Machine Learning in Cambridge, UK

In May of 2017 I relocated to Cambridge, UK to take on a new role within Amazon’s Machine Learning group. I am building a new engineering team in Cambridge that will work with a group of Machine Learning scientists guided by Neil Lawrence. We have a number of exciting projects to pursue over the next few years. In addition, there is the living-in-England thing, which is its own kind of adventure.


Presentation at the VIATeC Software Manager Roundtable

I gave a presentation tonight to the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) Software Manager’s RoundTable. The topic was, loosely, “stuff I’m writing about for my book”. Wow – that’s a pretty broad topic. Fortunately for everyone attending I had less than 90 minutes to fill or I could have gone on for hours. That’s what happens when you start talking about something you are passionate about.

I combed through past blog posts and created slides to drive some discussion around Growing LeadersGeneralists versus Specialists, and Boredom. I also presented brand-new material about Coaching and Mentoring and I discussed the Four Pillars of Software Management. I’ll get this new stuff into some blog posts in the coming days.

The group wasn’t particularly large but everyone was involved and the discussions were excellent. If you elected to stay away, I humbly suggest that you missed a great evening!

There were a couple topics we didn’t have time for tonight. I purposefully left them to the end because I knew they could be long: Retrospectives, and How to Hold Good Meetings. After some conversation the group decided these would be excellent topics for the next evening. Since I already have the material ready, I was asked to lead the next discussion. If you’ve ever attended a meeting that left you disappointed you’ll want to show up in May; it’s going to be good.

A Walk Through the Past – Google Style

This post has little to do with Leading Software. It was inspired by an idea I had while going for a run this evening. I remembered a time that I searched Google for my name and found a load of interesting old items from my computing past. Since my name, Cliff McCollum, is reasonably unique, sorting out my Google links isn’t that hard to do, and I thought I’d give it another go to see what I could find.

What emerged what an interesting tale of my computing past, going back to before the web itself. I apologize that this is a rather narcissistic post, but I found it pretty interesting. I’d like to fill in some of the gaps, but the real experiment was to see what Google could find without any special guidance. Frankly, I had forgotten many of these things.

July 1993: AliasZoo 2.0.2 released. The announcement went out on the InfoMac mailing list and was posted at I actually posted my CompuServe ID (76170,601) as my contact information. I know that version 1.0 was released almost two years earlier, but I can’t find any record of it in Google.

March 1994: Voted in favor of the newsgroup rec.skiing reorganizing itself to create rec.skiing.snowboard (back when it was still called “snowboard skiing” for insurance reasons).

August 1994: Voted yes to help create the newsgroup comp.sys.mac.programmer.codewarrior

October 1994: Released MacPPP 2.0.1cm4, the first PPP driver for MacOS that could make a network connection in the background, allowing other applications to be used while the network connected.

September 1995: Released PortScan – a TCP/IP based port-scanning tool for Windows 95. Announced it in the comp.archives.msdos.announce newsgroup. Much to my surprise, Port Scanner is cited as a security tool in US Patent #7216157 “Method and system for discovering managed devices in a data network”.

November 1995: Posted a multi-threaded networked Whiteboard application (basically a networked drawing application) as open-source to the macos_files mailing list. Required MacOS 7.5 and MacTCP or OpenTransport. I actually listed “a connection to the internet” as an explicit requirement.

December 1995: An article in the online TidBits magazine describes a modification I made to MacPPP (the first PPP driver for MacOS) that added multi-tasking support to the driver (so you could do something else while your computer while dialing the modem and connecting).

November 1996: Listed as a graduate in Computer Science from the University of Victoria.

May 1997: My shareware program Keys Off 1.2.1 was released at Required MacOS 7.

August 1997: Posted a question to the mklinux mailing list asking for help installing mkLinux on an Apple 7100/66AV with 40MB of RAM.

May 1998: Acknowledged for some help I provided to the authors of a paper entitled “Appleseed: A Parallel Macintosh Cluster for Numerically Intensive Computing” written by UCLA’s department of Physics and Astronomy

Jan 2002: Posted a question to the macosx-dev mailing list asking how I could convert characters from an NSText field back to their NSKeyCode equivalents. Andrew Platzer from Apple’s Applications Frameworks group told me it was too much work to bother.

March 2002: posted a question to the comp.sys.mac.oop.powerplant newsgroup. I was having problems printing from the PowerPlant application framework under Apple’s Carbon APIs.

September 2002: Posted a question to Apple’s Quicktime_API mailing list. I was having trouble with matrix-based rotations.

November 2004: Wikipedia article created about FreePPP, an updated version of MacPPP that I helped develop.

December 2004: Posted a message to the linux.redhat.install newsgroup asking for help with audio drivers under RedHat Enterprise 3 update 4.

Feb 2005: Posted a comment to the mailing list commenting on a proposed extension to the SIP protocol. (It was about the document draft-elwell-sipping-redirection-reason-01).

April 2005: My bio is listed as part of the speakers list for VON Canada 2005. I spoke as part of a panel on the future of instant messaging.

August 2006: Released a Google Home Page module to display and play voice and fax messages from a VoiceMobility UCN 250 messaging system.

September 2007: May name is listed as a member of the CIRA (administrators of .CA) board of directors nomination committee.

Everything newer than this lost my interest. You should try this with your own name – I bet you’ll find it just as fascinating as I did.