This is a modified version of the application essay I've used when applying to unversities, so pardon the somewhat extravagant phrasing.
While many grew tired of school, I always sought to learn more about anything and everything. In particular, computer science caught my interest. Unfortunately, my school did not provide any computer science classes, so I had to teach myself. I read books, articles, forums and blogs to scrape together as much information as I could. There was no doubt in my mind from very early on that computers were my passion, and that that I was destined to work in this field.
I started my Bachelor's degree at the University of Oslo in Norway, but soon found that it was not for me. The classes were too large, the courses too shallow and the assignments too easy. After two semesters I decided to move to Australia and continue my degree at Bond University in Queensland. The classes were much smaller, allowing greater flexibility in the subject material based on the experience of the students. This meant I could dive deeper into subjects that interested me, and that I could have a closer relationship with the professors to learn from their experience and not just from the course materials.
I have studied a wide variety of computer-related subjects, from operating system security to networking to web development to general-purpose programming. I firmly believe that in order to understand, explore and further any field, one needs to be equipped with diverse knowledge, and that having a deep, but too narrow understanding limits the opportunity for great discoveries.
I have participated in two research projects during my Bachelor's degree. The first was as a research assistant to Dr Warren Toomey at Bond University, Australia. The project set out to develop a tool that detects common beginner mistakes in Java programs and was to be made available to students doing introductory programming courses to give them a better understanding of why their programs fail, and how they could be fixed. This involved writing both a Java parser, as well as interfacing with the Java compiler. The project was very interesting, and gave me an opportunity to delve deep into the syntax of the Java language, as well as gain experience with new tools and techniques. Our tool was well received, and is currently in use in introductory programming courses at Bond University.
My second research project was as a part of an internship program with Oracle in Brisbane, Australia where I attempted to determine the viability of automatically deriving software tests from abstract software models generated from existing applications. Here, I worked closely with several Oracle researchers, and the project ended with an oral presentation of my findings to representatives from both Oracle in Australia and in the United States. Research fascinates me, and I imagine it is something I will always pursue, either formally through a university, or in my own time.
Due to my limited research experience, I am keeping an open mind as to which fields within computer science I wish to pursue further, however there are three fields of research that spur my interest already: theoretical computer science, computer systems and architecture and artificial intelligence. I find these especially interesting since none of them are tied to any one programming language or way of thinking, but rather encourage innovation and open-mindedness when approaching problems. My wish is to find an area of research where I can help shape how computers and applications could be used in the future, not just to solve today's problems. I want to envision how the world could be if we applied and utilized computers in different ways than we do today.
I am confident that I have the knowledge, skill and creativity required to excel in the field of computer science, and I hope you find my academic record attests to this: During my Bachelor's degree at Bond University, I topped each IT subject I undertook, including the research project with Oracle in my final semester. I also received the award for being the student with the highest GPA in the Faculty of Business, Technology and Sustainable Development at Bond University, and have twice been awarded the “IT award for Academic Excellence” as the IT student with the highest GPA for the semester in the Faculty of Technology. Once I returned to Norway after completing my Bachelor's degree, I was contacted by the web development company Aptoma AS that works with many of Scandinavia's largest media organizations who had seen my work and invited me to be a part of their core development team.
Over the years I have also been involved in many non-computer related activities. I have worked in the film industry as a stills photographer, achieved my scuba diving certification, and am an avid climber. In addition, every summer for the past six years I have been working at a summer camp for children aged 7 to 16. Being a supervisor for more than 150 kids and 20-30 employees has given me a valuable opportunity to work with children, which is a great passion of mine, and for improving my leadership and teamwork skills. It has also taught me the joy of bringing knowledge to others. As the senior supervisor, a large part of my job is to pass my experience on to the junior supervisors, something I have enjoyed immensely. I am also very interested in philosophy and debating; in my last year of high school, I was one of two students selected to represent Norway in the 2008 International Philosophy Olympiad in Romania.
I have always been very competitive academically, and have had difficulty finding adequate intellectual challenges in my academic career. The courses I have undertaken have not yet challenged me sufficiently, and I have found myself requesting more work from the professors to keep me occupied and interested. I am always on the lookup for an environment which can provide both intellectual challenges and an environment where I can meet and work with greater minds than mine. It is exciting to consider what I could learn in such an environment, and I am curious to see how I would measure up in such elite company.
The old website for the UCL Entrepreneurs Society was a non-responsive Tumblr blog. For the new site, WordPress was used instead, and the frontend was rewritten as a fully responsive WordPress theme. In addition to making it easier to add and edit blog posts for members of the committee, the new site also allows editing the sidebar, custom pages, the slideshow and other non-bloggy aspects of the page.
One issue with this site was building a responsive theme where the sidebar was also flexible. This was difficult because most social plugins aren't made to be non-responsive, and even more so by the fact that the admins of the site can add content to the sidebar at will. The solution isn't perfect, but I believe the end user experience turned out good.
The site was designed by me and tweaked by members of the committee when it was presented to them. The color scheme is in line with the society's, as is the explicity use of case in headers. Note that the design is em-based, not px-based, so it should scale well when zoomed, not just when resized.
This new version of the Oslo Fashion Awards site was more than a mere redesign. The entire backend was changed to WordPress and then site was redeveloped from the bottom up as a WordPress theme.
The site is mostly responsive (responsive videos are still a pain) like all the sites I make, and the administrators can change almost every part of the site. The menus in the header, in the footer and the infobox can be dynamically changed, the content of every page can be edited (including the front page media box).
Once again the design was supplied by Oslo Fashion Awards, and although it is mostly straightforward, there were some interesting challenges. One detail that proved particularly interesting (although it isn't noticeable to the average user) is the background image. The effect is only visible on really large screens (> 2600px wide), but it was a good intellectual challenge. See if you can figure out what it does!
