Tales of a Traveling Apigeek

APIs really are everywhere. Also I’m terrible at vacations, as my mom reminded me.

This week, I was supposed to be on a family vacation. When I got home from school back in May, I began my internship almost immediately. As a result, the summer has flown by and my parents decided we should take a week off before I have to head back to school. Our destinations? Seattle and Vancouver.

As much as I enjoy spending time with my family though, my mind hasn’t really left work. Every day, I have been talking to my team or the other interns through Slack, trying my best to make at least some progress on my project despite very limited Internet access and breathtaking views everywhere I go. Granted, it’s not entirely my fault, as I try to argue with my mom. With summer coming to a close and the final Intern Showcase just a few days away, I have a strong desire to get as far on my project as possible. So although I have been enjoying Canadian nature and Seattle coffee (proven through the 400+ pictures I’ve taken so far), my project, my friends, and Apigee have been in the back of my mind the whole time. And I have realized that being at Apigee for nearly 3 months has changed the way I look at technology; I have a better understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes, every time I swipe my credit card or pay for parking through my phone.

For example, part of my trip to Canada included a trip through the Canadian Rockies. Summer here is beautiful, as if someone took a paintbrush and peppered the mountains with bright and jovial pinks and yellows mixed amongst the vivid and welcoming greens of the tall Douglas Firs and cedar trees . I also got pretty lucky that the area experienced a rainy winter and spring. But as one can imagine, the deeper into preserved nature one goes, the less Internet access one has, which, for a 21st century citizen of the Bay Area, feels unnatural (I know, ironic). But there are lots of people who prefer this kind of life, and we ran into many of them on our trip. Their occupations typically revolved around farming, and my family and I made many stops to buy fresh fruit or vegetable juices from small mom and-pop stores, or stands reminiscent of the ones I made as a kid to sell lemonade (maybe a lot neater, but you get the point). In one instance, I stopped at a stall where a man was selling blueberries. I got into a conversation with him about life in the mountains, and he said it was a simple life: tend to the fields for most of the day, and talk or play games with the others nearby for entertainment. Nothing but standard cable TV, no Netflix, Xbox’s, or laptops (this man apparently used a desktop with Windows XP on it still). Made sense to me, he didn’t seem to have a need for the newest digital technology.

As I made my way to pay for the blueberries, I joked with the man and asked if he only “accepted Apple Pay.” To my surprise, he proceeded to pull out a wireless credit card reader, with the Apple Pay logo on it. My jaw dropped; I really hadn’t been expecting that. Two minutes ago, I was discussing the simple life with this man, and his opinions on how technology has over-complicated life. And then he proceeded to bring out a wireless machine that accepted Apple Pay, while we were standing outside by fields of vegetables and fruit, surrounded by mountains, with hardly any telephone poles or wires in sight. And the Apple Pay worked, I successfully paid him $5.00 CAD using my Discover Card that I had loaded onto my iPhone, while I couldn’t even access Edge Data. I noticed that there was one Wi-Fi network nearby, which is probably how the card reader worked. But I was still blown away.

Part of my surprise definitely reflects an ignorance I developed from spending most of my life in technology-heavy areas, from the Bay Area to Chicago. But in an area that takes 3 hours of driving to reach, starting from Vancouver, and hardly had any cellphone coverage (or maybe that’s just a T-Mobile problem), payment APIs from Apple, Visa, and MasterCard were still being used in order to make transactions by phone or credit card possible. The smallest stands in the farthest parts of the mountains had these capabilities, and I was astounded by the breadth of the audience technology has reached. I couldn’t stop expressing my marvel to my parents, so now they are convinced that I found that Apple Pay machine more fascinating than the scenery we were watching. I personally call it an even draw. Hey, I’m a technology nerd, I can’t really help it.

As my vacation winds down and I am about to come to my last week of my internship at Apigee, I have a renewed appreciation of the amount of people our technology affects. Our services don’t just affect our clients; they affect the customers of our clients as well. Any products and services we offer, any problems that occur with our technology, affect our client’s customers, which thus affect our clients. APIs really do make access to even the most advanced technology readily available to most people, and there are easily thousands to millions of people who utilize APIs, and may not even know about it. So as nice as vacation has been, and as the feeling of foreboding grows stronger with school just around the corner, I am excited to come back to work to finish my project and this summer strong, knowing that my work may affect more people than I had ever imagined.

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