Who Is Bryan Bennett?
Initializing the Queue
I grew up in a little town called Seffner, near Tampa, Florida. I attended a private school from first to tenth grade, then finished high school at a private boarding academy near Orlando. Although I had been dabbling in programming computers since I was about 10 years old, it was during my last two years of high school that I realized what I wanted to do with my life. A very good friend of mine and I pressured the computer teacher to allow us to take directed study classes in Pascal, C, and C++. That friend, a couple of math major students, and I entered a statewide programming contest and won 4th place. Not a bad placing when you consider it was our first time and all the teams that beat us where veterans of the event. I went on to a private college in Tennessee where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.
After college, I worked for a company owned by McKee Foods, the maker of Little Debbies. After two years, I realized that I was being moved toward management. Although I seem to have a talent of working with both people and technology, it wasn’t the path I wanted. I had become engaged to a lady from the state of Washington, and her father introduced me to the head of the development group for the Naval Surface Warfare Center out of Bremerton, Washington. I’ve been working there since 1998 and I’m very happy with my work. I have a young son and a toddler daughter. I recently had a house built on 2½ acres of land. Turning this house into a home is very time consuming and costly, but worth it. A lot of my spare time is spent working on projects such as building a chicken coop, making various modifications around the house, adjusting doors and windows, planting plants, etc. Due to many small, unfinished tasks, I now understand why people get so frustrated at their builders.
Queue Up the Fun
Having two young children, I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies. My fun activities usually involve playgrounds, beaches, parks, and lots of toys. I love to travel and, though my wife and I don’t travel as much as we used to, I am sent all over the country, and even a few places around the world, for my work. When traveling, or resting in bed in the evenings, I enjoy reading science fiction and working on a variety of word and logic puzzles. My only real hobby is playing around with computers and other hi-tech toys.
Experience the Queue
My parents bought my brother a Commodore VIC-20 when I was about 10 years old. It wasn’t very long before he needed a better computer and migrated to a Commodore 64, giving me the VIC-20. I began typing in programs in BASIC and hex code and it wasn’t long before I, too, went to a Commodore 64. My brother had begun dabbling in the world of Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs)—the beginning of the public’s introduction into a networked society. I gave him an ultimatum. Either he taught me how to use the BBSs, or I would teach myself after he left for summer camp. He relented and, by the time he returned from the camp, I knew more about computing online than he did. My original online nickname was RoboCop.
I began meeting friends and going to BBS get-togethers. Like my brother, I also migrated to a Commodore 128 and became an expert in BASIC programming, running a BBS of my own, and keeping up with the latest games. Then, I reached high school where I was introduced to TRS-80s (Trash 80s, as we called them) and Tandy IBM compatibles. By the time I started taking advanced computer classes at my high school near Orlando, I was considered a true computer geek. But even during my junior year, I felt that computer programming was an unstable field and I had planned on going into architectural drafting. I even took a basic drafting class, learned how to model a house, and use proper techniques for optimizing space, water piping, and electrical wiring. I’m not sure what changed my mind but, by the time I graduated, I knew that I’d be taking computer science in college.
Colleges were just beginning to switch from Pascal to C++. Since I had a fairly progressive set of professors, we were taught all the techniques and languages that modern companies were using to develop applications. The only “obsolete” language I really learned was COBOL. With Y2K approaching quickly, our professors realized that 99% of the problem computer code was in COBOL and that many of us would end up working with it. As it turned out, I didn’t. The company I worked for out of college was writing system level code for proprietary monitoring equipment which necessitated Assembly Language and C/C++. Even our Windows code was typically in C++ or Delphi (Object Pascal by Borland).
My boss realized that I had a talent for explaining complex technology to customers and began sending me on a lot of our sales pitches. He then began moving me into a position of having programmers underneath me. I realized that I was spending little or no time actually developing systems and applications, so I took an offer to work for a company on the other side of the country.
The company I work for is a little difficult to describe. Basically, we are a civilian department of the U.S. Navy. We fall under DoD (Department of Defense) and NAVSEA, the department that oversees the Navy and all Navy-related departments. The official name of the company I work for is the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Detachment Bremerton, Signatures and Measurement Division. We are in the process of being grouped together with other Warfare Centers and will be called the Naval Warfare Centers in the near future, but the rest of the titles still apply. What does all this confusing naming mean? My specific detachment (company, if you will) “listens” to boats and submarines in an attempt to determine how susceptible they are to detection by an enemy. My specific code (basically a department) is the systems development code. It is our job to develop and, in some cases, maintain the systems and applications used by our workers to provide their analysis of each boat or submarine we evaluate. Confused yet? Let me tell you that it took me many years to understand all of this, and I learn more all the time.
What this means to me as a programmer is that I get to play with very cool technology, and I get to work on system level code, which has always been my favorite type of programming. I consider myself an expert on computers in general and I have made myself very valuable as a developer in terms of design, implementation, and maintenance. Many computer types in my position seem to be very anti-Microsoft, but you will find that I am a very Windows-oriented person and believe that Microsoft is mostly picked on by people who don’t really understand technology.
Taking a step back, I first accessed the internet when our college hooked our library up to gain information from other colleges and universities. At the time, there were only a handful of us using the system and we quickly became the experts on the internet at our college. I spent a lot of time on the internet and was part of the first groups of people who began chatting online and meeting people all over the country. During my junior year, I virtually “ran into” the woman who eventually became my wife. Needless to say, computers are, always have been, and always will be a major part of my life.
End of the Queue
Here’s what you can expect from me. I’m typically a very knowledgeable person on a variety of topics, not just computers and technology. I’m always willing to help people whenever I can. People have told me that I sometimes come across as a know-it-all, but I work on that constantly. I try to be open minded and respectful of other opinions, but I can argue with the best of them. I’m a very busy person with a strong work ethic. I don’t get around to doing everything I’d like to do, but I always make time for what’s important.