I am software engineer from the Philadelphia area.
In addition to building software, I enjoy riding bikes, hiking, board games and card games.
My parents bought our first computer when I was about 12. It was a 386sx25. I believe it ran the Geoworks OS out of the box. I was hooked immediately. Back then you had to know a fair amount about how a computer worked to get a simple game to load. So, I tinkered, upgraded, added peripherals, and did some simple programming in BASIC.
When I was 16, I had the opportunity to do a summer internship with a family friend’s communications company. I got to do everything from run telephone lines to create some simple web sites with Perl CGI. Then one day my coworker gave me a copy of Visual Basic 4 and Peter Norton’s book on the subject and a simple programming assignment. At the end of the summer, they were kind enough to let me take the PC that I had worked on home with me. If I recall correctly, we were all the way up to 133mhz now. That PC still had a bunch of software installed on it, including Visual Basic 4. They also gave me some space on some of their servers so that I could tinker around and create a personal web site. The plan was that after I graduated high school, I would go back and intern with them again. A few months before I graduated, I reached out to them and discovered they were in the process of being purchased and an internship was no longer on the table. Since I had my heart set on having a real job that summer, I set out looking for other opportunities.
I was lucky enough to find Spree.com. It was eCommerce company, mostly selling books at this point. They were competitors with a little company called Amazon. They were impressed with the websites I had built and some of the Visual Basic 4 programs I was able to create and gave me an opportunity. These were crazy times. I remember when we needed to handle more traffic, we would buy bigger and bigger web servers and database servers. When we had the biggest server we could find and still needed to handle more traffic, I remember being asked to reach out to my colleagues at the communication company and ask them what they recommended. I came back with a recommendation to purchase an F5 labs load balancer. I think it was the size of a large microwave. I also remember clustering our database servers with Windows NT Wolfpack because clustering capabilities were not yet built into the OS. Another interesting project that I had the opportunity to work on was building some big brands first eCommerce stores by basically re-branding our website for them and adding some custom functionality. If I remember correctly, The PGA Tour and Bally Total Fitness were some of the projects I worked on.
I was going to a local college full time and working some substantial hours. My family had a financial event and I felt that I needed to contribute financially, so I decided to leave school and become a full-time employee.
At this point, the web site was doing well, but the company was struggling with things like inventory management and customer service. A huge project was devised to create a full suite of tools that integrated with the website and handled all these functions. We worked on it for quite a bit. Then in 1999, the internet bubble burst. It was decided that we could no longer compete in the eCommerce space and transitioned to a different business plan. This left our large project that we had worked extremely hard on dead in the water before it even saw the light of day. This led me to investigate if there was a way to build software projects where you did not have a big bang release. I discovered Agile software development and eXtreme Programming and I have been following and advocated for them ever since.
The work was not as interesting from an engineering perspective after the change in business plan, so I decided to look for a new challenge. A local consulting firm was hiring new graduate developers into a boot camp training program and I was fortunate enough to get a spot. Somehow the boot camp never happened for me and I was placed directly into a client site. Check out my resume if you are interested in following my career from there.