I told her about my move from AT&T to Multi-Media Telecommunications (MMT). That move came right after I earned my PhD in Computer Science from Princeton. As a small telecommunications company anxious to capitalize on the emerging markets in multi-media, MMT offered exciting positions in R&D. The company did quite well, with the stock surging in the first three years after I joined, but the work in cryptography within the company began to dry up. Ironically, the advances in authentication and information integrity that make cryptology applicable to business, are the same advances that caused MMT to lose interest. Unlike most computing applications in business, where information integrity is important, MMT was primarily interested in privacy. Things like digital signatures, MAC’s, zero-knowledge proofs, and authentication were not on MMT’s research agenda. Instead, MMT devoted the full research budget to communications hardware and multi-media technologies. I opted to go into the consulting business, and for nearly two years now I’ve been making a comfortable living working on protocol analysis. Admittedly, I’ve had to supplement that work with an occasional mundane programming assignment working on GUI’s or firewalls, but for the most part the work has been interesting.
Lisa took exception to this last comment. It was then that I learned that she was a software developer working on Graphical User Interfaces (GUI’s). I then had to sit through a long sermon that not all User Interface projects are mindless programming-by-example using wizards and other people’s libraries. Before long I actually found myself quite interested as Lisa explained the GUI library that her company had developed in-house. She was not one of the original developers, but had joined the small company of about fifty employees threes ago. Her job was to help keep the aging GUI library current… no easy task given the rapid rate of advances in that industry.
“We produce MAC CD-ROM software for kids up to about age five — mostly educational stuff. We are able to churn out new titles today that are cutting edge, and we are still using the same basic kernal the company was founded on. Sure, we’ve had to make lots of changes and enhancements, but the foundation remains strong. Don’t belittle the Computer Science that goes into GUI’s Carl.”
I was too pleased by her strong grasp of Computer Science to argue. I quickly retreated and confessed that the work she described was both interesting and challanging. We talked at length about Computer Science and about jobs. Generally, I have been pleased with the direction my career has gone… until now. Granted it is entirely my own doing, but chasing down a cunning EFT mastermind, with the FBI breathing down my neck, and with the threat of a jail sentence looming over my head, does not bode well for my career prospects.