Employment History Notes

These are notes to the specific employment lines in my CV.

Mac-Like Operating System (2004+)

Apple killed their innovative "aging" 17-year-old MacOS, the only commercially viable WYSIWYG operating system that ever existed, and replaced it with a creaky "modern" 35-year-old system from the Dark Ages, adding a thick layer of makeup to cover the wrinkles, and called it "OSX" (Oh-Ess-Ex, also known as "the former OS" :-) I want my Mac back. This is an on-going (unfunded) project to rebuild what was unique and superlative about the MacOS from publicly available parts. I'm also using it to keep my Windows and Linux skills up to date.

BibleTrans (1996-2014)

This (unfunded) project idea came out of my dissertation research. I tried to get Wycliffe interested in it, but as the world's acknowledged experts in linguistics they know that machine translation (MT) cannot work. And they are right! Except BibleTrans doesn't do it that way. The part that makes MT so hard, BibleTrans does by manual effort. When people (including individual Wycliffe linguists) take the time to see what BibleTrans does, they are favorably impressed, so I thought being able to show a working program working on their language would be a door-opener. The American church and its extensions (like Wycliffe) are not as interested in Bible translation as their documents let on. I'm still pushing this idea, but not as hard. I ran out of savings in 2002 and had to go back on a salary to recover. In 2014 I stopped because the software is working. I seem unable to market it: other people need to get involved, and I lack the skills to sell them on it. I'm an inventor and a teacher, but not a salesman.

SouthWest Baptist University (2002-2004)

I went to grad school and got a PhD in computer science specifically so that if my consulting business went south, I could teach. I like teaching, and I can do it. I may not be as good at it as some professionals, but I'm certainly better than most of my own college teachers. Unfortunately there were misunderstandings at SBU. I mistook their public posturing for corporate policy, and they mistook my loyalty and integrity for hostility. I have subsequently clarified my teaching philosophy to prevent possible future misunderstandings. Before I accepted employment at SBU I insisted on seeing their procedures for problem resolution. The procedures were good. The established procedures were not followed in my case. What can I say?

Kansas State University (1985-1988)

I was not looking for it, but they came recruiting at the university as I was finishing up my PhD. I decided it was a good opportunity. Unfortunately, they were looking for "research" (by which they mean the ability to obtain Federal grant money), not teaching. I'm a lousy salesman. Tenure being a lost cause, when a former industry client came looking, I went back to contract programming.

Industry Consulting (1970-1985, 1989-1995, 2009+)

My early experience in programming was at a government laboratory, about which by law I can say very little. When they closed the lab, I struck out on my own doing contract programming in (then new) microprocessors. Most of that work was under Non-Disclosure Agreements, so again I cannot say much, except that it involved embedded systems and operating systems and compilers and communications and security. I continued this work through grad school, but stopped briefly to take an appointment at Kansas State.

I subsequently became an expert in Macintosh software, and made a good living selling products into that market. That came to an end in 2002 when Apple killed the system. Unix (OSX) is an entirely different system, requiring entirely different skills. There is already a large body of Unix experts coming out of the universities, and a huge learning curve. My plan for teaching was to learn C/C++ in the first year, Windows and Linux the second year, and networking the third. The first two years went as planned, but the third year didn't happen. I am picking up networking skills on my own, but there's a lot there, much more than most people who claim to be expert even know.

I'm back into doing some contract programming, but the hurdles are high.

Maybe I can get back into teaching, if I can find an institution with a high priority on teaching students to think.

I can still code circles around most programmers I know, if the employers can handle it, but high productivity tends to threaten the status quo.

Tom Pittman

This document is http://www.IttyBittyComputers.com/Essays/NotesEH.html