Super Jayhawk (super_jayhawk) wrote,
Super Jayhawk

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Pipe Dream Revisited

Many aeons ago (22 years ago as of Sunday) my dad bought a "home computer", which back then was a big deal, few people had them at home. Right with the 7th grade starting, I got to play with an Apple II plus with (get this) 48 THOUSAND bytes of memory. Whooooa! And not one, but two of those newfangled floppy drives! That's right, no casette-based OS for me. I learned to program on this system, and still have it, although it's in my storage locker now.

At the time I suddenly knew what I wanted to do in life.. I was going to go to college, get a Computer Science degree, and work for Apple. Or so I thought.

I was given fair warning about all the math crap and other silly stuff that I would have to slog through to get a CS degree. Most of it's designed to get rid of students, and has very little practical application in the modern computer industry. Come on, how many of you have EVER had to do an integral or take the derivative of atan(x) in your job?
I didn't think so. Most of it was hoops that we had to jump through and live through 2-3 hard-science courses that we would soon forget.

At least I had my Mac II, which in 1988 was pretty much one of the hottest boxes out there, unless you could afford an SGI. I even had a *80* meg hard drive, which was unimaginably huge in the day. And *FIVE* megabytes of RAM! I was in hawk heaven.

Anyway, by the time I graduated 10 years later, in 1991, and I looked at Apple, I said, "No WAY would I want to work there". Apple was at the time undergoing their 3rd round of upheavals, and Spindler was forcing out Sculley who forced out Jobs. There were layoffs going on, and the whole Silicon Valley economy was in the toilet, almost as bad as it is now. Back then we had a Bush screwing up the country, a recession, and a war. (Sound familiar?) I couldn't get any jobs being a pure programmer, because they really weren't there, and after being unemployed for several months after graduating, I decided that starving really sucked. (Being stuck in Kansas with no way to get back to CA didn't help either).

So instead I went after the database and Sys Admin worlds, back in the heyday of LANs, when everyone was first starting to replace their dumb terminals with PCs, and actually connect the PCs together with this amazing new technology delivered over BNC cable. Went into Novell Netware when that was the big thing, became a UNIX System V Admin for awhile, started with Linux back when it was the 0.9 kernel, and even went over to the "dark side" for awhile and learned NT back when that was the up-and-coming thing. I've now worked with Microsoft OSes for about 17 years longer than I wanted to, from MS-DOS 3.1 to Win2K.

The whole time, my old Mac II grew dust, and my Apple days kind of went by the wayside.
I couldn't get any work doing Mac stuff, so I didn't keep up, and it couldn't run any of the new OSes anyway (needed a PMMU to run System 7, and that was $200). I still have the old Mac II as well, although I haven't turned it on in aeons.

Then everything changed at Apple. I had been casually playing with NeXT's cube back in the late 80's at KU, but when they suddenly were making the next Mac OS, I knew something was coming. With OS X and the PowerBook line, I was in love again. It was like coming across your old flame that you knew from decades ago that now has a knock-out figure, looks great and makes you remember when you were young. It took me a few years to save up for it, but I bought one of These back in May, and have jumped back into the Mac world, beak first. For the first first time in years, it's almost felt like I want to get home to something I care about, even if it's just to play with a computer again. I'm so jaded, tired and burnt after working in the computer industry for 12 years now that this is a pretty rare thing.

So yesterday morning, my brother, who I've been nagging to look for jobs since he quit his job at Target and now has no money, finds a Build Engineer position at Apple. I'd never even bothered applying at Apple since I'd "fallen from the path" so many years ago and strayed into evil Microsoft-land, not to mention Microsoft's SDKs, Visual Studio, and more MSDN crap than I ever wanted to see. After all, I've only messed with OS X for a few months, and the last Mac OS that I really knew before that was System 7.6. Why the would I bother even putting in for anything when I'd be seen as a PC heretic?

I looked at the job listing anyway, mostly becuase I'm not particularly happy at my current job and the company's running out of money anyway, so the next layoff is only months away. And then it blew me away, Apple's actually looking for someone that can build UNIX and Windows apps, and handle the cross-platform and non-Mac issues for porting their software. You gotta be kidding. Apple making Windows software? (for anything more than just a QuickTime plug-in?)

I mulled over it yesterday, and decided what the hell, I'll go put in for it, even though I probably won't get a call back. I've got nothing to lose, even getting an interview at Infinite Loop would be fun. It took awhile to dress up my measly resume and take out yet more ancient skills that no one cares about any more, and try to bring back a lot of the Mac stuff I don't talk about much on my resume since most employers don't care about those things these days. After taking a deep breath, and closing my eyes, I E-mailed it in to the recruiter at Apple. Now I'd better start looking at some Apple Dev tools and compilers again, the last time I even worked with this stuff it was MPW and Think C.

I don't realistically expect to ever hear back from them, but it was fun just having the pipe dream of working for Apple, or any company that's relatively stable, as opposed to the layoff-half-the-company-and-reorg-everything cycle that I've been going through every six months at my current place. Kind of like buying a lottery ticket and dreaming of what you'd do with the money, I got to have my pipe dream of working at the Apple campus. Wow, that would rock. Not to mention the commute only being 5 miles from my place.

(Hey, does anyone know anyone at Apple that could put in a good word for me? (grin) )

*sigh*. If only I was a "real" developer and had stuck with the Macintosh back in the day, and hadn't spent so much time dealing with evil OSes like NT and 95.

My entire career has been bopping from job to job in whatever made a living and whatever was the next big thing, rather than what I believed in or really wanted to do.
Super Jayhawk can be the idealist, but his Clark Kent alter ego has to pay the bills and make the money to buy the spandex. Ah well.
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