I worked on the Tcl/Tk team at Sun. I spent most of my time working on Mac and Windows, but also worked a little on the SPARC on Solaris. One of the senior guys was working on the new execution engine. Instead of parsing the commands as strings all of the time, the new engine create what is called “byte codes”, cached them with the command, and the executed the byte codes.
I helped several times find difficult crashing bugs in the execution engine. There were memory bugs, alignment bugs, and the normal kind of awfulness that goes with a big pile of C code.
That friend talked to one of his friends in the Boston office of Sun Labs who worked on the Java Virtual Machine, which is the actual program that runs that itself runs Java code.
That person called me one day.
“Hello. You don’t know me, but your teammate (Bob) gave me your number. He said you were really good at debugging low-level code.”
“That was nice of him to say!”
“I work in the Labs here in Boston, doing research on the Java Virtual Machine. I wanted to reach out and see if there were any interest on your part in maybe working on this team?”
“You are in Boston? Could I stay in Mountain View?”
“Well, that’s not our first choice. But we can cross that bridge if it comes to it.”
“OK. What is the next step?”
“Could you shoot me a resume, and I will talk to people here.”
So, I did.
He sent me an email about 4 weeks later, saying that they were still interested, but hiring had been frozen, so he could not do anything right now.
That happens a lot. It’s either a fib, helping me feel better about being turned down. Or getting approval for hires is really hard. Or both.
It was OK, though. During that four week wait, something else came up….