john-sierraI’m John (at right, on Netherlands TV)1. I’m a writer and app software engineer. I grew up in Southern California and I’ve worked in Northern California as a programmer and journalist.

I now live and work in London, where I am interested in finding new clients to make computer applications for.


My programming experience stretches back to my youth, during which I was obsessed with Commodore Amiga computers and earned extra credit from a kind math teacher after he discovered I had spent his trig lectures writing games on the class’s VAX mainframe about dudes with swords fighting wizards.

Lately I’ve been working the most with iOS (Swift 3, Objective-C) and modern JavaScript. I also do stuff with Unix, Web servers and databases.

I build, document and advise clients on how best to implement:

* Modern JavaScript applications (Node.js, React, etc.) and interactive features
* Phone apps (Swift, Objective-C), lately ones with swipey user-matching screens
* Databases (MongoDB, Firebase) for providing realtime info or syncing stuff between apps
* Friendly UIs for talking to creaky old data collections
* Custom software for radio hosts: paywalls, chat rooms, live Internet broadcasting

Podcast paywalls and software for podcast hosts

Tech portfolio here (2017 version coming soon); drop me a line for rates and estimates. No job too small (or large).


In between things I have written these books, as well as articles that have appeared in The New York Observer, Salon, The Guardian and other places.

Kearny’s Dragoons Out West: The Birth of the U.S. Cavalry (University of Oklahoma, 2016.) A piece of untold Western history, co-written with my dad!

Bad Moon Rising (PoliPoint Press, 2008.) This book is based on one of the first viral video scandals. When I was a young blogger trying to cause trouble for Republicans from my childhood bedroom in the L.A. suburbs, my blog made the front page of the New York Times for exposing a secret ceremony on Capitol Hill honoring a rich cult leader / conservative newspaper publisher as the Messiah.

I bit off more than I could chew with this book, a story of religious extremism that spans Seoul, Washington and Las Vegas. I now know I should have hired an editor before sending it to the publisher. Pridefully, I wouldn’t let anyone read the manuscript before I turned it in. “It has a carnival-esque quality,” the editorial director said, like that was a good thing.

Then the publisher hit ctrl-P on it and packaged the resulting unedited printout in a book that briefly piled up at the front table of bookstores across America. In their well-meaning zeal, the publishers presented the book like it wasn’t just journalism, but something found on Will Smith’s USB stick in Enemy of the State. “My pitch,” said the marketing director, “is that you’re this crazy conspiracy theorist — you’re obsessed with the Rev. Moon but you just might be onto something!”

But I am still pretty proud of the journalism in the book. Here’s the movie version, which I think came out pretty well.

Other Writing

Been working on some other writing projects, some of them interactive…and coming soon.


1 In 2016, my wife Mary and I accidentally ended up on an Amsterdam TV news crew’s feature about growing enthusiasm for Dutch track and field (at about 1:10).