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The Tato Series: An Interview with Peter Alfonso

Hey everyone~

Welcome to an idea I’ve had in my brain for a little while. I thought to myself how cool it would be to chat “Q&A” style with Androids most popular and hard to reach Developers. To try and get under the surface a bit and see just what these guys are all about. My buddy and fellow reader TechDeft have decided to track these people down and ask them the questions we think everyone wants the answers to!

Last week I had a rare privilege to sit down (at a computer) with Mr. Peter Alfonso, the man behind one of the most popular custom ROMs to date, ‘Bugless Beast’. As a fan and frequent user myself I was very excited and even nervous to be chatting with him. As it turns out though, he is a super easy going and NICE guy! We love that! Makes for an easy chat and we hope you like it as much as we did! :-)

-Tim-o-tato

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Tim-o-tato: So Mr. Pete, if you could for people who may not know (live under a rock), could you please introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

Pete: Well, people call me Pete. By day I am a student and employee at Advance Auto Parts and by night I work on Bugless Beast. Currently in my second year of college.

TechDeft: College student?  Whats your major?

Pete: Currently I’m finishing my last semester at a local community college. My major is computer science. I recently switched it.

Tim-o-tato: What were you taking before?

Pete: I used to want to pursue a career as an orthodontist but then I bought a Droid and my life changed :P  So most of my classes I completed are no longer needed for Computer Science major so I am a bit behind in school now.

TechDeft: So you wanted to give people braces and now you want to do comp sci!  And you saw Droid commercials, and now you are going to program. That’s quite a shift!  Were friends and family surprised?

Pete: Well to be honest I have no idea what sparked the orthodontist thing. I had braces when I was younger and most parents tell their kids, “Your going to be a doctor when you grow up” so I just went with it. Once I decided to switch my family was not surprised. My mom works for IBM, I think she knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

Tim-o-tato: How did you hear about the Android OS? Or the Droid in general.

Read the rest of the interview with Pete after the jump!

Pete: I have always heard of “Android” but never really knew what it was before my Droid. One of my friends had bought an HTC Hero and I noticed how well it combined all of the Google services I was using. So I decided to do some research on these phones. At the time the Droid commercials got me hooked.

Tim-o-tato: Yea, those commercials are what got me too! So have you always been sort of a tech guru? Into programming and things of that nature?

Pete: Actually before buying my Droid I had opened a command prompt window only a few times! That’s how I know this is what I was meant to do. I pick it up and learn this extremely fast!

Tim-o-tato: So how did you learn about it?

Pete: I have always been around technology, but nothing like what I do now.  After buying the Droid (the day it came out) I was curious as to why some of the stock applications could not be removed. This REALLY bothered me so I decided to Google, “How to remove amazon mp3 android” or something similar. The search eventually led me to a You-tube video of a kid typing in some commands into a terminal to remove the app. I eventually found out root access was needed. After I rooted my Droid, I found these threads that would provide simple tutorials on how to add apps or remove apps but at the time I thought these people were like gods. After I became more comfortable and able to add or remove a few things I decided to make a “ROM” for my friends.

Tim-o-tato: So then how is it that you got to where you are these days? ‘Interwebs celebrity’ status! Did you know your work would become such a success??

Pete: I decided to post my “ROM” (although at the time I had no clue what a “ROM” was) on forums and some people were daring enough to try my work! I got a lot of positive feedback so I kept working. Then I got my own section and was labeled a “developer”. Just seeing that motivated me more than you could believe. I would wake up with ideas in my head and try them until they worked.

TechDeft: And how did that translate to what we see today?  Many hours of hard work? Inspiration?

Pete: Tons of hard work! I stay up very late most nights reading and trying to learn as much as possible. Inspiration yes, the feedback I got from people using my ROM and the “Developer” label under my name pushed me to continue.

TechDeft: What do you feel is currently lacking in your work? What do you wish you could improve that you do not have the knowledge to do?

Pete: Well, as I mentioned earlier I am in my second year of college. Unfortunately I have not had any classes to guide me with any of this. So far its all been self taught. You can mark my words, V0.6 will be built from source. I have never had the time to set aside to teach myself how to do it. But after I release V0.5 that will be my goal. I am sure I can do it, I just need to put aside some time and learn how. Things might be quiet for a while but that’s because I will be learning how :)

TechDeft: That is a question I see come up often, how come there is so much time between Bugless Beast versions, would you say that is generally because you are trying incorporate a new feature that you have to teach yourself?

