5 minutes with. . .Terry Pearce senior software engineer, Pearce Computer Solutions

Computerworld: Where have you worked before?

Terry Pearce: My first software development role was in mainframe development with the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board (now Sydney Water). From there, I continued in mainframe development with Qantas and Westpac and it was here that towards the end of my time I was given the opportunity to move into PC software development.

I had a brief stint maintaining an advertising statistics application for AIM Data; then I took up my first contracting position with Financial Network Services.

I worked at Jossco Australia to assist in the consolidation of its many disparate software systems. After a year, I returned to Financial Network Services.

CW: What is the best thing about being a contractor?

TP: It would be easy to say that money is the driving force behind any contractor I find a number of other aspects of contracting more pertinent like divorcing myself from the conventional bureaucracy of a large organisation. And working at various companies exposes me to a varying set of challenges.

CW: Have you always been interested in IT?

TP: I definitely wouldn't classify myself as a computer geek. However, I did write my first program on an Atari 400 back in the late 70s and have always enjoyed making the computer do what I wanted it to do.

CW: What is your most prized IT achievement?

TP: Although I'm working on some pretty exciting business opportunities at the moment, I'd have to say that the occasion that has given me most satisfaction was whilst carrying out some work over an extended time for a stock market analyst. I worked for more than 70 hours on a new function for the analysts. I did not have the environment to perform a test and only scant documentation with which to work, but once I installed the functionality and it worked without a hitch. Again - that ‘buzz' thing.

CW: What are your views on the ‘mobile Internet' and how long do you think it will be until it is seen as an everyday part of life?

TP: There's still a long way to go before the mobile Internet comes to fruition for the masses. Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is still in its infancy and is pretty much useless for most applications (for example, Internet banking) given the size of the current mobile phone display.

Being able to plug in another device (like a palmtop) is still nothing more than a clunky work around.

If the techno-boffins at Nokia or Motorola could design a display that opens out to the side (like the mouth- piece on some mobile phones folds down) to allow much more screen real estate, the use of mobile phones for Internet access becomes one step closer to being reasonable. Something would also need to be done about keyboard entry as the multiple letter per button method is extremely clumsy to work with.

Maybe a sliding keyboard as well would improve things. My other concern is the cost of connectivity - mobile phone calls are expensive and highly prohibitive for the individual.

CW: What is the best tip anyone has given to you?

TP: There are two pieces of advice that I quite often refer to. Firstly, don't worry about things you can' t change and put 100 per cent into changing those you choose to make better. The second was be your own boss and reap the rewards of your work.

CW: How do you hope your career will progress over the next five years?

TP: I'm hoping to make a relatively big change to my career direction in the coming years. Well, not so much direction - but location. With the emergence of e-commerce and various other Internet technologies, I'm forming a number of strategic joint ventures to take advantage of this latest wave of Internet resurgence.

CW: Is there any part of the IT industry that you would like to learn more about?

TP: One of the biggest drawbacks preventing the widespread use of the Internet for e-commerce is the lack of confidence that the general public has in the security of any Internet transactions.

Although I understand how the various options for security are implemented, I need to translate that to provide a secure experience for those people wishing to transact on the Internet via Web sites that I develop.

CW: What major projects or issues are you working on at the moment?

TP: Keeping in line with the second piece of advice that I mentioned earlier, I'm currently doing some Web site development. Given about a month we will be ready for the ‘grand opening'.

CW: Who would you like to invite to dinner (living or dead)?

TP: Without a doubt I would invite Bill Gates. Contrary to the opinion of those that subscribe to the "I hate Microsoft" campaign, Bill Gates has dragged the computing industry (kicking and screaming) with him into the homes of the general public. He was ridiculed and ignored by the big boys of computing for many years before they sat up and took note. Now that his dream of a PC in every home is significantly closer, the big boys in the playground don't like it. None of them wanted the desktop market until they found that it was worth a lot of money.

CW: What do you like to do in your spare time?

TP: My main focus outside of computing is my family. I try to spend as much time as possible with them. My daughter is a budding gymnast and at eight years old has just recently been selected to represent the Hunter region (in New South Wales). My son, on the other hand, is right into soccer and is quite a good player. I also try to get in as much sport of my own as I can.

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