The most common question I have answered in last few days, second only to "why Yahoo!", is this: how long did I stay with HP? A straight-forward question that should have a simple and definite answer. But it isn't so, and usually prompts me launch into a long narrative -- I became an HPer through VeriFone acquisition in June 1997. This is the same VeriFone that went for IPO in year 2005 after being sold to a private investment group by HP sometime in year 2000 or 2001, and has been in news recently for all the wrong reasons. I had joined Bangalore office of VeriFone in 1993 January, relocated to US office in October 1998 and then moved to E-speak group within HP in July 1999. So when did I really join HP? As per HP HR records for service anniversary awards and leave calculation, I am HPer since the day of joining VeriFone in Bangalore. For certain other benefits, it is the day VeriFone got acquired by HP. Personally, I felt like an HPer only after moving to the HP E-speak group in one of the Cupertino campus buildings.
You see, it isn't that simple. So, I just picked the round number 10. A bit less than what the official records indicate, a bit more than my real years at HP and pretty close to the average of these two figures.
Besides the obvious aging and graying (or rather, loss) of hair, these 10 years have brought numerous changes: relocation from Bangalore to Bay Area and all its attendant transitions in the lifestyle, addition of Unnati (my younger daughter) to our three member family, fulfilling part of the American dream, naturalization to US citizenship and many others.
My years at HP saw many historically significant events: spinning off of Agilent, merger with Compaq, colorful days of Carly Fiorina and a resurgent HP under Mark Hurd, to name a few. However these had much less impact on my day to day professional life than events less well known but much closer to what and with whom I worked on in the software business of HP: the initial excitement and euphoria around E-speak and its subsequent unfolding along with dotcom bust of 2001 (I personally and HP as a company did a learn a thing or two with this whole endevour), acquisition of Bluestone (a company that developed a J2EE App Server) and its subsequent closing for business reasons, and the rapid expansion of HP Software business through acquisition of Peregrin, Mercury Interactive and Opsware in recent years. Each of these touched and affected my professional life in a much more profound way and saw me go through a succession of roles, each building upon the previous one: developer, development manager, product design architect and then a solution architect.
Besides the customary project deliveries and customer visits, what I remember most about working for HP is the meeting and working with very different, interesting and wonderful people. Attending TechCons, invite-only annual gathering of HP technologists from all over the world to share ideas and showcase best of their works, has been another highlight, though the competition to get invited has become much more fierce in recent years.
Projects at work, though interesting and important, weren't quite as exciting and fulfilling as semi-professional projects at home: assembling a PC in early 2000 with individually purchased part at local Frys, authoring a book on J2EE Security (though the torrid pace of change in technology has made it obsolete in less than 5 years), launching a hobby Web 2.0 site which found a mention in the venerable Wall Street Journal, and numerous other smaller projects at home including a home radio based on iTunes and a FM transmitter, a modded NSLU2 and this blog.
My latest home project: a Linux based media server that can rip song/book CDs and self-recorded DVDs into shorter clippings and then serve to the living room TV through Wii Internet Channel or a future intenet enabled phone (it will iphone 2.0 or an android based phone -- haven't made up my mind yet!)over the home network, a combination of PowerLine Network and wifi Access Points. A ffmpeg based prototype running Fedora Core 7 within a VM is almost ready but lacks the the usability that 11-year old Akriti demands for ripping and 7-year old Unnati demands for viewing.
As you would most certainly agree, these were wonderful 10 years!