I was tasked with developing a new, completely redesigned version of Norway's biggest online video portal. The new site was designed by Making Waves for VG, and then implemented by me.
After my departure from Aptoma, development was handed over to VG's internal development team.
A complete redesign and restructuring of the website for the video production company Blind Film.
Equipped with an administration panel and Vimeo import, it allows the company full control over what videos to feature and categorization of these.
The frontend was designed by Torgeir H. Riseth, the founder of Blind Film, in cooperation with me, and implemented by yours truly. It is fully responsive all the way down to mobile screens, and, per the user's request, has a lot of smooth animations and transitions to make the user experience a bit more fancy than a "regular" site.
Aftenposten approached Aptoma, wanting to establish a site where they could let advertisers publish news-like stories which would be featured on the frontpage of the newspaper.
Having created a similar solution for Ekstrabladet in Denmark, I developed the site, using DrPublish from Aptoma as a backend for content and developing a standalone administration tool for managing ads, tracking codes and such.
The site is responsive, extremely flexible (each advertiser can skin their own section individually and supply HTML content for several key positions on the site) and built to scale really well using ESI, Varnish and a purge-on-update strategy.
Ekstrabladet, a large Danish tabloid, was looking for a way of enriching their articles with maps, image grids, slideshows and other non-text snippets. Through discussions with Aptoma, we established an editorial development team consisting of myself, Lars K. Jensen (journalist) and Anders Bergmann (designer & developer) who were going to develop such modules.
I then developed a module framework that allowed rapid prototyping and deployment of such tools, as well as modules for embedding maps with user suggestions, timelines, images with hotzones, etc. This was very successful, and many of the modules are in use in articles at ekstrabladet.dk today.
For a more thorough description of this team, and examples of the modules, have a look at Lars' write-up about the project.
An online portfolio for Australian editor Meg Rylance, including videos fetched directly from Vimeo with thumbnails and inline player, customized contact form and full testimonials page
The page is written in pure HTML+JS, and has no backend code (and thus no administration) for the time being. It uses CSS3 transitions to achieve a pleasant animation when opening/closing a page.
The client wanted a bold design that was still easy on the eye once a page was opened, and the big black bar contrasting with the orange background works well to achieve this effect. When a page is opened, the black bar is still visible, but the orange is muted by only appearing as a slim stripe on either side of the content.
A simple, static portfolio for Norwegian cinematographer Torgeir Fotland featuring his latest videos, photos, as well as his rental gear.
As per the clients request, the page is quite wide, since netbooks and the like were not in the website target group.
This page was designed by Awknard, and required a Wordpress-based backend, custom fonts and a dynamically changing logo in the center of the page.
One of the client's requirements was that the admin panel had to be very simple and preferably familiar. I ended up using WordPress for the underlying administration panel, and write a custom frontend using the WordPress API.
The site features a menu with optional sub-items that open inline lightbox-like boxes (ColorBox), all manageable from inside WordPress. It also allows custom author names for external editors, multi-column popup content and image uploading for articles.
The designer wished the page to look as though it was on a sheet of paper resting on a flat surface, but did not want an extensive use of images on the site. CSS3 is therefore employed in compatible browsers for drop shadows, font smoothing and multi-columnization.
A website made for a sound production studio called Subgarden Studios. The design is a collaboration between me and Torgeir Riseth who runs Blind Film. It contains several pages, but everything is loaded through AJAX.
This website was developed in the summer of 2009 for a Norwegian summer camp for children between the ages of 7 and 15 at which I have been working for the past 5 years.
The new site is dynamic from start to finish, with section-dependent styling (separate color scheme for each section), word-like administration of pages (with add and delete as well). It also sports a news feed at the bottom of the front page for giving updates.
In Fall 2011, the site was rewritten completely again to accomodate for a new online booking system with support for online payment. Due to business decisions, the online payment solution was abandoned, but the site still operates on the rewritten code.
A friend of mine from Norway told me about a design for a website for his film company Blind Film which he felt like he was never going to complete because he did not have the knowledge to create such a site. After showing him some of my work, he agreed to let me build a prototype.
As I began with the prototype, I quickly found that I enjoyed building the site, and considering it was quite small, I began to implement the entire site design. Two days later, the site was finished - complete with administration and dynamic content.
The site features a lot of animation (using jQuery), vimeo integration, and an AJAX driven administration interface. The user does not have to go to a separate page for administration of content, but can simply edit on-site. Login and logout is hidden, but accessed simply by using a key seqence.
InternationalFriend is a project between me and a couple of friends that is still under development. It aims to create a global online community for young people; a community where teenagers can find all they would ever need on the internet.
The current InternationalFriend site is developed in PHP and PostgreSQL by Jonas B. Amundsen and me, and designed by Owen Frazer Wray. It is based on a homegrown CMS-like system, and allows full group-based administration of all content
We are currently developing the next release, and this will be done with the Yii PHP Framework, will be a lot more dynamic that the current one (more AJAX). Furthermore, it will contain a lot more of the social aspect that the site is currently missing.
Per Miljeteig is a Norwegian photographer who was in the need of a new website since his old one was completely static, and the old webmaster had passed away. We agreed to do a redesign as well so that he could determine the look of his own portfolio.
The new site allows him to upload his own images and create albums through a simple admin interface. It also allows for editing the various text pages around the page through a word-like editor.
Oslo Fashion Awards came to me with a site design, and wanted me to script the page. They also required a simple way of adding new articles, as well as the occasional video. This is now done through a very simplistic admin interface.
Though several parts of this site is static, such as the sponsors and tour pages which do in fact change ever so often, the customer was very happy with the result. I have plans for making an admin interface for the remaining pages as well, but the customer does not require this yet, so...