Friday, September 17, 2010

About myself

Where are you from?

I always pause when asked this question these days, because I am never quite sure
whether people are asking because of my funny English accent, or because they really
want to know where I live. So I typically answer "I am a Russian living in London, UK"
to answer both questions at the same time.


I hardly believe it myself these days, but studied in a Specialized French school/high school. (In Russia the system is a bit different, typically one attends the same school for 10 years.) My French is not very good now, but I can still read and mostly understand when people talk.

When I was young I wanted to be a cosmonauts (well, most of boys in Soviet Union wanted to be cosmonauts when I was growing up). So I ended up being interested is astronomy and sci-fi. I still like sci-fi (both books and movies) to this day. Yes, I like Star Wars, Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov, as well as some Russian authors like Strugatskie brothers, Stanislav Lem (Polish), but this is not all I like in sci-fi.

I actually almost ended up working for the Russian Mission Control, but at the time I was given the last opportunity to get a job there I was already quite obsessed with computers and in particular with email. Yes, that is right: email. If somebody would have called me Postman I would have been proud of such nickname, but naturally in childhood I had many other nicknames I didn't like.

But if we rewind back a bit. When I was about 10 or 11 I didn't have a hobby. My parents were taking me to different activities to see if I get interested in anything, but nothing was quite to my liking. I was actually quite upset that I didn't have a hobby back then, because any serious man of my age *had* to have a proper hobby. Then it hit me: programming computer programs became my thing. Not just playing games, but making computers do wonderful and sometimes stupid things.

My parents realized that this is to become my way of earning money, so they hired a teacher to help me enter Moscow State University (Applied Math and Computer Science Department). You know, I tend to think that I am not particularly stupid (even though slow sometimes), but entering one of the best math/computer science departments in Moscow, after spending extra hours studying French in school, without a proper math training is hard. My parents have my eternal gratitude for that, because back then the foresee what I needed/wanted before I actually knew it myself.

One more thing. I always wanted to be an Engineer. Both of my parents are Engineers and some of the grandparents are. Well, I ended up becoming one, but I cheated. I am a Software Engineer, that is.

What do you do these days?

Despite boring aspects (as in every profession) and occasional stress due to handling support issues, I still like being a programmer. So I work for a small company in London called Isode.

The other side of my job is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF, Area Director (AD). This is half technical and half management job. The technical side consists of reviewing (and nitpicking on) Internet Drafts before they get approved as standard documents (also known as RFC), as well as helping people with advice on good protocol design, etc. The management side is to manage the Application Area with another Application co-Area Director, which includes about 16 Working Groups (each working on its own technical topic). Each Working Group has 1 or 2 chairs, which means I manage 12-16 part time volunteers (Working Group Chairs), who manage other people like document editors to do the actual technical work in Working Groups.

My technical background in IETF is email (No, sorry, I can't fix spam for *you*.) and some application protocol security, but my interests are much wider now that I am an AD.

I absolutely love being both an AD and a programmer. Just doing one type of thing for very long drives me a bit crazy, so I like to have a balance. And I am very lucky to have such a supportive employer as Isode. Not many employers would let one of their engineers to spend nearly half of their time doing work on standards.

How did you end up in London?

Well, this is a bit of a long story, albeit one of my favorites. I tell you if you buy me some cider. Or maybe I tell it some other time when I actually have free time from fixing bugs in my code and IETF related stuff. But the gist of it is that I got hired to work in Canada while attending my second IETF conference. While I liked Canada (and still like to visit), after spending almost 2 years there I was happy to escape from Edmonton to London, UK by transferring within the company I worked for back then.

Are you in London for long?

Hmm, this is a tough one. One never knows. I stopped predicting this kind of thing.

Other interests?

I like to travel. I like to fly somewhere and then visit new places. I like both man made things and natural wonders.

I like meeting and talking to people. I like asking people questions about what they like, what they believe in, etc. I like to observe people. I think I am a good listener. A teacher in school said I should consider studying psychology, but I never did. I suppose that is another hobby of mine.

And finally, I like downhill skiing.

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