Meet Will, IRIS DSP Engineer. Get to know this competitive, funny, and audio-obsessed member of our team.
What is your role at IRIS?
I’ve been here for something like 9 months now, and I’d approximate I’ve spent 20% of that time tearing my hair out over issues which turn out to be misplaced minus signs. I spend the rest of the time coming up with ideas for how to improve audio quality, code efficiency and flexibility, and developing new features. Actually that’s not quite true, a decent portion of each week goes to what I call grunt work - almost invariably stuff that Pat wants done but considers to be ‘below his status’. His words not mine. (Not really)
You worked from Mexico for a few months - what was that like?
Mexico was class! Arriving was a culture shock - no-one’s in a rush to do anything, everyone lives at a very leisurely pace, and everyone spends all their time outside or on rooftops and cafe gardens (quite the change from the cold early-spring London I was coming from). By comparison, getting back to London after 5 or 6 months of that was a shock to the system too, although I quickly re-adapted to spending my life sprinting for buses and speedily pacing around my room when I’m on the phone.
We hear you did a Masters of Science in Acoustics. Where does your fascination in audio come from and how does it relate to your ambitions?
In my usual social circles, I get to try to sound interesting when I talk about this, but at IRIS it seems like the entire tech team has an identical backstory. Thus, instead of trying to sound like an interesting person, I’ll just chronologically list everyone in the tech team’s story, based on fairly minimal evidence:
Started playing a musical instrument at a relatively young age (in my case, piano and violin, at 8 and 10)
Started producing music of some description (in my case, jungle and other electronic music)
Optional: Picked up guitar at some point (in my case guitar, at some point)
Studied a mathematical degree (in my case, Physics)
Interim period before figuring out what they wanted to do (in my case, a rubbish job and then travelling)
Optional: Studied a more specialised MSc in some field that combines maths-y stuff with music-y stuff (in my case, Acoustic Engineering)
Got into the audio tech industry (in my case, for a company developing stringed instrument synthesis plugins)
Came to IRIS
I don’t think I’m far off the mark? I love music and producing music, and have developed a really nerdy ear for how stuff sounds and what makes it sound like that. Combining that interest with my vaguely physics-oriented brain means that having a job working on the nitty gritty details of audio is absolutely perfect for me. It sounds cliche, but my ambition is genuinely just to learn as much as I possibly can about the audio and DSP fields, whilst keeping as scientific an approach as I can to what I’m working on. Just noticed I haven’t even tried to be funny once in this paragraph, which is disappointing.
Some quickfire questions (or in Will’s case, existential re-evaluations):
App you couldn’t live without: I always think of myself as a person who’s fairly independent from their phone, but when I see this question, I realise that there’s an embarrassing number that springs to mind. A shortlist would be:
Fitbit (tracks when I go on a run and feeds my ego with stats like ‘maximum speed’)
ESPNCricinfo (cricket scores)
GardenTags (helps me avoid murdering my plants by reminding me when to water which ones)
JustWatch (tells me what streaming service every film/series is on so I don’t have to scroll through them all to find what I’m after)
Quora (helps me scratch the itch of finding out the answer to every random bizarre question that pops into my head)
Least favourite noise: Me playing the wrong string when I’m trying to play a note on guitar. It invariably sounds awful, and it invariably is very obvious to everyone who can hear it that I’ve made a very basic blunder. Either that or my flatmate knocking on my door asking if he can use my bike.
As unofficial social secretary, what's your ideal office outing: I’m unashamedly competitive, so anything that involves pitting colleagues against each other in some manner is tantalising. And without dropping any names, I also know full well I’m not the only one who loves a competitive edge to an office social! With that said, I’m always keen to sit/stand around at a pub — especially as colder days approach, the thought of being in the presence of a pint of Guinness, a fire, and a pool table is lovely. As long as I’ve got someone I can beat at pool, anyway.
You're currently falling behind horribly in the IRIS Fantasy Football league, how are you planning on rectifying this? Oh my god I completely forgot I was in that. I’ve not updated my team since week 1 so it’s a potentially unsalvageable situation. I reckon my best bet is a crash course on hacking, then breaking into the fantasy football website and deleting everyone else’s account.
Something your colleagues don’t know about you: I have a real blind spot with the names of different types of transport. As in, I know full well what a bus, train, and plane are, but unintentionally use the words practically interchangeably. Figuring out the actual word for the tall red thing on four wheels is, is too much of a mental hurdle for me to cross on the spot, so I tend to just blurt whichever word comes to mind first.