. There is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to some of these discoveries. This hobby had one side effect – Mirek had to learn English! This in turn soon resulted in his family’s immigration to Canada.