An interview with birdofpreyru

Read about our TCO17 Finalists.
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How has Topcoder changed your life?

After my initial success at Topcoder, I have quit my regular full-time job as a postdoctorate researcher at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, and have become self-employed, full-time Topcoder competitor, and, later, copilot as well. I moved to a new city, Valenica, and now I am enjoying working from my beautiful new home with a nice roof-top terrace overlooking the neighborhood.

Do you have a favorite Topcoder customer or project? If so, which customer or project?

All are great, but having Topcoder itself as the customer gives me the best feelings, as in this case we not only do a great job, but also contribute into the further growth and success of our community.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you within the Topcoder community?

Visiting TCO16 as a trip-winner was a great experience! So happy to go TCO17 as a competitor this time.

Tell us about an achievement that you are most proud of.

Roughly a year ago I had no idea what AngularJS, NodeJS, and ReactJS are, and my JavaScript skills were at a very basic level. In a very short time I have mastered these and other technologies new to me, and managed to win quite many Topcoder challenges using them. It was hell a lot of work on my side, but looking back I am really proud with my progress in this year.

Best music album to code to?

I have not listen music by albums for a while now. Usually I just search for some music mix in YouTube and it satisfies my needs for background music. Some "Relaxing Blues Mix" search works pretty good for me lately.

Who is your favorite copilot and why (and you can't pick yourself!)?

I cannot choose between Callmekatootie and Ghostar. I have participated in many challenges copiloted by each of them, and those were usually very well balanced between the scope and prize.

How did you get into programming?

I was a fond of sci-fi books and computer games in my school years. Programming has always attracted me as a thing related to both of those hobbies. Unfortunately, I did not manage to get on an education track directly focused on programming and software development. I have learned some basics of programming as a hobby, and did use it during my undergrads in physics. I ended up doing my PhD study related to computational physics, and later worked as a postdoctoral researcher in computational chemistry. Although I wrote a lot of C++ code for my research needs, I was not able to get to the next level and find my way to a serious software-development industry. I have failed on-site interviews with Google, and different other companies replied to my CV that I am under qualified for their job offers. When I though there was no hope, I discovered Topcoder, and it works so good for me. It is so cool that our community is open to everybody, and does not judge newcomers by their background and experience, giving everybody an equal opportunity to show off and polish their talents.

Which IDE do you use and why?

Microsoft Visual Studio Code. Before becoming an active Topcoder competitor, I was using Qt Creator for some years for programming in C++ / Qt. As many of Topcoder projects use JavaScript, I had to look for a new IDE, and I just tried MVSC first, because of the well-known brand-name in the title. It turned out to be quite good for my needs, so I have never tried other options.

What books do you recommend?

Recently I have read Maus (by Art Spiegelman). It is not a fresh reading at all, but I have enjoyed it.

Tabs or spaces?


We asked the Finalists to use emojis in response to the following questions.

How do you feel about the TCO17 Finals?


How do you feel when you win a Topcoder challenge?


What is your spirit animal?


What's the weather like at your house right now?


What are your hobbies?



Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC)
Booz | Allen | Hamilton
Meituan Dianping

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