Working in a business role within a tech-oriented publishing organization, I get the privilege of meeting and working with all sorts of fascinating people. Steve Lautenschlager, however, I met at a pool party, of all places. When I heard he'd worked at CERN and Raytheon and had left Microsoft to start his own development business, I figured I should get to know him. I'll spare you further personal details, but the diversity of our interaction since that initial meeting is fascinating. It probably speaks to the varied and, well, nomadic nature of each of our endeavors.
Steve studied physics, mathematics and English at the University of Missouri and went to Duke University for graduate work in particle physics. In pursuit of his Ph.D., he studied bottom quarks at the European Center for Particle Physics, or CERN, where he developed web-based systems for automating the collection, management, analysis and display of test data. He created software to automatically generate 3-D profiles of phototube sensitivities, and his work was profiled in CERN Courier magazine. Using data collected at the OPAL detector at CERN, he and his thesis advisor, Dr. Alfred Lee, extracted the world's best measurement of inclusive b-baryon to lambda decays.
So, what does all that mean? I haven't a clue. What I do think is cool is what Steve has done with such abstract interests. Following graduate school he helped analyze, design and develop software for the Joint Strike Fighter's RADAR ground mapping systems as a Sr. Systems Engineer for Raytheon Corporation. Then he went to the Internet Hosting division of Microsoft, where he researched wide area load balancing of web traffic and implemented the primary hardware and software infrastructure for the MSNBC Streaming Video Solution.
I got to work with him some when he created a complex Learning Management System for a training and consulting firm where I used to work. He has also produced several commercial websites, appeared on CNN, and takes every opportunity to speak in academic settings on grid computing. The Tech Report has requested proposals from his company for some behind-the-scenes development work, although his .NET evangelism hasn't produced any converts around here just yet.
Despite the fact that the majority of us are hardware geeks, we figured it might not hurt to invite a software developer to write a bit and give some perspective from the other side of the aisle. So, yeah, he's got true blue Microsoft credentials; but he claims to be open-minded and seems willing to take the abuse that could be coming his way if he tries to lecture.
Without further ado, hop over to his blog, Nodal Dynamics, see what Steve has to say, and give him some grief about your most recent .NET headache.