Derek England
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Most of the netbeings who know me know me as Paruda, the technical administrator of Stick in the MUD.

Paying the Bills

So what do I do? Ah, such a complicated question. I guess the answer I give usually depends on who asks:

  • If you don't use computers... I'm a computer guy.
  • If you use computers well enough to get by... I write computer programs.
  • If you know what software is... I write software.
  • If you know what software development is I'm a software developer.
  • If you know what UNIX is... I'm a UNIX software developer.
  • If you're a UNIX software developer... Cool.

I prefer the word engineer to the word developer, but while I do have an engineering degree, I've never considered it worth my while to officially register with Ontario's licensing body for engineers, so I'm not a software engineer. I suppose there are worse things in life than not being allowed to call yourself an engineer.

So what's a UNIX software developer do that's so special? It's probably more a philosophy than a strict technological thing these days. Many of the things I call UNIX things are now Mac things, Linux things, and even Windows things, although in the latter case we don't talk much about those.

UNIX things are things that can be and are done naturally in a UNIX environment. Some examples:

  • C/C++ programming
  • shell scripting with sh, ksh, csh, bash, perl...
  • text processing with awk, sed, grep, regular expressions...
  • TCP/IP networking, sockets
  • process and job control, forking
  • web development
  • relational databases

All of these can of course be done these days without using UNIX or UNIX-like tools, but where's the fun in that? The great thing about UNIX is that you (well, I) get to stitch together solutions to problems that can all intermingle with each other effortlessly.

How to turn into Paruda

So how did I get where I am? Hmm well, I'm a graduate of the University of Toronto (metallurgical engineering, the perfect degree for someone who has taken a sacred vow never to reside outside of a big city). That was hell. Met some great people, though, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of time. And they had great computing facilities, which allowed me to learn something outside of a degree I wasn't all that interested in. Unlike most institutions, they gave all the engineering undergrads year-round access to some wicked UNIX servers and workstations. And hey, if you're one of those great people who's just happened to stumble upon my web page, give me a shout. I'd love to hear from you. =)

What did I do between then and now? My last job was the Chief Macintosh Gruntologist (hey, we didn't have titles so it's up to me to make one up) at iSTAR Internet. Or is that InfoRamp.... Or HotStar.... Or InfoWeb.... Who the heck knew? Such was the nature of the Internet business at the time: mergers, buyouts, and strategic alliances. What started as a pretty cool tech support job for a quality service provider turned into an assembly-line counselling job for involuntarily displaced customers, trying in vain to soothe their anxiety about their good local dialup being swallowed up by a big company run by clueless salesmen.

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