Five things you probably don't know about me

It's been a long time since I've written an entry, despite having been tagged by James just over a year ago. So let's start with that. Here's five things you probably don't know about me:
  1. I'm an AFOL - an Adult Fan Of Lego. I have far too much Lego at home, but it's impossible for me to resist the new sets every year. I just got a note from amazon.com telling me that a book my sister chose for me for Christmas just shipped - it has the coolest title - "Forbidden Lego: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against!" Though I don't recall my parents ever warning me ...
  2. I grew up in a tourist town on the coast of the north west of England. Pleasant enough, yes, but not really an intellectual hotspot. I still remember the first time I picked up and read Scientific American in W H Smiths - I was 13 and it was literally as if a whole new world opened up. First of all it contained a bunch of exotic-seeming ads for US technology companies and products. But most importantly, Martin Gardner's column, Mathematical Games, gave me a completely different perspective on what, up to that point, had been a difficult subject for me.
  3. A lot of my time at Cambridge as a graduate student was spent on EM fields - I guess I just got hooked on Maxwell's equations. So I was thrilled in 2002 to visit the Very Large Array in New Mexico with James, Rob Gingell, Jim Mitchell, Josh Simons and others. The VLA was designed in the late 1970's and used very long segments of circular waveguide - basically hollow pipes - to carry the signals from each antenna to the central facility. This particular waveguide was constructed from a single insulated strand of helical wire wound on the inside of an otherwise hollow tube. That construction allows a low-loss TE01 transmission mode to propagate down the guide, and prevent it's conversion to other, lossier modes. Before the trip I'd only ever thought about this in theoretical form, so it was very cool to suddenly be face-to-face with a huge deployment of this idea. But I remember my colleagues thinking I was a little bit strange to be so fascinated by this stuff. Hmm, there on the web you can find a performance evaluation of the system.
  4. Back in 1987 I was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and rowed in the Fellows VIII in the May Races. Since I hadn't rowed as an undergraduate, it involved learning how, and I made many early morning outings on the River Cam, getting up at 6am and cycling across town in the cold spring air. At the time I was still living the nocturnal life of the hacker, so the truly surprising part was that I stuck with it through to the day of the competition! Of course I don't remember if we were bumped, or if we bumped the boat in front of us, but I guess it's the taking part that counts.
  5. When I first started using Sun's software at Cambridge University, one of the things that really impressed me back then was the quality of the documentation - in particular the SunOS 4.1 manpages. We used to use them as a kind of definitive reference work, they certainly were a lot better than the offerings of the other vendors at the time. Nine years after I joined Sun, in a typical twist of geekdom, I married one of the writers that created them.
Phew, that's finally done. Since it's so long ago when I was tagged, I'm not going to propagate it, and I'll quietly put this thread of the tag-fest to rest.

In the meantime, what else has been happening? Well, since the last entry, Bob Brewin and I have been working for Rich Green as the two CTOs responsible for Sun's Software technology portfolio. We also report to Greg Papadopolous. I like to joke that Bob handles everything beginning with J, and I do the rest - though in reality we work pretty closely, managing the technology portfolio, reviewing what we're doing and how we're doing it, listening to customers, identifying gaps and opportunities. I've also been continuing a special interest in Virtualization and the technology underlying the Indiana program. It has been, and continues to be sometimes frustrating, sometimes fun but almost always interesting. Though the pace is becoming frenetic as more and more opportunity comes our way as Sun's software business expands - the truly cool mySQL acquisition being the most recent example of that.

Comments:

Tim, I loved this 5 things thread!! This and twitter have been a great way to get to know how darned interesting Sun people are when we are not on long teleconference talking about other things. :D

Posted by Dawn Mular on February 10, 2008 at 03:43 PM PST #

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