A professional biography
I was born on June 9, 1960, in the town of Alkmaar, The Netherlands, famous for its Cheese Market. I lived in Alkmaar most of my life, until I moved to the United States. I went to school in Alkmaar, and even when I went to college at the University of Amsterdam, I used to commute to Amsterdam by train.
I went to high school at the Rijks' Scholen Gemeenschap Noord Kennemerland (RSG) from 1972 until I graduated in the summer of 1978. During the final two years of high school I decided I wanted to go to college, but I flipped many times between wanting to study chemistry or physics. Physics finally won and I started to attend the University of Amsterdam in September of 1978.
I never regretted my choice and had great fun in Amsterdam. It was one particular course in the physics curriculum that had a profound effect on what I have done with my career: "Computer Programming in FORTRAN." Before I went to Amsterdam, I hardly knew what a computer was (keep in mind that most of Europe, including the Netherlands, was quite a bit behind the US in terms of general acceptance of computers).
I quickly started to like computers and programming. The FORTRAN course started us of on a big Control Data Corp mainframe (Cyber 176) where we had punched cards and a line printer as our only means of interacting with it. We also had limited access and I could not satisfy my appetite for programming, so it was not for long before I bought a TI-58 programmable calculator (about the only thing affordable for a student in those days, personal computers were just out and too expensive). This one did not last me very long, and before I knew it, I had sold the TI-58 and bought a TI-59 (more memory) with a printer. Later I managed to finally get access to an interactive terminal and much more computer time, so life was better.
In the Dutch university system you do get something that is the equivalent of the bachelor's degree (kandidaats diploma), but, contrary to the US, people generally don't stop there, but go all the way for the masters degree. So did I. At this point, though, you have to choose your specialization and for me that was High Energy Physics. The most important reason for this choice was my other choice for a double minor in Computer Science. Picking High Energy Physics meant I would spend most of the rest of my college career at the High Energy Physics Institute (NIKHEFH-H) in Amsterdam, where they did cool things with computers.
After completing my masters degree in Physics in 1984, I accepted a job at the University of Amsterdam as a PhD student in computer science (in Holland, this is a full-time job, paid an all, only sometimes with teaching responsibility). I did this work at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science: FWI. This department was a brand new merger of the already existing faculty of Mathematics and the newly formed computer science department. For historical reasons, the latter department was an outgrowth of the very same group of people that did all the "interesting" computer work at the institute for high energy physics, and a large part of the research of FWI was located in the same building and now has its own building right next to it.
My work as a PhD student involved research in the area of parallel computing, more specifically in the area of parallel execution of the Prolog programming language. In late 1983 I had first seen the Apple Macintosh and I loved it. I persuaded the department the let me have one and I took a Macintosh development course at Apple Holland. Because of my growing interest in the Macintosh and my already existing large involvement in running and maintaining the department's Unix systems (it started with a couple of VAX-750s and later larger and larger networks of mainly SUN workstations) my PhD work did not progress at a normal pace. This eventually caused me to abandon the PhD work and switch jobs again. It also landed me a job as a contractor for Apple Holland and what was known at the time as Apple GEA (General European Area), where I was responsible for conducting developer training for 1.5 years.
My next job was as the head of the computer systems group at FWI. I was now officially responsible for running all the computer systems and I even had a group of people working for me, helping me do it! Meanwhile, starting early 1990, I had co-founded Storm Technology, with Adriaan Ligtenberg and Chris Borton. I remained in Holland, but during every weekend and night I was working on Storm's first software package (what eventually became PicturePress) together with Chris. I also spent all my vacation days in the US working for Storm.
Links to the home pages of some of my former colleagues in Amsterdam:
Finally, in July 1991 my visa was approved and I quit my job in Amsterdam and moved to the US (these days I have a green card). Since then Storm has grown from 8 people to about 125 people, has moved to a larger building twice, and went public (Symbol NASDAQ:EASY) in October 1996. I left Storm in May of 1998. In November 1998 Storm filed for bankruptcy.
Since Storm I have started by own consulting business, called Starfield Consulting. I have alternated this consulting with jobs at startups.
In the course of my career, I have been involved in several products:
SCSI-Power is a program that a friend, Maarten Carels, and I created in 1985. We were Macintosh enthusiasts, but we were thoroughly disgusted with the quality and lack of features of existing SCSI drivers for the Macintosh at the time. We decided we could do a better job and started to prove it. For its time, the package was quite advanced, supporting more than 2 disk drives on a Macintosh Plus (a major achievement), partitioning, password protection and very high performance.
