Originally Published: Thursday, 27 January 2000 Author: Melanie Burrett
Published to: interact_articles_jobs_profiles/Job Profiles Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

A Tale of Two Programmers

Jennifer Bedford and Galen Hazelwood are software engineers with eSoft. The routes by which they arrived at their jobs are as different as night and day.

Jennifer Bedford and Galen Hazelwood are software engineers with eSoft. The routes by which they arrived at their jobs are as different as night and day.

Jennifer was your typical high school geek, and is proud to announce that. She got her first taste of programming in grade 8 when a kindly math teacher gave lessons during the lunch hour. Her first experience with programming was on an Apple 2. You just turned it on and started writing programs. She was hooked. It might be fair to say that she never looked back.

In high school they didn't offer exactly what she wanted, so she signed up for a College course in Pascal. After high school she went straight to College, spent approximately 4.5 years there, and then got hired by eSoft. She has never worked as a programmer anywhere else, and frankly doesn't want to.

Galens' story is quite different. Although his father was, as he put it, "a major computer and electronics geek", Galen didn't follow in his footsteps. He first went into music, but started getting interested in computers again later in College. He learned by the osmosis method, and by asking questions. He spent many hours hanging out in the computer science department, playing on the computers. "Most of the people I know who work with computers got all of their best experience from what they hacked around with in their spare time". That is actually how he got hired. He was doing some volunteer work for Debian, and an engineer sent in some obscure questions about file linking. He took the time to check through the code, and found out that it was impossible to do.

Here is the 'strange coincidence' part of this story: Jennifer was the one who was sending in the questions. She was working at the now-defunct branch of eSoft in Idaho. Galen lived only about 10 km away. Jennifer was very impressed with his diligence and knowledge. When she saw how close he was to eSoft, she mentioned him to her immediate boss. Galen got asked in for an interview and was hired on the spot.

They have been working on the TEAM Internet 'family' of products since 1996. Jennifer is the one who makes the "pretty pictures" and Galen is the one who makes them work. TEAM Internet does all of the things that a small to medium-sized business needs to be connected to the internet. It is "designed for businesses with up to 200 workstations and provides low-cost, LAN-to-Internet connectivity and includes a range of features, including e-mail, Web browsing, a Web server and remote access". eSoft is happy to boast that they were the first to market internet appliance that used Linux as its operating system. TEAM Internet is sometimes called an 'appliance' because, just like any household appliance, you don't necessarily have to know exactly what is going on inside to make it work.

When asked, they both asserted that there are two reasons that they like working for eSoft: The supportive team atmosphere, and Linux.

What would make them the most unhappy? Having to work with Microsoft products.

What's the coolest thing you've gotten to do on this job?

Jennifer: - From a GUI standpoint there's not a lot of cool stuff you can do. From a user standpoint... when tech support tells me that it is great on the first go.

Galen: - Coding related stuff... when I first came here I was promptly handed the email system because no one wanted to deal with it. I said that it was because it was on old mail server. I suggested a new one, and everyone said "ok!". They just let me do it. No meetings.

Jennifer: - As a team we have respect for other people's experience. When Galen said, "this is my educated opinion", we said "ok".

Galen: - I created new problems, but got rid of much worse problems.

What is the best part about your jobs?

Jennifer: - The fact that I don't have to work in Windows! I do my development in X Windows, and the user interface is Apache CGI forms. I get to do it all on Linux. As an engineer I have a difficult time accepting Windows as an acceptable solution. I like being able to work with the file system myself. My computer is my world, and I don't like having to deal with all the stuff that comes on a Windows machine.

Galen: - Its best to keep Jen happy

Jennifer: - Yes, I get cranky if things don't go right.

The corporate headqurters of eSoft are in Colorado, where Galen and Jennifer now work. However, eSoft is branching out worldwide. There are offices in places like Singapore and Rotterdam. The year of 1999 was very busy. In May they were acquired by Apexx, and then they picked up Technologics (an Atlanta company) in September. Just recently, eSoft expanded their reach yet again by making agreements with Bell Micro-Future Tech International (a company that distributes throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America), and Raidar Distribution Australia.

If you want to reach Jennifer, her email is jbedford@esoft.com. You can reach Galen at ghazelwood@esoft.com. The company website is http://www.eSoft.com.