Introduction

My name is Dave Berthiaume, and I live in the Twin Cities area (Minnesota) with my wife and 2 elementary-age kids. I'm presently employed as a Lead Software Engineer at Thomson Reuters. In my spare time, I enjoy my kids, photography, home theater and camping in the north woods. I also have a moderately sized collection of breweriana, consisting mostly of old Hamm's Beer signs and advertising.

My Geek Life: Origins

I first became interested in computers through the magic of video games. Back in the late 70's and early 80's when the first wave of video game mania hit, my folks bought for me and my brothers the much coveted Atari 2600 gaming system. Our house had always been the neighborhood hangout for our friends, but this took it to the next level. We'd spend hours in front of our old Zenith TV (which didn't even have a remote control) blasting away at each other. Soon, along came a shiny new system called ColecoVision, and we drooled over the prospect of playing these incredible new games while still being able to enjoy our old Atari games by plugging them into a special "expansion module" on the ColecoVision.

Home Computers

This system ruled our house until one day Coleco announced the Adam computer. This thing had a cassette tape drive for loading programs, played all of our ColecoVision games, and came with a spiffy keyboard and a daisy wheel printer. It even included some newfangled "word processing" program and something called a "SmartBasic" language. I had to have one. I still remember combing the stores daily, waiting for that magical day when I could actually hold one in my clammy hands. When I finally did get one home, I was hooked on computers for good. Not only could I play games on this thing, but I could actually get it to DO STUFF myself by typing in certain commands. How cool was that?

Eventually the flaws of the Adam were exposed. The tape drive was crap, and the printer was so loud you had to shout over it to be heard. Anyhow, by that time something else had caught my eye: The Atari 800XL computer. This thing was a sexy-looking newcomer that had an external 5 1/4" floppy disc drive. Not only were the games better, but now you could program it to do more and more things as well. I eventually daisy-chained 4 floppy drives together, bought a modem, and ran the first Atari-based 2400 baud bulletin board system in the Twin Cities.

A Real Programming Job

Over the years, I would upgrade to each new Atari model as it became available (130XE, the ST line). I found myself using them less for games, and more for doing things that were actually useful. After many great years with my Ataris, I finally cut over and bought my first 386/20 MHz PC in 1989 after I had landed my first professional programming job. I was hired to write DOS-based applications using the Clipper language, which was just a fancy DBase compiler. I honed my programming skills while this new thing, Windows, was gaining momentum.

In 1994, I made the jump to Windows development by becoming proficient at PowerBuilder. Client/server programming was all the rage back then, and Powerbuilder allowed you to create distributed applications with a "beautiful" GUI interface. I earned a few certifications, and eventually tried my hand at formal classroom teaching. I would split my time between consulting at client sites, and public Powerbuilder training at our company's office.

The Web

When the internet came along, and everything changed again. The folks who created PowerBuilder created a new development environment called SilverStream. SilverStream actually allowed you to create a web application- very cool at the time. My company (Signature Software, RIP) made a strong move from Powerbuilder to SilverStream, so I went along for the ride. I cut my Java chops creating SilverStream applications for clients, and went on to teach SilverStream as well for a brief period. It was a nicely designed tool, but being very proprietary, was soon bypassed as more and more businesses migrated to open platforms and tools.

In the early 2000's, I spent time at Firepond and PSINet Consulting (later Ambient Consulting). I eventually grew tired of all the uncertainty as to where the next job was going to come from, so I went to work as a full-time employee at Lawson Software in Saint Paul in 2002. I spent three years at Lawson, working on their Java-based e-Recruiting application. Although we had a great technical team, it became a real morale-buster when round after round of layoffs ensued. It was also extremely frustrating having a great group of technical folks who were hamstrung by a series of head-scratching architectural decisions by the technical overlords. If you can find it, check out the book "Cube Farm" for a look at some of Lawson's dysfunction. Yes, someone actually wrote a book about it.

Today

In 2005 I landed a position as Lead Software Engineer at Thomson Reuters. I started out on Thomson/RIA's Checkpoint application, then moved to the Westlaw development group in 2007, where I transitoned to C# and ASP.NET. These days I work mainly on developing and designing Javascript widgets, making extrensive use of jQuery and Cobalt, which is our own internal technology platform. I've also become more involved in managing tasks across the development team. While no job is perfect, I've been very happy the last few years, and it's been a good fit for me. It also doesn't hurt that the office is 5 minutes from the house!