Pete: Well when I first started I used to update about every 2 days, although I did learn a ton I did not manage my time well at all. Lately the releases have been more spread out because I learn so much in between that I try to incorporate in my release. Every release is somewhat of an expression of what I have learned, as I go on the ROM will get better and better as I learn.

TechDeft: Which is extremely impressive…do your friends and family know how deep into software development you are?

(TechDeft bails for work)

Pete: As far as family knowing. Most don’t really understand. My Mom does though. In fact when I have a question I go to her. lol

Tim-o-tato: So Pete, what’s it like being one of the most bugged Developers on the planet? People always asking for ETAs??

Pete: Well it’s actually very difficult. When it comes to building Bugless Beast (or anything that I have made actually) I am VERY OCD about it. I feel that if my name is going to be put on it that it has to be perfect. Because of this I am the only person I trust to work on my ROM and have very limited time to do so. I love the fact that people want the latest versions though. As far as being bugged, I get an insane amount of emails a day, I wish I could reply to all of them but it is impossible. For those who have emailed me and never got a response, please do not feel that I ignored you.  In my section on various forums I try to be as kind as possible to the users and answer their questions. I can relate to them and write it in a way they understand because I was there not long ago.

Tim-o-tato: I’m sure everyone appreciates that! What about other Developers ROMs? Are there any Developers out there whom you admire their work a great deal or anything of that nature?

Pete: Yes, the work that “Xeudoxus” does is simply amazing. I could only wish that one day I will be as knowledgeable as him. Another Dev I admire is “t3hSteve”, when the Droid first came out he did some great work as well. I haven’t seen any activity from him lately but maybe that just means he moved on to bigger and better things.  Really, all the Devs are great in there own ways.

Tim-o-tato: So what is it about your ROM’s in general that you think draw SOOO MANY users? You post a ROM and servers crash!  What makes your so special?

Pete: I honestly have no clue. The things I see mentioned about my ROM’s the most are stability, performance, and increased battery life. I suppose that’s the mixture that makes the servers crash! I also feel that I relate to people a lot more than some other Devs since I just started 6 months ago. I still consider myself a noob and feel like a nuisance when I reach out to ask a Dev a question. It might sound crazy that I consider myself a “noob”, but I feel that there is much much more to learn. I have only skimmed the surface. I have so many ideas that I can not implement until I have the knowledge to do so.

Tim-o-tato: Then that makes me an ULTRA noob! Haha Is there anything in the works that you might want to hint readers at, at all? ;-)

Pete: Well, lets just say some extra “goodies” will be included in V0.5  And on the subject of noobs, V0.5 will be the most user friendly ROM to have flashed to a noobs Droid. It will come with EVERYTHING they need. I will be doing some things that have not been done in previous ROMs.

Tim-o-tato: Oh really? Care to elaborate? :)

Pete: I don’t want to elaborate too much because it will be kanged before it gets out :(

Tim-o-tato: The name Bugless Beast. Where did it derive from?

Pete: Bugless Beast started out as Bugless Beauty. I wanted to provide a completely stable ROM. At the time, most of the ROMs had a small bug here and there and were mostly for advanced users to flash. I wanted something that would give users more features yet still be completely stable. Bugless Beauty was not overclocked. Someone suggested making an overclocked version for the more daring users and deeming it “Bugless Beast”. I supported both builds for a while as I learned what the Droid could handle. When I realized the Beast was still completely stable, I focused my attention on it and dropped the beauty. :)

Tim-o-tato: So I’m gonna ask you a couple silly Q’s. Feel free to go wild on them!

Tim-o-tato: If Steve Jobs offered you a job at Apple. Would you take it?

Pete: Wow! Let me think about this one lol just kidding I would turn it down.  I think I’d rather continue selling auto parts at Advance then work at Apple!

Tim-o-tato: Good answer! ;)

Tim-o-tato: Task killers….do you use one? :)

Pete: No no no! Task killers are the biggest waste of time and money for Android users. They are simply not needed, the OS handles task perfectly without them.

Tim-o-tato: Tell us something that people would never know about you! :)

Pete: Oh gosh, I don’t know If I want to admit it lol

Tim-o-tato: Do it :-P

Pete: Guess what phone I had before the Droid?

Tim-o-tato: Oh no!!! Say it ain’t so!!! iPhone?

Pete: You said it, not me :P

Tim-o-tato: Well my opinion of you has changed! haha

Pete: Haha! When I got my Droid I gave the iPhone to my mom. She hated it with a passion so I bought her a G1. Android family for life!

