[TUHS] In Memoriam: J. F. Ossanna

Arthur Krewat krewat at kilonet.net
Fri Nov 30 06:03:38 AEST 2018

On 11/29/2018 12:07 PM, Doug McIlroy wrote:
>> Sun was sort of the Bell Labs of the time ... I wanted to go there and had
>> to work at it a bit but I got there. Was Bell Labs in the 60's like that?
> Yes, in desirability. But Bell Labs had far more diverse interests. Telephones,
> theoretical physics, submarine cables, music, speech, fiber optics, Apollo.
> Wahtever you wanted to know or work on, you were likely to find kindred
> types and willing management.
This sounds like the environment I went into at Nynex Science and 
Technology in White Plains, NY during the mid 90's. Labs all over the 
building, each one doing some groundbreaking (to me) research into cell 
phone coverage, voice recognition and synthesis, and a bunch of other 

I did a short consulting stint there as IT support staff, probably not 
more than 6 months. I generally ruffled the feathers of the older 
support staff when it came to "fixing" things that were easy to fix. 
Like the bright (or not, to them) idea of moving everyone from disparate 
mail servers to one domain, and no longer needing to know which server a 
certain person's email account was on. {suna,sunb,sunc,etc}. I was 
getting tired of having to login to the boxes to see where a personal 
email account was. So I stayed late one night, made it so you could 
address anyone as "@*.domain" or just "@domain", and it would be routed 
accordingly, and wind up in the right place. They actually made me put 
it back the way it was the next day.

So, in terms of research, the place was awesome, I learned and was 
exposed to a lot of interesting topics. I could spend hours in a lab 
talking to the people there, brainstorming about all sorts of things.

But in terms of IT support, it was top-down committee-style system 
administration, and the older/more-senior IT people were not exactly the 
brightest bulbs. One of the IT managers there loved me, and would talk 
to me for hours about how to make things better. But his boss would tamp 
down any ideas of altering things even when the end-users wouldn't 
notice a difference except there was a newer easier way of doing the 
same thing.

Oh well, I never really played well with others anyway ;)


art k.

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