I have worked full time for almost 25 years now – my how time flies! It all started at the university, which you can read about in the Education section.
My first steady job with some relation to my education was with Microsoft International Product Group in Dublin, Ireland. I started working there as a software localiser in the spring of 1990. I then became a technical specialist later the same year. As a technical specialist, I was responsible for handling technical problems in the localization process mostly for Excel 3, released in 1990, and later for Excel 4, released in 1992. I was also a member of an internal tools group aimed to find tools and methods to ease the localisation work. IPG Ireland had some serious growth pain during this time – when I started, it had about 40 employees, and in late 1992 it was up to 500. There also seemed to be management re-organisation about every three months. Eventually I got fed up with that and went back to Sweden in October 1992.
I actually quit Microsoft without having new employment, but I was fairly confident I could find something. Well, I decided I could work in (surprise!) software localisation, so I wrote a few letters and landed a job as freelance translator for Berlitz Sweden. My first job happened to be translating the help files for Microsoft Word. But since I rather wanted to have steady employment in Gothenburg, I kept on looking and got in contact with Wordwork AB, a fairly new company that I had already learnt of when I was working for Microsoft.
Through Wordwork I got a consulting job with Wang Laboratories Inc. of Lowell, MA, USA. This was a short term job to localise some sort of communications software and lasted from January 1993 through March 1993. Even though it only lasted for a few months, it was a very interesting experience. I decided that there were things about USA that I liked – being called Sir, for instance. And there were things I disliked, such as American job security. Wang was already in dire straits, having failed to make the transition from minicomputers to PC:s, and had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 1992. My project went on as expected all the way up to a week or two before release. Then the man with the black book came, walked around the cubicles, and terminated about half the staff. People who had worked for Wang their entire life were sent home immediately – just pack up and go. And, of course, the product we had been working on was never released. Boy, was I glad I was an external consult not actually employed by Wang then!
Wordwork Part 1
Back in Sweden again, I started to work directly for Wordwork, and quickly became the technical guru both in regards to technical translations, and in developing tools for the localisation process. Wordwork was at the time already a pretty modern company, utilising various tools and macros to make the localisation easier, faster, and more consistent. Most of these tools were developed in-house: this was before translation memory software became a must. Well, our tools got so good we decided to commercialise some of them. This got us to Textkontroll, a Microsoft Word plugin (later also for other word processors) that performed surface corrections and congruence checks of a kind not available in existing spelling and grammar checkers. The program sold reasonably well but did not become a huge success. With that done, I decided to try what I really quit Microsoft for.
Evolvera Part 1
It took a few years, but in early 1996 I started working for Evolvera AB, a company owned by my old class mate Manuel Alves-Martins. Evolvera was a consulting company, developing custom database solutions using the Macintosh program 4th Dimension. We also had two canned applications that I took part in developing: Struktur, a program for project coordination with features similar to (todays) Outlook and Entourage – only better, and TimeEdit, a scheduling program for people and resources mostly used in higher education. These programs consisted of a solid functionality core that let us spin off custom applications easily. One successful spin off in 1997 was Ophelia, a program we developed for the hospital Mölndals sjukhus, used for everything from scheduling operations, personnel, and resources to keeping track of patients, sending mail and more. Ophelia became much appreciated among the people using it, but was eventually forced out due to political problems (a big hospital can’t rely on such a small company …)
Wordwork Part 2 aka Lernout & Hauspie Mendez Svenska AB
In 1997 Wordwork was bought up by one of Europe’s largest translation agencies, grew a lot, and had an interesting offer – to take Textkontroll to the next level. This entailed making it a stand-alone program, and develop a dictionary program that used data from Norstedts Förlag, who also would act as a retail partner. I was in charge of the dictionary program and developed that mostly myself, at the same time making various tools for importing data to the database. Eventually, I also made a Macintosh port of the full program that was sold to newspapers and other large customers. But with the program out, what to do next? Why, change jobs of course.