Tim-o-tato: So other then Bugless, and auto parts….what takes up your time? Any Bugless lady friends? ;-)

Pete: Well this is terrible but I did have a lady. Lost her to Bugless Beast I guess you could say. Too much time on the Droid lol This time I have learned how to set the Droid down and finish working on it later. Thats why BB V0.5 has been taking so long lol

Tim-o-tato: Oh no!  That’s too bad!

Pete: Its OK, everything happens for a reason!  That was a while ago, back when we were running android 2.0  Now I got my eye on someone else ;) UPDATE: He got her!!! Congrats Pete!

Tim-o-tato: Pssh, 2.0 was ages ago!

Tim-o-tato: So I know you’re busy. Is there ANYTHING you want to say to the community or in general before I let you go?

Pete: Hmmmm….let me think.  I really just want to say thank you to all those who use Bugless Beast and to those who have donated to me. Without their support I would have never found my true calling. I would have been stuck working on kids braces all day as a career. Now I can pursue my dreams!!!

Tim-o-tato: And what are your dreams?

Pete: My dreams are to work for Google. I just smiled typing that! :)

Tim-o-tato: Awe! That’s awesome man. I wish you the best of luck. And I am sure I speak for everyone when saying that!

Pete: Thanks man, you better believe Im not gonna stop until I make it!

Tim-o-tato: Pete, I wanna thank you for your time and generosity in allowing us the privilege to talk to you!

Hope to see you drop by Droid-Life sometime!

Pete: No problem! Anytime!

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Hope you all have enjoyed the first of many Q&A’s. If anyone has any questions for future Developers, please leave it in the comment section below and we will do our best to get it done! Thanks everyone!

Tim-o-tato & TechDeft

*You can stay up to date with Pete at his excellent website!

*Tim is in a band! Check it out!

*TechDeft is an IT wizard! Check his blog HERE.

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  • Ima Martinez 1

    He is a kid going thru college that has taken an interest, sounds like the story of some of the greatest people we have in our country.

    He admits he is learning and not writing from source code.

    Pete basically tears apart the boot process of these ROM's, configures and tweaks the ROM to make it what it is. To do this takes someone time and effort to learn the boot process, what config files are involved and what is needed to make this ROM perform better. Don't take that too lightly….

    The developers concentrate on their code, there is no involvment or little involvement in the build process. The build process is usually another team that is being directed by marketing and the business need which may not be for performance or picking the best apps in the market to be put in the build suite.

    We need people like Pete, if he starts becoming what you want to term a real “developer”, then guess what ? We have lost the configuration guy, the guy who concentrates on making it lean, the guy who will blend the best apps.
    His skills are just as important as any other skill. These ROMS need him just as the guy/gal who is developing the source.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cory.britt1 Cory Britt

    I wonder if his moms phone(g1) is rooted and running bugless beast…haha seriouly??? Is she??

  • http://www.myspace.com/abrielband Tim-o-tato

    OK, finally something more then a quick blurb of “he doesnt know anything” lol

    The fact he has no experience is what intrigues me quite a bit. And a lot of other people too.
    DONT WORRY, in the works we have quote on quote “real” developers. There will be posts for everyone.

    No need to troll around and post silly comments on here.
    If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    Thanks for reading though! I appreciate it! Maybe I can get a retweet from you? lol

  • Marvel

    I just love that pete throws out newly released leaked ROM's and pretty much uses them as his base and then says “Where did I get them: None of your business!” what a great dev :P

  • boojiboy

    Major fail. This “mechanic” is an inspiration and should be an example to us all.

  • Zander_206

    I have been always been a buglessbeast fan! and this is a great concept, let people know what the dev is about… Major props Tim-o-tato !

  • bugless believer

    That was an inspiring read. I always pictured Peter as some highly experienced, highly educated programming professional. To learn he's a self-taught programmer and a Community College student who works at an auto parts shop really turned my head around. I would bet my house that someday Peter is going to be incredibly rich thanks to his Android endeavors. If he wants to work at Google they would be FOOLS not to make him a lucrative offer today!

  • ReebyWantsYoMom

    I've had all his roms and not because i worship him but because there fast and i've never had any problems with them.
    I made sure when i gave my droid to my gf bugless beast was installed instead of other slightly glitchie roms that i didn't mind but could be annoying to someone new to android.
    Who cares where he got his knowledge he's great at what he does :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/cory.britt1 Cory Britt

    I wonder if his moms phone(g1) is rooted and running bugless beast…haha seriouly??? Is she??