Professional life

I attended college at the University of Missouri - Rolla, where I graduated from the Department of Computer Science with a Bachelor's of Science degree in May, 1996.

During my last two years of school, I worked at a company known as RDS, Inc, There I worked on a payroll package known as Pay Master. An interesting product, designed to Small/Home-based businesses, it provides the basic software needed to provide a payroll service. Using remote data collection units that feed the data into the system, an entrepreneur could provide payroll services for companies that are too large to do payroll effectively by hand, yet too small to make having an in house payroll department worthwhile.

I really enjoyed working there. Being the second programmer in the small company, I enjoyed a lot of autonomous power. Doing quite a bit of design and implementation. It was nice to be given a task and basically told to make it work. And doing so.

I managed to do a lot more than just programming as well. I managed to bring to software under a revision control system, thus tremendously aiding in the development and support of various versions out. I revamped the in house libraries, making them easier to maintain, and discovered quite a few bugs in the process. I also installed the first LAN in the office, making it a whole lot easier to maintain the software under RCS.

In June, 1996, I accepted a position at Applied Computing Systems, Inc. in Los Alamos, NM. The company mostly does contract work for various government agencies. Most of the work is in the field of emergency management automation. That is, developing and deploying software to aid in the management of resources (people, equipment, materials) during emergencies, such as dangerous weather, chemical spills, flooding, and the like.

The biggest contractor is currently the U.S. Army with it's Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP). CSEPP is in charge of working with the 8 depots and surrounding civilian communities. These 8 depots store chemical blister and nerve agents until they can be safely destroyed.

This work has resulted in much travel for me. I have spent a significant amount of time doing work in Alabama. I have also visited Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Washington and Oregon.

Due to the small nature of the company, I have had a chance to practice a variety of skills. Our main product is a client/server based program with the clients running under MS WinNT and servers running under Solaris and Linux. While I've done less programming than I would have wished, it has resulted in me being exposed to programming under Microsoft Windows and some Unix system's level programming, as well as various forms of IPC between MS Win and Unix. And, of course, done a lot of studying and debugging of software written by others.

Mostly, however, I have been doing systems administration type work. Much of my travel has been to do systems installations of both NT and Solaris, as well as installing our own software and various commercial off the shelf (COTS) packages.

I have also done quite a bit of technical support, both on the phone and in person. I must say, it's quite interesting supporting someone located 700 miles away with a package you've only had passing experience with probably 4 years earlier (PC-NFS, in the one case I'm remembering). And even somewhat enjoyable when you actually solve their problem.

I've also been responsible for testing out new software packages for use by the company and various agencies involved in CSEPP. I also helped design and spec out our new office LAN. We finally switched away from a troublesome ThinNet based lan with too many segments and cables running underfoot. Instead, we are now using modern HUB based twisted pair system, actually using poles to contain the Ethernet drops, rather than just strewn about the office. While not that big of a deal, it's still nice to see the effort I put into designing and justifying the design pay off by having it actually implemented. Especially when the boss had a radically different design in mind.

When I think about it, I have gained a wide variety of experience working at ACS. However, I have pretty much slipped into a role of systems administrator. A role I really don't care much for. I want to do more development and less deployment. But, the company is going through a phase where is little development going on right now. Most of the man hours are spent installing our software (and others we get contracted to do).

In April of 1998, I took a new position as a programmer at a bank in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is a reprise of my earlier position at RDS. It turns out Universal Savings Bank bought the PayMaster product from RDS, and also hired away several employees. They wanted me back, and I was looking for a new job, so it was a perfect match.

I worked on this product, enhancing it from a stand application to one that is client-server based.

While working at USB was fun and challenging, layoffs were on the horizon. So I decided to see what options were available closer to home.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, 1999, I started a position at MasterCard International at their technology center in St. Louis, MO. This was as a developer working on the file transfer system for their MasterCard Interface Point (MIP). The file transfer group was also responsible for much of the general systems support for the MIP.

MasterCard was quite strict in its adherence to the Waterfall process model. While it was nice to be exposed to the benefits of code-reviews, the level of paper work to accomplish a goal seemed a bit silly at times. I often felt frustrated and bored.

So after about a year at MasterCard, I started looking around. I had always wanted to end up in Silicon Valley, so I concentrated on looking in that area. And I landed a position as Software Configuration Manager at YY Software, Inc.. In addition to SCM, I was also responsible for build and release engineering.

After surviving a couple of changes in CEO, several rounds of layoffs, and a name change to YY Technologies, I caught my own pink slip. So, for the first time since working, I am officially unemployed.

Please, feel free to review my resume and comment upon it. All feed back is welcome.

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Mike Castle