I feel a sense of pride when I think that I was involved in the development and maintenance of what was probably the first piece of software accepted into Debian which then had and still has direct up-stream support from Microsoft. The world is a better place for having Microsoft in it. The first operating system I ever ran on an 08086-based CPU was MS-DOS 2.x. I remember how thrilled I was when we got to see how my friend’s 80286 system ran BBS software that would cause a modem to dial a local system and display the application as if it were running on a local machine. Totally sweet.
When we were living at 6162 NE Middle in the nine-eight 292, we got an 80386 which ran Doom. Yeah, the original one, not the fancy new one with the double barrel shotgun, but it would probably run that one, too. It was also totally sweet and all thanks to our armadillo friends down south and partially thanks to their publishers, Apogee. I suckered my brothers into giving me their allowance from Dad one time so that we could all go in on a Sound Blaster Pro 16 sound card for the family’s 386. I played a lot of Team Fortress and Q2CTF on that rig. I even attended the Quake 3 Arena launch party that happened at Zoid‘s place. I recall that he ported the original quake to Linux. I also recall there being naughty remarks included in the README.txt.
When my older brother, Aaron turned 16, he was gifted a fancy car. When asked what type of car I would like when I turned 16, I said that I’d prefer a computer instead. So I got a high-end 80486 with math co-processor. It could compile the kernel in 15 minutes flat. With all the bits turned on on in /usr/src/linux/.config. But this was later. I hadn’t even heard of linux when I got my system. I wanted to be entertained by the thing. I made sure to get a CD-Rom and a sound card. I got on the beta for Ultima Online and spent a summer as a virtual collier. Digging stuff out of mines north of Britannia and hauling them to town to make weapons and armor out of them. And then setting out in said armor only to be PK’d because I forgot healing potions and I was no good at fighting.
While I was in the middle of all this gaming, my friend Lucas told me that I should try out this lynx thing that they run at the University of Washington. He heard that it was reported to run doom faster than it ran on MS-DOS. It turns out that it did, but that it was not, in fact, called lynx. Or pine. The Doom engine ran so fast that the video couldn’t keep up. This was probably because they didn’t use double buffering for frame display, since they didn’t want to waste the time maintaining and switching context. I think I downloaded the boot/root 3.5″ disk pair and was able to get the system to a shell with an on-phone assist from the Rev. I then promptly got lost in bash and the virtual terminals (OMG! I GET SIX CONSOLES!?) and bought a book on the subject. It shipped with slackware. Which I ran. Until Debian came along. Lucas also recommended that I try out this IRC thing, so I did. And I’m still doing it on #linpeople just like I did back then.
I learned to write Pascal on dos. Then I learned c while they were trying to teach me c++. I learned emacs and vi when I was attending North Kitsap High School. I learned sed and only a little awk when I took Running Start classes in Lynnwood at Edmonds Community College and perl & x.509 while attending Olympic Community College and simultaneously jr-administering Sinclair Communications. I studied TCP/IP, UNP, APUE, C and algorithms & data structures while preparing for an interview with a company whose CEO claimed to have invented SCSI. I learned PGP and PHP while writing web-based adware for this company. I didn’t want to write ads and instead wanted to work in security, so took a job with Security Portal. While there, I wrote what one might call a blogging platform. It worked and made it possible for authors to write prose and poetry. Editors didn’t have to manage a database in order to review and publish the posts that were “ready.” Everyone but me was able to avoid html and cgi.
Then I sold pizza. Then I helped bring the bombay company onto the interwebs using the Amazon ECS (now AWS) platform. Then I helped support MaxDB. Then I helped develop and maintain the Amazon blogging platform. And then attempted to reduce the load on the Amazon pager system by doing and enforcing code reviews. It turns out that they prefer to run their support team at full bore and a load average of 16.
I am now, still, fully employed in an effort to make hard things possible. The hard thing we’re working on now is the implementation and ongoing operations of distributed x.500 infrastructure. This includes request handling, processing and delivery of response (à la HTTP, SMTP, IMAP, SIP, RTP, RTSP, OCSP) including authentication, authorization and auditing (AAA) of all transactions. It’s a hard thing to get right, but our product development team gets it right. Consistently and reliably. We make mistakes sometimes (sorry Bago), but we correct them and make the product better.
I’m the newest member of an R and d team (note: big R, little d) called NTR, which sits behind the firewall that is Product Development, out of production space. In a manner that reminds me of Debian Testing. We try new things. Our current project is to allow users to compare their current (cloud-based or iron-based) IT system with what their system would be like with a BIG-IP in front of it. I can probably come up with a demo if anyone’s interested in checking it out. I’ll go work on that now.