Thursday, October 2, 2014

 

How an internship turned into a twenty-five year journey



When I applied for an internship at IBM, least I expected was a long-term career at Big Blue.
 
My first summer job involved porting a commercial application from IBM System/36 to IBM AS/400 using RPG and the command language (QWRKSPLF, anyone?), copying and labelling the 8” release master floppy disks for another product and passing the quality assurance leader’s fierce interrogation on database normalization up to the fifth normal form.

At the end of the two month cycle, I had a job offer in the mail to work in IBM’s Information Systems AD/M group, passed the interview and was ready to start the new academic year as a part time employee.
 


Today I celebrate a milestone in my career, my quarter century anniversary. Working at IBM has been an exciting, instructional, challenging, rewarding and sometimes crazy experience. I have been an application developer, course instructor, product tester, customer support engineer, infrastructure architect and corporate webmaster (aka webworm), team leader, manager, and enterprise architect.

I still have a copy of the original job offer, the small blue employee handbook which outlined the company believes and policies, the internal “facebook” booklet and an office cupboard filled with books, papers and various memorabilia, from conferences badges to award certificates and my first patent plaque.


What’s more important than the “stuff” are the connections with the many smart, dedicated and supportive people whom I met and had the pleasure to work with over the years, locally and around the world. 

Thank you to all my colleagues and friends who have made my first twenty-five years special!

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

 

Happy Birthday, www.ibm.com!

When the World Wide Web was created 25 years ago few people probably realized how much change this would bring, not only to the academic community where this started but to the world at large.

Twenty years ago, IBM published the first homepage on www.ibm.com. The initial site on May 24, 1994 had only a few pages of content and an audio greeting by then-CEO and Chairman Lou Gerstner. (That was the time when most homepages greeted visitors with “Welcome to the Internet”.) Among the things Gerstner said, in retrospective the most important statement was “We are committed to the Internet, and we are excited about providing information to the Internet community”.

Back then I was happily coding System/370 mainframe applications and just had my first encounter with the now defunct Trojan Room Coffee Machine at the University of Cambridge. SNA and Token Ring were our preferred network technologies, and access to the Internet required special permission and signing an NSFnet Acceptable Use Policy document outlining the rules for commercial activities on international networks. Soon much of our business would become e-business.

Only a few years later was I invited to join the www.ibm.com team, a very fine, special team. At a time when business was mainly local, we were already globally integrated, collaborating electronically through an internal IRC network (Alister, remember our daily "gma, hay?" routine) and eventually the predecessor of IBM Sametime.

Last week the creators of the first homepage and some who worked in Corporate Internet Programs in the early days came together in New York City for an unofficial “motherserver meeting” to celebrate the anniversary. I missed the party, but the pictures brought back memories of the good times (and yes, occasionally bad times) we had running the IBM Website.

Happy Birthday, www.ibm.com!

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Monday, January 24, 2011

 

IBM turns 100

This year marks IBM's 100th anniversary. Few companies can say that they have been around that long, especially in high tech industries.

The IBM Centennial Film: 100×100 shows IBM's history of innovation, featuring one hundred people who present the IBM achievement recorded in the year they were born, and bridges into the future with new challenges to build a smarter planet.



Another 30-minute video tells the story behind IBM inventions and innovations.



For more than twenty years I have not just worked for IBM but been a part of IBM. It has been a pleasure, and I certainly look forward to many more to come!

I am an IBMer.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

 

Amazon.com: User experience delivering value

While shopping on Amazon the other day, I noticed a subtle yet still noticeable hint that I had bought the very same article already in October 2007.


At first glance, the notice would appear to drive customers away from buying; however Amazon.com has a long-standing reputation for innovation in online commerce and good customer service (although I have been less satisfied with their handling of e-mail correspondence lately) so this didn't come as a complete surprise.

Good user experience design is all about delivering value to the customer, and to the business too:
  • The customer may have bought the product earlier and order another copy as a present, which was actually the case for me.
  • Some products, such as blank CDs/DVDs, lend themselves to repetitive orders. Knowing that this is the same product ordered before is reassuring to the customer, which means more business with fewer clicks.
  • In the unlikely case that a customer accidentally orders the same product twice, chances are that she would return the product for a refund, incurring shipping and handling cost for the business; therefore not shipping the product in the first place is not only the most customer friendly, but also the most cost effective solution.
On a related note, Amazon.com has also been innovative in offering pay-as-you-go Web infrastructure, and IBM recently announced plans to deliver software through their Amazon Web Services platform.

Links:

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

 

0101001011101010111

Google search nicely reminded me that digital storage is still all about ones and zeros:

Strategic Briefing New Storage Paradigm for Enterprise<br />2008 IBM Corporation – IBM Confidential. 0101001011101010111. 0110101010111010101. 0110101100110101011. 0101110101010101011. 0101110110101010101 ...

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