Career highlights and lowlights

I spent most of my career at or around (what is now called) the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, in roles varying from staff researcher, adjunct faculty, consultant and IT support and management. Indeed, when I started there as an undergraduate, it was actually called "the Department of Applied Analysis and Computer Science" ("AACS" for short). As is customary in such departments, I maintained my own personal web page, which I've captured in its entirety for the sake of posterity.

In 1994, after 15 years as a full-time staff researcher (plus another three years as a co-op student) for the Computer Systems Group at the University, I was unceremoniously laid off (thanks "Bob"). However, in flagrant disregard for the labour-relations laws of the land, I continued to do the same job under contract (instead of as an employee). This work was conducted under the auspices of my consulting company TRG Computer Consultants Limited, and eventually spun off into a series of tech startups (none of which exist any longer).

During this time I did a lot of teaching in and around the University: undergrad courses, courses for the Software Profesionals diploma program, and courses for the University's "Continuing Education" department. In all, I taught 47 sections of the various courses over a 12-year period.


Pre-TCP/IP networking

As described elsewhere, part of my responsibilities at CSG were to be a systems programmer (what the *nix community today calls a "sysadmin") for our IBM VM mainframe system. This was in an era where computer to computer communications was in its infancy: internet protocols existed in acacemia and the private research lab community, but TCP/IP wasn't the standard -- there were many competing protocol suites from vendors. The one in use on our system was based on IBM's NJE, implemented in the VM systems with the name RSCS. The network was known variously as VNET (as used within IBM for its own business purposes), BITNET and NetNorth (U.S.A. and Canada respectively) and other names throughout the world. It was part of my responsibility to manage the networking connections for our lab's systems, which were in turn connected to the main campus, and then to ONET, NetNorth, BITNET and the fledgling TCP/IP-based NSFNET (which had evolved from the original DoD ARPANET).

Here are a few early network diagrams from the 1989/1990 era:


The private sector — or — How not to be a software entrepreneur


What's old is new again

IT is not the same thing as software development is not the same thing as computer science

I finally understand what politics is about

Who? Me? Honorary?

In its infinite wisdom, the University of Waterloo has honoured me by bestowing up me the designation Honorary Member of the University. I received the award at the Spring Convocation 2015.

The University's Daily Bulletin had an announcement of the award, as did the School of Computer Science's web homepage. There's even video evidence (my presentation starts at around the 9:20 mark).

While I generally eschew self-aggrandising, I have to say that in this instance I'm immensely pleased and proud to receive this award. I've spent my entire career in and around the University of Waterloo and it feels good to be recognised. If it can be said that I've left my corner of the place just a little bit better off that when I arrived, then I am content.