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How to Solve Problems With Technology, with Chris McCann

By May 15, 2018 July 31st, 2018 No Comments

Audio Version

Chris McCann has always been interested in how to solve problems with technology and help people in the process. Growing up he had a penchant for technology from his early days of self-taught programming in high school. That love led him to the Air Force which led to him to become a test pilot, a career he had for over a decade.

On this edition of CTO Studio, Chris explains how his love of technology and helping people has led his professional path over the years, what his latest project is, why he created and how.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • The correlation between building the U-2 and software development.
  • Is Ruby on Rails still relevant and in demand today?
  • What is it like to fly a plane over enemy territory?
  • The tech that is like QR code on steroids.
  • And so much more!

Today one of the subjects we talk about is the similarities between building the U-2 plane and modern day software development. Back in the 1950s, Lockheed Martin had a group run by Kelly Johnson (father of the U-2 plane), and that group had a list of requirements from the CIA for a need to get intelligence over Russia for the missile fields and bomber bases. (This was before satellites).

The team had to innovate in order to come up with solutions. In the end, they developed a single engine airplane with a glider-like structure, there was no ejection seat and only bicycle landing gear to keep the plane as light as possible.

They had to factor in weight because every pound equated to 2 feet of altitude. So if they shaved 1,000 pounds of weight off the plane it could go 2,000 feet higher. The higher you get the harder it is for other aircraft or surface to air missiles to hit the airplane. The intention was to get the plane high enough – 70,000 feet – so the Russians couldn’t hit it, and it could successfully gather intel. For a comparison, most airliners cruise at 35,000 feet.

Next we transition into a discussion on his career in the tech world. His first CTO stint was at a start-up. This start-up was based around the idea that takes a stenographic approach (which means to hide information within other information).

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The CEO had developed a kind of technology that could take a digital image and embed information into that image in such a way that it could be extracted back out visually or digitally. For example, you could have an image on a package with an app that had a camera. You could then take that image and decode the information buried within. You could have a thousand items all with the apparent same image on them, but each one (of those images) would have a different ID or code or message embedded within them.

After that role, he worked at Fairway Technologies before jumping into his current project: an app called Airnoise. There is a huge project going on nationwide by the FAA called NextGen, it’s their next generation plan for the airspace over the continental US. They intend to make it more efficient, to get people to where they are going faster and to pack more planes into the same physical confines while also making arrivals and departures more efficient.

The problem is the FAA’s implementation of NextGen has concentrated air traffic noise over some small areas, often areas that never had any noise overhead previously. The people who are dealing with this constant air noise had no way of getting it fixed aside from filing a noise complaint with the airport authority, which was an onerous process in itself.

Having heard about this problem from his neighbors, Chris’ solution was to use technology to do the hard work, use technology to identify the airplane that is bothering someone and to file a complaint for them.

We dig into exactly how it works along with how this app helps the airport authority, too and all of the cities where this app is being used. Join us to hear those details and so much more on today’s edition of CTO Studio

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