Evolvera Part 2
In 1999 I went back to Evolvera again. This time I worked a lot on porting the plugins I had developed for 4th Dimension to the newly released Windows version of the database. I also got back to several of my earlier customers; e.g. Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (DO) and Ombudsmannen mot diskriminering på grund av sexuell läggning (HomO), for whom I had made programs for case and document handling. But this eventually got old, and when I one day got asked “which clients are you seeing this week?” I decided enough is enough and quit. (I am not really a “peoples” person you know.)
Wordwork Part 3 aka Bowne Global
What, am I crazy? Going back to the same company for the third time … Well, I guess it’s a bit like a MacDonald’s burger – you always know what you’ll get. But seriously, it wasn’t that bad. During the time I was away the other developers had come out with Skribent version 2.0, where the database engine had (as I had suggested before leaving) been replaced with a custom engine working with static trie structures. This made the dictionary application much faster, and the databases much smaller. And with the parallel searches of multiple databases, I really don’t know of anything better, not then nor later. This was already finished, though, so I got to work on data extraction to make custom databases for various clients. I also worked on an internal time report and scheduling system that was co-developed with the Helsinki offices of Bowne Global, so I got to travel to Finland quite a bit.
Bok & webb
Now we have reached spring 2002. The CEO of Wordwork had been bought out and was looking for something new to do. Since he had already written a few popular high school books, the education business seemed like a good idea. And so Bok & webb was born. It started with five former Wordwork / Bowne Global employees who set out to revolutionise the middle education in Sweden. I, as the sole developer got busy making a custom CMS and many internal tools for time reporting among others. A lot of other people got busy creating books and web content, and after a few years we had covered all the standard courses in the Swedish “gymnasium”, as well as several courses in adult education and immigrant education. We were a huge success with our customers. Unfortunately the economic success wasn’t as great. In the fall of 2006 our owners, Berling Media AB decided they couldn’t wait any longer for profit to appear. They turned our entire product set over to our (much bigger) sister company, Gleerups, and let most of the employees go.
Those who were left ended up in a new company that we, after thorough (five minutes) deliberation decided to name 32grader AB. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear what this company was supposed to do, and people started dropping out one by one. I myself hung on about a year but then decided to call quits.
So I called up Roger Larsen, CEO of Fronter AS and asked if he wanted my services. Being a smart person he did. We did know each other from before. Apart from creating “bok-och-webbar”, Bok & webb introduced the Fronter collaboration platform in Sweden, and I myself helped land several of the first big orders. So I became a Senior developer for Fronter and the first year I worked from home, travelling to Oslo ever so often. Around mid 2008 Fronter came to the conclusion that using Swedish developers was a pretty great idea, them being both cheaper and easier to get hold of than Norwegian ones. So I got a few colleagues, initially four and more after some time, and for a while I was team leader for the Swedish development team.
In January 2011, I started as a full time software architect, working together with two Norwegians. In mid 2012, I got an architect colleague in Sweden working mainly with front end issues. Everything looked good for a while, until … Boom! In november 2012 the entire development department in Sweden was laid off, being told that our work would be outsourced to India. We were not entirely unprepared for this, having seen the writing on the wall for a while. But the actual termination message came very suddenly and the whole thing was handled in a not-so-nice way. Bye, bye, Fronter. It was (sometimes) fun while it lasted.
After being terminated from Fronter, I decided that I could do with a little free time, so I didn’t start actively searching for a job. In the middle of January I got contacted by several recruitment agencies. One of them hooked me up with Textalk AB, I was interviewed the next day, got the job the day after that, and started working the next monday. Sometimes things work out for the best.
At this job I am doing several different things, which is nice. The main task is developing desktop applications in C++ and Qt. There’s also some web development involved, maintaining the production system for our talking newspapers (is that the correct term?). I will soon also get into app development using QT Mobile. That will be fun.
As a matter of fact, I have lured over no less than two of my former Fronter colleagues to work at Textalk. I’m not sure if they accepted this because I am such a terrific person to work with, or if there was another reason. I think I will choose to believe it was all because of me. 🙂