Hello.

Transient

My name is Todd Zarwell.  I'm an optometrist in Madison, WI.  My area of expertise is optometry, but there are a lot of outlets for THAT expertise.  I don't think I'll use this pulpit for that, at least not often.  Instead, this blog is going to be more about me talking about my other interests, such as technology, books, art, etc.  Things that I have no expertise in and probably shouldn't be writing about.  But hey, it's my blog...

Regarding my interest in computer stuff

About 10 years ago I decided to renew my interest in computer programming that started when I was in about 5th grade.  Back then we were writing simple BASIC programs on Apple IIE's and C's.  My computer skills evolved slowly through the time I took the two BASIC classes my high school offered, and then I never really had another opportunity to learn more.  I'm sure there were programming books available, but I don't recall ever seeing any at my local library or in the bookstores.  And, of course, there were no online resources because there was no Internet.

So, 15 years passed and I decided to pick it up again.  I was out of grad school, and, even though I'm always learning, the intense years of school were over, I was becoming comfortable with my job, and I wanted to find some new challenges.  Things sure had changed in that period of time!  The Internet had emerged and exploded into our lives, computers were something you had in your home and not just in a classroom, and even a person from a small Wisconsin town could access the tools to create something worthy of sharing.

I decided I wanted to make a for Web site optometrists and bought a book on HTML.  I was amazed at how simple it was to make a web page, and I still remember how happy I was to make a link that, when clicked, actually took me to a page just like a "real" Internet site.  

I decided I wanted to make a database of contact lenses.  I was working out of multiple clinics at the time and was frustrated that I oftentimes didn't have the the resources I needed to look up contact lens data.  I was also disenfranchised with the only option available: printed catalogues.  I thought the information should more up to date, searchable, sortable, etc.  To accomplish this I realized I needed to learn how to create and manipulate databases and I needed to learn a server-based programming language.  I bought a book on beginning PHP and mySQL and got to work.   It took months before I knew enough to get started on my pet project, and it took many many months before I was able to create something that actually worked like I intended.  However, the it's hard to describe the thrill I had when I actually starte to pull information from the database and display it on a webpage.  In about 2001 I bought the domain "EyeDock" and started to show the fruits of my labors to a few of my friends.

As time went by, new skills became necessary to further EyeDock.  I learned how to create a Web site within a CMS framework, I became moderately proficient in programming javascript and actionscript 3 in Flash.  In 2008 or so I decided to create an EyeDock app for the iPhone, which darn near killed me.  Of all the computer-related things I've done it was definitely one of the toughest.  I gave up a couple times, but nearly 2 years after beginning the app I finally had something to contribute to the iTunes store.

Regarding my personal life

I have an awesome wife named Lisa and two fantastic kids named Mason, Drew, and Aiden.  They're the joy of my life, and everything I do nowadays is for them (in fact, I think it always was for them, even before they came along). I don't think I'll talk about them much here, not because I don't want to, but because I prefer to share the details of my life with the people I'm closest to.

My CV, in brief, and written in the 3rd person to sound more important

Todd Zarwell is an optometrist practicing in Madison, Wisconsin. He graduated from Ripon College with degrees in psychology and pre-optometry and earned his doctorate from the Illinois College of Optometry, where he was a member of the Gold Key Optometric Honor Society and was awarded the Colleague of the Year award by his graduating class. After leaving ICO he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in refractive surgery and anterior segment disease at Davis Duehr Dean Eye Care Specialists.
Dr. Zarwell is an adjunct clinical professor at the Illinois College of Optometry. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and a member of the American Optometric Association and Wisconsin Optometric Association.
In his free time he enjoys website design and programming, reading, painting, biking and volleyball.