Where I Lay My Head is – Part 2

Here we go again…

Once again it is time for me to make a professional change. To that end, I have left Burntsand Consulting in order to pursue another opportunity. In my (almost) 2 years at Burntsand I learned a lot about consulting as well as how other companies operate. There were facets of software development I didn’t previously know existed, and have been fortunate to have worked with good people while I was discovering new worlds outside of the Sports Technology field. I find myself again leaving behind many good friends and taking with me some wonderful memories.

That being said, I am very excited to be able to say that I have joined Wintellect’s consulting group as a Senior Consultant. Once again I have found my way to a phenomenal opportunity. I have a long-held deep respect for the people at Wintellect, and meeting them in person has only served to confirm those thoughts. These are some intelligent, creative, and passionate developers who excel at their craft and have built up a top-notch reputation in the industry – I am quite fortunate to count myself among their ranks.

Along with the great people, Wintellect and its members have shown that they share my commitment to participating in the development community, and have a great tradition therein, including publishing books and articles, participation in community events, and even production of the Devscovery conference.

So it is time for another new adventure. As always, I plan to keep folks posted as to how things go. It WILL be fun…

Where I Lay My Head is

With all due respect to Metallica…

Okay…time for the big announcement. A few weeks ago XOS Technologies and I parted company. This ended a 10-year run in a very narrow vertical market – aimed at Sports Video and Analysis technology. Actually, it goes a little longer than that, as prior to being a member of the Engineering team (at Avid Sports,) I was actually a customer at both the University of Florida and the University of Illinois.

I have accepted new employment out of the Waltham office of Burntsand, and begin tomorrow (September 3.) I will be joining Burntsand as a Senior Consultant, and I believe that my first engagement with them will be as a subcontractor under Microsoft Consulting Services for a New England client. Burntsand is a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner and a leader in business consulting and technology services.

For me, this is a phenomenal opportunity, and I am excited to the point of being downright giddy. Obviously, I have been in one market for a long 10 years (albeit with very different companies through that period, including Avid Sports, Pinnacle Systems, and XOS Technologies.) This opportunity should give me, over time, the chance to be exposed to several other markets. Also, I often participate in regional development events, and many of the speakers who have impressed me through the years have themselves been employed by Consulting Firms – I am getting a chance to walk in good footsteps. The relationship with Microsoft was also a big draw for me. Along with this, they have a practice of actively encouraging certifications and career development…why not get acknowledgement for what I do on my own time anyway? Finally, the people there have been top-notch. At XOS, we had been engaged with Burntsand for several months now, and overall I have been impressed by the guys I’ve had a chance to collaborate with.

So now it is time for a new adventure. I’ll keep folks posted as to how things go. It should be fun…

The Wonders of Technology

As many of you know, I am a vocal proponent of Media Center technology, having powered my home entertainment center with a Windows Media Center for several years now. A natural pairing to the Media Center technology is the ESPN 360 service.

Being a Florida Gator fan living in northern New England, it can be difficult to catch all of my team’s football games each season. Unless they’re playing a nationally telecast game, and if there isn’t a Big 10 team playing somebody, there’s a good chance it won’t be aired up here. Satellite is an option, but has obvious drawbacks, and while I tried getting together with the regional Gator Club, driving into Boston from New Hampshire every Saturday was just a little unwieldy.

When I first moved up here in 1998, I used to drive into the office on Saturday’s so I could listen to the game on Internet Radio using the work connection, which was substantially better than the dialup available out of my home. Then DSL became available and I was able to listen from home. Now, a short 10 years later, I am not only able to listen to the games from home, I now watch the video streamed over the Internet with the ESPN 360 service. The video is powered by Move Networks Media Player, and all things considered, the video quality is fantastic. (Incidentally, it looks like Microsoft just made an investment into Move Networks, which may lead to a Silverlight experience…)

ESPN360 Screenshot

ESPN360 Screenshot

There is one caveat to this service. A few years ago, the video was available for a paid annual subscription to ESPN’s GameCast online. ESPN abandoned that model in 2007, moving content to the “free” ESPN 360 service. I qualify the phrase “free” because the service is only available once they validate who your ISP is. When I first discovered this, I was using Comcast Cable for my internet access, and 360 was not available. I contacted Comcast, and was told that the qualifier for an ISP was not a bandwidth check, but rather whether the ISP had or had not paid ESPN for the privilege of carrying 360. Instead of a hit-or-miss individual subscription model, ESPN went with a model where the ISP was charged a high amount of money. (This is further validated by the fact that I verified the service was not available from the T1 Internet connection at my office – supplied by Verizon.) In my opinion, the Internet is not supposed to work that way…sites aren’t supposed to care who my current ISP is – just that I have a connection. </rant>

Also, I wonder why nobody has made a plugin to the service for the Windows Media Center. Maybe if I get some spare time this season, I may make a few phone calls and see if I can prototype something. Until then, I just close the MCE application and launch Internet Explorer in full-screen mode.

All that said, I have to pause and admire that in 10 short years, I went from not being able to watch over 60% of my favorite team’s games each season to being able to watch every game from the comfort of my living room. I wonder what another 10 years will bring…