We did sell the product commercially, but we never gave it our full attention and hence it never became a commercial success, although it had, and still has, a loyal group of users. The product still works on today's Macintoshes and PowerPCs, but is due for a major upgrade to support native drivers for the PowerPC and to allow for asynchronous operation and "wide" SCSI transfers to attain high performance.
During the development of all this SCSI stuff, I produced some freeware that, once installed, would significantly improve the SCSI performance of most any Macintosh Plus. The product was called SCSI-accel and can still be found in the SUMEX-AIM archives and its mirrors.
PicturePress was Storm's first Macintosh application. Its main goal was to provide a means for reading PICT files and saving them in JPEG compressed format, and vice versa. Storm was one of the first companies to introduce JPEG software to the general market. PicturePress included fast JPEG software for the Macintosh, as well as support for Storm's hardware JPEG accelerator.
This accelerator was a NuBus board outfitted with dual DSP16A signal processors from AT&T. This board would speed up JPEG compression or decompression about 10-15 times on a Macintosh IIfx or IIci. It allowed us to do motion-JPEG at about 15 frames per second in the same size window as popularized at the time by Apple's QuickTime (160x120).
This particular accelerator card was very successful in the market and was also sold by DayStar Digital (under the name Daystar Charger) and by SuperMac, now Radius (under the name ThunderStorm and several other names).
Thunderstorm was a product that Storm developed for SuperMac. It started out as the same basic NuBus accelerator card as described above and Storm also developed a version of the exact same architecture that would function as a daughtercard on SuperMac's high-end graphics accelerator cards.
We also wrote new software for the DSPs on the card to accelerate some of the critical functions in Adobe PhotoShop, such as Blur, Sharpen and Resize. It was because of efforts like these that Adobe designed a new low-level interface for acceleration into its next version of PhotoShop (the Adobe Charged program).
When Storm was working on the successor to PicturePress (which was up to version 2.5 at that time), Apple heard about the product and decided to obtain the marketing rights for what became known as "Apple Photoflash".
Photoflash 1.0 pioneered an advanced virtual memory system for images (PicturePress had always been bound by available memory) and introduced some "magic" filters for removing scratches and dust form scanned images automatically. Photoflash also included an image database facility where references to image files (and their thumbnails) are stored in catalogs for later reference. Photoflash 1.0 was a 68K application, but with the release of Photoflash 1.1 all major internal functions were PowerPC native, although the UI code remained emulated on the PowerPC.
Photoflash 2.0 introduced a fully native version for the PowerPC and scriptability. Photoflash 2.0 was one of the first applications that is fully scriptable and recordable. It also introduced some performance enhancements and quite a few UI improvements. Photoflash 2.0 has been localized in several major languages (US English, British English, French, German, Italian and Japanese) and is today also bundled with the Apple QuickTake digital camera.
In early 1994 Storm acquired a product called Kid's Studio. I was involved in porting it to the Windows platform and in producing version 1.3.1 for both Macintosh and Windows. These versions were released on hybrid CD-ROM, Storm's first CD-ROM product.
Kid's Studio is a story telling and creation program mainly targeted at children. It is built around the concept of "the page" and allows you to put objects on the page. Objects can be photos from PhotoCD, drawings made with the built-in paint box, or images from a large collection, provided as Treasure Chests. Stories consists of multiple pages and every object on the page can have a sound associated with it. Transition effects between pages are provided during playback.
EasyPhoto was Storm's next step down the pyramid from high-end users to the consumer level. We wanted to make a product that enables consumers to deal with and use photos in their computer. The consumer goal meant that we had to make a product that was even easier to use and required less computing resources. We also decided that this had to be a product for the PC/Windows because that is the machine that most consumers have at home.
Although EasyPhoto was in many ways based on Photoflash, it is a quite different product. It introduces the film strip, or Gallery, as the means for storing photos, totaling insulating the user from having to know the intricacies of the PC file system. EasyPhoto also made it very easy to use photos in documents, once you have the photos in the computer. All you have to do is pick up a photo in the Gallery and drag it do your document and drop it. This drag and drop is based on OLE2. EasyPhoto is one of the first applications that implements the more in-depth features of OLE2, providing a custom handler. The custom handler allows for storing the photos in our own custom format (JPEG of course) for much improved storage efficiency and for complete control over all rendering of the image. The latter allowed us to introduce a new technology called ClearPrint(TM), designed for significantly improving the quality of printed photos using today's consumer level ink-jet printers.
With EasyPhoto, Storm also introduced the EasyPhoto Reader, a small footprint, low-cost, feeder based scanner for photos. It accepts up to 5x7 photos (max scan width is 4.1") and scans them in with the touch of just one button.
EasyPhoto for Macintosh
My team and I completed the Macintosh version of EasyPhoto in November of 1995 and it shipped in early December. The Macintosh version is substantially the same as the PC version, but lacks OLE support. A logical substitute at the time would have been OpenDoc, but our shipping schedule was ahead of Apple's, so there is no OpenDoc support. EasyPhoto for Macintosh is complete scriptable and recordable though. Check it out!
At the same time we introduced a Macintosh compatible version of the EasyPhoto Reader. It uses the Macintosh serial port (any port available), but is otherwise identical to the PC version described above. Performance of this model is slightly better than that of the PC model due to our use of a high speed synchronous communication mode of the serial port.
PhotoDrive is a small photo scanner, similar in functionality to the EasyPhoto Reader. The big difference is that while the EasyPhoto Reader is an external units, the PhotoDrive is designed to be installed in a standard drive bay of your PC. Currently Hewlett-Packard is shipping one of its Pavillion line home PCs (Pavillion 7130) with this drive pre-installed. The drive provides up to 400 dpi resolution (twice that of the EasyPhoto Reader) and maintains adequate performance through an ISA bus interface card.
Storm PageScan USB
Storm PageScan USB is a full page sheetfed scanner, interfacing to the computer using the Universal Serial Bus. The technology for this scanner was acquired when Storm acquired Logitech's scanner business. Some improvements where made and color and branding were changed before re-introducing this device to the market. The scanner is bus powered, leaving just one cable to connect for installation. Installation is completely automatic (plug and play) as the necessary drivers are included in Windows98.
Netfreight.com was founded in May of 1999 by Joe Agliozzo. I joined soon thereafter, first as a consultant, and, per September 1, 1999, became of full time employee with the title of CTO and Vice President of Engineering.
NetFreight.com was renamed Cyntric, Inc. in May of 2000. Cyntric was developing a B2B Internet marketplace and application for procuring and managing transportation. Its primary focus was in the TL (truck-load) and LTL (less-than-truckload) business, but ultimately expansion into other modes of transportation was planned.
On June 9, 2000 Cyntric failed to raise additional funding and closed its doors. It is for this reason that I can not point you to a Web site where you can check out my work. Beside managing and overviewing the development, I was technically involved with Web site design, database (Oracle) schema design and maintenance, networking (design and maintenance, including firewall), and UNIX (Solaris) system setup and maintenance.
From July of 2000 until July 2001 I have been working for CertifiedTime, Inc. as CTO and Vice President of Engineering. CertifiedTime, Inc. closed its doors in July 2001 due to lack of funding.
CertifiedTime was offering its service as a Trusted Timing Authority (TTA). A service that could be used to accurately set the time on a device, computer or application, while retaining proof of this event (including clock offset at the time). All this was done in a secure and trusted fashion, with all the evidentiary information being held by us as a trusted third party. While mechanisms to synchronize the computer clock over a network have been widely available (e.g. NTP), mechanisms that do so in a secure fashion and while retaining evidentiary information have not. Having trusted time available through a TTA is extremely important for the purpose of non-repudiation. If and when necessary, CertifiedTime would be able to show data in court proving that a computer or device was on time or within certain margins, at any given time during the use of the service. This in turn would be used to defend against disputes arising around the time some electronic transaction happened.
At CertifiedTime, besides being responsible for building the technical team, I was responsible for quickly realizing both a fully redundant, 24/7 version of the timing centers, as well as a light-weight version for early deployment in new, but low volume, geographical business areas. I deployed timing centers in Exodus centers in New Jersey, California, and Tokyo. Another deployment took place in facilities owned by Deloitte and Touche, for demonstration purposes. Both Tokyo and California deployments were fully redundant systems, utilizing extensive setup with Cisco and SUN equipment. The database used with Oracle8i.
Because the team was small, I was intimately involved at the technical level with the installation, management and security hardening of all networking equipment, the SUN servers, Apache Web server, mail system, and the Oracle8i database.
I was also heavily involved with the major business deals with potential partners in Europe (a major telecom firm) and our partner Amano in Japan, where I further enhanced my prior experiences doing business with Japanese firms.
After leaving Storm, and again after leaving Cyntric and CertifiedTime, I worked as a one person consulting firm, Starfield Consulting.
Former and current clients include:
List of publications (incomplete)