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RedMonk Radio 055: Mark Cathcart – Profiles in Courage


While at barcampAustin this year, my pal Zane Rockenbaugh (Dog Food Software) and I recorded a series of interviews with barcampAustin and SXSW attendees and friends. We dubbed it Profiles in Courage, and now they’re yours to enjoy.

Download the episode directly here, subscribe to the RedMonk Radio podcast feed to have it automatically downloaded to iTunes or other podcatcher, or just click play below to listen to it right here:

The Human Relational Database

In the second episode of Profiles in Courage, barcampAustin edition, Zane and I talk with Mark Cathcart, Director of Systems Engineering at Dell. I start out asking Mark about his life in the IT world, starting off, as he put, as a relational database where he shuffled punch cards to look up demographics and other info through the punch card hatch.

After this, we dip into Mark’s time at IBM working on systems, in particular a little stint he had in the hospital making “scribbly diagrams” and working on one of the earliest IBM laptops.

Chips, man

Pulling ourselves from the IBM days, Mark tells us what he’s up to at Dell. This gets us into a discussion of laptop chips, ARM processors and the trick the power button plays on you.

Getting to one of my favorite boondoggle ideas, I ask Mark what he thinks about the looming problem of multi-core programming. The core issue is getting developers to start doing multi-threaded coding as the normal course. When you cross the difficulty of caches, locks, and all that with the ease of virtualization, Mark says that there’s “no point” in worrying about it too much for the average application developer.

Mainframe Heated Curries

Next, I ask Mark to tell us about his thoughts on cloud computing. While it’s not in his current wheelhouse at Dell, he points to Dell’s Jimmy Pike. Here, Zane’s server room scotch tasting fantasies elicits a story from Mark about warming his curries in cruise-line IBM mainframes.

Pulling out another pet-topic, we discuss netbooks, which Mark doesn’t have much of an opinion of, liking larger machines. Somehow, this gets us to talking about the Office ribbon.

The Singles Car

Finally, we close out with a non-tech topic. What with the Austin commuter rail coming in, eventually, I ask Mark to tell us about the idea of “The Singles Car” in New York and if that’d work here in Austin. As Mark says, “I don’t think it needs it here in Austin. there’s enough cool places to go that you don’t need to hang out on a train to meet someone.”

Disclosure: IBM and Dell are clients.

Categories: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Programming, RedMonk Radio Podcast.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] but it was just a fun way to spend 10-mins. You can hear the podcast and read the liner notes here on Redmonk Radio Episode 55. – And no, I have no idea why the series was called “profiles in […]