I am a transplanted Canadian, living in San Francisco; a science fiction bookworm by type and a computer scientist by trade. I’ve traveled around the world via wrestling, rugby and Ultimate Frisbee tournaments, then I mellowed out into modern dance, Tai Chi and gardening.
By working my way through school as a research programmer and tutor, I was able to learn from national lab level talent in coding while surfing all the academic fields the university offered; ten great years and multiple minors! But what made that era so special were the indirect payoffs. University was where I first started learning about people.
I find great clarity in the writing process, so a lot of my free time goes into alternate history and science fiction projects, storytelling mechanics for games, technical writings on the innovation process and game conference lectures on test-driven development, metrics, clustered computing and scalable simulation patterns.
My passion is having passions. I love to throw myself into something new, for several years at a time, experiencing the ups and downs along the journey from student to craftsman to coach. I’m a learning junkie. That twist in the gut when you make a connection between thoughts or find a solution to a blocking problem; that’s the moment I work for.
I’ve coached in both sports and software; I love to find the path that connects someone to a solution. One of my long-term goals is to get back into the education world.
The position I play on a software team or a sport team varies; I can happily obsess over most anything new. If the team needs a quarterback, I’ll handle the ball. If the team has a system architect, I’ll do a different part of the whole. Solving complex problems with a great team of people is what I love to do; which particular part of the problem I tackle is less important than being on a strong team.
I’ve spent over ten years in the online video game industry, first focused on scalable simulations for massively-multiplayer games, like EA’s The Sims franchise, and later, metrics and automated testing. We got the cover of Newsweek when we launched; the test-driven development path we came up with was a big part of hitting such a lofty goal. By increasing the development speed and providing a reliable projection of when the code was ready to launch, the EA marketing machine was willing to swing for the fences, and Newsweek was willing to take a risk by scheduling a nation-wide cover story to hit in our launch window: very cool!
I’ve become a bit compulsive since then about writing and speaking about how TDD can really speed up your development cycle, lower your recurring operational costs and provide accurate provisioning projections, all early enough to be able to useful. I do some consulting and training work on metrics, TDD and other tools/processes/patterns to accelerate the development cycle.
Those lectures, and my earlier papers on cluster computing and parallelism are online at: http://www.maggotranch.com/biblio.html
My wife and our garden: http://www.maggotranch.com/mellons.html
Bio for TDD Talks: From parallel simulation development in DARPA’s Advanced Distributed Simulation and Synthetic Theater of War programs to game development in EA’s flagship franchise The Sims, Larry Mellon learned the hard way that Test-Driven Development is critically important when experimenting with large-scale software and keeping it Live as you go. Larry worked his way through school as a research programmer in Canada and now lives in the much warmer world of San Francisco. He has spoken and written extensively on the topics of automated testing, metrics and iterative development, in part to help master the craft, and in part to help improve what our industry is capable of.