Dilbert -- no common sense


I was born in South Africa and came to visit the US to meet up with some friends to go rock-climbing -- we met up at Devil's Tower in Wyoming. We then traveled West, stopping at all of the major climbing places, including Boulder, Colorado and Yosemite National Park. We took around 6 weeks or so and spent around 2 weeks in Camp 4. After the climbing trip was over my friends went back so South Africa (they now run Jwayela Software) and I decided to stay in the US. I worked for a while at a small computer shop in White Plains, NY where I met my wife (Fabiha).

After a while I left Easy Micro and got a job at BestWeb Internet as a Senior Network Engineer, before moving to Westcon. Unfortunately, at the time Westcon was the sole distributor for a bunch of companies, including Bay Networks (now part of Nortel). I hated the Bay Networks stuff and the general lack of clue there, so I left and moved to Register.com .

The DNS space had just been opened to competitive registrars (before that you had to use Network Solutions) and so it was a very exciting time -- Register.com was a start-up and we liked that we were breaking Network Solutions / Verisigns grip on the market. Unfortunately after a few years I got tired of the long commute into New York City and Register.com because slow and bloated.

A friend of mine was working at AuthentiDate, a company that does digital time-stamping and non-repudiation of documents. They had their main datacenter right next to the Twin Towers -- when the planes hit their building was damaged and they had to quickly rebuild their network in a new datacenter. I worked as a consultant building them a new, better network in New York -- it was fairly fun, especially because they had NIST calibrated atomic clocks, sync'ed to the main clocks in Boulder (Maybe it's just me, but I thought it was cool). After that was finished I did some more consulting for a while and then we moved to Ashburn, VA where I got a job at Amerinex (part of TAG). Unfortunately Amerinex was a little too SPAM friendly and was unwilling to change (spammers pay very well!) and my conscience wouldn't let me live with that, so when I got the chance I moved over to AOL.

Most of my time at AOL was spend working on a large VoIP (Voice Over IP) network that carries tech support calls from the US to call centers all over the world. The network also carries all of the employee traffic, and so QoS ended up being very important. As far as I know, it was the worlds largest VoIP call center network when I left. So, why did I leave?

While I was working at AOL I visited a datacenter in the area to install / reboot a friends server. While wandering around the datacenter I stumbled across a cage full of Google servers -- one of the switches in the cage had a fan that was starting to die, so I decided to send them mail letting them know -- I also included a copy of my resume. A few days later I saw a full page Google recruiting advert in some magazine (I think it was Wired). My wife said that I submit me resume through the listed website (http://www.google.com/jobs). I figured that there really wasn't any point -- Google was notoriously hard to get into, and I knew that they were getting thousands of resumes per day, but Fabhia kept insisting that it was worth a try. Finally (with some bad grace!) I actually submitted my resume through the proper channels -- and it ended up on the desk of hte peson to whom I had written about the dying fan, and I got a call from the recruiter the next day.

I went through the phone screen process (all the while being sure that I want going to make to to the next step) and then was flown to Mountain View for an in-person interview. I still figured that I had no real hope of making it through the process (this was back in 2004 when there was even more hype and pressure), but reasoned that at the minimum I'd get a free trip to CA. The actual interview was really fun, and when I got back to Ashburn I got a call offering me a position as a Senior Network Engineer.

Fabiha and I sold our pretty house in Ashburn and moved to a small, much more expensive townhouse in San Jose. San Jose (and the Bay area in general) really didn't agree with us -- it is much too crowded and feel like a city. After a few years I managed to convince my manager at Google to let me move back to the East Coast and carry on working for Google. We are now living in Dulles, VA (near Dulles Airport) and I am working in Herndon. Google is still a great place to work -- the Google network is really cool and the people with whom I work are all bright and competent!


One of the great things about working for Google is the 20% time, some of which I have used for: